Implementing Contradictory, but Effective Strategies for SEO/Marketing in Minneapolis, MN

Digital marketing is a complicated landscape with techniques and tools that vary in effectiveness depending on the format of brands, products, audiences, and more. There are marketing 101 strategies that generally work with some success across the board. However, when you’re cultivating a marketing system unique to your brand, it’s important to focus on which exact tools may be better than others, rather than relying solely on industry standards. Because marketing strategies can be so complex and difficult to devote time to figuring out and implementing, many organizations and companies of all sizes take advantage of the services a third-party digital marketing firm provides. MLT Group offers complete services for SEO/marketing in Minneapolis, MN, including web design, SEO systems, social media tools, graphic design, and video production with 4K technology.

Marketing Online

Marketing online and offline is all about driving the customer to action. That action can mean many things, such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, following your brand on social media, reviewing a product or service, or even commenting on a post. The long-term goal of marketing is to generate profitable customer action, but there are many other purposes marketing tools serve along the way to that goal.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing and SEO (search engine optimization) use online systems to get the right kind of attention from search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, as well as their potential customer base. This means you’re balancing communication lines between both the search engine platform and the user. There are many ways to improve your website’s placement on a search engine results page (SERP) that follow recommended marketing practices (we cover many SEO tools in this blog), but there are always ways to communicate with your audience, enrich that brand-to-user relationship, and grow a community.

SEO/Marketing Strategies

Some SEO/marketing strategies aimed at audience growth and outreach make sense. Those strategies are marketing basics targeted at the largest audience possible in the fastest and most impactful amount of time. Yet, for many online brands, some counterintuitive strategies may be more effective with greater diversity for positive results than many standardized digital marketing tools. Generic marketing advice only goes so far in generating customer action. Expanding beyond beginner marketing techniques requires some understanding of your brand and audience as unique entities.

Research Needed

While some research may be needed to get a foothold in determining what multifaceted, functional marketing techniques should be tailored specifically to your brand, there are a few contradictory marketing methods that can initiate continual audience growth and profitable customer action for many kinds of companies with an online presence.

Enrich your brand community with one-on-one interactions.

No matter how big or small your brand community is, one-on-one interactions with members are always valuable. While common marketing advice will suggest you rely more on measurable interactions, such as time-efficient, widespread messages through mailing lists or social media posts, there’s still a use for the more intangible interactions. One-on-one interactions with customers like personalized greetings, direct conversations, community tags, gifts, and more all contribute to stronger relationships with your brand. These kinds of interactions can’t be measured for ROI in the way that other marketing moves can, but they almost always generate more trust in your brand, a diverse community, and a humanizing of your company.

Personal Connections

The easiest way to start making more personal connections with your audience is to get to know the members of your community, including their interests, skills, backgrounds, locations, and other aspects. If you can collect this information without invading customer privacy, you’ll also be able to learn more about your brand’s demographic.

Provide real information to your audience.

Another piece of generic marketing advice is to keep information vague and bait the value of products and services to encourage users to make purchases. The problem with this strategy is that today’s users have unprecedented access to information. Customers are able to do more research on a product or service to inform their purchase than ever before. This level of information access has changed the way brands should provide their own information freely to users. Instead of teasing the importance of their information, brands that provide real information and tools to their users are able to build trust with their audience.

Trust is Important

The trust that’s initiated by offering real information and valuable tools to users in your brand community will also lead to return customers, an increase in word-of-mouth referrals, and greater brand authority in your industry. The simplest way to start offering real information to your audience is to publish well-written blog posts that cover in-depth, relevant topics about your brand, products, services, staff, systems, and industry. You can also provide some of the tools your own team uses, such as templates, calculators, guides, and more.

 Focus on quality of presence over quantity of presence.

Narrowing the online space occupied and focusing on quality over quantity is especially important for smaller brands without a dedicated marketing team, but it can also be a useful piece of advice for larger companies with established marketing systems. The ideal marketing system will include high-quality content published regularly on multiple platforms, including your website, blog feed, newsletters, and multiple social media sites. Producing this amount of well-made content is almost impossible for many brands. It’s time-consuming, requires a specific skill set and level of creativity, and can exhaust your marketing resources.

Quality Content

Instead of attempting to fill the many content holes that generic marketing advice digs, start with a small amount of quality content that you have the capacity and enjoyment for creating. Master a single space for content, and make sure you’re able to reliably generate quality products in that space before expanding to a new outlet. Start with a platform that fits your brand type the best. For example, a retail brand might benefit more from building a quality Instagram that showcases their products, but a publishing company would do better to focus on a well-curated blog page. Focusing on quality over quantity and starting small doesn’t mean you’ll never have the benefits that many platforms provide, but working up to those multi-faceted marketing systems will improve your tool kit and retain loyal customers on each platform as you master them.

 Don’t give up on specialty marketing ROIs.

Small or niche marketing channels may seem insignificant when compared to large-scale SEO/marketing and a generalized target audience, but those specialty spaces may have greater ROIs than you’d expect. Specialty keywords on your site help Google and other search engines find your brand for more pinpointed user inquiries and also provide space for more of a “fandom” kind of audience. Users who respond to specialty marketing and niche channels are more likely to be dedicated customers and spread word-of-mouth support.

Using niche or specialty tools when you can will also give your brand a unique, hidden treasure kind of image, especially compared to the many other websites in an oversaturated internet market.

 Create a community with other brands.

Standard marketing guidelines encourage a view of competitors in your industry as the enemy. While it’s true you compete for sales, space, and customer interactions in general, there’s something to be said for building a community with like-minded brands. If you can support brands that share your ethics, whose work you admire, or those you think could fill a need for your customers that your brand doesn’t quite meet, you’ll foster greater credibility, trustworthiness, and likeability with your customers. It’s also possible that you’ll gain the goodwill and reciprocal support of the brands you shout out and highlight on your platforms.

Collaboration

It may not make sense to go out of your way to show off what your competition is doing, but if there are occasions when building community between brands seems natural, it can be a great thing. Positive interactions between you and your fellow brands helps customers understand the benefits of collaboration and the community ideals of your company.

These are just a few of the many contradictory marketing techniques that are not often listed in generic marketing guidelines. If you’re considering building a new marketing campaign or expanding an existing one, our team of expert project managers, designers, writers, and optimizers can help. Contact MLT Group at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com, or online today for more information about SEO/marketing in Minneapolis, MN.

Increasing Traffic and Reducing Bounce Rate with Quality Site Design and SEO/Marketing in Rochester, MN

In today’s highly accessible digital world, truly anyone can make a website. There are many website design systems available to individuals, small businesses, and even large corporations. These site builder tools range in price; some are free, while others charge a monthly subscription fee or flat cost. When you use these systems to design your website, you almost always pay for what you get. Site builders like Squarespace and Wix, utilize templates that make it easy to build a decent site quickly. However, these templates often lead to a cookie cutter display that can’t fully support your unique brand aesthetics, while lacking optimization that can help a site rank on search engines. If you aren’t able to afford a custom site design, a site builder tool can help you establish an online presence, but when you work with a marketing firm that provides comprehensive web design and search engine optimization (SEO) services, you increase brand awareness, grow your audience, and go above and beyond the quality a cookie cutter template provides. MLT Group offers complete web services, including custom site design, marketing, SEO, social media marketing, graphic design, and video production for web. Based in Rochester Minnesota, we work with a broad variety of customers across the US. From service companies to manufacturers, if you’re looking to develop a website or expand an online brand, MLT Group can provide effective SEO/marketing in Rochester, MN and across the country.

Analytics

With any website, performing analytics regularly to measure the success rate of user interaction is important. If your site is effective, you’ll see positive conversion rates. Conversions occur whenever a user takes a “next step” on your website that creates a contact. This could be signing up for a newsletter, purchasing a product, downloading a white paper or coupon, or another form of interaction. If your conversion rates are low, you’re likely experiencing a high rate of user bounce. Users will click away from a site without taking “next step” conversion actions for many reasons.

Why Bounce Rates Occur

Let’s look more at users. Everyone fills the role of “user” as they interact with various websites daily. You don’t have to be a website designer to understand if a site offers a good user experience. If you consider the websites that you use, you can likely identify aspects of the sites that make them better or worse to utilize. Bounce rates increase for websites that are unpleasant or difficult to use. Some common causes of user bounce include:

Loading time:

Websites with pages that load slower than three seconds often experience significant bounce rates. In fact, many users report they will click away from a site that takes longer than two seconds to load. Increasing your site’s loading time will almost certainly guarantee a reduced rate of user bounce. Additionally, faster loading sites encourage better ranking results because search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo all value quick content loading pages higher in their ranking systems.

Content fulfillment:

When users enter a query into a search engine, they are often looking for something specific, but exactly what they are asking can be difficult to determine. If a user searches for “sustainable clothing,” for example, you can’t always be sure if they are looking to purchase sustainable clothing, learn more about what sustainable clothing is, or read reviews of sustainable clothing brands. If your site is coming up on a search engine results page (SERP) with a “sustainable clothing” query but your site’s content doesn’t answer the user’s question, you may experience a bounce. By analyzing your site’s keywords, comparing competing sites that rank with those various keyword searches, and expanding your content based on the intent of users you would like to attract, you can reduce those bounces with more targeted content fulfillment.

Site design:

The aesthetics of your brand can be engaging and reduce bounce rates because of the immediate user interest the aesthetics induce, but a more significant reduction in bounce rate will come from the core of your site design. First of all, your site should be clear, easy to use, and intuitive. Brand aesthetics are important, but user experience is key in retaining users and creating conversions. Ever heard the expression “a place for everything and everything in its place”? Your website should emulate that idea so that users understand how to get around the site and can easily find what they are looking for.  “Rage” and “dead” clicks come from users becoming frustrated with content that looks like a hyperlink or button but doesn’t take them anywhere or confusing navigation that wastes their time. Sites of any significant size may benefit from an option to search your site. A simple search system will encourage users to engage with your site to find more information or narrow their query results. Sites without a search system often experience bounce rates from users returning to the Google search bar because they didn’t find exactly what they need from that site’s landing page. Another design tool you can use is the inverted pyramid style. An inverted pyramid for text or media content can generate a hook of a user’s attention with a lead, move into details below, and finally answer the user’s initial question.

Calls to action:

When users interact with a website, they are invited to respond to a range of calls to action (CTAs). CTAs include prompts to sign up for a mailing list, subscribe to a newsletter, make an account with the brand, use a coupon code, make a purchase, view similar products, contact the company, and more. There are many kinds of CTAs for different scenarios. Strategic placement of CTAs, without compromising the quality of user experience, can improve conversion rates. Additionally, if you adjust your CTAs to include keywords pertinent to your SEO and site content, you can enhance your ranking on SERPs. For example, if you own a sustainable clothing brand, you can change a CTA from “Learn More” to “How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint.” Navigation links that more clearly target what the user will find are good for users and search engines.

Bounce Rank Analysis

There are many other causes of user bounce, and it can be a difficult thing to analyze. In fact, some user bounce is because the site is working the way it should. For example, if people are coming to your website looking for your phone number and they find it immediately when they hit the home page, without having to visit a contact page, they get what they need and bounce off the site quickly. That’s a positive conversion, so a high bounce rate doesn’t always equate to ineffective user engagement. Still, understanding how users are interacting with your site is important to enhancing results. No matter how you engage users and increase conversion rates, it all starts with effective SEO and marketing action. Without quality SEO/Marketing tactics, your site won’t be ranked high enough on search engines to even be on the radar of users important to you. Learn more information about the basics of SEO and how a marketing firm can help.

Why SEO/marketing Works

Google and other search engines each use their own algorithm to crawl, index, and rank website pages. This means they send crawling “bots” to examine all the pages on the web for keywords, metadata, and other information. These bots return the gathered information and the search engine uses it to categorize or index each page. The pages are then provided on a SERP, ranked in an order that the algorithm judges to best answer the user query. A website can change its format and use tools to influence that ranking system to its favor. If you utilize search engine optimization techniques approved by Google, like intelligent placement of keywords, fresh content generation, and fast load times, you can increase the likelihood of a higher SERP ranking.

Digital SEO/Marketing Campaign

An effective digital marketing campaign will use SEO/Marketing and a good quality website as foundational to guiding the entire system. You need an online presence that serves your target audiences and ways to help those users find you. Social media marketing and pay-per-click advertising can also figure into a strategy for being easy to find and easy to do business with.

Ever-Changing Best Practices

The highly specific and ever-changing best practices of SEO and site design can be complex for website owners. If you are unsure of how to adjust your SEO/Marketing and website to reduce bounce rates and increase conversions, we can help. To learn more about our services for SEO/marketing in Rochester, MN and across the US, contact MLT Group at 507-281-3490 or sales@mltgroup.com today.

What Makes an Effective Provider of Digital SEO/Marketing in Minnesota

The world of digital marketing has grown into today’s complex, nuanced technical system. To successfully market your brand online, there are many required actions, like generating URLs and having a well-made website. However, there are also many optional things you can also do to boost your marketing performance and grow your audience, such as using SEO (search engine optimization) tools and maintaining social media platforms. Because of the many tools, features, and possibilities that are all a part of digital marketing, it’s no wonder that it can be a daunting process for small businesses and brands to manage their own digital marketing operations effectively. Fortunately, there are many agencies that provide highly affordable outside marketing services at varying levels. If you are looking for a digital marketing company to meet your needs for creative, smart SEO/marketing in Minnesota or anywhere in the US, MLT Group LLC has the skills and tools to get the job done. We provide comprehensive marketing services including SEO, social media, web design, graphic design, video production, and more.

Determining the Right SEO

Experience, current knowledge, levels of services, and costs are all factors that can vary widely when looking at agency services. To choose the right digital marketing provider, you first need to determine your digital marketing goals. Some brands need an entire restructuring and rewriting of their website, including text and media content, design, URLs, and SEO tools. Some companies only need the extra SEO support of a regularly scheduled informational blog or news release. Others might benefit best from an aggressive link and citation building campaign.

Digital Marketing

From full web design to writing and optimizing effective blog content, MLT Group’s team can provide whatever marketing and brand building strategy you need. If you’ve determined your goals, we can consult with you to pinpoint what SEO, social media, or other digital marketing steps we should take to help you reach those goals. We provide competitive pricing for our creative solutions and our communication is always straightforward and jargon-free.

When searching for an effective digital marketing agency, there are several factors to consider. Some of the major concerns you should look for include a quality website, strong team, toolbox, industry expertise, trustworthiness, and testimonials or reviews.

Quality Website

If a company is going to design your website or provide other content creation, you should always look at their own site for red flags like slow loading times, poor design qualities, lack of fresh content, low resolution, and a bad user experience. A well-designed site should have consistent aesthetics, clear navigation, high SEO ranking, a method of routinely releasing fresh information, calls to action, load times of two seconds or faster, and a positive user experience. The MLT website, for example, maintains an active newsfeed, features our personal design aesthetics on every page, has clear calls to action, provides easy navigation, utilizes SEO keywords and geo-locations, and more. If a digital marketing company has a quality website, it’s the first sign that they will lend that quality to their work with your brand as well.

Strong Team

As a small company, our team of talented staff members share the values of all the small businesses we work with. Even the larger companies we work with, like MultiSource Manufacturing and several ServiceMaster branches, have the same foundational values for providing quality, reliable, and trustworthy services. We support companies that in turn support their industries positively, care for their staff and customers, and overall do everything they can to give to their communities. If you are looking for a digital marketing agency that will fit into your company culture, you should check out the expertise and diversity of their team members. MLT’s staff is composed of talented web development specialists, designers, marketing experts, writers, and many other great people we are honored to have on our team.

Tools

Any effective marketing provider will have the right tools and equipment in their purview. This includes project management solutions, methods of measuring website performance, social media analytics, email marketing systems, CRM (customer relationship management) technology, CRO (conversion rate optimization) measurements, graphic design software, video production capabilities, ways to calculate ROI (return on investment), and more. Marketing campaigns require the right analytics and communication tools to measure performance and make alterations when needed. Not only do we have all of these tools and more, we outsource work to skilled freelancers whenever necessary so your campaign schedule is always running on time.

Industry Expertise

When selecting the right marketing agency for your brand, considering their experience and expertise in the industry is also a key indicator of their quality and effectiveness. If a company doesn’t provide a portfolio of their past work clearly on their website, that is likely a warning sign that they are inexperienced or have a history of performing low quality work. MLT Group has industry expertise and experience working with a broad range of different companies and online brands. We provide comprehensive digital marketing and web design services for companies like contract manufacturers, bankruptcy firms, disaster restoration providers, veterans and US troops, university programs, health providers, engineers, property managers, auto parts sellers, welding suppliers, dentists, tree care and landscapers, warehouse storage, bus and trucking companies, and many others. Our SEO/marketing services are versatile, well researched, and effective for a broad range of websites and industries.

Trustworthiness

With so many marketing agencies in the industry today, it’s important to customers that the agency they choose be trustworthy, open, and clearly communicate services and expectations. At MLT Group  we want to be clear about what we can help our customers achieve in their campaigns and why things cost what they cost. We don’t use industry jargon or hide behind the many acronyms that come with the digital marketing world. We also routinely publish informational blogs that cover topics about digital marketing, including how-tos, SEO basics, explanations of terminology, and much more. MLT Group is committed to supporting ADA compliance for our site, and we encourage our customers to do the same. Our website is fully customizable for persons with visual or hearing impairments, cognitive disabilities, ADHD, and more. The tools that allow users to adjust our site can be used to alter color, contrast, font size and readability, letter spacing, alignment, line height, magnification, sounds, images, animation, and focus. Our goal as a company is to continue expanding our accessibility for greater inclusion of users and user trust.

Social Proof

When  large percentage of a population are in agreement about a topic, item, product, or practice, this is called social proof. If something has social proof, it’s generally considered to be of good quality. When you’re deciding what digital marketing agency to use for your brand, you can usually choose one that will give you a good experience as a customer and good services that advance your marketing campaign if you can determine their social proof. Positive reviews and testimonials are the most common formats for social proof of any business, including marketing agencies. A company can spout its worth to you all day long, but the proof of that can only be found in the telling of other customers’ experiences. Check out our testimonials for just a few stories from our current and previous clients.

MLT Group is a boutique marketing firm that provides complete, effective services for SEO/marketing in Minnesota and the surrounding regions. We listen to your needs and work with you to develop marketing strategies that will yield quality results. To learn more about our services contact us at (507) 281-3490 or sales@mltgroup.com

Avoiding Content Cannibalization and Self Plagiarism with SEO/Marketing in Minneapolis, MN

If you run an online brand or company website, you probably know how important it is to generate fresh content on a routine basis. With frequently published, original content your site will be more attractive to algorithms used by search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Search engines use a crawl, index, and rank system to find website results that they deem to be most valuable to any given user inquiry. Originality is important to the engines and algorithms. With crawling bots reviewing all the components of your site whenever content is created, search engines indexing that new information, and results pages ranking for user inquiries from that index of websites, you can imagine it becomes a problem for your website’s performance if you publish content that plagiarizes other sites. Additionally, if your site content self-plagiarizes or cannibalizes your older site data that is a problem too. MLT Group provides effective content creation for up-to-date SEO/Marketing in Minneapolis, MN and the surrounding area. Heck, all across the USA actually. With our services, you can have professionals creating original content for your site and be sure none of your content is detrimental to itself from accidental cannibalizing or plagiarizing practices.

Google and other search engines change their algorithms over time, which means older content might have SEO/Marketing features that aren’t effective anymore. For example, Google now punishes sites that overload keyword content, while in the past websites were rewarded for that practice with higher placement on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

There are fixes for both plagiarized content and self-plagiarism. The latter is usually a result of lazy content creation or a lack of attention to automatically generated or queued content.

Cause and Effect of Self-Plagiarism

Self-plagiarism of website content can be as obvious as the exact same text or media published multiple times on your page or as subtle as metadata and URL copies. One example of common self-plagiarism is with ecommerce sites when products are duplicated to create a similar, but ultimately different product page. Duplicating a product requires the content creator to double check every data point about the entry, including title, price, quantity, description, images, tags, URL, stock keeping units (SKU), collection or group, color, size, and more. It can be simple to duplicate a product to create a new one that has many similar data points as the other one, but the creator needs to remember to change the points that search engines interact with when ranking indexed sites. If you have many duplicate title cards and other copied aspects of a page that will show up as a header on a SERP, your site becomes less attractive to a search engine ranking algorithm.

Another example of self-plagiarism is republishing old content that is still published in its original place on your site. Copying and pasting an old blog under the guise of new information is a poor SEO practice. Not only is it a hallmark of spam websites, but it is also something users may notice. Search engines will definitely notice and potentially ding your ranking on SERPs.

When creating content, it’s best to put in the time and effort to double check your work and to plan news, blogs, and other content that is actually fresh information.

Cause and Effect of Cannibalization

Cannibalization of site content usually occurs when two pages on a single website publish the same or very similar information. If you had a brand with one page of your site dedicated to water damage cleanup in New York and another page for water damage cleanup in Chicago but both had the same content other than changing out the name of the city… you might have a cannibalization problem. The search engines see the two URLs as near duplicates, causing both to perform poorly in the long term. This is a form of classic cannibalization between unintentionally competing URLs.

Google and other search engines rank sites based on different kinds of user inquiries. There are three main kinds of user inquiries:

  1. Informational: Users looking for information with specific keywords, such as, “what is eco-friendly clothing”.
  2. Navigational: Users searching for specific websites by name, such as, “earthfashion.com” or “Earth Fashion”.
  3. Transactional: Users want to buy a product and use that product as their keyword search, such as, “where can I buy eco-friendly clothing” or simply “eco-friendly jogging suit”.

If you have an ecommerce URL on your website, such as earthfashion.com/shop in addition to a blog URL like earthfashion.com/blog, search engines will prioritize one URL over the other depending on the type of user inquiry and the search terms they use. This is good. However, if the engines can’t tell which page is more relevant to the user’s search because of indistinct URLs or duplicated page content it can hurt the ranking results of both.

With tracking software, you can chart the patterns of each URLs performance. This can provide insights into the effectiveness on the content of various pages on your site.

If you believe your website is underperforming because of the effects of website content cannibalization there are steps you can take. As an example, if you suspect old content is cannibalizing new pages, search the domain name and key phrase  (for example, “site:earthfashion.com sustainable outfit ideas”) on Google to see all the content that exists on your site pertaining to that topic. If you have old content that might cannibalize any new information you want to publish, redirect all of those old pages to your fresh URL.

For more information about self-plagiarism, cannibalization, and other problems that can impact the effectiveness of your SEO/Marketing in Minneapolis, MN, or to learn more about our SEO and marketing services, contact MLT Group at (507) 281-3490 or sales@mltgroup.com today.

Franchise SEO & Website Design – The Big Fix

Everyone in America is familiar with franchises. They are represented on street corners coast to coast; McDonalds, 7-Eleven, Dunkin’, Great Clips, and hundreds more. From fast food to haircuts, and commercial cleaning to glass repair, franchises help meet a need for almost everyone at one time or another throughout each year. Their economic impact is fantastic, with those in the United States alone producing an output of nearly 800 billion dollars annually. In fact, franchises made up 10.5 percent of all US businesses in 2020 and employed over 8.5 million Americans.

Among businesses, franchise organizations have a unique component structure; a central licensing organization – the franchiser, often a large company with an entrenched corporate mentality, which supplies, supports, and collects fees from much smaller local businesses – the franchisees. The success of franchises across 295 industries attests to the benefits of this structure. In at least one area of the franchise world, however, there is an intractable struggle between franchiser and franchisee that often leads to marketing issues and lost opportunities.

That’s where we come in. At MLT Group, we have spent the last decade specializing in website design for franchise organizations and have become franchise SEO experts. In the process, we have assisted several national franchise companies to improve their digital marketing and have achieved outstanding ranking results for a plethora of franchisee sites. Now, for the first time, I’m about to tell you what we’ve learned, the not-so-secret problem in franchise SEO and marketing and the Big Fix that’s needed.

Number One: It’s important to recognize that franchise organizations want their franchisees to be successful. This desire is driven by economics and pride. Successful franchisees pay more fees to the franchiser and promote more interest among other potential franchisees. It is equally important to recognize that franchisers and franchisees don’t always share the same priorities. A franchisee sees business success as primarily defined by profit. The more business the better. A franchiser considers both profit and brand image to be paramount concerns. Which makes sense– the brand they have built is the foundation of their entire franchise organization.

Number Two: This misalignment in priorities frequently leads to problems for both franchisees and franchisers in the realm of digital marketing, with both groups struggling against one another rather than working in cohesive and collaborative harmony.

Concerns of the franchiser:

  • We need everyone to represent the brand consistently and accurately across all digital platforms. This is important to consumer confidence in the brand.
  • We worry that some of our franchisees lack the expertise in digital marketing to deliver our brand and messaging appropriately on their websites or on social media.
  • Even though digital marketing is most effective for service businesses when geo-targeted to the appropriate service area, our ability to assist hundreds of franchisees in producing digital marketing unique to their area and offerings is limited by budget and time.
  • Digital is more complicated and changeable than print, radio, or TV ads, making it harder to control from one central source.
  • Even though unique content is essential to search engine optimization, it is not feasible for corporate to write unique content for 400 or 1,500 separate sites, all explaining the same services.

Due to these concerns, franchise organizations often take the following actions which directly harm the digital marketing of their franchisees:

  • To control brand and messaging, they do not allow each franchise to have a unique “local” website and/or social media presence.
  • They do not allow each franchise to have its own unique domain name, preferring to house information about the franchise under the corporate “our locations” page or a URL like Bigfranchiseco.com/location_2463.
  • They may insist on franchisees using duplicate “boiler plate” marketing text for their websites, which is an SEO killer.
  • They do not accurately inform franchisees that the most effective way to rank on search engines is to have a unique local website with original content that is SEO’d and updated regularly.

Concerns of the franchisee:

  • Our local franchise needs to rank highly in search engines for the services we offer within our service area.
  • We need help to design, build, and populate a professional website and/or create an effective social media marketing campaign.
  • Our digital marketing efforts are limited by budget, available time, and lack of expertise in digital marketing.
  • We need a local web presence that is not owned by corporate.
  • Even though regularly posting unique website content is essential to search engine optimization, we do not have the time or expertise to create this content.
  • We want a robust social media campaign but do not have time to maintain it.
  • We want leads to come directly to us when potential customers find us online, not directed to us by corporate with fees or strings attached.

“Due to these concerns, franchise owners need their own unique local websites.”

Due to these concerns, franchise owners need their own unique, local websites. Many would also benefit from independent social media campaigns as well. Corporate can do a lot when it comes to buying online ad space for multiple locations or establishing a robust social media presence for the whole organization. Many franchise organizations maintain impressive social media campaigns, and for some, it can be enough for a franchisee to piggyback on these efforts. However, in terms of traffic and lead generation from Google and other search engines, there is no substitute for a robust local website for each franchise or major franchise market.

There are exceptions. Fast-food franchises, rapid oil change locations, car washes, and similar businesses do not need local websites. Due to the nature of their offerings, a central corporate website with locations pages is sufficient for these sorts of businesses.

“It is imperative for businesses to be  easy to find and easy to do business with.”

Companies providing services in people’s homes and businesses (cleaning, repair, remodeling, lawn care, pest control, etc.) need independent, local websites optimized effectively for Google and other search engines in order to achieve the best rankings possible. Solid rankings on search engines are the gold standard for being found, and the surest way to drive relevant traffic and leads. With an increasingly savvy consumer market, it is imperative for businesses to be easy to find and easy to do business with.

There are multiple benefits of an independent local website for a franchise. These include:

  • A unique domain name – important to franchise SEO and local marketing
  • A platform for unique content specific to the franchise’s services and service area
  • Ownership of the website for both control and as a valuable business asset
  • Results – a well-built and optimized local website will get better rankings and more traffic, leading to more leads and better ROI

“Corporate franchise organizations want their franchisees to succeed, however they have legitimate concerns about brand image and control.”

The Big Fix: Corporate franchise organizations want their franchisees to succeed, however they have legitimate concerns about brand image and control. The fix is to allow individual franchise owners to have their own local websites and to offer them trusted vendors who can provide quality digital marketing services that meet corporate brand expectations. Moreover, putting some money into the solution via co-pays helps the franchisees feel they are not bearing the burden alone. Additionally, the big corporate sites often have a good reputation with the search engines, so making sure to link from the corporate site to each independent franchise site provides powerful link juice. All of which lends itself to better franchise SEO, better Google rankings, more traffic, more leads, and better ROI. It’s a win-win that corporate franchise organizations need to understand and implement in the increasingly competitive world of digital marketing.

To learn more about professional franchise SEO services, contact MLT Group at (507) 281-3490 or sales@mltgroup.com today.

About the Author

Theo St. Mane is a partner and director of operations for MLT Group – Creative Solutions in Rochester, Minnesota. He has over 30 years of marketing experience and has spoken at national and regional conventions of franchise groups. He has also consulted on digital marketing for a variety of national franchise organizations since 2012.

 

Unpacking Google’s Guidance for the New Mobile-First Index

There’s been a significant development in today’s internet. While it looks the same, how we find and access the billions of pages on the internet has changed.

That change is “mobile-first indexing,” and Google’s been testing and slowly rolling it out for a few years. Now, finally, mobile-first indexing is being applied across all of the webpages that Google indexes. Because Google is BY FAR the most common starting point for consumers on the internet, it’s a tectonic shift in access.

Unless you already pay attention to trends in search engines, this might be the first time you hear about mobile-first indexing.

Read (or scan!) on for a jargon-minimum unpacking of this big change in the internet.

Here’s What You Need to Know

Later on, we’ll explore what Google’s mobile-first index means in more detail. Here’s what you need to know right away:

  • If your website is newly created since July 1, 2019, you’ve started out under Google’s mobile-first indexing.
  • If your website is older than July, 2019, then if you haven’t already been added to mobile-first indexing, you will be this month (September 2020).
  • If your website is not optimized for mobile access, you absolutely must update your website. You’ll be left behind in the dust of search results if you don’t (not to mention the website will simply not be easily usable).

Many sites have already been added to mobile-first indexing – including ours, which was integrated to the new system in 2018. The system’s been slowly rolling out for a few years now.

You can confirm your site’s indexing crawler on your site’s page on Google Search Console.

 

But now it’s here for everyone, regardless if you pay attention to the Google webmaster and developer guides or not.

Mobile-first indexing will be old news for some, but if you’re a business owner or otherwise run a website and you’re NOT familiar with the latest developments, scan this post! We’ll break down the need-to-know info about mobile-first indexing for the non-developers of the world.

What Is Indexing?

“Indexing” is one part of the process Google undertakes to organize and present to you the billions of pages of content on the internet. The process goes like this:

  1. Crawling: A Google program, affectionately named “Googlebot,” scours the internet by hopping from link to link to link. Googlebot finds pages on the internet.
  2. Indexing: Once found, a page will be indexed. That means Google stores information about that page: what’s on it, what’s it doing, etc.
  3. Ranking: Based on all the information gathered, Google’s algorithms rank the pages in the index whenever you enter a search term. These are your search results.

The above are the basic workings of Google’s search engine.

 

What is Mobile-First Indexing?

Previously, Google looked at the desktop version of your website when it crawled and indexed all the pages on your website. (Special aside: Google does not index and rank websites; Google indexes and ranks webpages.)

Now, Google is indexing the mobile version of your webpages and using that information to rank your webpages.

That means if you haven’t paid much attention to your mobile site, then you need to now—because that’s the one Google is paying attention to!

Real quick – why make this change? Since October of 2016, most internet traffic has originated from mobile devices. Sound surprising? It did to this humble writer, but think of all the simple questions you ask Google, or how often you’re waiting for some appointment and you’re browsing Facebook or (like me) reading obscure corners of Wikipedia. Or you’re out and about (in that pre-pandemic world) and searching for a place for lunch or dinner. Much of the casual queries and social media use and shopping occurs on mobile. That all adds up.

Because the internet is mostly accessed on mobile devices, and Google has an all-important directive to provide useful search results, Google now effectively ranks mobile sites rather than desktop sites. Google wants to provide the best internet experience possible, and that won’t happen by pointing someone on a phone to a site that can’t run well on their device.

 

Why Should I Care about Mobile-First Indexing?

OK, so the nerds at Google have shifted around how their internet-sorting thingamajigger works. Who cares?

Here’s what’s most important to understand and why you should care about this process:

Google controls your internet.

Google and its related properties receive over 90% of internet traffic.

Google has decided that it’ll use the mobile version of your site to rank search results. If your mobile site is clunky, un-usable, or even just under-optimized, then you’re starting the race for search traffic about a mile behind your competitors.

Essentially, if you don’t play by Googles rules, your site will not be easily accessible in search results. If you care about search at all, you need to care about the mobile version of your site.

Is My Site Ready for Mobile-First Indexing?

Unless your site is older than a few years, it’s pretty likely you’re already under mobile-first indexing. Regardless, you need to make sure you’re adhering to the best practices for mobile-first indexing.

Simple details follow, but here’s the big picture for what you need to do:

  • Ensure your website is uniform no matter what platform it’s accessed on (whether desktop, mobile, or tablet).
  • Ensure that your website is functional and easily usable no matter which platform it’s accessed on.

These are the main principles of the best practices as given by Google themselves.

A lot of their best practices can be boiled down to have a responsive design for your website. “Responsive design” means your website’s design adjusts itself depending on the size of the screen accessing it—so it’ll look uniform and coherent whether it’s a smart phone or a desktop connecting to your site.

There are also some more in-the-weeds aspects of web development and design that should be attended to. For example, the meta data and descriptions must be consistent between the mobile and desktop versions of your site. Other more technical parts of your site like structured data must also be consistent.

There’s a lot that needs to be checked if you’re trying to ensure your website is ready for mobile-first indexing. The easiest way to give a general check-up might just be to pull up your site on your phone or tablet:

  • Does the website still load quickly and smoothly?
  • Is the content (the text) all the same as the desktop version, and is it easy to read on a small screen?
  • Can you easily interact with the different menus and buttons?
  • Do images and videos still load effectively?
  • Are any ads on the site integrated without being too in-the-way?
  • Can you still find parts of the site easily?
  • Do all the links still work?

That’s a quick and dirty check-up on the mobile health of your website—a very important check-up under the new Google indexing system.

Ensure Your Site Is Usable and Beautiful on Mobile

Want to learn more about responsive design for your website? Need a check-up to ensure your website’s good to go for the future? Contact MLT Group today!

 

Are Google Ads Worth It?

Are Google Ads worth it? Yes, but…

 

  • It’s one piece of a larger strategy
  • It doesn’t guarantee results
  • It’s NOT a magic bullet for your online marketing

 

While many small business owners know about Facebook ads and other social media promotional materials, you may not know just how much you can use pay-per-click (PPC) marketing to your advantage when you pair it with search engine optimization (SEO) and solid web design.

 

At MLT Group, we’ve seen many successful uses of PPC marketing tools integrated into a strong digital marketing strategy. When those PPC techniques are combined with SEO capabilities, that marketing strategy can go beyond a single-faceted tool and become a fully fleshed out system.

 

There are many options for PPC marketing available to you as a business, but by far the most effective tool in the entire scheme of the internet is Google Ads. It’s a big leap for businesses to transition from little-to-no assertive digital marketing to building a full Google Ads account. However, if used correctly, Google Ads can be the single most “worth it” PPC digital marketing strategy.

 

Basics of Google Ads

The basic role of Google Ads is to put your search result before any organic results.

 

 

“Organic” results are the natural search results. “Inorganic,” or paid results, are what you buy with Google Ads.

 

 

Google Ads can make your business seen, improving placement in search results and exponentially increasing that improvement as the number of clicks on your site are made.

 

The money you pay for each click goes to Google, and that means the goal of Google Ads is just that: click count. On one hand, this can mean more prevalence of your site being seen, but on the other, it is up to you to write compelling calls to action in the ad, build effective landing pages, and have the kind of website that’s actually worth visiting and engaging with.

 

The best way to cultivate the way Google Ads will handle your placement and which search terms will put your URL in a spot that will yield the most clicks is to set your Ad Goals. By setting your ad campaign goal, Google Ads can understand better exactly what you want to get out of a click.

 

 

 

Other tools you can use to generate data that will guide how Google Ads establishes your PPC ad campaign are Google Ads Conversion Tracking and Google Analytics.

 

 

Google Ad Conversions examine what clicks turn into other engagements and sales. However, most PPC experts recommend keeping an eye on the valuable information that Google Analytics provides. Based on the conversion data, Google Analytics uses an algorithm that will generate certain goals that are recommended you build a campaign around. Google uses the engagement results that clicks and further information about interaction with your website to build a goal that you may not be following now, but could benefit greatly from diving into.

 

Overall, Google Ads is a PPC marketing tool that will provide quick results, place your URL at the top of a search result page, and open the door for you to create new ad campaigns based on all the data Google gathers for you. When used correctly, Google Ads is a valuable tool worth the cost. There is no denying that it will increase traffic to your site.

 

 

It’s Not All About the Clicks

 

While, yes Google Ads will increase traffic, you have a lot more to consider if you want that traffic to mean anything. It doesn’t benefit you to have a user click on your Google ad if your website isn’t actually worth engaging with. Your Google Ad might hook a lead, but to reel it in you need a well-designed landing page and website. To get the full positive effects of Google Ads PPC, you have to consider several things that SEO can control:

 

  • Is your site visually appealing and user friendly?
  • Does your site load in under two seconds?
  • Did you build SEO correctly so that the search term used correlates to the goods and services you provide?

 

If you can use SEO to build a sleek, clean site and establish the right keywords in your content, you can combine Google Ads and SEO tools to maximize your investment in an ad campaign. Google Ads is an incredibly useful tool, but SEO still beats out Google Ads in internet traffic sources.

 

 

If you aren’t pairing Google Ads with good SEO and web design, then the money your business dumps into Google’s pockets won’t do you any good!

 

Stitching PPC and SEO Together

Organic traffic is the long game to PPC’s short game. Building organic traffic takes time, but it will generate a continually growing return as Google’s search engine and the Google Ads algorithms get to know what your website offers and what you are trying to accomplish with it.

When you invest in organic SEO, you build equity in your site. You invest in your site – not short-term gains from paid search results.

Overall, Google Ads is a tool you can use to increase traffic to your site, but PPC marketing only goes so far. You have to use good SEO practices to move your site to the top of a result organically.

If you use Google Ads as a crutch, you will soon see that users engaging with your site are not satisfied. SEO reveals whether your site is offering exactly what people are looking for even if it’s a PPC URL, and good SEO practices will allow you to expand and gain an even larger audience/customer base.

To help get the most out of your next Google Ads campaign, contact MLT Group at (507) 281-3490, sales@mltgroup.com, or online today.

DIY SEO in Three Basic Steps (with Free Tools!)

So you’re interested in DIY SEO. No wonder. Outside SEO work is expensive. The best SEO results come from time or capital-intensive investments: content writing and backlink outreach.

But it’s still possible—sometimes even preferable—to be an SEO solo. Maybe you want to learn more about The Business before paying a professional SEO firm a lot of money. Maybe you have a small site and already enjoy writing. Maybe you just don’t have the capital yet to invest in SEO.

Toolboxes like ahrefs and Moz can be invaluable. We use them every day. But if you’re just stepping into SEO, investing in them right away is like buying a 4k 60” TV to watch old M.A.S.H. reruns.

If you want to try DIY SEO for your website, try out these three basic steps–with links to free tools–to get the ball rolling.

 

#1 – Build and Submit a Sitemap

Every second of every day the Googlebot scans the web. Googlebot is the software that Google uses to crawl through the internet and build a searchable index of websites.

A sitemap is file that describes the contents and organization of your website.

 

A sitemap describes your site’s organization to crawling software — not to your users.

 

Adding a sitemap to your website and submitting it to Google will make it easier for Googlebot to scan and understand your website.

Without being indexed by Googlebot, your site will not appear anywhere in Google search results. It is ESSENTIAL that your site is indexed and—if your site frequently changes—indexed regularly.

So how do you create a sitemap? You could do it manually. But you really don’t have to.

Thankfully, there are some free tools that will scan your website and automatically create a sitemap file for you. Here are two recommendations for free tools to create a sitemap:

 

Have a WordPress site? Use a plugin.

If your site is built in WordPress, just use a plugin to create your sitemap and upload it to your site. The Google XML Sitemaps plugin is used on millions of sites and is frequently updated. Let it do the work for you.

 

Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog offers a free version of their SEO Spider Tool. If your website has 500 or fewer pages, you can download SEO Spider and use it to create a sitemap for free.

Screaming Frog does more, too, which is nice – it finds broken links and analyzes your metadata, among many other useful things. It’s excellent to help you maintain your technical SEO.

 

xml-sitemaps.com

Use xml-sitemaps.com to create a free sitemap, no downloads or accounts needed. If your website has 500 or fewer pages, you can create a sitemap file just from entering your website URL on their homepage.

 

Uploading and Submitting Your Sitemap

Once your sitemap file is created, you need to do two more things:

 

Upload the sitemap to the domain root folder of your website.

In other words, add the sitemap file to your website. Log into your cPanel for your website and open the file manager. The root folder will always be the folder titled public_html. Add the sitemap file to this folder.

 

Submit the sitemap file to Google and other search engines.

You can submit your sitemap a few different ways. You can do so directly through Google Search Console. This part’s pretty easy.

 

#2 – Keyword Research

Keyword research means figuring out the best language to use on your website to attract search traffic. Keyword research is a delicate balance between relevance, search volume, and competition.

Relevance

What do people search for when they want something that you offer? You need to figure out the most relevant keywords for your business and your goals.

Remember: think from your audience’s perspective. How would they understand and search?

This can be tough for business owners who know their own products and industries up and down, backwards and forward.

Step out of your expertise and imagine the common understandings of your offerings.

Search Volume

Search volume is simply how many searches are performed for any given phrase.

Many paid SEO tools like ahrefs give you valuable search volume data.

If you want to get a snapshot at search volume with just free SEO tools, try out Keyword Surfer.

 

 

This Chrome extension gives you search volume data for keyphrases while you’re using Google.

It’ll also give you ideas and data for keyphrases related to your search query. This can make it a great tool for discovering new, worthwhile keyphrases to target.

 

Competition

The competition are the other search results that are ranking high for the keywords you want to rank for. Trying to rank high for a competitive keyword could take far more time and money than you want to invest.

Competition can be difficult to gauge without paid tools, which can roughly calculate the difficulty of ranking keywords in the top 10 results.

A good rule of thumb, though, is to target “long-tail” keyphrases. That is, longer and more specific keyphrases.

A long-tail keyphrase has lower search volume, and that usually correlates with lower difficulty.

Long-tail keyphrases also make great targets because searchers who use specific searches are more interested and likely to convert.

For example, consider the difference between “wallets” and “mens slim wallets.”

Someone who’s searching specifically for “mens slim wallets” is probably a lot closer to buying a wallet than someone searching for “wallets.”

Even though there are fewer searches done for it, that traffic is more valuable.

And it’s even easier to rank highly for!

If you don’t have access to tools that give more insight into competition, keep long-tail keyphrases in mind.

 

 

#3 – Optimize Meta Descriptions and Title Tags

Once you have an idea of which keywords to target on your site, the easiest thing you can do is use them in your meta descriptions and title tags.

These lines of text are valuable real estate for your SEO. They’re the most straightforward, plain description of what’s on your site. They matter.

Use your most important keywords in the title tag and meta description.

If you’re a local business, placing your city and state in the title tag and meta description also helps quite a bit.

In addition, these meta descriptions and title tags are where you start to really put your writing skills to the test.

These are the first impression you have on new visitors. It’s like your storefront on the internet.

Write these to be informative and compelling.

 

In these two examples, we’ve got strong calls to action: “Shop Men’s Leather Wallets” and “Upgrade your style.” They’re both informative, too.

The first description packs a ton of information in: brand name, product, and shipping/return info.

The second description makes an image argument, placing style and durability at the forefront.

Both of these are compelling meta descriptions, and they make good examples.

The point:

You should carefully write title tags and meta descriptions for each of your pages that you expect searchers to find. Use each page’s unique keyword in these title tags.

Do not repeat keyphrases between these pages.

If you’re targeting the same keyphrase with multiple pages, then you’re just competing with yourself. Don’t do that.

 

Headings

In addition, use your main keywords throughout the headings of your webpages.

Like the meta descriptions, headings are valuable real estate for SEO. Use the same keyphrase that you use for that page’s title tag and meta description.

The words used in the title tag, meta description, and headings are very important.

I once saw a page rank #1 for fireworks in their city even though the business had nothing to do with fireworks. For some truly unknown reason, they had “fireworks” in their title tag. That’s the kind of influence a title tag can have. (And that also indicates how easy the competition was for “fireworks” in that area.)

 

What’s Next? Backlinks and Content

So far this guide has focused on very simple, cheap, starter steps for DIY SEO.

Using these tactics will set a little groundwork for SEO. These alone will not bring your website to page 1 of search results unless you’re in a real backwater of the internet (i.e. no competition).

To rank high against some actual competition, you need two things:

  1. Content.
  2. Backlinks.

If you’re serious about doing DIY SEO, it IS possible to do this by yourself.

The problem?

Both take lots of time to do well.

There’s no way to get around it. You need to invest time (or money paying someone) to get worthwhile results.

However, backlinks and content are absolutely essential if you want to rank for competitive keywords.

Backlinks

Backlinks are one of the top ranking factors for Google search results.

A backlink is when another page links to your page. Google treats this like a vote of confidence in the quality of your page. Because Google’s in the business of serving quality results, they’ll put quality stuff up front.

The best way to get backlinks is to write and post quality content.

That means useful content for your audience or adjacent audiences. That could be blog articles, videos, how-to guides, infographics, podcasts, you name it.

If your content’s really good, easily shared, and promoted, you can get backlinks naturally. If you’re just starting out, this is less likely.

You can also convince people to link back to your content.

Say you’ve got a baking blog and you write this super in-depth and awesome guide about the different types of wheat flour and their uses for bread baking. White whole wheat flour. Semolina flour. Strong flour. AP flour (all-purpose, for you uninitiated). All that good stuff.

Find other sites who would be interested in this content and reach out to them to see if they’d be willing to link to your page.

Quick pointers for outreach: lots of people will say no or not get back to you. Make a convincing but nice argument for why your content’s worthwhile to their site’s visitors. And have good content.

 

Content

As you can see, backlinks and content go hand in hand. Good content can get you backlinks.

Consistently updating your site with relevant content also helps in itself.

Consistently updating your site helps signal to search engines that your site is credible and worthwhile.

That’s why we still recommend blogging for folks who are serious about SEO.

An active blog allows you to constantly add relevant content to your site.

A blog will allow you to target more longtail keywords and drive traffic to the rest of your site.

If you (a) already enjoy writing, (b) are an expert in your industry, and (c) have the time, then you can create content yourself that can provide potent SEO juice. It’s definitely doable. However, that’s quite the trifecta, and it’s pretty rare.

Content and backlinks are what you pay the big money for in SEO. Producing good content takes a lot of time and expertise. Performing outreach for backlinks takes a lot of time and a good, methodical plan. There’s no software in the world that’s going to make good writing easy.

After DIY SEO

You can get a lot done by yourself if you’re trying DIY SEO. If you have the time, you can do darn near most of the SEO work it takes to rank well (depending on the size of your site and your goals, of course).

If you want to take your SEO to the next level, though, give us a call. We do national and local SEO every day. It’s our bread and butter. We use all the above tactics and so much more. Ok, pitch over.

 




Essential Guide to Performing a Technical SEO Audit

Search engine optimization (SEO) remains a top focus of digital marketers across industries and niches. Understanding the basics of keyphrase research and usage, proper tagging, link building, and other on-site and inbound marketing techniques matters for ongoing success. However, leaving your efforts to chance can leave them incomplete or ineffective. If you want to ensure improved traffic, acquisition, and conversion numbers, a technical SEO audit makes sense.




 

What Is Technical SEO?

 

When Internet business owners and online marketers think about optimizing their site and its content for the search engines, they usually consider the types of things listed above: keywords, links, etc. However, these only represent part of the picture when it comes to ensuring higher placements on the search engine result pages (SERPs).

 

Technical SEO has to do with website ranking factors that make it possible for Google and other search engines’ bots to find, crawl, and index all of the pages effectively. It is about creating accurate code, ensuring fast load times, improving site security, and optimizing everything from design to database access.

 

For people without high degrees of technical knowledge, these types of things seem much more difficult and misunderstood than non-technical SEO practices like creating keyword-appropriate blog posts or creating a social media link strategy. However, options exist to make the process simpler. First, you can hire a professional team to take care of these things for you. Also, you can follow the steps below to get started on your own.

 

Why Perform a Technical SEO Audit and When Should You Do It?

 

The simple answer to the first part of this question focuses on the fact that badly operating or performing websites do not rank high in search engines. Things like slow load time, security issues, and errors indicate that the website is poor quality and Google should not recommend it to the people searching for information, products, or anything else. From a business owner’s standpoint, a technical SEO audit increases the chance of improving traffic flow, impressing site visitors, and ultimately snagging new customers or clients.

 

With all of these benefits, you may think technical investigations of your website’s optimization should be done as frequently as possible. Of course, no one has time to do this every day. Also, the search engine algorithms do not significantly change that frequently. Although some set up a monthly optimization check, most audit their sites every six months. If you make massive changes to the website or are aware of a Google algorithm update, do one sooner rather than waiting for a particular date.

 

Five Steps to an Effective Technical SEO Audit

 

Now that you understand why and when perform an audit that focuses on the technical side of things, follow these steps to set your site up for SEO success.

 

1 – Find All the Technical Errors

 

More than anything else, actual errors on your website will cause more problems with technical SEO than most other things listed below. These errors stop the search engine bots from accessing and crawling all the pages on your website. While crawl errors can cause considerable problems, understanding exactly what they are matters more if you want to fix them. Check for these common errors on your site:

  • broken links
  • 404 “page not found” errors
  • messy page URLs

 

There are free link-checking services that can scan your site and identify broken links. Use them!

When writing the URLs for pages, you want to ensure they’re concise and include the keyword for the page. Doing this helps both readers and search engines understand what the page is about.

 

Here are some examples:

 

 

Screenshot of a URL that's too long and contains function words.
Here’s a “messy” URL. This is the full title of the linked page, and full titles normally don’t make for good URLs. The keyphrase is at the end, and there are many filler words like “the” and “what” that can easily be removed.

 

 

 

Screenshot of a concise URL that emphasizes the target keyphrase.
Here’s that same page but with a concise URL. It starts with the target keyphrase and also includes a unique aspect of the page being linked.

 

 

2 – Check All Security Features

 

People and search engines prefer security when browsing, communicating, or shopping online. Although many factors go into overall safety when it comes to constructing a website, one of the most important for SEO purposes is the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) with security built in. If you do not have an HTTPS in front of your website URL, you may put people in jeopardy and end up penalized by Google and other search engines. As more consumers gain knowledge about security issues, they are much more likely to abandon a site if they do not see that S.

 

Without an SSL certificate, modern browsers will warn users about unsecured connections. You don’t want this on the mind of anyone visiting your site!

 

3 – Test Website Load Time

 

Google’s PageSpeed Insights test allows you to understand not only how quickly your website loads for search bots and users, but also gives specific information about what is causing the hang ups. In this world of ubiquitous high-speed Internet access and short attention spans, things need to load in three seconds or less to capture attention. A technical SEO audit must include an examination of how fast your content, navigation, and interactive elements appear on each page.

 

When it comes to maximizing search engine placements, speed matters. It influences things like bounce rate and stickiness. For a competitive edge over similar websites and content pages, you want all of these numbers to be as good as possible.

 

4 – Analyze Content and Keywords

 

Although both on and off-site content marketing and keyword research usually focus on non-technical SEO, they also represent a large part of every website from a technical standpoint. Make sure you focus on individual keyword phrases for different pages of your site to prevent keyword cannibalization. Keyword cannibalization is when you have multiple pages targeting the same keyword—it’s like competing against yourself.

 

You want to compete with other businesses, not yourself. Avoid duplicate content that can confuse the search engines and make them view all your pages as less focused and thus less important. Likewise, perform investigations to ensure that all of your metadata and descriptions are unique and powerful.

 

5 – Check for Mobile Friendliness

 

Google and other search engines reward mobile-friendly websites. The internet is becoming increasingly driven by mobile devices, so you need to ensure that your site looks great and is functional on the smaller screens. Tools like Google’s Mobile Test allow you to see how the layout, graphics, and content work on different devices.

 

 

A technical SEO audit done every six months or so ensures that your website is operating effectively for the two main audiences you need to target: your human readers and the bots that index your site.

 

Unlike traditional optimization methods, technical SEO creates the architecture and atmosphere that all of the content, keywords, and links exist within. Both aspects of your optimization strategy are essential for ongoing Internet business success.

 

Free Website Audit

Staying on top of your technical SEO is essential to maintaining your search result rankings. MLT Group provides regular SEO maintenance to many clients. Checking and redirecting links, monitoring loading speed, even updating old content—we do what it takes to keep your site running on a solid foundation for great SEO results.

Contact us today for a free site audit from our SEO professionals!




Manufacturing Marketing Essentials: How to Develop an SEO Strategy

Effective search engine optimization (SEO) for your manufacturing marketing needs a craftsman’s approach: methodical, deft, patient.

The target audiences of SEO are always people, not algorithms, as some people think at first blush. You provide real value to your audiences, and the search engine will recognize that and reward your website with a higher relative ranking.

The problem:

People make slippery targets. There’s no way to precision manufacture persuasive messaging like you can gaskets. There’s a reason Aristotle called persuasion a craft rather than a science.

Here are the three basic steps to craft a worthwhile SEO strategy for your manufacturing marketing strategy:

  • Keyword Research
  • Content Creation
  • Backlinking and Citations

Below you’ll find how these abstractions can be applied in manufacturing marketing.

Although you simply must know the technical foundations of SEO, always remember to think about people before you think about algorithms and analytics.

The sales cycle in manufacturing is long. Decision-making is deliberate and rational. Smart SEO will attract visitors and, along with your other marketing, help nurture leads into conversions.




 

Keyword Research for Manufacturing Marketing

Keyword research is the process of analyzing your audiences, your own company, and your search-result competitors. At the end, you should produce a document that lays out the keywords most worth investing your time and resources into.

Do it right, your website will rank highly for keywords relevant to your business’s services. That means higher quality leads.

Long-Tail Keywords

Develop a keyword strategy that targets what SEO experts call “long-tail” keywords. Long-tail keywords are longer keywords that are more specific queries, e.g. “motorcycle helmet” vs. “bluetooth motorcycle helmet.” “Bluetooth motorcycle helmet” receives considerably less search traffic, but someone searching for it has a better idea of what they want and so is likely further along the sales lifecycle.

 

 

Long-tail keywords receive less traffic, but they convert customers more effectively because the person using a specific keyword has a specific purpose in mind. These keywords are also easier to rank higher in search engine results because there’s typically less competition.

Let’s take an example relevant to manufacturing:

“CNC machining” vs “CNC machining services” vs “5 axis cnc machining”

Using a keyword analysis tool like those from ahrefs, we can see the search volume for each of these keyphrases:

 

Search volume is monthly, e.g. 6600 searches nationwide/month for “cnc machining.” “KD” is keyword difficulty, a metric created by ahrefs to estimate how difficult it is to rank highly for the keyphrase. “Clicks” refers to how many of the clicks on results users performed for the given keyphrase.

 

Think about the people behind these searches:

Anyone from a first-year engineering student to a fan of How It’s Made, could be searching for “CNC machining.”

Someone who’s searching more specifically for “cnc machining services” or “5 axis cnc machining” is more likely to actually be searching for the service. That makes these phrases efficient targets for search optimization.

If your company can provide 5 axis CNC machining services, then ensure that keyphrase is a part of your keyword strategy.

Research long-tail keywords that are relevant for your services, and use them on your site’s metadata, in your website content, and in any other content (like blogs) you publish.

 

Competitor Analysis

While you figure out which keywords will best represent and drive traffic to your services, you also need to analyze your competitors for which keywords they rank highly with.

Ranking is always competitive. There’s not an abstract quality you must reach to rank high in search results; you just have to do better than the people ahead of you.

You want to see what they’re doing to rank well. If the top-ranking pages are mostly pages with 1000+ word content with images, links, or other elements, then you know you’ll need in-depth content to have a shot at ranking up with them.

Looking at your competitors’ high-ranking pages will inform how your team approaches content creation to beat them. Which brings us to…

Content Creation

Once you have a solid keyword strategy, you need content to execute it. If you’re serious about SEO for your company, you need to make quality, keyword-optimized content the backbone.

Competitor research also helps determine the kind of content you create. You need to put out better stuff than the high-ranking competitors.

Say your company does precision machining parts here in Minnesota. Check out the top 10 results for “precision machining.”

 

Screenshot showing the top 4 results for the Google search "precision machining"
Results are based on our Rochester location, so you’ll see different results depending on your location.

 

Read through each of the competing pages to see what kind of content they have to help rank this high. What’s the word count? How do they organize their information? What keywords are being used in titles, headings, content?

 

Content That Helps You Rank

Remember to keep your audiences at the forefront of manufacturing marketing strategy at all times. The smart use of keywords will attract searchers, but the job of good SEO doesn’t stop there.

The content on your site must keep your visitors engaged and satisfy whatever purpose they had for visiting in the first place. Google’s eternal quest is to track user satisfaction with their search results, so if you optimize a page for “5 axis cnc machining,” it better have the substance to back it up!

When your visitor comes to your website through a search result and sticks around for a while, we call that “the long click.” Google loves the long click because that (more likely) means the user is satisfied with their search and result. That means Google wants to keep your site around, and higher, in their results for that search.

Consistent content creation also matters for optimization purposes. The more you add useful content to your site, the more you signal your website’s credibility and authority. It can also provide more entryways to your website.

For example, if your website has a well-written post about “thermoforming vs injection molding,” you can rank highly for that phrase and pull in that traffic to your site – generating more leads for customers who are earlier in the sales lifecycle and trying to decide which service to choose.

There’s much more to know about content creation for manufacturers, but we’ll cover that in a future post and stick strictly to the aspects of content that relate to optimization here. (This post will be updated when the new post on content drops.)

High-quality content creation is essential for manufacturers—it takes a lot of time and resources to switch suppliers, so you need to make persuasive arguments.

To sum it up for SEO’d content: satisfy user intent!

 

Backlinks and Citations

A Brief Explanation and Example

Backlinks and citations refer to other websites referring to your website and your company. It could be a link to a page of your website (a “backlink”) or name-dropping your company (a “citation”).

See our earlier post for an in-depth explanation of citations.

Other sites linking to your site lends your site more authority. Essentially, a backlink is another site stating its confidence in your site.

Backlinks are essential to building your site’s authority in Google’s eyes.

Here’s an example from one of our clients:

Northland Fastening was featured in a commercial by North American Banking Company. North American Banking Company also included a write-up on their website about their long relationship.

 

 

This link here lends the banking site’s authority to Northland Fastening System’s site.

 

How to Get Backlinks

When you pursue backlinks from other sites—and yes, you should invest time doing outreach if you’re serious about SEO—it’s best to get links from high-authority, credible sites who aren’t competing for the same keywords.

Some backlinks come from directory sites. For example, if you’re an industrial supplier, you’re going to want a listing and a link from www.thomasnet.com, a longtime name in the industrial marketplace and a website with good authority.

You also leverage high-quality content to get backlinks and references to your site. This veers into content marketing, which can’t be reasonably covered in this post.

Essentially, you want to create high-quality content about your business, your services, your industries, your people. Create informative content to become an authoritative, trusted. Publish content about your people and your teams to humanize your company.

After posting on your website, your best content must also be shared in appropriate platforms for different audiences. It’s easiest to share on social media—and you should do so—but it’s not guaranteed to drive traffic to your site.

You can do some outreach to relevant organizations and people in the industry. For example, if your company has expertise in plastics manufacturing, you could reach out to https://www.plasticstoday.com/, a “community for plastics professionals.”

Their website has a domain authority of 60, which would make them a great domain to get a link from.

You also want to do competitor research again. Use a link analysis tool (like from www.moz.com) to see where your keyword competitors get their best, most authoritative backlinks. Try outreach to get backlinks from the same and similar sources. If you have the right purposes and right content, classic sources of high-quality backlinks are news and education websites.

 

SEO for Manufacturers

Effective search engine optimization will boost your manufacturing marketing and increase quality leads. This post has focused on keyword research for content creation and distribution. However, there are other critical factors to SEO, like your site’s metadata and other more technical aspects.

It takes time and effort to build and maintain a working SEO campaign, and the information above is just the basic starting point.

To do it well, your team needs skills in research, analysis, writing, and (some) coding. SEO needs a craftsman’s approach. It’s unique for each business, and it takes a set of specialty skills; don’t count on a quick-and-dirty approach to get sustainable results.

If you’re looking for a team who’s got the skills, tools, and time to develop and maintain an SEO strategy, learn more about MLT Group or get in touch with us today. Contact us and we’ll get a site audit to you in 48 hours or less.