Everything You Need to Know About Your Google Business Listing
Google My Business is the tool that allows you to directly edit your business’s information on Google. On top of that, it is a good place to view insights and reviews too. If you’re a business owner and need to claim your business, add your business to Google, or remove spam/fake reviews and customer photos, read on.Read More
Mobile Friendly Websites Are A Must
Mobile Friendly Websites Are A Must
It’s official – internet traffic from mobile devices has surpassed traffic from desktop systems. That may or may not surprise you. If you need help suspending your doubt, simply open your mobile’s app library. You’ll soon notice that a vast number of apps rely on internet access to varying degrees. From social media platforms to workplace productivity applications, more and more of the global digital landscape is trending toward mobile-first usage. As this trend continues, ensuring your website is mobile friendly is more vital to your success than ever before.
Social Media And Mobile Traffic
Love it or hate it, social media has had a profound influence on the traffic shift from desktop to mobile. Two platforms – Facebook and YouTube – presently make up over 30% of mobile traffic. Though the day’s preferred platform is constantly in flux, people are spending more time on social media overall. Every major social media hub is geared toward mobile-first access. For example, have you ever tried using Instagram on a proper computer? Better yet, you’ll need a pile of good luck to send your next snap story from a computer, as SnapChat is mobile-exclusive as far as real usage is concerned. This increased attention on social media is impacting time spent on mobile devices. Meeting your customers where they spend time is common sense in the world of business marketing. Don’t focus on desktop tuning while your next customer is checking out the competition from their smart phone.
Similarly, social media has become a powerful tool for brand engagement and customer relations. Consumers expect the brands they support to be attuned to their needs and wants, and assume they can easily move between the digital places controlled by those brands. Part of that assumption is derived from the expectation that websites can be easily navigated on mobile devices. According to a 2016 study conducted by Google, 53% of mobile customers will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Accordingly, this has a direct affect on a site’s bounce-rate and packs a punch when looking at search engine ranking results.
Mobile Online Buying and Selling
For e-commerce sites, mobile optimization is crucial to success. Large retailers like eBay and Amazon have even developed mobile apps to allow users to easily access every feature of their site! Seamless shopping allows customers to add an item to their cart on a desktop and complete the purchase from a hand held device. Mobile optimized sites streamline the purchase process and encourage shoppers to spend more. Nearly 8 in 10 mobile shoppers report spending more time and making more impulse buys on device friendly websites.
Trends to Consider for Mobile Friendly Sites in 2018
Beyond the numerous reasons to optimize your website for mobile, it is essential to understand how to make the most of it:
- Your text should be easily readable and simplified to target your customers. Zooming in to read long chunks of irrelevant copy will quickly exhaust a user’s patience.
- Consider how mobile users will interact with your website. Desktop and laptop users enjoy the luxury of mouse navigation. Mobile displays require large buttons and scrolling column layouts to allow for quick and easy exploration.
- Page load speed is crucial. Users expect immediate information from their mobile devices. Your customers will flee if your page takes more than 3 seconds to load.
- Photos and Images Should be Prominent and High-Quality. The images you use should be relative to your content and used sparingly. Images also attract and retain attention, so high-quality images are crucial.
Stop waiting to fine tune your website for mobile navigation – just do it!
Reach out to us today to learn more about making your website mobile-friendly.
How to Succeed at Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a constantly evolving art.
A successful SEO guru will constantly be learning and researching what makes search engines happy and take advantage where competitors have fallen short. A well trained SEO guru will help improve your site’s flow and content to improve your rankings. There are thousands of SEO gurus out there, and just as many tips. So we decided we’d compile those lists for you.
The bottom line in search engine optimization is Text, Links, Popularity, and Reputation, let’s take a look at each of these topics.
Provide relevant, high quality, and informative content on your pages – especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do according to Google’s Steps to a Google-friendly site. This makes sense; if you give your visitors the information they’re looking for, then they will interact with your site longer which signals to search engines that your website has what visitors are looking for.
- Update your website content frequently.
- Blog or write articles, adding a new article at least once a month (weekly is optimal).
- Answer a question for Google.
- Short and dense articles are preferred.
- Your website should be setup logically in an organized menu structure.
- All images and content should be speed optimized.
- Your website must be mobile friendly.
- Don’t over-saturate your page with a single keyword.
- Have your image ALT tags on all images that contain appropriate keywords.
- Title tags for the page should also start with the page’s keyword.
- Don’t use graphics to display important content, search engines can’t “read” what’s on a graphic, only its name and ALT tag.
- Name your image something useful such as “Google-SEO-chart-image.jpg” not “DSC48523.jpg”.
- Enable “Enhanced image search” in your Google Webmaster Central account. Allowing Google to find your photos will help your SEO efforts.
Videos are very popular online right now, your business should be capturing them wherever you can.
- Make sure your website and host can handle playing videos smoothly.
- Videos that show up in Google blended search results don’t just come from YouTube. Be sure to submit your videos to other quality video sites like Vimeo and Yahoo to name a few.
- Make sure your video descriptions are complete and descriptive.
- Internal links should be a clear call to action for users to make their next click.
- Get your website out on “natural links“, aka places you’d expect to find your website listed, such as trade magazines, affiliate sites and industry related blogs and forums.
- “Unnatural links” are those that appear on paid “link farms”.
- Directory listings are good for search results and local results, but again limit them to the big guys, not every link farm you can find.
- Backlinks are links that are made on other websites, they link “back” to your website. These can also be links in social media.
- Understand social media marketing. This is part of search engine optimization – your organization must be on social media.
- For extra credit, links from .edu domains are seen as extra votes by search engines, search for non-profit .edu sites that are looking for sponsors that provide links from their website to their sponsors.
Face it: the more popular your website is, the higher its search engine ranking.
- Submit your sitemap through Google Webmaster Tools and other search engines such as Bing.
- Allow and encourage reviews about your business on Google, social media, Yelp, etc.
There’s no doubt when you look around that mobile is growing. Therefore, so are “near me” searches. Get your business showing up in the “near me” searches by optimizing your Google My Business page.
- Putting an SSL certificate on your website not only makes Google happy, but helps your reputation as a legit business.
- Don’t fall for “guaranteed” SEO website services, the providers likely are using black-hat tactics that in the end will get you unlisted by Google and other search engines.
- Build your SEO results through steady research and ongoing tweaks and updates.
- Pay-per-click or SEM are not bad things, they also build up your website traffic. But keep in mind, you are renting the traffic, not building the traffic like ongoing SEO does.
- Check out “rich snippets” they make your search engine listing stand out and few brands have implemented them.
- Take a look at your site through unbiased eyes. Turn off your Google Personalized Search results by logging out of Google and using an incognito browser, or Append “&pws=0” to the end of your search URL in the search bar.
- Beware of “black-hat” SEO tactics that attempt to fool search engines with hidden and inappropriate content. According to Google “be careful; if your domain is affiliated with one of these deceptive services, it could be banned from our index.”
In conclusion, search engine optimization is constantly evolving, it takes time and dedication to help your website climb up in search engine result pages (SERPs). Even if you completed every step above, it will still take up to 6 months to see results from SEO. Think of it as building a house, where as Pay-Per-Click or SEM is renting the house. We have had clients run both services simultaneously and eventually were able to decrease their SEM budget when their SEO results were bringing in more continuous traffic at a much lower cost.
Why It’s Important to Clean Up Your Website
Dust off your mouse and grab your website administrative login, it’s time to clean up your website.
If you’re running late on your spring cleaning, it’s ok. You have a week before summer. Your website and online presence all need to be cleaned up regularly too, so why not now? There are many reasons you need to clean and update your website.
Keep Your Website Professional
Take the time to click through your website as a user. You’d be surprised how many updates you find that should be made, or realize that you have additional information available but it hasn’t been added to the website yet. If your homepage is still displaying information about a past event as “upcoming” you are wasting prime space and sending the wrong message to your visitors.
Website Load Time
Cool websites look great on a large monitor and can be programmed to be responsive to mobile screens, but there is an extra part to this: Load Time. Website speed issues will cause a visitor to leave your site before they even see what your cool website has to offer.
Some steps to take to decrease your load time:
- Get a great website host. Page speed starts with how fast files are served by your web host. While there is no one perfect solution for hosting your site, do not mindlessly sign up for a hosting plan without researching performance and reviews.
- Decrease the number of installed plugins. There’s a good chance your website is not using half of the plugins you have installed, and there are huge security issues if your plugins are not kept up to date.
- Clean up outdated posts and articles on your website. Those articles can add to load time.
- Optimize your website images. Use a photo editing program to optimize images before uploading to your website. Delete unused images from your media library.
With fake reviews circling the internet and companies like Yelp & Amazon suing those selling or creating fake reviews, it is important to create an online experience users can trust. Start by sending review request emails to verified purchasers as a way to collect authentic content.
Don’t edit reviews, not even grammatical errors – they actually help build authenticity in the eyes of your customers.
Increase Search Engine Optimization
Keeping your website load time down is an important piece of search engine optimization. But have you given thought to what services or message your organization wants to communicate? Now is a good time to check what SEO keywords are on your website and match them to your goals. Does content match up with the assigned keywords? Do image names and alt tags coincide with your goals? Are the keywords in titles and content?
But I Hate Cleaning
Hate is a strong word. It’s more likely you just don’t have time, or it’s too overwhelming. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to bring in a professional. Give Appletree MediaWorks a call – we’ll discuss your online goals together and provide our professional services at an affordable price.
Website Tips for 2016
The New Year is Almost Here!
While considering a new year’s resolution don’t forget about your website. Maybe it could use an update and fresh new look. Check out some of these website tips for 2016.
As a first step, be sure and review your statistics and analytics to figure out who is visiting your website and how they behave once they arrive. Especially valuable for this analysis are “heat maps”, now available for free in Google Analytics. Heat maps show where people are drawn to on any given web page. We frequently review our clients’ heat maps to make sure customers are able to easily find what they are looking for.
Fresh, Up to Date, Modern Websites
The newest design trends: Transparent Layers
- Be careful with this as it doesn’t always render usefully on small mobile devices
Remember, looks are not everything
- Just because a website looks great doesn’t mean it works great.
Looks are very important though
- Just because a website is useful, doesn’t mean that it is attracting new customers. There needs to be a balance between look and usefulness.
Easy Navigation is Key
Clean up your navigation
- Users should be able to spot what they’re looking for in 5 seconds or less. Website visitors don’t want to dig for information, they’ll just leave your website.
Create a search box
- If your website does not have a search box, install one today. Even if you don’t think you need it. You need a search box in the same spot on every page. Also, the enter key needs to submit the search. Tip: Help out your search tool and use synonyms in your meta tag lists
- Users don’t want to get lost navigating your website. Breadcrumbs help them get back to where they’ve been.
Have you checked your website on your phone? What about a friend or co-worker’s phone, especially if they use a different platform? Your site may need some CSS love to stop items from going off the edge on certain phones and tablets.
Clean up the annoying trends from years before, such as autoplaying audio and popups. Also, cut back on the number of fields in your contact form. You can always get more information from contacts using their email or phone number, but if they get half way through a contact form and never hit submit you’ll never make that initial contact.
Improve Your SEO
Don’t have a blog on your website? This is the year to get started. This is great for SEO and good for demonstrating expertise in your industry.
Set a plan to make at least 2 posts a month. Ideally, you should be posting up to two posts a week within 6 months. Short on ideas? Ask some employees in your company, or answer some customer questions you’re used to hearing.
Don’t forget to share the articles across social media.
Social Media in 2016
Social media is not going away – plan to have your business or organization be more active with vendors and sister organizations. Real time social media is in, past tense coverage is out (but still good for SEO). Live video is where it’s at with today’s technology.
Blab lets anyone have their own show. It enables four people to chat on camera simultaneously – much like a talk show – while an audience of viewers watch. Blab is also closely tied to Twitter. You may use your Twitter account to log in, making it easy to share to your Twitter feed and draw an audience from the followers you’ve already earned.
Periscope (owned by Twitter) is a platform that allows you to video-record and broadcast to anywhere in the entire world. If you have ever been on Skype, it is a similar experience. However, instead of video conferencing with one person, you can stream to the masses.
Why Your Website Should Keep Up With The Joneses
Imagine that your company has worked through all of the items on your SEO checklist, but you still aren’t making it to the top of the Search Engine Results? What’s a dot com to do?
Your website needs to keep up with the Joneses for SEO and SEM
Keeping up with the Joneses refers to the comparison to one’s neighbor as a benchmark for social class, your website needs to do the same, it needs to keep up with your neighbors search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) efforts. By spending time researching your competitors you can learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t drive traffic.
According to Website Magazine, you should “learn from your competitors, identify your strengths and their weaknesses, and improve upon what they are doing. If you beat them in the majority of small battles, you are bound to win the war.” Conducting competitive research is neither unethical or illegal.
Be a nosy neighbor
There are a few different ways to check out your competitor’s online efforts. Among the easiest, of course, is to look them up and check out their website. Take a look at what pages and types of information they have on their website. Do they have a blog or case studies? If they have a blog, what are they writing about? If you have a different take on things or have the experience to write helpful articles for your clients too, then it may be time to add a blog section to your website. There are great tools out there to take a look at your competitors SEO rankings, such as Moz.
You can also google some of your industry keywords and see if your competitors come up with ad listings or in the organize search results. Your competitors ranking for keywords will help you build a link building roadmap. Don’t forget to study your competitor’s landing page, what key points are they making to complete the sales conversion? Tools like SEMrush provide insights to how your competitors are using search engine marketing, aka pay-per-click ads.
Maintained grass is always greener
Backlinks are a low hanging fruit that is a key aspect of gaining search engine ranking. The term “backlinks” refers to links back to your website from other websites, such as press releases or blog mentions. Analyzing your competitors’ backlinks can reveal easy opportunities for backlinks you can quickly recreate to point to your own site. Anchor links may not have a huge impact on search engines at this time. However, they can easily be viewed allowing you to see what keywords your competitors are putting their time and effort into.
Knowing your competition
Charting and knowing what works for your competitors will allow you to be more focused when making marketing decisions. If a competitor is dumping a lot of money into a keyword, don’t try to outbid them. Instead, choose another area of the market to focus on. The same thing applies to SEO – instead of chasing your competition, focus on an area of the market that they are not currently leveraging.
Website Magazine: http://www.websitemagazine.com/content/blogs/posts/archive/2015/08/18/23-mistakes-that-kill-search-traffic-and-conversions.aspx
Ways to Move Up in Search Engine Results
It’s common for our firm to receive phone calls from businesses and organizations asking how to move up to the first pages in search engine search results.
There are two ways to move up in search engine results, SEO and SEM.
Search Engine Marketing – we call this renting search engine results. These are the pay-per-click ad links that you see at the top and off to the side on search engine result listings. You’ll also see ads appears on websites you visit, these are part of SEM programs as well. A business can setup and manage their own paid search engine marketing, or have a professional firm help them set up and manage their paid ads. **Be sure you’re not locked into a long term contract or forced to keep a minimum budget with the firm that is managing your SEO ad account. If a firm requires this, seek another firm.
It used to be that people only talked about Google Ad-Words, but now Bing Ads, Facebook Ads and Twitter Ads are all players in the paid online advertising world.
SEM costs per-click, every click. If you contact the ad dealers, you can often obtain some free credits to help ease you into pay-per-click ads. Yes, most consumers are immune to the little yellow “Sponsored” boxes next to the paid ads. But keep in mind many consumers can also be frustrated when they click on these paid ad links because sometimes too broad of a search term was used to create the ad and its not really related to what the consumer was searching for. This wastes the paid advertiser’s money for the click and the user’s time.
Apple Brings a New Way to Search
Apple heard the moans and groans of search engine users dealing with having to scroll past paid advertisements in Google and answered with “Spotlight”. Apple is throwing its hat in the search engine ring with its “Spotlight” search product. If you own an Apple device you’re already using Apple’s search tool and helping it grow at a pace of 3% per quarter. Apple takes search one step further and looks through the content on all sorts of online tools such as Wikepedia, maps, your email and Apps.
Search Engine Optimization – we call this building your search engine results, it takes time and planning, but time and time again SEO work has shown to be worth it for our clients. SEO is our favorite ways to move up in search engine results. If you stop putting money into SEM, your ads no longer appear. If you ease back on your SEO work, though, your website won’t just disappear from the search engine results. SEO requires creating and managing appropriate content and keywords on your website to naturally get attention from search engines, hence building your world wide web presence.
Search engines are constantly changing the way they rank websites and how much information they’re willing to share about what users are typing in to to find your website. As Moz recently admitted, “we can’t do keyword research like we used to do it.” Google shut the door to showing what keywords led visitors to websites last year and Bing is in the process of shutting the door on keyword reports this summer. This makes it even more important to work with an experienced agency to manage your search engine optimization so that your website will appear on the first page of search engine results.
Recipe for Success
We often recommend a mix of search engine optimization and search engine marketing to our clients. The SEM ads will drive immediate traffic to a website while we work on the SEO, which generally takes six-months of three to five hours a month to see results and witness a website moving up in search engine results. Once the SEO kicks in, the SEM ad budgets can be throttled back while maintaining the cheaper SEO maintenance plans.
[stylebox color=”green” icon=”letter” icon_size=”32″]Got questions? Want more information? Contact Appletree MediaWorks today.[/stylebox]
Good Links or Bad Links?
Are Links Good or Bad?
Are links to and from your website good or bad? To most people this probably seems to be a no-brainer. Of course links are good, that’s what the web is all about, right? Google’s robots crawl the links, it’s how the Web Was Won.
But, Google says that links can be too much of a good thing. For years people have bought and sold links, created link farms, and used other bad tactics to beef up their SEO via links. And then one of Google’s updates hit, and fears spread that links were bad and to be avoided.
What is the truth here?
The truth is likely somewhere in the middle. Practical, useful links to and from other sites are important. But people tend to be afraid of any change Google makes, and take the extreme opposite stance.
- Directory and Citation Listings. Linking to your site from high quality directory listings makes sense because your website is supposed to be a hub for your online company or brand to begin with. It is common sense to send people from directories to your site so that they can have access to as much information as possible.
- Blog Posts. If you are writing for topical, appropriate blogs then it makes sense to link back. Google may penalize for back links that make no sense, but if you are a social media expert doing a guest post on a website blog, one expects a link to additional information. Google is said to have made bad judgment calls here with their penalties, but taking extreme measures does no good either.
- Social Media. Social media has been a nice way to spread information and even today this makes sense. Like directory listings that point to your web as the hub of your brand, social media is an active way to share info and let others pass it along.
- Link Farms. According to Google, a link farm is “a set of web pages created with the sole aim of linking to a target page, in an attempt to improve that page’s search engine ranking.” Paying a company for the sheer purpose of spamming the world with links is a sure way to offend the Google Robots.
- Black Hat SEO. From link manipulation, to automated Google queries, to keyword stuffing, Black Hat SEO is generally an attempt to manipulate search engines to rise in ranks, with no concern for human readers. These tendencies tend to be against search engine policies. This is why Google has made SEO more complicated. This is why we can’t have nice things.
Google continually changes how its search engine considers things, and trying to follow Google specifications can be maddening. Links, as with any SEO, are better approached when they make sense. Don’t fear using them in a realistic way and at points that make sense, but don’t try to abuse them either. As with many things, moderation is key.
Writing for Your Clients and for Google
Writing for Your Clients and for Google
It’s easy to spot a blog or article written for Google: keywords make no sense, links litter the content, and much of the content seems unoriginal. Yet Search Engine Optimization is as important as it is mysterious. Google is always changing how ranking happens and it can be tricky to keep track of those changes.
Copywriting and SEO go hand in hand. Writing for people is important, and stuffing keywords and links is penalized. Google takes these abuses into account and acts against them. What’s becoming more significant is how often a link is passed along. A large part of modern SEO is getting your website shared on social media; you want to be considered an authority on your topic.
A few things are important to keep in mind, both for clients, readers, and Google.
- Titles that are useful, urgent, and ultra-specific hold attention best.
- Titles that grab readers attention, such as ‘How To’, ‘Reasons Why’ and Testimonials that offer a reward for reading.
- Stay simple, direct, and write in a natural way.
- Keep readers in mind at all times and do not write for search engines.
- Get to the point in the first paragraph.
- Use a call to action and ‘power words’ that grab attention.
- Keep your content relevant and focused on your target audience.
- Stay sway from a bombardment of advertising or selling.
[blockquote]As a business person and website owner, I noticed that selling pools looked hard at my data. I found out that customers were most likely to purchase my product after they had read many pages. Those who contacted me at that point were almost guaranteed to buy.” – John T. Smyth[/blockquote]
- Be the authority and Google will consider you the authority.
- The higher one ranks on a search engine, the more people will visit your site and click that link.
- The more a link is passed around, the more Google considers it significant.
This brings us to what seems to be the comprehensive theme of copywriting and SEO at the moment: Your job is to help the search engine robots figure out the fine details and points of what you are talking about, and what’s good for SEO is ultimately good for people.
“Working with Appletree MediaWorks is one of the best decisions we have made here at TUEMedia. They do an excellent job at keeping our websites up to date, and always have us covered with the latest updates and features. The team at Appletree MediaWorks does a fantastic job with their layout and custom design, and are always a phone call away when there’s a problem. I couldn’t imagine anyone else handling our media!”
Co-Host and Communications Director
“With Appletree MediaWorks taking care of our web presence, I can spend my time producing radio instead of worrying about our websites. I work most with Raina, who is friendly and quick to carry out requests. She answers all of my questions, even when that means she has to do extra research for me. I can’t imagine running The Union Edge without Katie and Raina our corner!
Co-Host & Executive Producer
TUEMedia is a new site designed for the WordPress framework, pinwheel slider, and Search Engine Optimization. Utilizing a dark background, the design implies elegance and simplicity, showcasing the client’s services and contact information.
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