Here at City Ranked Media we primarily work in WordPress and all of our new client websites are built using WordPress, so you might say we’re big fans of the website platform. However in the years we’ve been using WordPress, we’ve seen some pretty big messes with some websites that people have brought us to fix. Pretty big messes that took a lot of time and money to fix, so that being said we thought that we’d write an article on questions to ask, and things to know before deciding to hire someone to build you a website in WordPress. Continue reading
How to measure the effectiveness of your SEO and PPC efforts
When it comes to measuring your own SEO and PPC efforts, or perhaps you’re trying to measure your outsourced efforts, understanding what metrics to measure can be a difficult task. The sheer amount of data that can be presented through programs such as Google AdWords or Google Analytics can make just about anyone’s eyes glaze over. For business owners, reports like these often take a back seat to more important business functions. So a question that we often get is how to effectively benchmark an SEO and/or PPC campaign for effectiveness, and when do you know its time to make a change?Continue reading
Hiring a reputable Internet Advertising company for your small business may seem like an easy task. There are many choices out there when it comes to website marketing, search optimization and search marketing companies. Unfortunately the decision to hire a reputable company to handle your online advertising is not as easy as it may seem. In many cases, small business owners choose internet advertising based upon convenience, rather than diligent research, which can have unintended consequences down the road. Don’t become a victim of a company that doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
One of the things I am continually amazed at is how many small business websites don’t really sell the benefits of doing business with them. How does your website sell benefits of doing business with you, rather than your competitor? This is probably one of the very first things I ask any new business, right after I ask them if they’re satisfied with how their website is working to produce leads for them. Almost always the response I get is no, or I have no idea how it’s working. In this post I will cover a tactic that I have found very helpful in converting visitors into prospects.
Websites are sales people too
Might seem silly to say websites are sales people too, but sometimes small business owners need to be reminded of that. In the almost 10 years I have been doing this, I’ve heard websites referred to everything from “online brochures”, “24 hour sales person”, “online menu of services” and so on, and however you may view your website, one question every business owner needs to ask themselves is: How does my website reflect upon me and my services/company? Sharp or sloppy?
Being viewed as a Professional Small Business
Websites need nurturing, just like a sales person would. Do you keep up on your website? Have you trained it on your newest products and/or offerings? Does it talk, in detail, about what you do, how your business is different, and what the benefits of doing business with you versus one of your competitors? If the answer is no to any of the above, it might be time to make a change.
Building a small business website that sells
I come from a background of sales, so when I started City Ranked, it seemed a no brainer to me that a small business website needed to sell the very best attributes a small business had, sell the benefits of doing business with said small business and how that business made it easy to do business with them. With convincing from one of my very first customers, we tested a new website layout that almost “punched” a website visitor in the face with the benefits, confidence and convenience factors of doing business with them, on every single page.
After conducting an exhaustive list of services the client offered, we dived into what set them apart from their competition. This client offered Junk and Garbage Hauling Services, and because it only takes a couple guys with a truck to offer this type of service, the market is littered with these types of business, both local and national and fly-by-night operations. So making sure that we remind website visitors the “benefits” of doing business with this client were key. As you can see from the above screenshot, we came up with 8 key points that we needed to remind visitors of, as a side point their old website only mentioned 3 of these points in tiny small text within the website text.
The results of our website redesign
Almost immediately the quality of customer leads and phone calls coming off the website shot up. No longer was “price” the driving question behind what the customer was providing. Questions such as “how fast can you come?”, and “Do you pick up from ___?” became the norm. Second we saw website conversion percentage increase dramatically. People that would have normally visited then left, were now visiting and calling. Obviously more calls = more sales. Also customer has seen an increase in calls from commercial clients.
Websites that sell, ring up sales
So what did my customer and I learn from all this? Building a website, that sells a small businesses best qualities, right up top, where every visitor can see them nets results. For me I can safely say that I have a very satisfied customer, for my customer, their website is finally working they way they always wanted it to work. My customer even stated that their sales were up over 80% versus the same period the prior year! Now obviously other factors such as local search optimization, professional SEM, and website SEO went into those results…but at the end of the day, we can drive tons of traffic, if the website still doesn’t sell, it does no good.
If that doesn’t convince you to build a website that sells, I don’t know what will.
According to Google there are over 200 different factors that they grade on to determine how a website will rank within their Search Engine Results Page for any given search. Given that they grade on over 200 of them, and the fact that most small businesses don’t have the resources to hire a team of SEO experts, I will list the 6 factors that I have found are a must for any small business hoping to achieve rankings in their area, and more importantly, results that turn into sales.
The below list is by no means all inclusive…
On Page Search Engine Optimization
On page search optimization is the practice of getting your site ranked though changes to your website. There are many ways to accomplish this, some good, some bad, a.k.a. White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO. Generally writing good quality content with frequently searched keywords (careful to much keywords also known as “Keyword Stuffing”), cross linking, adding relevant keywords to meta-data, and providing fresh & updated content will increase the frequency of the Search Engines Indexing your site. Having a good understanding of how the search engines index your website also helps with your website optimization. You can read more about this in my prior post about Google Caffeine.
Off Page Search Engine Optimization
Off page search engine optimization conversely is everything you do to raise your ranking with the search engines outside of your website. Link building is a popular strategy for this. Another tactic is submission of correct content and information about your business to sites that the search engines consider “authoritative”, ensuring you have links to your website posted on these sources. It’s a good practice to make sure you link to sites with a good Page Rank. This will ensure the search engines look at your website favorably.
Developing good quality inbound links to your website is probably one of the most effective ways to improve rankings with the search engine. This is often the most time consuming component of SEO, but can yield large measurable results. Directory Submissions with differing anchor text on each, Link Searches is another useful, but advanced exercise in which we let the search engines find the sites for us to link to. Article writing, forums and blogs are also quality ways to get inbound links. Often, many small business owners skip this as it takes time, patience and work.
Ratings & Reviews
Never under estimate the power of consumer reviews. A study done by ComScore showed that up to 87% of consumers purchase decision was based upon reviews, and 97% of those said that they made a purchase based their decision a review. Also notable was the fact that consumers were willing to pay up to 20% more for quality services based upon favorable reviews. It is essential for businesses to generate positive reviews from consumers for local search ranking. Read here why Google changed its review index
Local Search Optimization
Local Search, in my opinion is the best search optimization technique for small business. Local search is nothing more than a query that includes a local factor, such as “Plumbers Portland OR”.
According to Google 20% of the searches they receive are local. Want to know how big this is? Every day 600 million local searches are done on Google alone. Try to get that kind of traffic anywhere else, it’s not going to happen. Clearly Local Search should be a priority for any small business.
Fresh Content, Blogging, Article Submissions and Forums are all great ways to promote via the web, and can spotlight you as a trusted industry leader. They’re also excellent ways to get your business indexed for obscure searches or front end keywords related to your business. Blogs, Articles and Forums are also great ways to generate inbound links to your web property. Blogging takes work on the business owners part, as such commitment and dedication are keys to it ultimate success.