Making the Most of Your Local Business Profiles

Online business profiles—particularly on Google and Yelp—can have a profound impact on your ability to pull in customers from your geographic area. That’s because buyers tend to look on the web first when they need to find a new company or vendor, especially if they’re using their phone while on the go.

However, while understanding the importance of local business profiles is a good first step, that’s not enough to actually make the most of them. If you want to see a consistent flow of customers going from your business descriptions on the internet into your company’s accounts, here are a few things you have to do…

Continue reading “Making the Most of Your Local Business Profiles”

7 Signs Your Business Website Needs Some Work

Occasionally, we meet with business owners who aren’t sure they need our services. It’s often the case that they have been referred by a colleague, or even a customer, but can’t tell whether they should actually invest in some upgrades to their existing web presence.

That’s understandable. Web design is about technical skill and personal preference. Besides, no one wants to spend money on creative work that won’t actually help them attract more leads or customers.

At the same time, however, there are a lot of websites out there that need immediate attention. Today, we want to give you seven clear-cut signs it’s time to make some improvements to the part of your business customers almost always see first…

Continue reading “7 Signs Your Business Website Needs Some Work”

What Business Owners Need to Know About SEO Today

If you are a successful business owner, then you’re probably at least familiar with the basic notions behind search engine optimization (SEO). You know that a strong position in Google can help you win new customers every week. And you also probably know that search engine algorithms and formulas are constantly changing, and that a lot of the old tricks and ideas aren’t working anymore.

However, that does not mean you should give up on SEO. For one thing, the benefits of high search visibility are bigger than they’ve ever been. By some estimates, Google currently processes more than 4 billion searches per day. It has immense referral power for your company, and you don’t want to surrender that traffic or those sales opportunities. And for another thing, keeping up with the latest search trends probably isn’t quite as difficult as you might think. In fact, you just have to know which current trends and ideas matter most.

In order to help you cut through all the confusion and outdated information out there, let’s take a look at what business owners need to know about SEO today…

Google’s Basic Formula Still Applies

At the heart of all search visibility is the understanding that Google “reads” your website with automated spiders, looking for terms that match up with the ones searchers use. Also, it will see whether other high-quality websites within your industry link to you as a valuable resource. Get those two things right, and you’re bound to appear in Google more often.

You Can’t Spam Your Way to Success

In the “old days,” a lot of companies tried to game the SEO system by adding low-quality junk pages to their websites that featured the same search terms over and again. Others got away with directing thousands of meaningless links to their sites. These kinds of tactics stopped working a while ago because they could harm your search visibility. You can’t spam your way to SEO success anymore.

Geography Matters a Lot

Being that Google has essentially killed off the Yellow Pages, and millions of users are looking for answers from the phones and tablets while on the go, search engines now factor in geographic location more heavily into their algorithms. It’s important you have geographic terms in your website (like city and state names) so buyers and search spiders can tell where you do business.

Good Web Hosting Makes a Difference

Speed, consistency, and secure connectivity all count as search signals now. It means that fast and stable websites are more likely seen by customers. You can give your company a small advantage over your competitors by paying a few more dollars a month for good web hosting. It also happens to be a great way to improve website performance at the same time.

Mobile Search is a Huge Trend

Mobile search apps, digital assistants, and voice search tools are changing the way SEO works. That’s because people speak differently than they type. Websites with lots of natural language content—especially in the form of blog posts and frequently asked questions—are getting a big boost.

AI is Changing Everything

Google’s RankBrain and other artificial intelligence technologies are moving beyond additional keyword matching. They use advanced formulas to “understand” contextual relationships between pages and ideas on websites. Also they determine quality by evaluating citations, links, grammar, and more. In other words, Google is mimicking its human users and figuring out which search results are good ones.

While it’s true that SEO is undergoing huge transformations, it’s also true that savvy marketers are getting a bigger return than ever on their campaigns and efforts.

Why a DIY Website Costs More Than You Think

Lately, we have been hearing from potential clients who want to know whether they really need to pay for professional business web design when there are so many DIY website templates available at little or no cost. Why hire a web designer or creative team when you could build and host your own pages for just a few dollars per month?

The simple answer is that DIY web templates end up costing you more than you might think.

In this case, we aren’t talking about the add-on expenses you might face while getting your website online, although you do need to look out for those. Neither are we referring to the lack of customization, the extra coding that will be hidden in your pages, or the fact that you might not own the resulting website if you use a DIY service. These all factor into the value of one solution versus another, but they shouldn’t be your primary concern.

In fact, to understand why DIY websites cost a lot more than advertised, you just have to grasp something a little more basic…

Business Web Design Comes Down to One Thing

Although it’s easy to focus on things like layouts, content management systems, and SEO plans when thinking about business web design, those are just details. Your main concern should be earning a positive return on investment through the project.

In other words, the point of your business website is to help your business grow. It’s true that it needs to look good and function correctly for that to happen, but you should never lose sight of the fact that the website’s sales, marketing, and cost-cutting power are what make it so valuable.

With a DIY website template, you’re getting the appearance of a custom website without any of the underlying benefits—like a unique design, messaging that appeals to your customers, and plugins tailored to your business model—that actually help you generate results. It’s the online equivalent of spray painting something gold and hoping it will suddenly have great value.

The Math of DIY vs. Professional Web Design

To understand how this dynamic plays out and affects your bottom line, we can turn to some simple numbers. Imagine for a moment that your business website receives 100 unique visits per week. That would be very low for the clients we would work with. But, it makes the math easy, so we’ll stick with that figure.

100 visits each week turns into 5,000+ opportunities to make an impression on new customers roughly every 12 months. Even if 1% more decide to make a purchase or appointment after visiting your custom website, that’s 50 new customers per year. That would probably more than pay for what you would spend on web design, all while helping you with PR, recruiting, and so much more.

The average client might expect to see 10 times as many visits to their website, of course, and get 10 times the return. But the simple math helps put the costs of a custom web design in perspective… along with the risks of a DIY template.

Do You Want a Business Website That Pays for Itself?

It doesn’t matter what a web design costs you, or how little you pay, if you don’t get a positive return on your investment. To put it another way, any money you spend on your business is wasted if it doesn’t come back to you later.

Is SEO Actually Worth the Time and Effort?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

All business owners and marketing executives love the idea of social media marketing. It’s common sense: Google is currently processing somewhere around 5 billion searches per day. Who wouldn’t want a healthy slice of that traffic headed towards their own landing pages?

However, what stops them from following through on new search engine optimization campaigns is the reality that it can be difficult to bring traffic in from Google if you’re starting from a low initial search position. If you haven’t put time, money, and effort towards SEO in the past, it can seem daunting to even begin.

It’s not surprising, then, that we often hear different versions of the question: “Is SEO really worth the time and effort it will take?” To get at the right answer, here are a few things you have to remember…

Continue reading “Is SEO Actually Worth the Time and Effort?”

How to Make Your Content Voice Search-Friendly

For years, web design and online marketing companies like ours have been trying to help businesses to make their way to the top of Google’s search engine listings. In the last couple of years, though, that process has been changing dramatically. That’s because a lot of searchers don’t even use Google search bar anymore—instead, they turn to the Google mobile app, or digital voice assistants, to find what they’re looking for.

As with most things in the online world, this creates both challenges and opportunities. If you want more customers to find you, you have to have content that is voice search-friendly. Here are a few things you can do to get started…

Get an SEO Audit with a Focus on Mobile Search

During a search engine optimization audit, we take a deep look at your website, examining technical factors (like website structure, page loading speed, link naming, etc.) that can affect your search visibility. Additionally, we can pay special attention to search patterns and content to discover whether your content is accessible to mobile searchers. A website audit is fast, inexpensive, and perfect for getting more search traffic, particularly if you’ve never optimized your pages for voice search in the past.

Post Content with Lots of Natural Language Strings

Until recently, the essence of search engine optimization was working specific (and sometimes awkward) phrases into the fabric of your website. That’s because people tend to type in incomplete strings. However, when using voice search most of your customers will speak in complete phrases and questions. That means you should have lots of FAQs, natural-language blog posts, and other forms of related content on your site if you want to be found through voice search apps and digital assistants.

Ensure You’re Maximizing Schema on Your Website

We don’t know everything about Google’s search algorithms, but we are aware it uses schema to categorize things like events, news, and other pieces of web content. If you make the most of HTML indicators to point out different parts of your page or post, search engines will have an easier time figuring out how to “read” your content and decide what’s relevant for searchers who are asking specific questions.

Build Your Content into Scannable Blocks and Topics

You don’t just want people using voice search to find your website; you also want them to absorb the information and possibly take a next step. To do that, you should put your content into scannable blocks that are easy to browse on a small screen. Otherwise, a searcher might be overwhelmed by what they find when directed to your website and take their attention elsewhere—even though you had the information they were looking for.

4 Ways to Make Your Startup Website Affordable

Entrepreneurs make for wonderful web design clients. Often, they come to us with unique ideas and a sense of enthusiasm about their products and services that can’t be matched. That makes their projects fun to work on. Who doesn’t like to see a great idea come to life, or hard-working person succeed?

Of course, the other side of the coin is that startups are often strapped for cash. They need unique and high-performing websites even more than established businesses do, but don’t have a lot in the marketing and promotional budget.

This can create challenges, but those challenges can be overcome. Today, we are going to give you five quick tips you can use to make your startup website a little more affordable…

Continue reading “4 Ways to Make Your Startup Website Affordable”

John Soules Food

John Soules Food is a superb example of the marketing and design capabilities that The Marcom Group possesses in regard to designing and maintaining a website for the needs of a versatile company. Whether your products are both online or in-store, their website formats can meet the needs for your wide customer base.

Continue reading “John Soules Food”

3 Things That Make A New Web Design Work

For most business owners and executives, it’s relatively easy to look at work folio samples or website mockups and find a preference. Most of us know what we like and don’t like when we see it. However, getting an effective website for your company isn’t as simple as choosing the right layout or visuals. If you really want your site to help you make money, you need a design that actually works.

What do we mean by “works” in this context? We are referring to the idea that, in addition to appealing to your artistic instincts, the look and layout of your website help you to meet your business goals. Or to put it another way: if your site isn’t drawing in visitors, convincing them of your competitive strengths, and turning them into sales opportunities, then why have it online in the first place?

With that perspective in place, let’s take a look at three things that make a new web design work…

Continue reading “3 Things That Make A New Web Design Work”

5 Ways to Evaluate Web Design Companies

We have noticed over the years that many of the business owners who come to us for help feel like they are flying blind. Often, they know they need a company that can help them build a custom website, but aren’t sure how to evaluate their many choices and options. After all, you could embark on an almost endless Google search just by looking through web designers in the area, which is to say nothing of the numerous DIY template companies and overseas providers out there.

So, how does someone who needs a website – and possibly isn’t all that familiar with industry jargon or the latest internet marketing trends – find the right web designer to work with? As with everything in life and business, it’s all about the right fit. To help you find a vendor who is right for your situation, here are five criteria you should consider…

Continue reading “5 Ways to Evaluate Web Design Companies”