Is It Ever Better to Start Over with SEO?

As a rule of thumb, business owners turn to us for search engine optimization (SEO) for one of two reasons: either because they have a brand-new company they want to promote, or because they haven’t gotten the results they were looking for in the past. In other words, they are either starting over or building on past campaigns.

Recently, though, we have been encountering a new kind of question: does it ever make sense to begin your SEO campaigns from a blank slate? In other words, should you even consider moving domains and beginning your online marketing campaigns as if you were a brand-new business even if you aren’t?

This would typically be a bad idea, given that search history, authority, and other search indicators are all tied to domain age and previous search activity. However, there are a few situations where starting fresh might make sense. Let’s look at a few of them…

When You Have Changed Names or Industries

Sometimes you can have the same business without having the same business. If you are in a situation where your name and/or location are the same as they have always been but your product or service mix is quite different, then starting fresh can be a good idea. This is especially true if you are getting inquiries that aren’t related to what you currently sell or offer.

When you have a new business it’s usually smart to begin with a new website. It might be hard to start over, but that’s usually the sensible long-term choice.

When Your Business Has Accumulated a Poor Online Reputation

Surveys show that around 90% of all customers look at customer feedback before trying a new business for the first time. So, if a Google search for your company name yields hundreds or thousands of bad online reviews, then achieving a high search ranking isn’t going to help you. 

Of course, this brings us back to the first point. If your business model is broken then you might need to re-launch—with a new name and at different online and offline locations—before buyers will consider giving you another try.

When You Have Found Yourself in Hot Water with Google

This is the situation we hear about most frequently these days. Some business owners, in a rush to make it to the top of search listings, have hired firms that relied on cheap tricks and quick gimmicks. Those can work for a little while, but they can also cause you to be blacklisted by Google. When that happens search spiders treat your content as if it doesn’t exist. 

In most cases the damage isn’t permanent. A team like ours can usually go through your site, piece by piece, and repair things one step at a time. In some severe instances, however, it can actually be easier to restart on a new domain and begin again from the ground up (while being careful not to repeat the same mistakes).

The Good News about Starting Fresh

It’s worth reiterating again that starting from scratch with Google wouldn’t be a good idea for the vast majority of businesses out there. However, if you were to go that route we have some good news: it’s not as difficult to get results as you might think.

As Google’s algorithms have gotten better, and knowledge around SEO has improved, the time it takes to make an impact in the search rankings has decreased. In fact, in 2021 it’s possible to dominate a local or niche portion of the organic market within just a few months. Add in some focused ads and a strong social media effort and you could be drawing in new leads and sales very quickly.

That’s good news for entrepreneurs who are just beginning, of course, but it’s also a good reminder for established business owners who haven’t seen much traction from SEO in the past. Start following a different plan and you could see results much quicker than you think!

SEO and Online Marketing Are All about Strategy and Execution

To turn your website into a source of leads and revenue you need two things: the right approach and an actionable plan to keep your business on track. We can help with both.

12 Hidden Obstacles to Online Lead Generation

If you’re like most of the business owners who initially turn to us for help, you’re dealing with two obstacles. The first is that your website isn’t actually creating any sales opportunities for you. And the second is that you don’t have any idea why that might be.

This issue is far more common than you might think. Everyone wants a website that will help them win new customers and create revenue, but most business owners don’t actually know how to build a workable sales funnel. That’s our specialty, of course. 

What we often discover in working with new clients is that the first step to generating leads is actually removing the obstacles that get in the way. In other words, before you can do the right things, you have to stop doing the wrong ones.

In today’s post, we want to take you through a dozen of the most obvious and common errors we see when evaluating client sites. Here are some quick reasons your website might not be selling the way you want it to.

1. Your Website Has No Traffic

If no one is coming to your website and seeing your content, then you can’t be surprised that leads aren’t pouring in. While the relationship between web traffic and sales opportunities isn’t always as straightforward as business owners think, you do need one to get the other. 

If you don’t have sufficient interest in your website to generate traffic, it might be time to look at search engine optimization, internet advertising, email marketing, and other tactics that draw visitors in.

2. Your Pages Load Too Slowly

Sometimes it can seem as if you have plenty of visits to your website when in reality no one is viewing your content. How can this happen? If your webpages take a long time (i.e. more than a few seconds) to load, then you might be losing visitors before you ever get the chance to sell.

Slow websites are usually a symptom of underpowered web hosting, coding errors, or issues with improperly formatted content. These kinds of problems are easily detectable with a website audit and should be easy to fix.

3. Your Website Layout Isn’t Mobile-Friendly

Did you know that more than half of all the visitors to most websites are using mobile-ready phones and tablets? If your layout isn’t configured to be compatible with these devices, then users might leave… Or they might not even get the chance to see your content in the first place.

There are plenty of ways to add mobile functionality to an existing business website. The technology is easy and inexpensive and can have a huge impact on your ability to generate sales opportunities online. Why wouldn’t you want half or more of your prospects to be able to see what your company has to offer?

4. Your Pages Have Technical Errors or Broken Links

There are a lot of things that can go wrong on a business website that aren’t apparent to the naked eye. You could have missing pieces of content, outdated plugins, or links that don’t actually go from one page or tool to another. This is especially prevalent on older websites, or those that have been created using DIY tools and templates.

An experienced web design team (using auditing software) can detect these kinds of issues and clean them up very quickly. If you never look for these kinds of problems, though, you might not realize they are preventing website visitors from turning into qualified leads.

5. Your Web Design Hurts Your Credibility

When someone arrives at your website for the first time, they have to make near-instant assumptions about the quality of your products and services. The initial impression they get from your designs and layouts can be all-important.

If you have a color scheme that doesn’t work, outdated low-res images to sell your products and services, or a generally disorganized feel to your content, then that’s going to tell a story that works against you. Remember, a lot of people who come to your website won’t know anything about you except for what they see right in front of them. Make sure it doesn’t convince them to take their time and money elsewhere.

6. There Are Obvious Typos on Your Pages

This can seem like a minor issue on your business website, especially if you spent a lot of money on design and development. What we want you to understand, though, is that no one will share their contact information with you if they don’t trust the credibility of your company. And few things destroy confidence in your professionalism faster than a whole bunch of obvious typos and grammatical errors.

It’s easy and inexpensive to have someone proofread the content on your website. That one investment of time and money can boost your lead generation results in a big way.

7. Your Content Doesn’t Set Your Business Apart

If your business seems like it blends in with all of your competitors, then why should anyone work with you? In other words, if you aren’t offering anything unique then there isn’t any reason to choose the products and services your company offers.

This shouldn’t be an issue in most marketing situations, but we frequently come across websites that have obviously been “inspired” by another more successful business. Being generic, blending in, or copying other business owners is no way to make a name for yourself, and it’s generally not going to help you attract new customers.

8. Potential Customers Don’t Trust You

Sometimes intentional customers won’t trust you even though your design and content are strong. It might be that they’ve been burned in the past or have seen your competitors overhyping their own products and services.

If you suspect that might be the case, then your best bet is to do whatever you can to make your business more trustworthy. That might include showing off verified reviews, pointing out that you are a member of the Better Business Bureau, or even highlighting a money-back guarantee. Any of these can help remove distrust and encourage conversion.

9. What You’re Asking Isn’t Realistic

Imagine for a moment you were trying to sell a mansion on your website. Would you put up some photos and a “buy now” button, or maybe include a downloadable brochure that invited visitors to an open house?

This is a ridiculous example, but it points to a bigger issue. What you ask for as a next-step working version of your website needs to be reasonable and realistic. If you ask visitors to give up too much, too soon, then you’re bound to be disappointed by the results.

10. There Isn’t an Obvious Conversion Option for Customers to Follow

In order for your website to generate leads, you’re going to have to ask visitors to take a step that goes beyond simply reading your content. You might want them to sign up for a webinar, download a buyer’s guide, schedule a phone call, or do something else. The specifics aren’t as important as the need to be clear in your invitation.

If website visitors can’t tell what they should do to let you know they are interested, then you can’t be surprised when they don’t ever follow up. And if they don’t follow-up, you aren’t creating any new sales.

11. Your Lead or Purchase Link Doesn’t Work

It’s amazing how often we see this kind of issue pop up. It only makes sense, if you want to generate leads for your website, that you would have working apps or features in place that allow people to share email addresses, download white papers, sign up for appointments, etc. However, lots of marketers never test these tools to ensure that they are working properly.

You need to check and double-check every part of your conversion process. Be sure they all work, and that they’re functional with a variety of browsers and devices. If you don’t, you could be letting sales opportunities slip away without ever realizing it.

12. There Aren’t Any Follow Up Mechanisms in Place

Even when you do have a strong sales funnel in place and don’t have any obvious errors on your website, many prospects simply aren’t going to become leads the first time you ask them. They might want to talk with a spouse or supervisor, for example, before submitting an inquiry or scheduling an appointment.

If you don’t have any follow up mechanisms in place – such as a retargeting an ad campaign or automated email autoresponder series – those opportunities might be lost forever. Make it easy for potential customers to stay in touch, or give them second and third chances to say “yes” to the next step in your sales funnel.

Could Your Website Be Doing More For Your Business?

It used to be enough to have a professional business website that told prospects all about your business and your products. In today’s digital marketing world, though, you need a tool that helps you establish your brand, drawing qualified leads, and generate finished sales. You might even want your website to process orders, automate mundane tasks, and help with recruiting.

5 Things That Will Be More Valuable Than Cash to Marketers in 2021

As 2020 has officially come to a close, and as business owners start looking towards the new year, it’s understandable that many are keeping a closer-than-usual eye on their bottom line. The last 12 months have been completely unpredictable, and they have left even established companies in some industries scrambling around for cash.

There is no substitute for money in your business bank account, of course, but most of the entrepreneurs we know aren’t in dire straits. For them, our advice is to look at the bigger picture. We definitely think this is a good time to hold onto your money, but not if it stops you from winning customers or hurts you in the long run.

To help make sense of this advice, here are five things that will be worth more than cash to marketers in the coming year…

1. A Top Three Search Engine Position

When your company’s website is highly visible on Google, it allows you to reach an exponentially higher number of potential customers than your competitors. Then, you can continue generating leads and making sales even if you have to change your products, services, or pricing. Because organic search positioning builds over time, that’s an advantage that’s hard for anyone to take away.

2. A Sterling Online Reputation

Having a strong online reputationin terms of the right reviews and testimonialsis always important. When the economy is uncertain and money is tight, however, people are even more careful about the way they spend and whom they trust. For that reason, having lots of positive online feedback can give all of your sales and marketing efforts a huge boost.

3. A Strong Brand Identity

While brand identity and reputation are similar, they aren’t the same thing. When you have a brand that is well-known within your target market, it amplifies the effects of your ads, emails, and other outreach activities. If customers and prospects know what your business does, and they understand your unique selling proposition already, they will most likely to say “yes” to your offers.

4. An Email List Full of Buyers and Prospects

Email remains the most cost-effective sales and marketing tool around today. With a few clicks of a button you can reach out to hundreds or thousands of buyers at onceprovided you already have a list of subscribers to work with. Finding engaged subscribers who look forward to your messaging is a great way to generate consistent sales and make your business recession-proof.

5. The Right Marketing Advice and Strategy

Is it a little self-serving of us to say good online marketing advice is worth more than what you pay for? Maybe, but it also happens to be true. When you have a team of experienced professionals nudging you in the right direction, it’s easier to get results while avoiding common blunders. This is especially true at a time when many of your competitors are probably scrambling around trying to figure out their next steps.

Should You Be Worried About Google Zero-Click Search Results?

Lately, web designers and search engine optimization (SEO) experts have been sounding the alarm on a growing trend: zero-click search results on Google.

If you haven’t heard this term and/or aren’t familiar with the concept behind it, we want to bring you up to speed. We are going to begin by telling you what zero-click search results are. Then, we’ll get into the bigger question of why you should or shouldn’t be concerned about them. 

Understanding Zero-Click Search Results

What you really need to know about zero-click results is that a large number of Google searchessome estimates say more than halfnever leave the company’s ecosystem. A person searches something, for example, and ends up at Google Maps, YouTube, or another Google-owned web portal to find the answer.

For users, a zero-click search result can be fast and convenient. However, for companies who rely on Google for lead generation, it can be disconcerting to know that fewer and fewer users are finding their way to third-party sites on the web.

Assuming that you get a lot of business from Google, or you prioritize SEO as part of your online marketing plan, you might be worried. However, there’s a decent chance these search queries aren’t that relevant to your business.

Why Your Business Might Not Be Affected

While it’s true that more and more Google searches are resulting in zero offsite clicks, it’s also true that users are interacting with search engines in ways that are relatively new. For example, people commonly ask Google to forecast the weather, get the starting time for the big game, or find driving directions.

There are specific web tools and portals losing traffic based on those sorts of search trends, but they may not fall within your company’s area of influence. Google isn’t recommending realtors, making appointments with architects, or giving inside advice on insurance products (as examples) within its family of web properties.

In other words, many of the zero-click search results are coming from new, information-based searches that don’t relate to industries like yours.

Looking for SEO and Online Marketing Alternatives

While we stand by the notion that most small and medium-sized companies aren’t being affected by zero-click search trends, that isn’t the same as saying they will never be affected. In fact, it’s almost inevitable that marketers reading this article will be at some point in the future.

Google changes like all companies do, and SEO is in a constant state of flux. The key is to understand that and adapt to conditions as they are right now and will be in the near future. For 2020, that means continuing to prioritize search engine optimization in its various forms. It also means keeping an eye on the horizon and experimenting with new ways to reach out to buyers over the web.

Contrary to what some business owners, executives, and web designers get locked into thinking, there are ways to find customers that don’t revolve around organic search results. The beginning of a new year is a great time to re-examine them and size up opportunities for the future.

Are Your SEO and Online Marketing Strategies Setup for Success in 2020?

Every month we talk with business owners and executives who are following old playbooks for online marketing success. What helped you find customers five years ago won’t work today, and in fact might hurt your search visibility or leave you playing catch up with your competitors.