Digital technology and the Internet have made it easier for retail locations to be found by customers. Before broadband technology made the Internet accessible to everyone on the planet, it was hard for consumers to find businesses that had what they needed. Your fingers would get tired walking through the Yellow Pages. You would have to waste precious time burning the telephone lines calling one retailer after another. With the Internet, it became much easier to build a strong local presence.

The Value Of Having A Strong Local Presence: Does Convenience Trump Branding?

If you forgot your wife’s birthday in 2003, you would be in trouble. Today, you can easily search for the nearest retailer that has her favorite perfume in stock. Likewise, today’s retailers can thank the advances in digital marketing for making it easier for customers to find their businesses.

Unfortunately, very few retailers have taken steps to harness the power of the Internet. According to a survey conducted by SurePayroll, only 26% of small businesses have a website.

There are business-owners who still believe that their digital marketing efforts can achieve results even without a website. They believe running social media and email marketing campaigns will be enough to bring their businesses to the forefront of the consumers’ consciousness.

While social media and email marketing strategies do generate positive results, they are more effective when used as part of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.

Instead of using these processes as independent sources of traffic, you would be in a better position to optimize their full power if both social media and email marketing were utilized as channels to drive inbound traffic to a website.

In our previous example, if you did forget your wife’s birthday, what would be the first thing you do? You would probably do a quick Google search. If your wife’s favorite perfume is Chance by Chanel, you can run a Google search query for “stores with chance by chanel near me”.

The search results page will feature a list of websites belonging to physical retailers within your area that currently have Chance by Channel in stock. You click on the website that appears first on the search results page.

If the website has chat support, you can engage the agent and find out the perfume’s availability, price, and ask for discounts or promotions. If not, you could simply look for the store number on the website and contact it from your mobile phone.

A website is an important component of your local marketing strategy because the first thing the consumer would do is run a search query. The user may try to find your business on Facebook or Twitter but that would be more time- consuming.

The same can be said for email marketing. Your newsletter could be lost in the pile of emails consumers receive.

Put simply, these processes would make it difficult for you to be top-of-mind. However, as part of a digital marketing strategy, both social media and email marketing can give your website a boost in Google’s search ranking.

According to a study by Google, 76% of consumers who run a search query from their mobile phones will visit the retail location within 24 hours. The best part is 28% of those visits have resulted in a purchase.

If they run a search query and find your website at or near the top of the results page, they will click on your URL. It does not matter if the consumer has not heard of your brand or store. It is all about convenience: “Who can help me find my need in the fastest possible time?”

Let’s go back to our example one more time. If the results page shows a website of a giant retailer, it will take time for the husband to find a store locator that will show the list of locations within his area. Then, he will have to find out which of these locations have Chance by Channel in stock.

Can these tasks be done from the convenience of a smartphone? Yes, but it is time-consuming. In contrast, if your URL comes out on the results page as one of the retail locations in the area, it would make the husband’s search much easier.  

Social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, paid ads, and blogging are great ways to build your brand. However, as far as consumers are concerned, their decisions would be more motivated or influenced by convenience. If you want to fortify your local presence, make sure your business can easily be found online.

How To Develop A Strategy That Will Ensure A Strong Local Presence

In the days before broadband technology, retailers would resort to local area marketing to get their businesses found. Local area marketing strategies included traditional marketing methods such as flyer distributions, installation of posters and streamers, and setting up POP or Point-of-Purchase materials at the cashier area.

The idea was to target consumers within a radius of 5km from the location of the store. Generally, this was referred to as “within walking distance” of the location. For retailers with larger budgets, local area marketing would likewise include publishing ads in community newsletters, running cross-marketing promotions with related businesses, and getting listed in the Yellow Pages.

Traditional marketing methods were quite expensive. They were also not sustainable. Once the ad had run its course, it was discarded. Given the tools available with digital technology, are traditional marketing methods useless for developing local marketing strategies?

Not quite! The reason is some of these methods have evolved and adapted to conform to the requirements of digital technology and the Internet. In combination with digital marketing techniques, these methods can help your retail location develop a strong local presence.

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1. Set Up a Mobile-Responsive Website

Before anything else, you should set up a mobile-responsive website. As we discussed earlier, consumers looking for information will always run an online search first. You should establish your online presence by having an active, mobile-responsive website on the Internet.

If you already have a mobile-responsive website, ask your web developer to run periodic audits. How responsive is it? Your website should be able to accommodate various screen sizes and browsers.

Technology is evolving at light speed. Mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops are consistently improving to meet the demands of the consumers.

Your web developer should also check for site speed. Consumers are not very patient. If your website takes time to download, they may abandon the search and go to your competitor.

2. Set Up Your Social Media Business Pages

Social media marketing will help bring you closer to your customers. You can post more information about your products and services, its benefits, and other useful tips.

You don’t have to set up a business page on every social media network. Choose the ones that can support your digital marketing objectives and highlights the strong points of your business.

For example, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube are best suited for highly-visual products such as cosmetics, perfumes, fashion apparel, and technology devices.

Make sure your social media business pages have the same information published on your website.

3. Get Listed In Search Engines

Think of Search Engine directories like the Yellow Pages on the Internet. As a matter of fact, the Yellow Pages are on the Internet!

Getting listed in search engine directories will make the consumer’s search activity much easier. All the information they need about your business can be found in the search engine directory.

You can find our recommendations on the best search engine directories to list your business in our article, “Why Should Retail Locations Be Listed In Search Engines?” Google My Business should be at the top of your list as Google is the biggest search engine on the Internet.

We also recommend adding high-resolution images of your store and its products to your listing. Also, try to generate positive reviews from Yelp. Google’s ever-evolving search algorithm has included favorable reviews from influential sites such as Yelp as a ranking factor.

4. Set Aside a Budget for Paid Ads

Paid ads are a good way to give your website an immediate boost in the search rankings. Anyone who clicks on your ad will land on your website. You can read more about paid ads in our article, “SEO vs PPC: Which One Is Better For Your Business”.

The great thing about paid ads is that it will appear in search results which are relevant to your industry or type of business. You can be assured that the people who see your ads will have some interest in your products and services.

5. Get Into Cross-Promotional Arrangements

Cross-promotional arrangements are traditional marketing methods that have stood the test of time. They are cost-effective and gives you the opportunity to present your business to a whole new audience. Make sure it is a non-competing business. The best arrangements are those whereby the products or services are complementary of one another.

For example, if you have a bakery, you can enter into cross-promotional arrangements with a floral shop for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Christmas Day.

You can also run cross-promotional arrangements in Pinterest. Going back to our previous example, you can post content about the floral shop on your “Pin Board”. The floral shop will gladly return the favor and post about your cakes in their own Pin Board.

6. Get Involved with the Local Community

If you want to increase your visibility within the area, make sure your presence is felt. You can do this by getting involved with the local community. Every community strives to be active. There are always events and projects that you can be involved with.

For example, if have a Personal Training business, why not offer free exercise classes in the community every Saturday morning? You could also sponsor community events such as a “Fun Run” or a dance marathon.

By getting involved with your community, you increase awareness about your business and give people first- hand experience of what you can do.

Conclusion

While the Internet can give you avenues and channels to promote your business to wide, far-reaching areas, you can likewise localize your scope within proximity of your retail location.

The important thing is to focus on building a strong local presence. This is your captive market. People who reside or work within the area are potential customers. They may have need of your products or services. You should make it easy for them to find your business.

If you want to learn more about digital marketing and other ways to improve your local presence, please give us a call or drop us an email.

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Retail locations invest in marketing and promotional activities to get found. They will spend on traditional marketing collaterals such as press releases, print ads, and POPs or Point-of-Purchase materials. Likewise, many physical retailers will include a listing in the Yellow Pages so that people who need your particular products and services can easily find your location. However, in this age of the Internet and digital technology, if you have a physical retail location, you should consider being listed in search engines instead.

How Being Listed In Search Engines Helps Your Business Get Found

Businesses continue to use traditional marketing strategies in this age of digital marketing because there is still some benefit to be gained from them. For one thing, it is a form of high-touch marketing.

When a flyer is handed out, your representative can take the time to discuss your business with a prospect. Other traditional marketing methods such as product demonstrations and samplings work in the same manner.

However, traditional marketing is limited by its scope and reach. Flyers can only be received by people moving within its area of distribution. Press releases and print ads will only be seen by people who decide to read the publication.

The bigger, more important question is: “What will they do after they’ve come across your ad?”

The flyer can wind up in the trash bin. The press release and print ad may be ignored. If you have the money to spend on a TV or radio ad, some people may just switch channels. Your efforts may not improve recall to the point that they will search for your business in the Yellow Pages.

These forms of marketing are quite expensive and the low returns may not justify the investment.

The Internet and the continued evolution of digital technology have encouraged consumers to utilize more efficient channels to find information. Innovations in mobile technology have everything consumers need accessible within the palm of their hand.

People are using the Internet to search and find the information they need from websites, social media, and other sources of content.

According to a study by search engine giant, Google, 4 out of 5 Americans prefer to use search engines to track down local businesses.

A more significant statistic from Google’s study showed that 50% of consumers who use search engines to find a business visit the retail location on the same day. 18% of these retailers were able to convert these visits into paid sales!

The 10 Best Search Engine Listings To Register Your Business

If your business currently has a digital marketing strategy in place, you are on the right track. As we discussed in our article, “Why You Should Think About Digital Marketing When Starting Your Business”, it is a proven strategy for effectively promoting your business; its products and services.

A good digital marketing strategy includes SEO or Search Engine Optimization, social media marketing, email marketing, and content marketing. Collectively, these processes will help you achieve your online marketing goals.

Maximize the return on your digital marketing efforts by having your business listed in a few search engine directories. Getting listed in a search engine directory will make it easier for people to find and contact your business.

Here are 10 of the best search engine listings to register your business:

1. Google My Business

Number one on your list of search engine directories to register your business at should be Google My Business (GMB). Why? Let’s start off with the fact that Google is the largest search engine in the world and basically has outperformed all other search engines on the Internet. In 2016 alone, Google generated 7.8 Billion searches every single day!

Secondly, Google My Business is free. It will not cost you a cent to list your business at GMB.

According to Google, GMB offers small, local businesses a huge edge over larger-sized competitors because it features a mobile-friendly map. Your business will be immediately visible to all smartphone users – Android and iOS phones – within a 5km radius of your physical location.

Here are a few more advantages of listing your business at GMB:

  • GMB performs extremely well in online searches
  • Listing in GMB will give your website a boost in the search engine rankings
  • Allows you to post reviews from your customers
  • Allows you to include key business information in your GMB profile
  • GMB provides Analytics which you can use to evaluate business performance

Lastly, listing in GMB is a very easy process. If you want to list on a search engine directory, prioritize GMB.

2. Bing Places For Business

Bing Places for Business currently ranks behind Google My Business in terms of online searches. Those who have Windows in their computer will probably choose Bing instead of Google. Just like GMB, Bing Places for Business is for free and will allow you to include key business information with your online profile.

You can add more details to your business location which is important for those who have multiple branches or outlets. Bing Places for Business will also let you upload videos, photos, and other forms of marketing content to generate interest and to entice people to visit the nearest location.

3. Yahoo! Local Listing

Yahoo! Local Listing generates millions of searches every day and currently sits third behind Google and Bing. You can avail of the free subscription. However, you will need to sign up for the paid subscription in order to upload photos, videos, and other business-related content with your profile.

The paid subscription will set you back $9.95/month. Meanwhile, if you avail of the $29.99/month, Yahoo! Local Listing will list you in 40 other online directories. Yahoo! may not be the force it once was, but you can still use it for a localized online marketing strategy.

4. Yelp

If you are targeting a specific demographic, Yelp could be the best choice for listing your business. It is estimated that 42% of people who use Yelp to search belong in the 18 to 34 age demographic. 61% of Yelp’s users have a college degree and 46% have an annual income of at least $100,000.

One of the key features of Yelp is that it publishes consumer reviews. Interestingly, the most reviewed businesses are in the retail, food, and home service industries. It also has a reporting tool that can help you research and analyze business trends.

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5. Merchant Circle

Small businesses that prefer to run a localized marketing campaign whereby customers, suppliers, and other similar enterprises are within their area should use MerchantCircle. Put simply, MerchantCircle is small business-friendly!

MerchantCircle opens up a treasure trove of features to help small business owners market and promote their products and services. You can place advertisements, post your business blogs, and utilize MerchantCircle’s entire arsenal of free marketing tools.

Building a business through a search engine directory has never been easier than with MerchantCircle!

6. Yellow Pages

Yes, Yellow Pages is still alive and well and can be found online! Yellow Pages has long been associated with search. Only instead of letting your “fingers do the walking”, they’ll have to tap keyboard keys or click on a mouse.

YP is still a relevant player in the industry and generates millions of searches on a daily basis. According to the company’s latest data on website traffic, there were an estimated 70 million visitors on their site in 2016.

By virtue of earning more than $1 Billion in revenues in 2014, the people at YP believe they are the second best search engine directory in the United States.

7. Manta

Manta is another search engine directory listing service that is geared towards promoting small businesses.

The company reports that their directory continues to attract millions of unique visitors every month. One reason is that Manta maintains a highly- comprehensive database on businesses including information on industry categories, developments, and customer demographics.

In addition, users of the Manta service can also access helpful content, free marketing tools, and take advantage of features that actively promote the business and its products and services.

8. Citysearch

Do you own a restaurant or a bar? Are you in the hotel business? If so, sign up for Citysearch. This search engine listing directory is focused on providing marketing services for businesses in the hospitality industry.

Citysearch has a partner network which can help increase your visibility within your target market. Its partner network includes Urbanspoon, MerchantCircle, and Expedia.

Businesses that are frequently searched for by Citysearch’s users will appear in their “Best Of” list that covers more than 20 industries.

9. Angie’s List

Angie’s List is one of the fastest growing search engine listings on the Internet. As of 2017, the site has more than 3 Million members who use the service to conduct research. You can also use Angie’s List to find local suppliers and review other services as well.

Angie’s List is also known for publishing objective and reliable consumer reviews which cover more than 720 industries.

2017 was a banner year for Angie’s List. The search engine directory made it to the prestigious Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 list. Consultancy firm Deloitte uses this list to rank the fastest growing companies in the technology, media, and telecommunications industries.

10. Trip Advisor

Who hasn’t used TripAdvisor? If you need recommendations for restaurants, hotels, and holiday destinations, TripAdvisor would be one of your go-to search engines. It has built a steady reputation as a reliable and trustworthy search directory in the entertainment and hospitality industries.

How big is TripAdvisor? The company reports that it generates 390 million searches from unique visitors every month and has published more than 430 million reviews.

Other than Citysearch, if you are in the restaurant and hotel business, make sure you register your business in TripAdvisor.

Conclusion

The Internet opens up different avenues you can take to market and promote your business so that it can be found by interested parties. Listing your business in a search engine directory is a great way to complement your digital marketing strategy.

When you are competing with other businesses in the industry, always make it easier and more convenient for your customers to find you. Think of these search engine directories as the Yellow Pages in the palm of your hand. People still rely on YP for search purposes. In fact, YP is already on the Internet!

If you want to know how to integrate a search engine directory listing with your digital marketing campaign, give us a call for a free consultation!

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For years, some marketers proclaimed that Search Engine Optimization or SEO was dead. These marketers believed that organic search was no longer important because users were using other methods to find information such as paid ads and social media. The fact is, SEO is not dead. It is very much alive and in demand. SEO remains the number one online strategy to help businesses achieve the much-sought- after first page results. However, what is the true value of landing on the first page of the SERP?

Why First Page Results Matter

SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page. This is the page that lists the top 15 websites that correspond to a specific set of keywords. Businesses invest in SEO strategy so that their websites can appear on the first page of the SERP.

Why is this so important?

According to a study by Moz, websites that are listed on the first- page capture 71% to 92% of website clicks. In comparison, websites that are listed on the second page get only 6% of URL clicks.

If your SEO strategy enabled you to land on the first page of the SERP, don’t pat yourself on the back just yet. On the contrary, the battle may just be starting. Securing first page results is definitely a feather on your SEO cap. For companies that are able to accomplish this, their attention will eventually turn to the top position on the SERP.

A groundbreaking study by online ad company Chitika in 2010, turned every marketer’s attention toward the top 3 results in the SERP.

According to Chitika’s study, the website that secures the number one spot in the SERP receives 32.5% of all online traffic searches. The drop-off in online traffic searches between the number one spot and the number two spot is staggering. The website that is listed as second on the SERP receives only 17.6% of all online traffic searches.

That is a decline of 46% in average online traffic share compared to the first position!

The succeeding drop-offs are also quite alarming. The number three spot garners 11.4% of online traffic searches while the tenth spot gets only 2.4%. How about the 15th ranked website? The number 15 website on the first page of the SERP receives only 0.4% of online traffic searches.

Chitika decided to update its study three years later in response to Google’s changing algorithm. The updated study yielded the same results with only a slight adjustment in the percentage of average online traffic searches.

Chitika’s 2013 study showed that the website that comes out on top of the first page of the SERP was rewarded with 33% of all online traffic searches. The number two website received 18%.

After three years and hundreds of changes in Google’s algorithm, the results were the same. In fact, there was a 0.05% increase in the average online traffic search for the website in the number one position.

Chitika was not the only company that conducted studies on the value of first page results. Other companies such as America Online (AOL), Enquiro, Optify, Slingshot, Catalyst, and Capyphon likewise ran their own studies. These studies covered the period from 2006 to 2014.

The cumulative results of those studies are as follows:

Position:Average Online Traffic Search %:
129.7%
213.7%
39.3%
Top 352%
46.54%
54.09%
Top 563.56%
63.64%
73.03%
82.67%
92.26%
102.16%
6 to 1012.49%
The Top 10% 76.05%

Thus, having your website appear on the first page of the SERP assures you of having greater traffic. There is a direct correlation between your ranking and the average online traffic your website gets. The higher your ranking, the greater the volume of website traffic.

How Do You Get To The First Page Of The SERP?

The first step is to read our article, “5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs SEO Now”. Next is to familiarize yourself with SEO by reading our article “The Basics Of SEO”.

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Digital marketing designs Internet-based marketing campaigns that help your business gain greater visibility, inbound traffic, better sales conversion rates, and more effective lead generation through the use of processes such as content marketing and social media marketing.

SEO is a prime component of the digital marketing strategy. Optimizing content increases the chances of your blogs, articles, images, and videos to be found on the Internet. If you want to reach the first page of the SERP you must invest in SEO.

Keep in mind that search is the number one activity on the Internet. People trust that Google will always present the most relevant and usable websites on their SERP. Investing in organic search will be more profitable for you than paid ads.

According to studies, 90% of clicks made on the first page of the SERP are on organic links. Clicks from paid ads only accounted for 10% of the search results.

1. Optimize Content And Your Website

How do you optimize content? The short answer would be to “hire a professional SEO practitioner”. While that may be true, it pays to have an idea of how to create optimized content.

Keywords are the foundation of the SEO strategy. We discussed the value of keywords in our article, “5 Best Keyword Research Tools For 2018”. Please take the time to click the link and read up on how keywords help optimize content.

However, in order to have a good chance of getting the first position on the first page of the SERP, you must also make sure your website is fully optimized. It will be penalized by Google if the web pages do not provide good user experience.

A good example is having broken links on your website. You could have posted content that hyperlinks to another website. Consequently, if you click onto it, an error message appears.

Broken links will leave a bad impression on your site user. It can reduce the traffic to your website, have a negative impact on your reputation, and affect your search ranking.

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2. Your Website Must Be 100% Mobile-Responsive

Have you tried to access your website from a mobile device? Did you have to use your smartphone’s zoom in feature to read its contents? If so, then your website is not mobile- responsive.

Google made mobile- responsiveness a key component of its search algorithm in 2014. If your website cannot be accommodated by the screens of different mobile devices, then you will be slapped down the search rankings.

You can learn more about the importance of having mobile- responsive design in our article, “Why Your Website Needs Responsive Design”.

3. Focus On Creating High-Quality Content

We’ve frequently mentioned the importance of using keywords in your content. It’s not just having them within your content. It should be used in the correct ratio.

The accepted ratio of keywords to total words is 2%. If your blog has 1,000 words, the main keyword should appear no more than 20 times within the content. If you exceed 2%, Google may flag you for keyword- stuffing and penalize your website in the search rankings.

Therefore, it is better to be judicious than strategic when using keywords. What we mean is, focus on creating high-quality content rather than just finding opportunities to use keywords.

High-quality content is one that has the following characteristics:

  • Unique
  • Relevant
  • Informative
  • Useful
  • Engaging

In short, the reader must find value in your content. This way, you build a reputation of being a valuable resource.

We advise our clients that before publishing content, they should make sure that it will give readers a great experience. They should remain focused on the content and not get distracted by inappropriate or misplaced keywords.

4. Adopt A Dynamic Digital Marketing Strategy

If you want your website to become visible, it is not enough to merely publish content. You must stay active and maintain an online presence. It would be best to adopt a dynamic digital marketing strategy.

There are a good number of channels that you can use to distribute content. Social media is one of them. Choose 2 to 3 social media networks that are ideal for your industry or type of content.

For example, if you are a retailer of highly- visual merchandise like athletic footwear or digital cameras, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube would be perfect networks for your social media marketing campaign.

Don’t just post once- a- week and hope to get good search traffic. Regardless of your social media network, you must be active and post multiple times during the week in order to generate visible results from your efforts.

Here is an example of a social media posting schedule per network:

  • Facebook – Twice a day
  • Twitter – Eight tweets per day
  • Instagram – Twice a day
  • Pinterest – Twice a day
  • LinkedIn – Once a day

Another good strategy to consider is to guest blog on other websites. This is a great way to introduce your content to a whole new audience who may be interested in what your business has to offer. You have the opportunity to further enhance your reputation while building new relationships with bloggers within your industry.

5. Link Only To Quality Websites

If your content includes data, statistics, and other facts or figures, it is always a good idea to reference the original source via a hyperlink. However, it is not enough to just hyperlink a text to the source.

Google will check the anchor text to the hyperlink. If it appears spurious or if it does not relate to the website, Google will penalize you.

For example, go back to the beginning of this article. We hyperlinked the text “Study by Moz” to its original source. This set of text will give the reader a better description on what the reference link is all about. If we merely hyperlinked the text “Click Here”, we might get penalized by Google.

Second, make sure the referenced link is high-quality. It must be a reputable website. Most of all, it must be relevant to your content.

Conclusion

So does landing on the first page of the SERP matter? Yes, it will help your website secure much- needed search traffic especially if your business is involved in a tightly-competitive industry.

However, keep in mind that improving your organic search ranking takes time. It is a process in itself. It will take time to develop the types of content that regularly capture the interest of your readers.

Because information has become highly- accessible, tastes and preferences will always be changing. You must remain on top of your market to make sure you have a hand on its pulse and know their needs, concerns, and interests.

Thus, even the value of keywords will change. Their popularity or frequency of use will change depending on the needs of the user. Invest in an SEO strategy and integrate it with your digital marketing campaign. Be patient. All investments take time before they yield dividends.

If you are thinking of revamping your digital marketing strategy, give us a call or drop an email. We’ll give you a free consultation on how to improve your approach and land on the first page of the SERP.

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If you think creating great content is all about comprehensive writing, perfect spelling, and grammar, you will be short-selling your efforts. Writing online content isn’t the same as writing a college term paper or a piece for the school newsletter. It’s about creating content that can be searched, indexed, and found by your target audience. In other words, your content needs to be optimized. And this is why you should use the best keyword research tools on the Internet.

Keywords: What They Are And Why They Are Important

How did you find our article? What words or phrases did you use to launch your search query? Chances are you used the phrase “best keyword research tools 2018”.

Those four words as well as the identifying year of 2018 are called keywords. They are the most popularly used words or phrases people type in the search box to launch a query.

Keywords are valuable in that they help web crawlers find content that are relevant to the search query. If your content does not have the right keywords, the web crawlers will not be able to find and index it during a search.

Thus, your content will fail to rank in the search engine’s SERP or Search Engine Results Page.

Why is this so important?

According to a study conducted by Chitika in 2010, websites that appear on the first page of the SERP gets 91.5% of online traffic. The ad company ran a similar study in 2013 which essentially validated the importance of moving up the search rankings.

In Chitika’s 2013 study, the website that secures the top position on the first page of the SERP claimed 33% of online traffic. The difference in search traffic between positions 1 and 2 are very significant at almost 50%.  

The same studies have been referenced in 2017 and the results have not changed. If you want your website to move up the search rankings, you absolutely must optimize content.

Keywords are the cornerstones of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). If you want to embed the right keywords in your content, you need to use the best keyword research tools to find them.

5 Best Keyword Research Tools For 2018

Keyword research may seem like a daunting task. It does take time. You have to establish clear parameters of your search. For example, your audience in Australia may be searching for different topics than those from the United States. To do proper keyword research, you should allocate at least one hour of your time.

The good news is, there are several effective and easy-to-use keyword research tools online. Likewise, these tools are very popular with several content marketers and writers.

We have used a good number of them when writing content for our clients. Here is a shortlist of 5 of the best keyword research tools that you should consider for your content writing process:

1. SEMRush

Hands down, SEMRush is one of the easiest keyword research tools you can ever use. This is why SEMRush is very popular among bloggers and content marketers. It also gives you highly-detailed reports that provide data other than just search volume.

All you have to do is copy and paste the URL and click “search”. Within a few seconds, SEMRush will retrieve all the ranking keywords for that specific website. You can have the report presented in a spreadsheet format.

From there copy and paste the keywords and the search volume on a separate spreadsheet. Repeat the process and run another keyword search on 3 to 5 websites.

It is advisable to have a good number of keywords to choose from. Generally, if the keywords list falls below 300, you should launch another search. Once the keywords list is completed, you have to organize the spreadsheet.

You do this by removing the duplicate keywords and ranking them in order of highest to lowest volume searches.

2. Google Keywords Planner

Let’s start with the number one reason why Google Keyword Planner remains a valuable component in the content writer’s tool box.

It’s free!

Second, it allows you to fine- tune the parameters of your search. You can specify which regions in the world your audience is from so that the keywords results list will be more accurate.

Google Keyword Planner is particularly useful when used in combination with SEMRush.

First, set the parameters of your search. Once you launch the query, pick out the keywords that have the highest search volumes. These keywords will be potential topics.

From there, run a quick Google search on a keyword that you plan to write about. For example, if you did a keyword search on “most popular apps” and “lifestyle apps” came on top, you can launch the following search query, “best lifestyle apps”.

Use SEMRush to pick out the keywords from the top 3 or 5 websites that are found on Google’s search results page.

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3. Ahrefs

Ahrefs is another favorite tool among content writers because it gives them data on the number of clicks from a search engine. Why is this important?

Most content writers tend to create content about topics that have the highest search traffic. However, how many clicks does the website actually get? Sometimes a search query may terminate without the user actually visiting the website.

The primary reason is because the user already found the answer for his/her query on the search results page.

For example, if you run a search query on “best social media networks”, the first website on Google’s SERP may present a summary in the form of snippets. You will see right away the rankings of the best social media networks in a bullet list format.

Knowing the number of clicks gives the keyword as well as the website greater value. You will be able to choose the best websites to search for keywords using SEMRush.

4. Long Tail Pro

LongTailPro is a favorite keyword research tool of many marketers because it gives you detailed analysis on the best keywords you can possibly use to create content.

This is the best keyword research tool for you if you have a niche or micro-niche site. Niche sites are those that focus on a specific area of interest. For example, instead of searching for “best appliances”, a niche search would be for “best kitchen appliances”.

A micro-niche tightens up the search parameters even more. Thus, rather than “best kitchen appliances”, you might do a long tail keyword search such as “best kitchen appliance for baking chicken”.

This is one of the advantages of LongTailPro. It generates long tail keywords from the seed keyword that you want to search on.

For example, if you are in the health and fitness business, the keyword “weight loss” would be a popular seed keyword. LongTailPro will generate a list of long tail keywords that would include the following:

  • Weight loss exercise
  • Weight loss supplements
  • Weight loss diet
  • Weight loss program
  • Weight loss surgery

Now you have a prospective list of topics to write about. LongTailPro is a bit expensive with a $47 per month subscription fee but it will help make the keyword research process much easier.

5. KWFinder

Compared to the other keyword research tools in our list, KWFinder is still quite new in the industry. However, it has become one of the most popular keyword tools because of its simplicity and ease of use. In fact, many SEO professionals have KWFinder in their optimization arsenal.

KWFinder is basically a pure keyword research tool. It is no-frills; it will help you find the best, most targeted keywords that generate the highest volume of traffic for a website.

A unique feature of KWFinder is its “Questions- Based Keyword Research” option which uses an intuitive approach to the process.

Essentially, by going through a problem- solving process, KWFinder selects the best long tail keywords that can provide the solutions. This makes sense as consumers run searches to find answers to problems or persistent issues.

KWFinder offers both a free plan and a paid subscription. The free plan has the basic features which are good enough to get your keyword research activity off the ground.  

Conclusion

Research is an important part of creating content. It is used in every aspect of content creation from finding the best titles, searching the most reliable references, and choosing the right keywords.

In many cases, research begins with finding the best keywords. If you want to know what to write about, keyword research will show you which topics people in your niche are searching on.

Keyword research makes the entire process of finding topics much easier.

Always keep in mind that when creating content, the rule of thumb is to write about topics that interest your audience. Keyword research gives you immediate insights on what your audience is searching the Internet for.

While these online keyword research tools are convenient, effective, and easy-to-use, it would be better to delegate the task to an expert so you can focus more time and energy to matters that are directly related to your business.

As we mentioned, keyword research does take time. There will be certain searches that will not generate enough keywords.

For example, if you have a website dedicated for running, your search may not yield enough high-ranking keywords for topics like “how to train for a half marathon” or “treadmill running vs outdoor running”.

The process may leave you stumped. In the meantime, the clock is ticking. Every second that has gone by is productivity lost.

We have done keyword research with great success. If you want great content that generates high traffic for your website, please feel free to give us a call or send an email. We can help you get started and drive more people to your website.

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Starting your business with digital marketing in place will put you on course to achieving your goals and objectives. Marketing is the last thing many startup entrepreneurs think about when launching their business. That is a mistake that could affect them in the long-term.

5 Reasons For Digital Marketing When Starting Your Business

  1. Brand building takes time.
  2. Digital marketing is a long-term process.
  3. Gain valuable insights into your target market.
  4. Provides opportunities to start earning revenue in the short-term.
  5. Analytics becomes a more reliable measure of your business’ performance.

The Advantages Of Starting Digital Marketing Early In Your Business

Like any new venture, getting started is the most difficult stage. A startup entrepreneur has his/her plate full thinking about financing, personnel, operating frameworks and the IT infrastructure needed to get the business started. Somehow, somewhere marketing gets lost in the planning process.

For many, marketing becomes an afterthought. The popular notion of marketing is that it should only start when the business is running smoothly.

They don’t want to actively market or promote their enterprise until they are 100% certain all aspects of the business – from goods and services to processes – are to their satisfaction.

First of all, nothing in business is 100% certain. It is unrealistic to think that your business model is perfect. Why? Because markets will always be in a constant state of change. Your business model will have to adapt to changes in your market.

A key benefit to having a digital marketing strategy in place is the ability to track these changes in your market.

Before broadband technology made the Internet accessible in 2004, the marketing process was largely considered hit and miss. Traditional marketing methods comprised strategy campaigns. These methods included press releases, advertorials, flyers, streamers and other POP’s or Point- of- Purchase materials.

Businesses had no credible way of tracking performance and ROI. Traditional marketing processes were expensive, inefficient and unsustainable. This is the main reason why businesses back then were hesitant to invest in a marketing program.

With digital marketing, there is no guesswork. You have access to real-time data which means you will have an accurate measure of ROI.

Digital marketing will give your startup all the advantages it needs to become successful by creating short and long-term streams of revenues, providing evidence-based data on how to streamline costs and most importantly, by establishing your brand value proposition to your target market.

5 Benefits Of Having A Digital Marketing Strategy When Starting Your Business

If you want your products and services found, you must invest in a digital marketing strategy. We discussed digital marketing at length in our articles, “How to Increase Your Website Traffic in 2018” and “How to Setup a Low Budget but Highly Effective Digital Marketing Campaign”. You can go back to those articles to have a refresher course on what digital marketing is all about.

Success in marketing relies on the successful delivery of the message. The message of your brand carries your value proposition or “Why my product or service is better than the competition”. The last thing you want is for your message to get lost in translation.

Digital marketing gives you several channels to get your message across effectively:

  • SEO or Search Engine Optimization – Optimize your website and content so that potential end-users of your product or service can easily find your business on the Internet.
  • Social Media Marketing – Distribute your optimized content through multiple social media platforms that appeal to your buyer’s persona and fit the needs of your business.
  • Content Marketing – Create fresh, unique, relevant, usable and engaging content to generate interest from your target market. Content can be created in text, image or video format for a more holistic distribution strategy.

The question most entrepreneurs want to find the answer to is, “When should I launch my digital marketing campaign?” The best answer is, “When you are starting your business.” And here are 5 benefits you can realize by starting your digital marketing strategy during the early stages of your business.

1. Builds Your Business Brand Effectively

When you start a business, consumers would want to know more about it from the get-go. Starting out a brand building campaign through digital channels even before the product or service is launched helps create interest and awareness.

You want to give people a good number of reasons to try your brand. The great thing about digital marketing is that you can be flexible in your brand- building approach.

For example, you plan to launch a brand of guilt-free donuts called “Fear Not Donuts”. You can use Facebook and Twitter to distribute content on what your products are all about and why people shouldn’t worry about eating them:

“Do Not fear the Donut! Fear Not Donuts are zero-sugar, low-carb donuts that are big on taste and not on your waist.”

Informational content that highlights the product’s strengths, differentiators and value to the customer is an effective way of building a good-sized following. At the pre-launch stage, try to build a follower base of 3,000 to 5,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter.

During this pre-launch stage, you should expect greater engagement from potential customers because you have piqued their interest and curiosity. They will ask you questions such as:

  • “How many calories per donut?”
  • “How much does a box of glazed cost?”
  • “How do you make your donuts?”

From there, you can use Twitter to do a promotional tie-in launch with another establishment that focuses on health and fitness:

“First 50 members from Zack’s Gym who can present this tweet at their nearest Fear Not Donuts outlet will get a FREE dozen guilt-free donuts of their choice!”

Customers will undoubtedly post their comments on your social media account as well as theirs. Even if the reviews are bad, it is no reason to press the panic button.

You can use the negative review as an opportunity to inform customers that you will continue to find ways to improve the product. Besides, the majority of feedback could be overwhelmingly positive.

2. Digital Marketing For Business Takes Time

Despite the advantages of digital technology and the Internet, don’t expect to get positive results from digital marketing overnight. This is especially true for unpaid or organic forms of digital marketing.

Organic means to generate results naturally, through unpaid channels such as advertisements. The examples of digital marketing channels that we listed earlier; SEO, social media marketing and content marketing, are among the best organic strategies you can use.

Optimizing your website through SEO techniques is not a one-time-deal. Search engines like Google routinely change the algorithm for their search rankings. If you want your website to be competitive in the search rankings, you must do your best to comply with those changes.

Social media is one of the most popular online activities. However, it takes time to build a following. You have to stay active on social media to get results. The frequency of activity would depend on the platform. How often should you post on social media per day? Buffer recommends the following schedule:

  • Facebook – Twice per day
  • Twitter – At least three times per day
  • Pinterest – five times per day
  • Instagram – Twice per day
  • LinkedIn – Once per day

Content marketing strategies likewise need time to produce the desired results. Let’s assume your first published blog was successful. It generated a good number of “likes”; it was shared multiple times and resulted in a few more followers. You should not think it was “Mission Accomplished”.

Now, your readers want to see if you can consistently produce great content. Your next blog post you should not go the way of most Hollywood sequels. It must be as good, if not, better than the first one.

As we discussed in our article, “How to Launch a $100 Digital Marketing Campaign”, digital marketing is a cost- effective strategy. The biggest investments you make are on time and energy. You need to be patient. As long as you are consistent, the desired outcome will follow.

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3. Stay On Top Of Your Business’ Buyer’s Persona

Research is one of the cornerstones of an effective digital marketing strategy. The strength of digital marketing is that it is a targeted approach to marketing. Research allows you to create a profile of your targeted buyer or your business buyer’s persona.

The Buyer’s Persona is an integral component of your content marketing strategy. When you create content for blogs and articles, it must resonate with the audience. Content must be able to address your audience’s needs, interests and concerns.

And your Buyer’s Persona does not remain static. It actively changes simply because tastes and preferences change. Your key demographic in two months might be different.

This is why you have to stay on top of your Buyer’s Persona. The research process required for digital marketing allows you to do that.

4. Generate Results Right Away

Digital marketing is not limited to organic or unpaid strategies. You have the option to use paid strategies such as advertising in order to get results right away. One of the most effective paid strategies is PPC or Pay-Per-Click advertising.

With PPC, you pay for your ad to be seen on search results pages that are relevant to your business. For example, if you sell smartphones, your paid ads will come out whenever someone launches a search query on smartphones.

Once a person clicks on your ad, he/she will be sent to your website’s landing page. If you have the right Calls-to- Action in place such as free newsletters or free e-books, you could get e-mail addresses or perhaps inquiries about the products or services you are selling.

PPC generates immediate results because it places your ad directly in front of your target market. Therefore, the chances of someone clicking on your ad are much higher.

5. Business Analytics Has More Reliable Historic Data

If you want to have an accurate recording of your business’ history, you have to start at the very beginning. You need a deep understanding of your history because it will reflect changes in your key demographics. Those changes could be as a result of the products, services and systems you had in place.

The biggest advantage of digital marketing is that it gives you access to business analytics. These are online tools that you can use to assess the performance of your website and your digital marketing campaign. With analytics, you have real-time, precise bases for developing, revising and implementing strategies.

You will know which ones worked and which ones fell short. In terms of budgeting, you will have empirical evidence to validate funding for specific digital marketing strategies. Starting your digital marketing campaign earlier will give you more reliable historic data for your decision-making.

As Confucius said, “Study the past to define your future.”

Conclusion

Digital marketing can produce results for different goals: brand building, lead generation, build followers, improve sales conversions or enhance online presence among others.

For the reason that it is not realistic to get everything right the first time, starting the digital marketing campaign early will allow you more opportunity to fine-tune your strategies when the business is still trying to get traction. It will be easier to track results and pinpoint the weak areas in the campaign.

It is never too late to start a digital marketing campaign. However, the best time to launch one is when you are starting your business.

Do you have a digital marketing campaign in place? If so, when did you start? It would be great if you could share your experiences with our readers. Kindly comment in the area below.

And if you’re interested in starting a digital marketing campaign for your business, please do not hesitate to give us a call or an e-mail. We can help you get started right away!

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If you want to capitalize on the opportunities presented by the Internet, setting up a website for your business is the best way to go. People use search to find what they need online. And if your website ranks high in the results page, more people will be encouraged to click on your link and learn more about your business. But in order to climb up the search rankings, you need to increase your website traffic.

A study done by online advertising company Chitika showed that the top position in Google’s search ranking gets 33% of the traffic. The percentage distribution of online traffic decreases as the websites go down the search ranking:

Image courtesy of Search Engine Watch

With more than 1.3 billion websites serving over 3.8 billion Internet users, competition could be very tough. Would it still be possible to move your website up the search results page?

The answer is “Yes”. If other websites can do it, there is no reason why you can’t. But the first step is to create more inbound traffic to your website.  The more traffic you get, the greater the probability of converting a visitor into a paying customer.

4 Cornerstones To An Effective Digital Marketing Strategy

Digital marketing remains an effective strategy for driving more traffic to your website. It organizes all the online tools and processes into a system that is focused on accomplishing your marketing objectives.

The big advantage of going digital is that you can customize your online marketing strategies to meet the needs and concerns of potential end-users of your products and services.

You are not blindly distributing marketing collateral to the billions of people on the Internet. Instead you are target marketing to a specific audience or segment that has the highest probability of being interested in what your business has to offer.

We advise that before you identify the processes you want to include in your digital marketing tool box, you should first build its foundation.

The cornerstones of your foundation will ensure that best practices will always be carried out when planning and implementing your digital marketing strategy,

Here are the 4 cornerstones to an effective digital marketing strategy:

1. Create A Buyer’s Profile

A buyer’s profile summarizes the qualities and characteristics of a potential customer for your business. It will help you determine the best topics to write about and the most effective channels to distribute your content.

2. Update Your Research

Research is a crucial part of business development whether you are a small or large enterprise. If you want to remain competitive, you have to be constantly updated on developments regarding your industry, your market and of course, your customers.

3. Stay Active

If you want your digital marketing efforts to reap dividends, you have to stay active. This means you have to commit to a schedule for creating and distributing content, building networks and engaging with followers. The more active you are, the greater the chances of your content being read by your audience.

4. Use On-Site Analytics

Perhaps the biggest benefit of digital marketing is the availability of on-site analytics. Analytics gives you valuable data on your website: the number of visitors per day, the most read content and where your traffic is coming from. These types of information can be used to fine-tune your digital marketing strategy.

These are the key principles to keep in mind when running your digital marketing strategy. They will help your campaign stay current and on track of the marketing objectives you want to accomplish.

Best Digital Marketing Strategies To Increase Website Traffic In 2018

In order to increase traffic you should build “roads” or “avenues” that make it easy for Internet users to search and find your website. The processes that we discuss in this section continue to be go-to strategies for digital marketers because they have consistently delivered results.

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is the process of using a variety of online tools and techniques for the purpose of improving your website’s ranking in the Search Engine Results Page or SERP.

We’ve written extensively on SEO and discussed its many benefits in our articles, “5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs SEO Right Now” and “SEO vs PPC: Which One Is Better For Your Business?”.

SEO remains an integral component in digital marketing because the process will always be in a constant state of evolution as search engines frequently introduce changes in their algorithm.

Some of the more current SEO strategies digital marketers are focusing on in 2018 include the following:

  • Using Long Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are phrases that are more descriptive in order to fine-tune the search query.

For example, instead of using the keywords, “bmw tires” a long tail keyword search would read, “how to maintain bmw tires cold weather”. This will produce links on the search results page which are closer to the information that the Internet user is looking for.

Thus, during the research process, SEO practitioners are starting to focus on long-tail keywords as the basis for evaluating competitiveness.

  • Updating Old Content

Search engines will reward you with a boost in the rankings simply by updating content.

Let’s say you wrote an article on intermittent fasting that was published three months ago.

If you updated the content by adding the information “Scientists have discovered that fasting for 24 hours increases the rate of autophagy by 300%”, the search engine would move you up slightly in the rankings.

It will then assess how your new ranking compares to the performance of the website you displaced. If your website does better, it will keep you at the new ranking or potentially move you up higher.

SEO is a strategy that will keep finding new ways to optimize and improve delivery of content so that more people will continue to visit your website.

2. Content Marketing

Content marketing continues to be an effective strategy for increasing website traffic because people will always look for content online. This is the importance of constantly creating fresh, new, relevant, usable and engaging content and distributing them through a variety of platforms.

The more content you create and publish, the higher the probability of your materials being found on the Internet. People will voluntarily follow websites that consistently produce great content.

Blogging has remained the cornerstone of content marketing. There are many studies that prove the effectiveness of blogging as a key strategy in increasing website traffic:

But you don’t have to limit yourself to blogging. Another emerging strategy in content marketing is video content marketing which we discussed in detail in our article, “How To Use Video Content In Your Marketing”.

Videos and the use of images have become popular because they can generate immediate results. For example, if you are in the business of selling organic fruit preserves, you can upload photos or “pin” them in Pinterest. Every image pinned in Pinterest will contain a link to your website.

All you have to do is produce high quality images of your fruit preserves and hope they can entice the Pinterest community to click on your pinned product shots. If they like what they see, they can easily go to your website to learn more about your business and its products.

3. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM uses paid strategies such as PPC or Pay-Per-Click advertising to increase website traffic. With PPC your ads are placed in results pages that feature links relevant to the search query.

For example, if you are a restaurant that offers pizza delivery services, your paid ad will come out at the top of the results page that features inquiries on “pizza delivery services”.

An Internet user who finds your paid ad interesting and clicks on it, will find himself/herself on your website. There you can showcase an interactive menu and navigable delivery ordering system which can help you convert visitors into paying customers.

Search engines offer paid ads as a quick-fix solution for businesses to have their websites move up the top of the search rankings. Social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube also offer paid ad options.

Facebook Ads can run your paid ad through three other platforms: Messenger, Audience Network and Instagram, which the company bought in 2012.

With Facebook Ads, you can customize your ad according to your buyer’s profile. Audience Network will place your ad in apps and websites that fit your buyer’s profile.

Having a paid ad on YouTube is a sure way to rocket up the search rankings because it is owned by Google and is a component of its algorithm.

4. Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing can help your business increase its website traffic because it provides you with several channels to distribute content, build communities of followers and opportunities to engage potential end users.

The Internet has exploded with social media networks. Among the most popular are:

  • Facebook – Largest online community with over 2 Billion members. Facebook has its own personal messaging system, Messenger.
  • Twitter – Short messaging system assures you of high level of activity and engagement.
  • Instagram – Image-based platform that is ideal for businesses with highly visual products and services. For example: fashion retailers, restaurants and real estate.
  • Pinterest – Another image-based platform that makes it easy for members to collaborate with others in the community by setting up pinboards.
  • LinkedIn – The preferred social media network of professionals. Ideal for networking activities and connecting with key influencers in your industry. LinkedIn also has its own publishing platform where you can post your blogs.
  • YouTube – The largest video streaming network and the second largest search engine. As mentioned, it is now owned by Google which is the largest search engine on the Internet.

How can you use social media to increase your website traffic?

  • Distribution Channel

Open a business page where you can publish your blogs. Include a link to your website so visitors will know where to find more information about your business. In addition to Pinterest, use Instagram and LinkedIn’s ShowCase page feature to highlight high resolution images of your products and services.

  • Engagement Medium

Customers appreciate businesses that take the time to address their needs and concerns. If a follower posts a comment or question, use the opportunity to share your knowledge and expertise. Engagement is the first step to a relationship. In time you will develop trust with your audience. Consumers prefer to deal with brands they can trust.

  • Product Promotions  

Do you have a new store opening? Are you launching a new product? Do you have a limited-time only discount offer? Send out 12 to 20 tweets about the event via Twitter and include a link to your website so interested parties can get more details.

5. Email Marketing

Email marketing is an effective strategy for increasing website traffic for your business because your content will be voluntarily accepted by the recipient. The key to the success of an email marketing strategy lies in your ability to create a mailing list.

You can create mailing lists in a number of ways:

  • Regular Engagement – As discussed in the previous section, if you engage with your audience frequently, you will develop trust and a solid relationship. You can ask them to join your mailing list.
  • Calls to Action – When you are consistently putting out great content, expect more people to visit your website. Incorporate enticing calls to action such as free newsletter sign ups or giveaway ebooks and manuals in exchange for email addresses.

Once you have built a mailing list, you can regularly send relevant and usable content to your recipients. These could be helpful “How To” tips or updates on your products and services. Always include a link to your website so they know where to go for more information.

Conclusion

Do not get complacent because the inbound avenues which you created have driven substantial traffic to your website. Stay active and constantly monitor the performance of the strategies in place.

For your business to remain competitive and relevant in 2018 and beyond, your website has to maintain a dynamic presence on the Internet so that your products and services will be found by your target audience.

If you want to learn more about increasing website traffic in 2018, please feel free to give us a call or an email. We will get in touch with you right away.

And feel free to comment on this article. We welcome your opinions and we would appreciate it if you could share some of your experiences with our audience.

Bill Gates was a true visionary when he wrote the essay, “Content is King” in 1996. Gates believed the Internet would provide consumers a low cost medium to publish and access information. He even foreshadowed the coming of video content as a key component for online marketing.

With more than half of the world’s population online everyday, the Internet has become the premiere battleground for businesses to vie for the consumer’s attention.

For businesses, the challenge is to come up with the most efficient way to reach their target audience and consistently deliver quantifiable results.

Does such a low cost, high reward marketing technique exist?

Yes and that is why you need to include video content in your marketing tool box.

5 Benefits of Video Content for Your Business

Video content or video marketing is simply the process or strategy of using videos to promote your brand, product or service.

Text content remains a powerful vehicle for delivering your branded value proposition but it will not match the efficiency of video content.

Put it this way, would you rather spend seven minutes reading a 2,400 word article on the 10 best smartphones in the market or 2 minutes watching a video on the same topic?

In 2015, Microsoft came up with a groundbreaking study that showed people have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. The marketing takeaway being if you don’t capture the attention or interest of the consumer within 6 seconds, you may lose him or her at that moment.

One of the best tips we give our clients at Mountaintop is to add an explainer video on their homepage.

An explainer video is a great way to hook a potential customer because everything they would need to know to convince them to explore your site further can be done in 1 or 2 minutes.

And studies show, videos extend the attention span of the consumer by another 10 to 20 seconds.

Here are 5 other benefits of video content for your business:

1. Video is an excellent medium for delivery.

Video engages with at least two of your senses: sight and sound plus the added bonus of empathy if it is a well-executed production. A study by HubSpot showed that 80% of consumers remember the content of a video they saw one month earlier.

2. Video content can significantly boost your website’s SEO.

In the same Hubspot study, it revealed that 65% of decision makers will visit a website after viewing its video content. Also, vendors of products report 39% of inquiries come from businesses that have seen their marketing videos.

3. Video content delivers on all devices.

Responsive design has become the norm in website development since 2014. Videos will perform well on mobile devices. Whether you are using a tablet or a smartphone, videos will continue to enhance and influence User Experience or UX.

4. Video content enhances your branding efforts.

As we mentioned earlier, video has the advantage of appealing to your senses of sight and hearing. The smart use of color, voice, music and imagery can strongly influence the perspectives and opinions of your viewers and enhance your branding efforts.

5. Video content has a higher probability of going viral.

Another interesting statistic from the HubSpot study is that 92% of mobile users who watch videos will share them with others. Another study by Single Grain showed that video is shared 1,200% more than links and text content combined.

Believe us when we say there are still more benefits of video content for your business. Adding video content as part of your Digital Marketing strategy is not just because “Everybody’s doing it”.

Below is a chart from HubSpot which shows the type of content Internet users most want to see from brands and businesses. You can clearly see the wide, significant gap video content has over other types of content:

If you want to reach out to your target audience in the fastest, most effective and cost efficient way, you should invest in video content marketing.

12 Types of Video Content to Consider for Your Business

Before you start filming, you should know what type of video content would be most beneficial for your business. There are 12 types to consider and each one will have its own set of advantages depending on your goals:

1. Demo Videos –

Show your audience how your product works. This will be effective for businesses that have products which need assembly or have several features. Examples would include kitchen appliances and smartphones.

2. Brand Videos –

The purpose of brand videos is to introduce yourself, the business, products and services to a target audience. This is a great way to build relationships with your target audience.  

3. Event Videos –

If your business is hosting an event, business forum, trade show or roundtable discussion an event video is the way to go. Take video snippets of the most important and relevant activities such as keynote speakers, product shots and audience turnout.

4. Expert Interviews –

One of the best ways to gain credibility and trust with your audience is to have a video interview with a respected and acknowledged expert in your industry.

5. How-to Videos –

This is a type of video that will help the audience find the answer to the question, “Why do you need my product or service?” For example, at Mountaintop we could produce a video on this article.

6. Explainer Videos –

We discussed this type of video in the previous section but we should also note that it can be done similar to a How-To video by simply shooting it from the perspective of the end user.

7. Animated Videos –

Do you want to show your audience how bitcoin miners calculate complex mathematical formulas in the blockchain? Animated videos can greatly simplify information that would otherwise be too complicated to explain.

8. Testimonial Videos –

Client testimonials are one of the most powerful ways to build trust for your product and service. This is often the final push to get your audience to patronize your business. A testimonial video is perceived as honest and sincere because it discloses actual results and the genuine response of an end user.

9. Live Videos –

Streaming live videos are a great way of getting your audience involved in your business. Show them what a day is like in the office. If you’re into product manufacturing, stream a live feed on how your merchandise is made. People in the fitness industry often stream live workouts to their followers.

10. 360 Degree and Virtual Reality Videos –

360 degree and VR videos give your audience a bird’s eye view of your business. These are particularly effective for hotels, resorts and restaurants. These types of videos are also entertaining for the audience because they allow them to control their own experience.

11. Augmented Reality Videos –

Augmented reality videos add another digital layer to your content. This is great for those in the interior design and architectural business.

For example, a viewer can point his or her camera phone to a chair and see how it would fit in your video layout.

12. Personalized Messages –

You can customize your content by producing a personal message in video format.

For example, if you are selling a fitness tracker, you can make a video message to a follower whom you have previously communicated and send him/her an update on the latest models.

Personalized message videos are effective in pushing a prospect further down the sales funnel.

How to Create Your First Video Content

When you finally decide to include video content as part of your marketing strategy, it doesn’t mean you should take out a loan from the bank and buy the latest and most advanced film equipment.

In the first place, your smartphone camera may be enough to film a high quality video. Smartphones like the iPhone 7 have amazing filmmaking features that are comparable with top-of-the line cameras.

Secondly, the video alone won’t cut it. You need a message to deliver to your audience. The content of your message will determine how your video will be shot.

If you haven’t done video content before or have but with little success, here are four simple steps on how to create one that will enhance your overall marketing campaign:

1. Revisit and Update Your Content Marketing Strategy.

Before producing your first video, review your current content marketing strategy. Whenever you introduce a new element to your campaign, its entire dynamic will change.

You may have to revise your content marketing strategy to open up a section that can be addressed more effectively through video content.

The marketing budget may have to be adjusted in case your revised strategy will require investing in production equipment, renting a studio, acquiring talent, scriptwriters or the assistance of film professionals.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • “Why did I decide to create video content?”
  • “What is the primary objective of my video content?”
  • “How would my audience benefit from my video?”
  • “How would I go about producing the video?”
  • “What would be my distribution strategy for the video?”

It will be difficult to maximize the effectiveness of video content unless you can get it to fit into your content marketing strategy.

2. Prepare a Profile of Your Audience.

If revisiting and reviewing your content marketing strategy provides the “Why” to your video content, then preparing a profile of your audience is the “Who”. Unless you develop a keen understanding of who your target audience is, then your video content may not be seen by the people expected to get the most value from it.

Where to begin?

Look back at your past content and analyze which ones generated the highest levels of “likes”, “shares” and levels of engagement.

Which distribution channel accounted for the largest viewership? Where do the bulk of your followers come from? What issues were commonly raised or commented on by your audience?

Once you’ve come up with a profile of your audience, you will be able to fine-tune the content of your video and identify the most effective channels for distribution.

3. Produce Videos According to Scale.

The advice “start out small” applies to producing your first video. Don’t pull out all the stops and come up with a Hollywood production number when you are testing the marketing waters for the first time with video content.

Again the best place to start would be your past content. Pick out high performing blog posts and create a short video which would further augment its content. For example, we at Mountaintop could produce a video for our blog post “Why Your Website Needs Responsive Design”.

You could also start out by producing an explainer video like one on your products and services and embed it on your Home Page or Services page.

If your video content generates higher returns, slowly scale up the production schedule. You may have to expand your budget but at least you will be more reassured of your investment.

4. Subject Your Videos to Frequent Testing.

Even if you’ve done your homework and followed your content marketing strategy to the letter, do not get complacent and allow yourself to believe your video content will deliver positive results.

Video content like all forms of content should be subjected to testing before getting published or distributed. Content seen through the eyes of another will give you filters you won’t have because of personal biases.

Take note of their comments and assess which ones should be considered as a basis for revising content.

And even once you’ve uploaded the videos, the evaluation should not stop.

Establish benchmarks to measure how your videos are performing and be prepared to introduce  improvements in content whenever necessary.

Conclusion

Numbers don’t lie. If you want your marketing campaign to meet or surpass its goals, you must invest in video content production.

It is a proven and time-tested approach to successfully delivering content to your audience. And demand for video content will only increase as mobile technology continues to evolve and the Internet becomes accessible to more people around the world.

It does not matter if you are a large-scale corporation or a small business owner. Video content will help your current marketing strategy gain more traction.

Are you interested in creating your first video content? Give us a call or send us an email and we will help you get started!

 

 

The word “brand” gets thrown around a lot in marketing discussions. Marketers will advise you to build your brand even before you launch your business. Many entrepreneurs will probably assume they need to have a logo designed and marketing copy made. But is a brand merely a logo with a catchy tagline?

What Exactly Does Having a Brand Mean?

A brand is a promise; you know exactly what you are going to get. When you see the logo or hear the name, it triggers emotional cues in your subconscious. Coming across the famous Golden Arches of McDonald’s gives you the feeling of comfort; enjoying its burgers and French fries with  family or friends.

The iconic red and white logo of Coca Cola with the scripted font design makes you want to be refreshed even when you are not thirsty. It doesn’t matter that soft drinks contain refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring and coloring, “I want my Coke!”

The case for having a strong brand is best exemplified by Nike which was accused in 1991 for hiring child labor in its Asia-based factories.

The company did not deny the accusations of child labor. In fact in 1998, Nike CEO Phil Knight publicly admonished his own company, accepted full responsibility for the situation and immediately instituted measures to improve working conditions in their factories.

In his speech, Knight said, “I truly believe the American consumer does not want to buy products made under abusive conditions.”

However, It is interesting to note that Nike’s sales during these turbulent period from 1995 to 2005 remained solid. Annual sales revenue in 1995 was $4.76 Billion and hit $13.74 Billion in 2005; an increase of 189% over a 10 year period.

Nike survived years of economic and social turmoil because it had built a very strong brand.

It takes years to build a brand. Your initial blueprint will undergo revisions in logo, text format, color, marketing copy and personality as your company likewise goes through changes.

A good example is Apple.

From its initial convoluted design of Sir Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree, the logo has gone through a number of changes. The iconic bitten apple design with rainbow colors by graphic designer Rob Janoff coincided with its introduction of the Apple II, the first PC with color display.

The company dropped the rainbow colors and went with a metallic look for the release of the iMac. As the company put out more products in the market, the logo assumed a glass themed design. Eventually, Apple founder Steve Jobs went with a monochromatic look explaining:

“Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”

The late Jobs was also known for his monochromatic taste in fashion; always seen wearing a black sweater.

So what is a brand? It is everything about your business; what it represents, its purpose, values, principles and other attributes that define its personality. If a business is defined as a living, breathing entity then that personality is you.

Therefore your brand is you.

5 Benefits of Having a Strong Brand

Brand building is one of the most important, yet overlooked aspects of starting a business. Many fledgling entrepreneurs believe that you should only work on your brand when business starts gaining traction.

In other words, get the cash register ringing first before you worry about building a strong brand.

But here’s the reality of consumer behavior: People don’t patronize products. They patronize brands.

Your product or service is not a brand. It is just a commodity and in the absence of a good, effective branding strategy, it will be lost in the sea of commodities that flood the market.

Here are 5 benefits of having a strong brand:

1. Differentiates Your Product From Everyone Else’s

One of the biggest misconceptions about consumer behavior is that buyers only care about price. Of course, everyone wants to save money but as Steve Jobs once said:

“Pricing does not equate to value.”

Buying the most expensive brand does not mean acquiring the best product in the market as buying the cheapest does not translate to getting a good deal on the purchase.

According to Nobel Prize winning Psychiatrist Daniel Kahneman, consumers base their decisions to purchase on aligned purpose. They couldn’t care less about the price or the ingredients on the label. Instead they care about what your product represents.

This pertains to the “why” of your product; it’s purpose.

Look at Starbucks. It’s been widely criticized for selling expensive coffee but people still flock to their stores for their daily brew. Why? Because the company has been a staunch advocate of the Green Movement.

It donates a percentage of its profits to charitable causes and a number of foundations that work for a cleaner environment. So even if you spend a few more dollars on coffee you could brew at home, you know it is for a good cause.

2. Creates Consumer Recall

Effective branding is a successful marriage between science and psychology. Marketers conduct extensive studies before conceptualizing brand building strategies. They analyze data on your business and target market.

Brand building is not specific to a product or service. It’s purpose is to package your entire value proposition in the most effective way and create an indelible impact on a potential end user.

Keep this in mind: Brands outlive products and services.

Products have life cycles; brands don’t. Take a look at apparel. Companies like Levi’s have gone through flared bottoms, tapered pants, acid wash, engineered jeans, button-fly and slim fit. The brand remains unchanged.

You could overhaul your entire product line within a few years but if your brand remains firmly entrenched in the consumer’s consciousness, you will always have a market.

3. Acts as a Hedge Versus Risk

We discussed the case of Nike and how it survived and actually thrived during a turbulent period in the company’s history.

Another example is Pepsi and that woeful Kendall Jenner advertisement. It was “inspired” by the Black Lives Matter movement and tried to create social awareness. But it was so poorly conceptualized and executed that it turned Pepsi into a laughing stock and trivialized the significance of the movement.

Fortunately, it had built such a strong brand that it was able to shrug off advertising missteps. Pepsi continues to wage a close battle with Coca Cola for supremacy in the soft drinks industry.

A strong brand acts as a hedge versus risk because marketing is hit and miss. There are so many uncertainties and factors you cannot control when conceptualizing ideas.

Sometimes you’ll hit a homerun. Sometimes you’ll strike out on the plate. It will be easier for consumers to forgive if your brand has been associated with quality and good value for a long time.

 4. Establishes Trust

When you go to a grocery store, why do you find yourself reaching out for specific brands even though others would be cheaper?

When you are inside a mall, why do you patronize certain restaurants over others even ones that just opened and were heavily publicized?

The answer is because you trust them.

As we mentioned in our definition of a brand, you know what you are getting. The risk of not enjoying the experience is very small. In fact the only risk is the foregone opportunity of trying a new brand that could potentially be better.

Going back to Daniel Kahneman’s work on consumer behavior, he theorized that our decision making process is influenced by two distinct processes: the emotional side and the rational side.  

Kahneman believes consumers are emotional decision- makers. They patronize products that they share an alignment or emotional connection with. It is only after the purchase was made that the rational mind takes over and asks, “Why did you buy that diet beverage when it is loaded with unhealthy substances?”

You may validate your decision by stating, “This company has been successful for so many years, they would not put anything in their products that would cause me harm.”

You should invest in building a strong brand because it will help you establish  loyalty from your customers.

5. Enhances Your Marketing and Advertising Campaigns

Who doesn’t love Budweiser’s Superbowl commercials? The advertisements use animals like dogs and Clydesdale horses as the central characters. Beer drinking humans only play supporting roles.

In fact, you don’t even get to see the product in the ads. Perhaps you’ll see a box for a 6-pack but for the most part, only the company’s logo is featured. When you watch a Budweiser commercial, you get the “feels”, it is comforting and refreshing just like a tall, cool glass of beer.

Here’s a piece of trivia: Superbowl ads do not translate to brisk sales.

So why do companies like Budweiser spend millions of dollars for these ads? Other than the large audience the Superbowl brings, favorable recall carries over to the company’s long term marketing and advertising campaigns.

For Budweiser, it was the perfect platform to hold a stand against the onslaught of the growing craft beer market.

The payoff will be felt over the next few months or years as the company continues to build on its brand.

Conclusion: How to Build a Strong Brand

The popularity of the Internet has become a double- edged sword for marketers. On one side, it has given us different avenues to deliver content. Most businesses utilize up to five social media platforms to distribute content. And that is just via social media.

A typical digital marketing campaign would include other tools such as web design and development, SEO, SEM, content writing, link building and PPC or Pay-Per-Click advertising.

But on the flip side of things, having all of these tools and processes at our disposal can be confusing. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it would be like trying to hit a target 7 yards away with a shotgun. You’ll just splatter ammo all over the place.

Without strategy, thought and purpose your marketing efforts to build your brand will not pay out as expected. All the hard work you put in your content will just go under the radar.

If you want to build a strong brand, you must first determine its strength potential.

1. Run a Brand Audit

A brand audit seeks to uncover the factors that drive growth and determine how the product or service is viewed by the market.

You have to undertake an in-depth analysis of your competition:

  • Review and analyze their websites
  • Study their current online marketing programs
  • Pinpoint the advertising channels they are using
  • Assess the types of content they are publishing and distributing
  • Determine their market share in the industry

Cross reference the information with data on your own business and its current level of performance. This will give you a better idea of how to improve your brand building strategy.

2. Determine Your Brand Value Proposition

Your Brand Value Proposition (BVP) is your key business differentiator. It answers the question, “Why should you choose my brand over others?”

Please take note: BVP does not pertain to a specific product. Instead it encompasses everything you want your target market or audience to know about your business. Specifically, this refers to your purpose.

Determining your business purpose isn’t an empty exercise. You don’t just come up with a string of words that you believe will resonate with your end users. Trust us, customers will know because the BVP will seem contrived and will not resonate with them.

If you want to know your BVP, ask yourself this simple question:

“What 5 non-negotiable values do I adhere to?”

Your core values act as guidelines in how you make decisions. Everything that you do for your business will pass through these values without fail: How you recruit, who you hire, its pricing points, customer service, your product mix and promotions.

Non-negotiable means exactly that. You cannot under any circumstances compromise your core values when making decisions.

Adhering to your core values will shape how your target market perceives you and your business. In time and with consistency, your end users will come to understand and acknowledge who you are and what your brand represents.

Remember what we stated earlier in this article:

Your brand is you.

If you enjoyed reading this and would like to know more about the power of having a strong brand, please give us a call or drop an email.

We would be more than happy to help you through the process of establishing your brand in the market place.

In the world of inbound marketing, two concepts stand out in terms of driving traffic to your website: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click or PPC advertising. One of the most frequently asked questions we get from clients is whether they should opt for SEO or PPC advertising.

At Mountaintop, we want to be firm with our answers. Many inbound marketing agencies play it safe by giving the default response: “It depends”. Our clients deserve a definitive course of action.

Before we give our position on the SEO versus PPC debate, let us do a quick overview on both concepts.

What is SEO?

We have written extensive articles on SEO. You can go back to our previous blogs, “5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs SEO Now”, “The Basics of SEO” and “How to Drive Traffic to Your Website” for comprehensive information on SEO.

But we’ll do a summary of the salient points of SEO so you will have a better understanding of how it stacks up versus PPC.

SEO works to have your website found on the Internet by using a variety of tools, techniques and processes that will move it up the first page of the SERP or Search Engine Results Page.

Organic or natural search remains the number one approach by Internet users for finding websites. Studies by research firm, Forrester has confirmed this statistic over the last six years.

Here are three other noteworthy statistics on the power of organic search:

  • Google generates 100 Billion searches every month.
  • 61% of marketers say improving SEO and organic search as the main drivers for their inbound marketing campaign.
  • 71% of B2B researchers start their study with an organic search.

SEO is a proven way of driving traffic to your website. It has evolved from a process into a system that brings together other online tools like social media marketing, link building and yes, even PPC advertising, to create a dynamic and holistic approach to inbound marketing.

Advantages of SEO

SEO is a process whereby the benefits are realized with consistency. Competing for the first page of the SERP is no easy task.

The market must regard your website as a valuable resource. Therefore, you should be able to identify your market’s needs and wants and consistently provide actionable solutions.

If you want overnight results, SEO will not get it done. The best analogy would be to compare SEO as a marathon not a sprint.

You start out from the back of the field then slowly work your way to the head of the pack with persistence, determination and steely, unwavering focus. As you pass one runner after another, people will start to take notice.

So let us expand our definition of SEO as a long-term investment that works to have your website found on the Internet by using a variety of tools, techniques and processes for the purpose of moving it up the first page of the SERP or Search Engine Results Page.

As an investment, SEO can immediately pay out high value dividends:

  • Enhance your reputation as a valuable resource in the field of expertise.
  • With organic search, your audience comes to you willingly. It is easier to build trust and therefore gain quality leads.
  • The ability to run “long tail” searches, opens up the parameters for being found by your target audience.

For example, instead of searching “Best running shoes”, a long tail search would appear as “Best running shoes for flat feet” can bring a more distinct audience to your website.

If you have a website, you must absolutely invest in SEO. With the amount of competition on the Internet, you have to optimize content for it to be found by your target audience.

Disadvantages of SEO

We have already described SEO as an investment. As such, it requires time, money and effort.

Don’t believe anyone who tells you the biggest advantage of SEO over PPC advertising is that it will not cost you a cent. We are often surprised when we hear clients tell us they heard SEO was for free.

SEO is not a skill that you can master to a level of proficiency by watching videos or reading books. Is it possible? Yes, but the question is, should you do SEO yourself?

And it takes time to gain expert-level proficiency. Time is an asset that is best dedicated to functions that contribute to your business’ bottom-line.

As a business owner, your time should be allocated to handling matters that demand your experience and expertise. That is why many companies hire agencies or third party service providers to manage their SEO campaign.

SEO is also sensitive to changes in algorithm and search engines like to make periodic changes in the way they rank websites.

This is another reason why you need a professional to oversee your website’s SEO strategy. An experienced and proven agency can keep track of all updates, trends and practices on search engine algorithms.

What is PPC Advertising?

Pay-Per-Click Advertising is exactly as advertised. It follows the same principle as traditional advertising where you pay to get your product or service in front of an audience.

Search engines like Google and Yahoo have PPC advertising programs that you can use to generate traffic for your website. Google has Google Adwords and Yahoo promotes Yahoo Search Marketing.

With PPC, the search engine allows you to display ads in the sponsored results section of their respective SERP. You pay a fee whenever a viewer clicks on your ad and lands on your website.

How much do you pay? Each keyword has been assigned a fee which is based on its level of competitiveness.

If SEO works to build your presence, with PPC you pay for your presence.

While traditional advertising takes the machine gun approach in giving a product or service visibility, with PPC advertising your ad will find its way to your target market. The person who clicked on your ad is someone who is looking for a similar product or service.

Here are three interesting statistics on PPC advertising:

  • 64.6% of consumers click through a Google ad if they are planning to purchase online.
  • Google Adwords has an average conversion rate of 2.7% on the search network and 0.89% via the display network.
  • Google Adwords has an average clickthrough rate of 1.91% in search and 0.35% for display.

Just to clarify the statistics, Google Adwords has two avenues for running your PPC ad: the Search Network and the Display Network.

The search network targets users who are searching the Internet. For example, if you are searching for “fitness trackers”, Google will serve you ads that are directly related to your search query.

The display network reaches out to users who are surfing the web; they do not have any specific query in mind. Ads are displayed based on the user’s online behavioral pattern and the advertiser’s targeting parameters.

An advertiser may require a specific demographic, contextual/ keyword search or interest category.

Advantages of PPC Advertising

One of the reasons Google became a multi-billion dollar company is because of revenues from paid search. Businesses want results in the shortest time possible. PPC advertising can fast track the process of building traction for your products and services.

Thus if SEO is a marathon, PPC advertising is a sprint. It has the potential to generate traffic to your website immediately. PPC advertising is an effective way to jumpstart the inbound marketing campaign of your website.

It also allows you to manage your advertising budget effectively by bidding for keywords that you can afford and paying only when someone clicks through your ad.

The benefit of having the search and display networks as options increases the chances of your ad being seen by Internet users.

You could place your ad in websites such as YouTube which consistently brings in a high volume of traffic. If you can position your website in a situation where there is a larger-than-expected flow of traffic, you will be able to run tests on different website variables.

With higher traffic, you will have more accurate data on your website’s level of mobile responsiveness, download speed and built-in functions and features. Higher traffic also increases the probability of sales conversions.

Finally, with PPC you do not have to worry about changes in the search engine’s algorithm.

Disadvantages of PPC Advertising

When preparing an advertising budget, you have to find out how much your competitors are spending for PPC. Keyword choices will have discrepancies in pricing and competitive ones could take you off your budget.

You can use Google External Keyword Research Tool to determine the level of competitiveness as well as the cost per click (CPC) of a particular keyword. The problem with competitive keywords is that these are usually the domain of authority sites which are very difficult to dislodge unless you have the resources.

PPC advertising will not enhance your site’s reputation as an expert. Therefore, it will do very little in driving high quality leads to your website unlike SEO.

You could be the highest bidder for a keyword but if the user sees no relevance or value to your ad, he or she will simply disregard the pole position of your ad and run another search.

With PPC, you could also fall victim to “Click Fraud”. This is an unscrupulous act done by some competitors where they will keep clicking on your ad for the sole purpose of draining your wallet.

Although the search engines have instituted safeguards to click fraud, it goes to show the very real threat your ads face being out in the open on the Internet.

Lastly, PPC advertising is similar to SEO in that it is not a skill where you can build expert-level proficiency overnight. It takes years of experience to become adept at PPC. This is a function that is best outsourced to a qualified third party service provider.

Our Recommendation

Before starting a business, you should be committed to investing in it. We don’t mean just the monetary kind but also time and effort.

It takes time to grow a business. A website, SEO, PPC, social media and other components of inbound marketing do not guarantee success. These are tools that will help your website become more competitive in your industry.

How they contribute to your success will depend on its planning, strategy design and overall implementation. There are absolutely no shortcuts when it comes to building and developing a business.

This is why you must prioritize SEO because of its long-term benefits of enhancing your reputation as a valuable resource and its ability of driving natural, qualified leads to your website.

Remember that when a user conducts a query, the search engine will always present the best results on the Internet, not the company which paid the most expensive ads.

As we stated earlier, SEO has evolved from a process into a system. You can harness the full power of SEO by incorporating its principles with social media marketing, content writing, link building and even PPC.

SEO is used to manage an online paid ad campaign. If you look at any PPC ad, you can see the search results displayed in the main area of the SERP.

There is also the matter of cost to consider.

A recent study published by iProspect showed that CPC is at its all-time highest levels. This was largely because CPC for mobile devices increased by 52% from the previous year.

60% of click throughs come from mobile devices compared to only 32% for desktop PC’s and 8% from tablets. The increase in cost further confirms the need for websites to be mobile responsive.

However, click through rates (CTR) declined by 17% over a one-year period. Coincidentally the fall in CTR was attributed to the underwhelming performance of PPC via mobile devices.

But this does not mean PPC has no place in your inbound marketing campaign. If your budget should allow, you can incorporate PPC at the start up or pre-launch stages. As mentioned, it will help create a higher volume of traffic for your website faster than SEO.

This will present opportunities not just for greater traction, but to test the functionality of your website.

Are you thinking of having SEO and PPC for your website? Done correctly, both approaches can do wonders for traffic generation. If you are interested to learn more about SEO and PPC, please do not hesitate to give us a call or an email.

We can do both for your website. If you wish, we can take you through the process of having SEO and PPC integrated into a digital marketing campaign.

We hope to hear from you soon!

Your website represents your business on the Internet. It only makes sense for your website to undergo a redesign that corresponds to changes in your market, business status, objectives and goals. Business should never remain passive. In order to be competitive, business should always remain dynamic; ever evolving to accommodate changes in demand, tastes and preferences. Therefore, your website should likewise remain dynamic and ever evolving.

So yes, your website should undergo a redesign. The question is when?

There is no clear cut rule on determining the need to change your website’s design and functionality. A web designer manipulates design elements to arrive at a look and feel that best captures your business purpose while presenting beautiful aesthetics and user-friendly functionality.

The initial design of your website was based on the information that was provided at the time. Over the course of your business, conditions may have changed.

Perhaps you adopted new strategies, presented additional products and services or experienced a shift in market demographics. Online analytics will help you determine how these changes have collectively asserted their influence on the flow of business.

Or you could subscribe to the Amazon.com and Apple.com school of thought which applies an iterative approach to website redesign. These highly successful technology companies continue to follow a process of consistently getting feedback from customers on their experience using their respective sites.

A combination of online analytics, customer feedback and a frequent review of company financials, should give you an accurate evaluation of the decisions that you need to make regarding your business.

And that should include redesigning your website.

3 Questions You Need to Answer Before You Redesign Your Website

A website redesign could be a minor undertaking. You may only want changes in the color combination, the type of content or add another web page for your portfolio.

But it could also mean a major overhaul. The extent of the redesign will impact your budget for the project.

When clients ask us to redesign their website, we ask them a few questions so we can have a better idea of where they are coming from and what they hope to accomplish with their decision.

1. Why Do You Want to Redesign Your Website?

This seems like an obvious question but we always prefer to hear from the client first.

We view the client as the expert; no one knows the business and the market better than you. No doubt there are very real factors or reasons on why you believe it is time to redesign your website.

  • Does your website look outdated or behind-the-times?
  • Are your competitors redesigning their websites as well?
  • Are you planning to improve your search rankings?

As the web design company, we are here to listen to you. Our job is to offer solutions to your problems or concerns. We will translate your needs into design elements that will help you achieve your goals and objectives.

2. What Problems Are You Currently Experiencing With Your Website?

In the same way that no one likes poor service in a brick-and-mortar establishment, poor user experience is unacceptable in website design.

  • Is your website taking too long to load?
  • Is your bounce rate high?
  • Are the social sharing buttons functioning well?

Part of our web management service package includes a website audit for our clients to identify potential pain points. The audit can be an eye-opener; it gives them a clearer perspective on how the website affects their bottom-line. It becomes a valuable reference tool in managing their business.

3. Have You Changed Your Brand Image?

It is normal for businesses to change its brand or company image. This is done to accommodate changes in the market demographic. You want a brand that your target market can relate to.

Changes in brand image should be incorporated in web design. Your brand represents how you want your business to be perceived in the market. It must be consistent throughout your marketing channels.

In an online marketing campaign, your website is the destination point where all inbound avenues converge and drive generated leads. Its redesign should be in line with any change in your brand or company image.

Checklist: 8 Signs Your Website Needs a Redesign

The best way to determine if your website needs a redesign is to get a professional opinion. An experienced web designer can review analytics and run tests to give you solid bases on the extent of work that needs to be done.

Of course, you can always get a second or third opinion before deciding on the course of action to take. It is very important to be comfortable with the redesign recommendations and at the same time be confident with the ability of the web designer to get the job done.

At Mountaintop, after we meet with the client, we go through a standard checklist covering eight signs your website might need a redesign.

The checklist is a great way to confirm all of the information and details given by the client during the meeting. We will use online analytics plus a thorough site audit to validate their concerns and spot potential problems that may have been overlooked.

It is not necessary to have all the items checked in the list. Our job is to identify the pain points and offer solutions for you to consider.

1. Poor Mobile Loading Capability

You may have commissioned your web designer to create a mobile responsive website for your business. But when you tried to view it from a smartphone, the site’s text did not appear legible and the images seemed distorted.

At a time when 65% of online traffic comes from mobile devices, you can’t risk visitors having poor user experience on your site. This is especially true if you are running an ECommerce website.

Your website must be accessible to various mobile devices. Laptops, notebooks, tablets and smartphones come in different screen sizes. How your website sets up in these mobile devices will determine whether the user will further explore or abandon the search.

2. Slow Loading Website

Research conducted by Akamai and Gomez.com showed that Internet users expect websites to load in 2 seconds or less.

One second more will make 79% of visitors abandon the site and never return. Another 44% will relay the poor experience with a friend. You would not want your website to be representative of these statistics.

If from your own experience, your website is not loading fast enough on desktop and mobile devices, you definitely should have this looked into by a web designer.

 3. Social Media Shares Don’t Look Enticing

Social media is a powerful driver of traffic. But if your links and thumbnail don’t look good when you share on social media, people who come across it may not be enticed to click on your content.

Not only should your link and thumbnail grab attention, its title and description should give readers an immediate idea of what to expect from your content.

If your link doesn’t look enticing in social media, give it an update. Keep in mind that social media accounts for 31% of all referral traffic.

4. Content Does Not Display Properly

Don’t you get frustrated when you click on a URL and the website comes out like an unfinished template?

Images are not displayed properly and content is nowhere to be found. You refresh the page and the results are the same. Your next course of action would be to click out and look for a similar website.

You would probably never click on that link every time you see it.

The same thing could happen to your website if its content does not display properly.

It’s possible your website is using obsolete software. If it’s been around for some time, it may no longer be compatible with newer devices and browsers. This is a problem that is best handled by a professional web designer.

5. Unsatisfactory Business Results

As we discussed in our article “0 Benefits of a Website for a Small Business”, it is absolutely important to have a website in this day and age of the Internet and social media.

It will be difficult to capitalize on opportunities if you have no destination point for all the inbound traffic that you plan to generate with an online marketing campaign.

But having a website is never a guarantee for business success. Like all ventures, there will be hits and misses. You should never look at a website as a “magic potion” that will cure all business ills or the veritable “lightning in a bottle”.

The advantage of having a website is that the availability of online and offline analytics allows you to identify strengths and weaknesses:

  • Are you having problems generating leads?
  • Is there an increase in the rate of shopping cart abandonment?
  • Is your conversion rate decreasing?
  • Is the level of engagement declining?

Once the problem areas have been threshed out, the web designer can come up with a redesign that might provide remedy to your current situation.

6. Visitors Leave Your Site Right Away

In retail, the longer you keep visitors inside your store the higher the probability of making a sale. The rule also applies to websites.

If you have a blog page, you would love for people to hang around, read content while nursing a cup of coffee. The more they read, the more likely they would share your content with social media.

If you are managing an ECommerce site, you would want your visitors to take their time, browse your site, zoom in your product offerings and place merchandise on the shopping cart. In time, they might follow through with the purchase.

Visitors leaving your site early is never a good sign.

A web designer will use the following metrics to check the online behavior of your site visitors:

  • Bounce Rate – Measures the rate by which visitors leave your page. It is not a good sign if your bounce rate is high.
  • Pages/ Session – Measures the average number of pages a user views per session. A high number means the average user views more pages whenever he or she is in your site.
  • Behavior Flow – This is a Google generated report which gives you details on the most popular path site users take to visit your website. Knowing where your visitors come from will improve productivity and help fine tune your online marketing campaign.

7. Visitors Can’t Find What They Need

Navigability should always be an important consideration in website design because it is a big part of User Experience. If a site user can’t find what he or she is looking for within a few seconds, frustration could mount.

When you receive emails or comments from users narrating their difficulty navigating through your website, take it seriously and act upon it right away.

A professional web designer could help come up with a cleaner and more efficient navigation plan that will keep users happy.

8. Initial Design Does Not Capture Current Changes

It could be that the previous year represented a time of sweeping change for your business.

If you have an online consultancy business, perhaps some services are no longer available. Did you replace some products with new offerings? Were there changes in management?

All of these changes should be reflected in your website. In business, communication is very important. If you distribute marketing collateral its content must correspond to what is presented in your website.

Conclusion

If you have a website, accept the fact that a redesign is inevitable. Digital technology will always be in a progressive state. Programs are expected to run faster and process more data. Users will crave a better experience and if you want to compete, you will have to keep your website updated, current and compatible.

The programs and plugins running your website now could be rendered obsolete within a few months. Without a redesign, it may not be responsive to the needs and demands of your market.

Keep in mind that your website is an investment that will yield potentially high returns for your business. With the help of an experienced web designer, you will get more out of every resource that you put back into your website.

Did we get you to re-think the design of your current website? Give us a call or drop us an email to clear your mind. We can simplify the process for you and help you get your business back on track.