Continuity With Other Web Properties

One thing which web designers sometimes overlook in their day-to-day tasks is making sure that the main website has continuity with the other web properties which, oftentimes, serve as the “first face” for the business.  What this means is that prospective customers/clients may be introduced to the company (or brand) through a web property which is NOT the company’s website.

Here are some examples of the categories of web properties, trusted by prospective customers, which are not the company’s primary website:

  • Niche or local online forums
  • Classified ad websites
  • Traditional social media properties (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Shared videos such as those found on YouTube
  • Press releases
  • A guest post article on a relevant website
  • Industry association website directory
  • Review site like Yelp
  • Many others

 

In many businesses, small and large, the decision makers often split up website design and the online marketing staff members or outsourcing firms.  These executives may have been led to believe that the website is more of an artistic expression as well as a web property which is more technical.  The online marketing team, however, usually is considered to be more focused on new business generation and client management.  The executives, however, should make sure that “the left hand is talking to the right hand” and that there is consistency across these various web properties.

Here are just a few things which can be done:

  • Consistent logos when a logo is permitted and considered to be appropriate
  • Consistent phone numbers and/or contact persons (or department)
  • All properties should link to the website and any permitted social media, video and other associated web properties
  • Consistent use of slogans, list of benefits, or other calls-to-action when appropriate to post
  • All approved team members should have access to the login/password information, with the necessary safeguards
  • Removing the likelihood of duplicate company profiles on the same web platform
    • A common culprit is having multiple Google Plus profiles for the business, and this gets difficult to “unsnarl” when 3 or more such profile pages start to appear
    • The same happens with Facebook business pages vs. fan pages
  • Making sure that the e-mail contact on the website for prospective customers is the same on the other web properties, unless there are deliberate reasons for the contacts to be different
  • Making sure that sub-services (niches) line up consistently such as what is mentioned on the website (like here) is in alignment with the Google Plus (Google My Business), Facebook business page, LinkedIn company page, and others
  • Making sure that sub-properties within a main property also have consistency
    • A good example is the description of a YouTube playlist matches up with the “About” page on the channel which, in turn, lines up with what is being promoted on the main website (example here)
  • Tying consistent messaging between the website, other web properties and any e-mail newsletters sent out by the company

 

Again, this is just a starting list.  There are many other situations where the web design team and the online marketing team can be at completely different ends of the spectrum in terms of what the prospective customer sees.  Do what you can to make sure that both sides work together to have consistent messaging, and you just may notice some sort of increase in the conversion rate for those being exposed to you for the first time to become customers.

Feel free to contact us with your question.

 

Unexpected New Website Challenges

When you are creating a new website, or taking over to maintain and slightly modify an existing website, you tend to have an idea of the typical challenges you might face.  The trick becomes some of the challenges you DON’T expect, and those can create delays, technical problems, loss of traffic and other consequences.

Here are some of the unexpected challenges you might run into, beyond the typical challenges you likely know how to address, based on some Dallas Fort Worth companies web properties in recent months:

  • Sitemap issues which prevent the search engines from crawling all pages of the website.  Therefore new content doesn’t get crawled (indexed) as quickly, and new algorithm updates might even hinder otherwise-favorable search rankings.  Adding a 3rd party XML sitemap might do the trick, but you will have to test to determine if indexing happens quickly and will be sustainable for the long term
  • Taking over a PHP website which wasn’t mobile friendly.  Simply adding mobile viewport code to each page usually isn’t sufficient as navigation bars, headers/footers, and other web elements can prove to be troublesome
  • Startup B2B websites which are going to start as a result of an employee wanting to leave current employment.  The drawback here isn’t so much technical as it is the inability to get unique photos and videos for your website and social (video) properties.  Likely the unique content, that makes the employee think he/she can go out on his/her own, mostly is going to be the copyright or other intellectual property of the current employer.  You will need to scour the stock photo websites (free or paid) for a while in order to get some sort of samples of photos or videos to use as your starting multimedia for the website.
  • Getting the client to have at least basic, consistent information on related web properties like LinkedIn, Facebook, and even industry directory sites like this one.  Sometimes you will run into information that was created by other companies and you can run into these kinds of problems which – amazingly – get blamed on you even though they happened long before you showed up on the scene:
    • Wrong address, phone number and website information
    • Misspellings of names
    • Content which isn’t compliant with state or national regulatory agencies
    • Contact information going to those who no longer work for the company, or even are now direct competitors
    • Etc.
  • If you have a client who is using a current or new website as a sales tool to generate leads for a parent company, often there can be these kinds of problems:
    • Discrepancies of messages between the sales professional and the parent company
    • Promises which can’t be kept
    • The parent company wanting access to the website or at least being copied on the leads generated
    • The sales professional, in pursuit of getting new prospective clients quickly, may wish to engage in black hat tactics that neither you nor the parent company would deem to be good business

These are just of the unexpected challenges, both technical and “real world”, that you may encounter.  They are presented here so that you can study solutions ahead of time so that you can best serve your client or employer when doing any form of web design or web marketing for any third party.  Feel free to leave your thoughts on other challenges to address.  Thank you.

Copyscape Issues

One of the most difficult things for a web designer or webmaster to do is to keep his/her client (or employer) out of legal trouble.  If the owner of a company hands the web designer content then it is assumed to be unique and able to be used freely on the website and/or on other places for online marketing purposes.  Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case!

One recent example was an attorney who was given what appeared to be “value-added” articles, rich with good content and potentially helpful information to anyone who ended up on his website.  Unfortunately, only 20% (at most) of the text content was actually truly unique.  The other 80% was copied from competitors.  To say that they would be happy to sue this attorney for posting their content without permission is an understatement!

How do you address that kind of situation?

One way, with text-based content, is to pay for a few credits on a service like Copyscape.com.   In addition to taking snippets of content (roughly 20-30 word search strings) and entering them into Google to see if the content already exists, a service like Copyscape can help you “mine” deeper and determine if the content truly is unique.  If so, or if you wrote the content yourself by hand, then you can feel safe using the content.

The attorney had to have his web designer create new content for each practice area (website silo) such as the content found here.  Obviously, this took time and some expense to rewrite the content; but the prevention of lawsuits may well have been worth it.

Protecting yourself from image copyright violations is tougher as the meta data in images is not as easy to track if it belongs to someone else.  The safe strategy is to purchase the rights to stock photos, take the photos yourself, or have a photographer shoot images for you to which you contractually have 100% rights to use in any way you deem appropriate.  Should you have any questions then contact the owner of a photo for which you plan to add to your website and get written or e-mailed permission to use should you give credit.  Be sure to ask how the photo credit should be labeled and where such credit needs to appear.

 

 

Subtle Web Design Methods To Increase Phone Calls Or Emails

Let’s face it.  A small business owner wants his/her website to do a few primary tasks:  mainly getting the phone to ring or generate e-mails from new customers or clients.  Unless you have a reason for people interacting on your website or app, such as making custom color/material combinations and then ordering like an e-commerce website, you want people calling you and then referring your website to their friends and family members.

There are several small things which can be done which, if added up, increase the odds of your getting qualified people to visit your website (for free or low cost) and then contacting you.  In no particular order, here is a short list of starting points to help achieve this desired outcome:

  • Include an embedded map of your office location or store, particularly if you want people to show up at your location.  This can be for a store, medical office, financial services professional or any other business which conducts transactions at your location – not the customer’s location
  • Optimize your images’ alt text and other image tags with desired keywords AND helpful content.  Do NOT stuff the same keyword over and over again across all of your images.  Use relevant phrases which accurately describe what the image represents.  This can help you get free traffic from the search engines’ Images features
  • Embed your YouTube and other videos in the appropriate locations on your website should the video offer value ONCE the visitor is on your website.  Otherwise leave it on the video-sharing website with the primary intent there to encourage viewers then to visit your website
  • List the areas your business serves.  You even can make town-specific pages so long as you have methods to make the content on such pages at least somewhat unique.  Otherwise just list the towns you serve such as what you see here
  • Ideally, have specific pages for each broad category of service you provide.  You can get into the “micro” categories if you have the content and willingness to post such content, provided that your website hosting platform permits several pages to be generated.  Here is an example of a Services page which lists the services provided at a customer’s location
  • Include links (text or icons) to your social media properties (e.g. Facebook and Twitter), review profiles (e.g. Yelp), video sites (e.g. YouTube) and any other relevant social properties like LinkedIn or Instagram
  • If you are a member of a review service like the BBB, and you have a favorable rating, then include a link to that as well
  • Include your business location’s name, address, phone number as well as links to your website’s privacy policy and sitemap on the footer of each web page
  • Make any phone numbers mobile-friendly so that people can make a simple click-to-call from their phones
  • Make your site as mobile-friendly as possible, if for no other reason than to preserve your mobile search rankings
  • Check your website’s analytics in order to determine if people are “bouncing” when they first visit your website
  • Compress images when possible in order to improve page loading speed times
  • Geo-tag images before uploading so that GPS coordinates are part of the images’ properties.  You likely need 3rd party software to do this, but many of those software packages are no-cost to download

 

Again, this is just a small checklist.  Feel free to leave your thoughts on what else can be added in order to help increase conversion rates for the average small business owner’s website.

Leveraging Custom Maps For Your Website And Marketing

What you likely see above this text is an example of a custom Google My Maps, using the embed code to add a visual graphic to this blog post.  Your website can have the same thing appear, and also use it for marketing purposes, so long as you know what to do with these links and embed codes.

How Does A Custom Maps Help Make My Phone Ring?

Great question!

There are several ways in which a custom My Maps can function to help make your phone ring.  Here are just a few of the thoughts:

  • Search engines –>  If created properly, and permitted to be shared publicly, such a Map can blend/aggregate/consolidate all of your main properties into one Google property.  You can add a link to your website, include your YouTube videos, boost your social media properties, add links to your review sites (e.g. Yelp), and much more.  By consolidating all of these on a Google-owned property (e.g. My Maps) you can pass more authority onto those other web properties you control; and this can raise each property in the search rankings assuming that you have optimized everything properly.
    • Note:  be sure to add nearby authoritative landmarks or other relevant helpful content to your Maps for “co-citation” purposes as well as simply making the Map more useful (value added) to anyone who actually sees it!
  • Social media –> By creating a helpful Map, you now have a new link (URL), much like a new blog post or YouTube video has a new URL when you publish the content.  You now can share this on your social media properties if you believe that the Map would add some sort of value to your followers.  The more that they share or comment on (e.g. “like”, retweet, bookmark, “stumble”) your Map then you should see more benefit coming to your web properties since your Map has proven to be helpful or valuable to some of your audience members.
  • Email –>  If appropriate, add the link to the Map in your e-mail signature file or any e-mail newsletter you send out regularly.
  • Embedding on your website –>  you can embed the Map on a current or new page on your website if you believe it to be helpful to your website visitors.
  • Pay Per Click –>  advanced strategy here, but it could be beneficial to reduce pay per click (PPC) costs as you would be sending the traffic to a Google-owned property; but you must be artful here.  Contact us for ideas on this. Otherwise, embed the Map in a current/new page (post) on your website and send the PPC traffic to that page.

 

Again, these are just some of the ideas you can do with Maps.  Think of the Maps functionality like a playlist for music, except that you can make multiple Maps depending on your intended audience’s needs/wants.  You then can optimize each Map to boost your respective web properties if appropriate.

 

That’s Great, But Can You Give Me Some Examples Of How This Could Work In The Real World?

Another great question!

Here are just some of the examples of what various businesses can do with customized Maps that are optimized properly and have the appropriate web properties included:

  • A guy in Dallas who buys distressed properties for cash can make a customized Map of homes he has in inventory to sell, lease, or assign the contract to a cash buyer/investor of bulk properties.   He then can e-mail this Map and/or embed it on his website.  As properties become available he can add new ones and remove ones that he has sold, but the link to his Map never changes.
  • A company selling torque and friction hinges internationally can make a Map of its headquarters plus the office addresses of its major clients around the world.  Instead of just posting a client list and testimonials, this can give prospective customers a visual representation of how far around the world that the company ships its products.
  • An accountant trying to expand into nearby cities can add the addresses of its presence in the nearby towns such as corporate clients (if appropriate and permitted), where he has spoken to audiences in the past, events he will attending in those towns, etc.  This custom Map then can be embedded on a specific page dedicated to the town where he wants to gain more exposure.
  • A startup roofing company, trying to compete in a high-competition area like Dallas Fort Worth, can use the city centers in a custom Map showing prospective customers where the roofer has done jobs previously.  Also, if permitted, the roofing company can make a custom Map of its commercial roofing customers — that way people can drive by and see the quality of the roof before using the roofer.
  • One of the new online college for-profit companies with a few campus locations in Texas can get more online college students nationally by posting any of the following in a customized Map – and then sending the link to the Map to prospective students who inquire about specific degree programs:
    • links to the campus locations
    • links to office addresses of where recent alumni are now working
    • states where students have graduated for that specific degree program
  • An event concessions company which wants to earn new clients in DFW can use a custom Map in order “pin” on the Map various stadiums, convention centers, arenas and other public event venues where it has successfully handled food and beer concessions.

 

Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what you can do with customized Maps.  You also can add a keyword within the iFrame code in order to boost your search rankings whenever the Map gets embedded on your website or 3rd party web property.  There is so much which can be done to improve search rankings, increase conversion rate, improve “social proof” or simply make things easier for your current customers/clients.

Contact us if you have any questions or thoughts on how to improve this new strategy.

Leveraging YouTube Playlists To Benefit Your Website

In recent weeks, the internet marketing/SEO world has started to emphasize the use of YouTube playlists more and more.  Much like you can take all forms of various songs and pieces of music and customize your own playlists, YouTube gives you the right to make your own playlists and share them publicly on your YouTube channel.

So how does this help your website and, ultimately, generate additional new business for you above and beyond traditional SEO efforts?  Great question!

There are several benefits to doing this IF you have intelligent balancing between optimizing your YouTube videos and giving the playlist viewer (including the search engines as a “viewer”) some form of legitimate “value”.  The value can be relevance, education, entertainment or a combination of all 3.  There are several benefits to be gained once you have that balance including:

  • Your specific videos have increased odds of ranking in the search engines (and within YouTube) for the specific phrases you want plus related ones (called “LSI”)
  • The same could apply to the playlist if optimized properly
  • The playlists pass along a quality, dofollow link to your website from a site Google obviously trusts (i.e. YouTube… since it owns YouTube!); and this could translate to increased search engine authority
  • Your website could get direct traffic from the playlist and/or the specific videos if you have properly-formatted links which can be clicked to your desired landing pages
  • If your specific videos don’t get shared then perhaps the playlist might be shared since it could be adding more “value” than individual videos alone
  • Several other benefits, including getting “social proof” by including a very helpful (authoritative) video to confirm your other videos inside the playlist.  This can help influence a viewer to take direct action or at least share your playlist with others

Here are some examples of using playlists from DFW businesses and others across the country:

  •  Curtis is an attorney in Dallas who focuses on nursing home abuse cases and related situations.  His YouTube playlist is embedded on each county-specific and city-specific page he has created in order to help convert first-time visitors to call him.  Here is his playlist, which is a four-part video series of him answering questions related to the difficult topic of nursing home abuse:

 

  • Larry is an optometrist in Lakewood.  He created a playlist of high-authority videos on the various brands of designer eyeglasses and eyeglass frames he carries at his location.  The thing is…. none of the videos in this playlist (as of this posting) feature any of his practice’s videos!  All of the videos are from the official YouTube channels of the actual brands or high-quality media featuring those brands. He was able to optimize the playlist for a Dallas keyword, and that playlist has a quality link to his website plus his office’s phone number.

 

What If You Don’t Have A Playlist?

No problem!  They are easy and free to create.

Let’s go through an example of what some businesses should do with their YouTube videos and channels:

  • Tony runs two concrete businesses in DFW.  One is for regular and decorative concrete work, and the other is for concrete saw cutting and gravel/sand delivery.  Regarding the first one, he has several videos.  If he wants to make playlists then he can break them down into each main keyword that he wants, and then he can optimize each one for his desired Dallas Fort Worth communities.  For example, in order to boost his decorative concrete side of the business he could:
    • Add a link to his website and include his phone number in the playlist settings
    • Also in the playlist settings he could add the specific services (and any related phrases) plus list each DFW town in which he wants to gain more exposure through YouTube and possibly Google
    • Add all of his videos which are relevant to the desired keyword
    • In order to be more than just “self serving”, he also can add videos from non-competing YouTube channel owners such as local media mentioning the decorative concrete trends in North Texas, videos from any sort of national decorative concrete trade/industry association, etc.
    • Once he saves the playlist he gets a new, unique URL (link).  He then can build backlinks to that URL, include it in his e-mail signature file, share the playlist URL on his social media, and he even can buy low-cost (geo-targeted) traffic to the playlist
    • He can pay to have the playlist embedded or shared on 3rd party web properties for SEO and direct traffic purposes
    • Of course, he can embed the playlist on relevant pages on his website as well.  This should help with conversion rates (phone calls or e-mails) as well as keeping visitors on his site longer; and the latter helps to reduce “bounce rate” which, in turn, can help with his organic SEO rankings
  • Dr. Khayal could do the same thing with his chiropractic technology videos, except he also can send these to his prospective patients who may not necessarily understand all of the machines at his chiropractic office.  After they come in for an initial consultation, the playlist could be sent to them to give reassurance about their odds being good of reducing pain.  Some of these prospective patients even may help him further by sharing the playlist with their friends & family members
  • Even an attorney outside of the area could benefit from this as well.  For example, Heather could compile her separate YouTube videos along with relevant videos from the State bar or even other attorneys in order to give credence to her legal approach.  She then could share the optimized playlist (with her website and phone number) through her Google Plus page.  This way a Google-owned property (Google Plus) is promoting another Google-owned property (YouTube playlist) which has authoritative information and can boost the value in the search engines of both properties.   Think of this co-sharing as an “upward spiral” or the opposite of a “downward spiral”.
  • Jim runs a retailing business for high-end audio engineering equipment used in sound studios and advanced media production facilities.  He already has playlists (here) but he can improve them by:
    • adding his phone number
    • adding his website
    • adding more of his videos blended with authoritative videos from the actual manufacturers’ YouTube channels
    • share the playlists
    • embed the playlists on 3rd party blogs and social properties that he doesn’t control
    • build quality links to the newly optimized playlists

Here is one of his playlists for a specific brand:

What Else Can Be Done For No Cost?

Additionally, you can do the following no-cost actions:

  • optimize each video’s title, description, tags and advanced settings for the videos you control
  • include tags from popular videos and/or competitors in order to increase the odds of appearing as related videos next to their videos on YouTube
  • include a link and phone number on each video you control
  • leave positive comments on authoritative videos AND channels within YouTube — done to build authority back to your channel
  • optimize your channel’s About page (up to the character limits permitted)
  • include all of the best links possible to your website and other social media and favorable review URL’s
  • verify your YouTube channel
  • build subscribers to your channel
  • get favorable likes (thumbs up), comments and video responses on your channel
  • send out occasional messages on your channel page as updates (much like a blog or social media account)
  • get your friends and customers to watch your videos and playlists to organically grow the view counts
  • a few more techniques — contact us for more ideas

 

Again, will all of this guarantee that you get more business?  No.  Doing all of this, however, increases the chances of your gaining new business because your competition likely isn’t doing even half of the items listed on this page.  This doesn’t even include leveraging other outlets for your YouTube videos or playlists like:

  • including them, when permitted, in online press releases
  • paying to have your playlist shared through local outreach distribution centers such as chamber of commerce weekly/monthly e-mail newsletters
  • blending your playlists and specific YouTube videos inside customized Google My Maps (yet another Google-owned property which you can manipulate)
  • adding geo-tagged thumbnail images if you want to attract business from specific towns
  • modifying the video transcripts
  • adding annotations to other videos (or your playlists) plus external links
  • buying traffic from within YouTube to your playlist, such as paying to be on the same page as your competitors’ videos
  • much more

 

As you can tell, there is a ton that can be done with YouTube videos and playlists.  Hopefully you find this short discussion beneficial.  Be sure to contact us if you have any questions.

Duplicate Content, Thin Content Or No Content

One of the challenges that a website designer has, despite all of the technical and coding issues, is the lack of quality and unique content from the client.  This hurts the client in several ways, including:

  • reducing the odds of having good search engine rankings for relevant keyword phrases which are competitive from an online perspective
  • lowering the odds of converting a first-time visitor into a lead
  • lowering the amount of content which could be shared by others via social media or e-mail to their friends/followers, thus reducing referral traffic to the website

 

When it comes to content, there are three main challenges:

  • Duplicate content
  • Thin content
  • No content

 

We will give an example of each and their respective possible solutions to help grow the client’s business.

Duplicate Content

There is a CPA on the border of Frisco/McKinney who uses a website host which specifically targets CPA’s across the United States.  They offer “cookie cutter” content in terms of newsletters, website structure, and a set number of “skins” (look and feel) for the end visitor to see.  Since this service targets hundreds of accountants across the country, many of their articles and web page wording is exactly the same.  This is deemed by the search engines to be “Duplicate Content”.

How does one counter this in order to make the phone ring, especially through the search engines and in nearby towns that are not featured via the primary office address?

What he did is the following:

  • Optimized each page with unique tags
  • Contacted the web host service and received permission to add unique content pages specific to his business
  • Developed other web properties which link to his website, including YouTube and LinkedIn.  He also developed Yelp, AngiesList, and city-specific directory pages
  • Embedded videos on his website where appropriate
  • Received reviews in his Google Plus page listing which links to his home page
  • Made other customized content on the “cookie cutter” pages plus linked to those pages, like the shared newsletter, from city-specific websites reaching those wanting to know more information about taxes, deductions, etc.

 

Ultimately this has helped him achieve top 3 organic search rankings for his desired keywords, even though his site has duplicate content.  These rankings have helped to make his phone ring with brand new clients for the past few years.

 

Thin Content

A hairstylist down the street from the CPA only had a cookie-cutter page which many hair salons use to schedule appointments with local customers.  She ultimately decided to create her own website.  On it she emphasized specific services for men, women and teenagers & kids.  While those in the area likely know where to get a basic haircut, specialty services may be a bit tougher to find such as Ombre hair or fashion styles or bridal hair styles.

A basic website was all that is needed, although she likely will want to change up the look of her website in order to match the trends and any logo/branding changes she makes in the ensuing years.  This is the long way of working around thin content, since many of her customers come from Facebook, Yelp or local online forums.

By contrast, a company which has a website already promoting web hosting and email hosting services across Texas only had thin content originally.  They don’t want to invest much money or time in content creation, yet they still want to increase their search engine rankings AND increase their on-page conversion rate.  We have decided on simply creating an optimized YouTube video for each topic, and then embedding the videos (after being uploaded to YouTube) on the respective pages.

Doing this will help both elements since embedded YouTube videos (properly optimized in YouTube) which match the content of the page on which the videos are embedded tend to be very sound principles for their objectives.  From there, basic link building such as citations, Texas-oriented directories and niche directories which are “authoritative” should help them get exposure in the major Texas cities and suburbs including Dallas Fort Worth.

 

No Content

One guy has no website, but has several mentions of his name on multiple web pages.  He wants those to appear first in the search engines when you look up his name including his Facebook page.   What to do here is to create several profiles on the high-authority social media properties.  From there, you would add content relevant to that person and his/her industry or company.  There are additional techniques such as link building to the social media property pages, issuing press releases with the person’s name in the title of the release and any keyword tags field, and then creating videos (or other multimedia content which can be indexed by the search engines) with the person’s name in the title.

Doing all of this bypasses the need for creating a website, but it still can accomplish most of the objectives set forth.

 

Hopefully these solutions give you some ideas on what to do if you are in any similar situations.  Feel free to contact us with your thoughts or questions.

What If The Phone Doesn’t Ring?

That question is one which scares many business owners in the DFW area.  They spend money on all forms of advertising but such expenditures often are wasted in many ways.  Some of these include:

  • spending money in local magazines which are not read or trusted by the business’ target audience
  • overspending on pay per click (any version of paid online ads) and not understanding the numbers to generate a ROI
  • not having any “calls to action” on websites
  • poorly-designed websites which “break” on mobile devices such as iPads, Android phones, iPhones and the like
  • incorrect information
  • not offering any benefits to the website visitor

 

All of this translates to a possible “panic” mindset in the business owner.  Such a state of mind can lead to a “downward spiral” where he/she will take irrational actions, “grasping at straws” and acting from a state of desperation instead of intelligent action.

Here are some steps taken by local Dallas Fort Worth businesses (or other areas of Texas) in recent years which increased the traffic flow and, ultimately, led to new business in terms of phone calls, e-mails or walk-ins.

  • A boxing and MMA gym in Irving wanted to reach more prospective trainees from Dallas, Coppell, Addison and Farmers Branch/Carrollton.  They added a multimedia page which embedded YouTube videos showing what a typical class would be like.
  • This landscaper near McKinney made city-specific pages for the communities where he would like more commercial, office, retail and church landscaping business.  Over time he has to add Schema, hCard, KML or other mobile-friendly and HTML5-friendly coding plus more images & testimonials/reviews, especially on those new pages.  Doing so may help him get more phone calls from those areas.
  • This retailer of specialty meats added the “free shipping” graphic right in the center of the upper section of the home page.  The company also started adding a “Recipes” section which, if content is added over time, can become a resource which gets shared by many.  The website’s architecture has some SEO challenges and social sharing challenges, so they will have to rely more on 3rd party testimonials with a link to the website in order to boost sales versus other options
  • A print broker in Highland Village, offering discounts and specialty service on print materials like direct mail pieces and high-volume business cards, designed a website which had several challenges in terms of being read by the search engines.  He needed a 3rd party website to boost exposure in the towns where he wants to concentrate.  This is a beginning step, but much more is needed to help him increase his phone to ring as it currently is a “pure SEO play” versus integrated with social, pay-per-click, classified, e-mail or other online marketing/advertising methods
  • A member of an auto dealership in Richardson, offering help to those with credit challenges, needs his phone to ring with more people who are dealing with credit issues yet still need a car.  He started adding blog content by educating the audience about “assets” that they didn’t realize could help them qualify for auto financing.  Paid advertising to this blog post should help him further and likely increase the number of application forms being filled out
  • This Addison-based marketer for credit card processing and merchant account services has a pretty extensive suite of benefits.  Over time it will use county-specific pages for content which “talks” specifically to businesses across the state of Texas.  Each page, however, must emphasize the benefits that the company offers over other companies in this ultra-competitive landscape both from a search engine as well as “real world” perspective.  Pay per click costs are expensive in this market, so reducing surcharges and/or “talking” to the business owners in those towns with hyper-targeted content (per county) may help increase people asking for more information.
  • This furniture repair professional is based on the eastern part of Rockwall County, but offers free pickup & delivery for furniture repair and antique restoration/refinishing.  Most people in the area don’t know he exists and he used a “canned” web hosting which reduced his search engine flexibility nor offered him much chances for designing landing pages for paid ads.  He also significantly overpaid for his PPC costs and couldn’t get enough traffic to justify the ad spending ROI.  Here is a website which targets the industry across Texas, but he has content on the 3 counties (out of the 250+ in Texas) which are of interest to him.  The ability to embed videos, link out to town government websites, and make phone numbers able to be clicked on mobile phones may increase the odds of making his phone ring
  • A garage door repair professional based in Frisco knows the potential for good money to be made in the business, both in terms of repair as well as repairs and parts.  To start to compete favorably in the search engines, with a site started from scratch, he had to be mobile-friendly as well as gain authority.  His audience, especially for repairs, is a “reactive” audience instead of a “proactive” one.  It is difficult to “get ahead” of his competitors with lower cost advertising since few homeowners look up garage door inspections or tune-ups before there is a problem.  To help his SEO, and therefore help his phone to ring more, he needs to provide tips which don’t cannibalize his skills by teaching others how to do everything themselves.  Once he finds such tips (e.g. basic overview videos from his manufacturers) he then is starting to provide those tips as updates on his site.  He then will syndicate that content via Twitter and a few other outlets to gain some possible social media shares and 1-2 real world phone calls.
  • This real estate investor wants to gain more calls from people looking to sell their homes quickly across DFW.  He added town-specific pages and will generate more town-specific content such as reviews, case studies and resources specific to that town for those looking to move quickly or sell a property fast if the website visitor is an out-of-town owner.
  • In order to generate more moving help (loading/unloading of rental trucks) business, this Prosper business owner created a basic site on the GoDaddy platform.  Nothing special about this site, but he just wants calls quickly.  By adding all of the towns he serves at the bottom of the page it increases the odds of his being able to reach people in those towns roughly up to 40 miles around his location as long as those towns are in Texas.
  • This concrete contractor serving Fort Worth and the Mid-Cities not only listed his services, but added service-specific pages with more information. Some of this information is text-based and some is video-based.  He wanted to go beyond the “decorative” aspect of his concrete business and generate more traditional and commercial business such as asphalt removal, sidewalk repair, and retaining wall installation.  He was able to generate more calls by adding these pages and then sharing the service-specific pages via RSS feeds, social media, classified ads and some pay-per-click (optimized to reduce any per-click surcharges)
  • In order to gain more chiropractic business from nearby Plano, a North Dallas chiropractor had a second site built purely optimized for chiropractic content.  He embedded the RSS news feed from the American Chiropractic Association, added Schema and hCard markup language, and creates monthly posts designed to boost awareness of authoritative information about chiropractic.  This is a supplement to his primary website, but it can help reach people who otherwise wouldn’t know he exists in the nearby city of nearly 300,000 people.
  • This RV park in South San Antonio needs more phone calls for long-term (extended) stays.  He took the time to offer current and prospective patrons some quality information about nearby tourist attractions.  Linking out to authority sites can help his SEO efforts as well as get possible social shares of the main attractions page or those dedicated to a specific tourist attraction.  Hopefully this leads to more phone calls in the upcoming weeks.

As you can tell there are several actions which can be taken on and off the website to help increase the odds of generating new business either from the search engines, shared content, paid advertising, classified ads or other online methods.  Please contact us with your questions about how we can help your website reach the same objectives.

Designing A Site For Local Businesses Which Perform Services At Client’s Location

One of the big challenges for a local business is to get exposure in the surrounding towns.  Not only is the business owner likely not registered with that town’s chamber of commerce (thereby not getting a link from the local chamber directory website), but he/she also isn’t getting “citations” (local business directory links) mentioning that particular town.  That means that the business owner is missing out on some of the search engine elements which deal with maps-related elements.  This can hurt a business looking to attract people from those towns to travel to the business’ location.

It becomes even more challenging when the business performs the primary services at the client’s location.  For example, a driveway repair contractor may be fully capable of performing a driveway repair project in a town 10 miles away.  He has the equipment, labor, knowledge and previous experience to deal with concrete curing and other specifics related to driveways and asphalt for that town.  His physical address, however, might be 2-3 towns away; and he risks not being found by prospective customers in the desired town 10 miles away from his location.

What can he, and local businesses in similar situations, do regarding this situation?

Here are a few suggestions, both having to do with the website and those regarding other properties:

  • Create a YouTube video which is optimized for that particular town plus a few nearby ones.  Then embed that video on your website (either as a page or part of a blog post), and optimize that post for the desired town. Here is one such example about concrete overlays.  The blog post is targeting both Dallas and Fort Worth, even though those cities can be over 30 miles apart depending on where you start measuring.  Future link building can target towns in between both cities like Grand Prairie, Irving, Arlington and more.
  • For a similar commercial service, one offering concrete and gravel hauling & delivery (plus concrete saw cutting) services, they don’t have a ton of jobs that they have performed in the surrounding towns.  They want leads coming from those towns, however, and they may have to pay for pay-per-click advertising to start the phone ringing.  Since Google (and other ad platforms) want to give their users a valuable experience (in order to keep using that particular search engine!), at the very least list the towns served like they do here.  Some designers have “arrogance” thinking that listing these towns detracts from web design; but this simply isn’t the case.  They likely will cost their clients more money when the client ends up paying a “surcharge” that is unnecessary due to poorly-optimized pay-per-click ad spending.  This is even more likely to occur if the client attempts to do his/her own PPC management as they likely aren’t familiar with the nuances.  The same may apply down the road to buying ad clicks from targeting those desired towns in Facebook; and this is because the ad won’t “speak” to the person who clicked the link and left Facebook.  That leads to wasted money.
  • If a client is adding a new service, such as offering landscaping for medical buildings, then the client can do several things:
    • online press release
    • social media sharing
    • e-mailing his/her current newsletter list members
    • paying bloggers to share the news with the desired audience
    • mail outs or other direct mail
    • post in a LinkedIn group
    • etc.
  • Regarding the landscaping example, this still requires a dedicated page.  The landscaper needs to discuss the benefits such as patient happiness (which leads to better patient satisfaction surveys), improved aesthetics when it comes to brochures for marketing purposes, and keeping investors happy should they visit the facility.  Before/After pictures and videos can be embedded on such pages at a later date.
  • Continuity also is important.  For example, consider a moving company which offers a niche service such as rental truck & container loading and unloading labor.  If the business is offering a coupon for a discount, free first hour of labor, no trip fees, or some other incentive then everything else must line up with the website’s offering for the promotion’s duration.  This can include:
    • physical coupons
    • direct mail pieces
    • online coupon sites
    • daily deal sites (like Groupon)
    • classified ads mentioning the promotion
    • press releass
    • social media posts/tweets specifying the terms of the promotion
    • etc.
  • An on-site repair service for furniture and antiques that is located a good distance away from where his/her primary customers are located must do a few things:
    • find “hidden nuggets” of where the clients may have furniture even if they don’t live in the high-dollar neighborhoods –> for example, targeting those who have lake homes in the areas outside of the suburbs may have need for furniture and antique restoration
    • like the loading/unloading business mentioned earlier, making sure that all marketing efforts OFF the website match up with what is ON the website for the duration of any promotion
    • leverage before/after images –> the business can make music video slide shows (like this one), use Pinterest, use Flickr, upload the images to a service like Houzz or Angieslist (if permitted by their account status), etc.  All of these should at least have a link back to the home page if not a specific inner page on the website
    • use the images on classified ads and press releases
    • use intelligent PPC, but likely using Google’s Display Network (instead of the Search Network), Facebook ads, YouTube ads and other online platforms to target his/her desired audience without paying a premium for the Google Search Network platform
  • Finally, a business which offers both residential and commercial service needs to have its website offer separate pages (or entire sections) due to the nature of its prospective customers.
    • For example, this heating and cooling company offers both services
    • It also offers 24 hour service for either division
    • The website’s keyword tags (<title> and <meta description>) at least should mention once the “24 hour”, “weekend”, “overnight” and/or “emergency” keywords
    • Of course, each title or meta tag should be unique, within search engine’s request character limits, and NOT over-stuffed with keyword spamming efforts
    • From there, getting links to the commercial-specific section can help the client begin to get found, especially if the links coming from “relevant” pages.  These are pages either about heating/cooling, the general geographic area, a directory listing for that particular geographic area and/or an authoritative website on the topic of commercial facility maintenance (or similar topic)

There were several tips mentioned here, so feel free to reach out to us with your thoughts on what you need to help make your phone ring once people reach your website, either through paid advertising or free exposure such as through the search engines.  Thank you.

Internal Linking – Make It Easy For All Parties

Virtually every DFW small business wants its phone to ring more.  Regardless of how it gets done (so long as it is ethical!), business owners are looking for free and cost-effective means to get more inbound phone calls looking for products or services.

Ideally, a “free” (non-Pay Per Click) top search engine ranking for a desired keyword (relevant + has demand each month) could lead to a motivated prospect to consider calling, e-mailing, joining a newsletter, downloading a coupon, driving to a specific location or some other first-time action step.  The way to accomplish this method is to increase the “trustworthiness” of the desired website or other web property (e.g. YouTube video, LinkedIn page, chamber of commerce directory page, etc.).

There are over 100 different “spot checks” which COULD affect rankings.  They usually fall into one of four categories:

  • Relevance:   is your site’s content, meta/title tags, multimedia and other content relevant to the niche and geographic intent of the searcher?
  • Trustworthiness:  is your site compliant with the search engine’s needs for deeming you to be trustworthy?  For example, you will need an easily found privacy policy, sitemap, endorsements from people in your niche and/or geographic region, etc.
  • Authoritative:  are your home page and inner pages getting links pointed to them from other websites which are quality and relevant?  Do you have a realistic mixture of inbound links such as from local business directories, industry/niche directories, multimedia sites (e.g. YouTube), social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), article directories, web 2.0 sites, online forums, classified ads, etc?
  • Stability:  is your site loading pages quickly?  Is it mobile and tablet-friendly?  Do you have at least a XML sitemap visible for the search engines?

 

This is a daunting task as most webmasters were hired for their coding, graphic design and platform stability purposes.  Few webmasters also have the “marketing hat” in order to understand the ability to generate free traffic from the search engines, have proper on-page optimization to increase AdWords PPC Quality Scores (thereby lowering per-click costs), and other factors to attract quality traffic on a consistent basis.

What can you do?

There are a few things you can do before hiring a SEO professional.  Remember that not all “SEO” professionals are the same, as it is part-art & part-science.  Sadly, it is not yet an “apples to apples” so your previous budget spent on SEO may not be reflective of the quality you will get next time around for SEO purposes.

Here are some things which LIKELY will not go “out of style” anytime soon with the search engines:

  • Having dedicated pages with a consistent link (URL), even if inventory changes on the page.  Here is one such example from a DFW pre-owned luxury car dealer.  The inventory changes all of the time, but the page to access the manufacturer/make section is a static (rather than dynamic) URL.  This helps the search engines as the page is consistent
  • Here is an example of a Services page which has internal linking to the various professional services offered.  It did not exist previously, so the only way for the search engines to see the internal pages was through the Sitemap.  Since a real person likely never will go through a Sitemap to find what he/she is looking for, the site noticed an increase in rankings because it became easier (hence more trustworthy) for a real person to use and navigate the site.  The drop-down menu worked as well, but the internal linking page was what caused a noticeable boost
  • More internal linking works, but making a city-specific page (especially if it is a neighboring city) with CITY-specific content tends to help.  Links on that page pointing to authority websites (which have relevance) are always smart to add as they convey that the page is more trustworthy and helpful to the end user.  Here is one such page.
  • Make sure that you add an “about” page.  This helps give the end user more information about who you are, and you can include links to your pages on BBB, Yelp, LinkedIn, etc.  Link from here to any review pages (within your website or on 3rd party sites) as well as anything else which makes you trustworthy.  In the worse case, at least list the towns you serve like this example URL

There are several other things under your control such as posting images of employees (if okay for security purposes), links to your videos at trade shows, other forms of proving your company is trustworthy, and – of course – case studies of real results.

More on this topic, but let us know what else you would like to see.

Thanks!