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!

Lead Generation From 3rd Parties If A Website Is Old

If a Dallas Fort Worth company wants to generate more business from online methods it has several options.  Here are just a few:

  • Organic search engine rankings
  • Google AdWords and other search-engine based pay-per-click (PPC) methods
  • PPC ads appearing on relevant websites by niche, geographic emphasis, or both through a service like the Google AdWords Display Network
  • PPC ads directly purchased through the website, blog, forum, etc.
  • Donating to local charities where local donors are notified via e-mail, social media, or website
  • Organic social media sharing
  • Paid advertising through social media (including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.)
  • Classified ad websites
  • Blog comments on geo-specific articles likely to be read by prospective customers
  • E-zine newsletter advertising
  • Online forum participation
  • LinkedIn group participation
  • LinkedIn page optimization
  • Guest posts and interviews with journalists, bloggers, and others who influence in the DFW area
  • Paying for ad space on neighborhood association or HOA websites
  • Online press release distribution
  • Video marketing
  • Integration within certain apps
  • Local business directory sites
  • Paying for space on national directory websites, with DFW town-specific sub-pages
  • (many more methods)

What many businesses in the region fail to realize is that they can pay per lead, and possibly reduce costs, IF a third party has better ways to reach the intended audience.  Websites that are older and less versatile, such a newer & mobile-optimized WordPress site, tend to be good candidates.  The reasons why include a noticed lack of expenditure on the primary website which usually translates to a lowered marketing budget, except in rare circumstances.  Outsourcing would make sense in this case.

Another case is when the business owner wants to design his/her own website, albeit with limited experience; or he/she is pretty much forced to use a relative or relative of an employee for web design.  Usually in these cases there is a tremendous emphasis on the artwork and virtually none on the SEO, integration with social media, support for multimedia, etc.  Often their internal linking (to inner pages on the website) is poor and sometimes even break!  Such businesses are usually good candidates as they will have to rely on the more expensive “real world” marketing and advertising due to poor web design structure.  This is an example of one business which needed help.

Quality web design, combined with an understanding of at least basic SEO, also can reduce the “surcharges” added to PPC rates.  This is because Google’s “Quality Score” for AdWords PPC ads (in the Search Network) affects the price one pays, not just how many local businesses are bidding for the keyword(s).  Improvement in web design – in order to help the end user have a more positive visiting experience – can raise one’s Quality Score AND simultaneously lower the PPC rates by some amount.  Contact us for more details on this.

Integrating The Silos Of A Local Service Business Website

One of the challenges for a web designer in a major city like Dallas is to get into the mind of the client’s prospective customers.  While no web designer can ever guarantee a high initial conversion rate (e.g. a phone call, e-mail form completion or a walk-in with a coupon), the quest of the web designer should be focused on helping the client get his/her ideal outcome as close as possible to the outset of the site’s launch (or relaunch).

A major city, versus a smaller town, is tough because the same ideal demographic (age, gender, part of the city where the prospect lives, educational background, etc.) has tremendous variety in terms of how they make a decision to take action.  The width of the spectrum is significant because some like to be told exactly what to do, others need aesthetic reasons to take action, some need to make a decision with “social proof” (awards, testimonials, etc.), and others need some form of multimedia in order to see and/or hear the person with whom they will be dealing before taking the client’s desired “call to action”.

The other concern for a web designer, when helping multiple clients, is for the designer to put on his/her “marketing hat” and realize that they VERY SAME person may act completely differently when looking for a service business.  Here is a theoretical example:

  • Let’s assume that a 52 year-old man is living in Plano.  He runs a small business and has a CPA who isn’t all that great.  He had to fire an employee who is familiar with some, but not all, of the business’ financials and operations.  The employee is bitter and somehow gets the business owner accused of either embezzlement or fraud; or the former employee can plant drugs at the business owner’s office and get him busted for drug possession and related charges.  Again… this is just a hypothetical example!
  • With his business, livelihood and personal freedom – not to mention reputation and ability to provide for his family – on the line, he likely will research and call around to get a good criminal defense lawyer.  What he needs to see on a website, if none of his friends can recommend a suitable attorney, is lots of information and confirmation that the law firm has experience handling these kinds of cases.  Since he likely is in panic mode, with deadlines imposed on him by law enforcement and the courts, he can’t parade all over town spending tons of money to find the right attorney.  He needs something solid and fast, but there still will be a research element.  He also wants social proof, links to cases which were dismissed (doesn’t mean he will find those, but he wants them!), and other confirmation that he has high odds that the attorney will make the problem go away fast.
  • During this time, however, Murphy’s Law kicks in and his family members can’t get the car out of the garage one morning because it is stuck halfway.  At that point, he won’t need to do much research.  He just wants someone professional to come out and fix his garage door as soon as possible in order to help his family members be able to go about their day.  The website he visits needs to be more focused on his geographic area, expediency, price, and reliability.
  • In terms of another issue where there is urgency, is to get a plumber if there is a gas leak.  Of course, this will happen on a Friday night when the stressed out guy is able to have a few minutes of reprieve; and usually it will happen later in the evening when most businesses are closed.  In this case he is looking for 24 hour emergency service, geographic proximity, but price (while a factor) is not as urgent because of the safety risk to his family.  He will be looking for that kind of service.
  • Prior to all of this situation, he may have been searching around for a “non-essential” with his wife who was considering fixing up the house.  In addition to a kitchen remodeling project, she also may have wanted to improve the feel of the home, therefore considering an interior designer.  With so much competition, based around as much personal taste as actual skill for a subjective outcome, the couple likely would have ended up on websites where the designer at least had won awards from national associations – or at least their local chapters.  Such a website would have to emphasize those awards PLUS make it easy for the person to click for confirmation; and all of it likely would have to be more mobile-friendly and/or tablet-friendly since the decisions may be made while the couple is walking around their rooms discussing ideas.

 

Remember that the web designer who understands all of these concerns is likely to better serve the audience because he/she can speak to the client’s ideal outcome:  getting new customers who are hyper-targeted and pre-qualified to do business.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of why website design is becoming more challenging than it was several years ago.  This is because the VERY SAME person now has more choice in a major city, and his/her buying decision process can vary depending on the situation and type of service needed.  By understanding this ahead of time, the web designer adds value to the local business because there would be “built in” mindset behind the final website design in order to achieve the goal of generating new business.

For more questions, please send them to us and we can discuss – with local examples – in the near future.

Increasing Orders On Shopping Cart Websites

When an online marketer inherits an e-commerce site, it usually is not an easy transition.  Assuming that the marketer truly wants his/her client to notice a positive increase in orders, these are just some of the problems which likely face the marketer when the process starts:

  • no keywords were entered per unit item, or the keywords were ones with either too much competition and/or minimal monthly demand
  • improperly formatted SEO tags
  • website design problems such as coding issues, conflicts with images, videos which don’t render, “timthumb” issues, outdated plugins, etc.
  • code which doesn’t permit showing up in Google Images or similar search engine issues with visibility
  • no integration with social media
  • improper or missing sitemaps
  • search engine penalties such as unaddressed negative SEO campaigns by competitors
  • the shopping cart itself offers minimal flexibility
  • no split testing to determine issues such as shopping cart abandonment
  • if there was a previous e-commerce structure (such as Woo Commerce) which then was migrated to a Magento platform, there could be old (legacy) conflicts or coding issues
  • previous webmasters sacrificed performance (e.g. page loading times or quick indexing/searching) for supposed aesthetic improvements

This obviously can vary from case to case, but the problems do vary.   One such site which improved somewhat from previous marketing efforts is this one.

Off-page SEO such as blog reviews, off-page SEO links, YouTube videos and more helped the company notice an increase in traffic which converted.  Since there is minimal brand awareness, it is still TBA as to how much came directly through online marketing vs. offline marketing efforts (e.g. client meetings, Dallas Fort Worth area chamber of commerce presentations, etc.).

Assuming a 50-50 split, the quest to improve orders is working; but more SEO efforts have to be factored going forward.  In terms of website design, it can improve by:

  • being more mobile and tablet-friendly
  • changing on-page keyword tags for new products
  • incorporating some form of social media
  • more tips, updates, and unique factors for adding fresh & relevant content
  • XML sitemap
  • Schema or Rich Markup Language when permitted, such as blog posts with recipes
  • mixing up better the alt text for the images

More to come on this site, but at least you can be better aware of problems with e-commerce sites that are inherited versus designed from the ground up by the marketing professional.