Blog – ForeFront Web http://www.chluaid.com Fri, 07 Aug 2020 18:06:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 Blog – ForeFront Web clean forefrontweb.com/privacy-policy/ Blog – ForeFront Web http://www.chluaid.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Podcast-Cover-Art-2-1.jpg www.chluaid.com/podcast Building Your Virtual Billboard http://www.chluaid.com/outbound-marketing-strategies/ Fri, 07 Aug 2020 18:00:28 +0000 http://www.chluaid.com/?p=4632 Smart Display, Linkedin Advertising & Facebook marketing – each platform has its own pros and cons when it comes to outbound marketing.

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Smart Display, Linkedin Advertising & Facebook marketing – each platform has its own pros and cons when it comes to outbound marketing.

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Reading The Virtual Room http://www.chluaid.com/reading-the-virtual-room/ Fri, 31 Jul 2020 17:50:30 +0000 http://www.chluaid.com/?p=4246 The Best Resources for Understanding Your Audience If you’ve ever told a joke that elicited more horrified stares than laughs, then you understand the importance of knowing your audience. It comes as no surprise, I’m sure, that knowing your audience is also critically important in the digital marketing world. But there’s good news for those...

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The Best Resources for Understanding Your Audience

digital marketing strategyIf you’ve ever told a joke that elicited more horrified stares than laughs, then you understand the importance of knowing your audience.

It comes as no surprise, I’m sure, that knowing your audience is also critically important in the digital marketing world. But there’s good news for those of us who’ve badly misjudged the appropriate time to contribute a “that’s what she said:” There are far, far more tools for analyzing your digital audience than there are for reading the room at a social function, and that list of tools only continues to grow.

As Audiences Change, So Do the Technologies That Help Us Discern What Engages Them

The wealth of technology designed to help you better understand your audience – so you can offer them a user experience that matches up with their wants and needs – was one of the many subjects covered in-depth at MozCon 2020 in mid-July. SEO expert and Moz contributor Alexis Sanders deserves all the kudos in the world for putting together such a comprehensive overview of the options out there.

One of the biggest – and most obvious – problems with defining a digital audience is that these audiences are constantly changing as people’s preferences and technology do. Who they are, what they want, what they search for, what they buy, what path they take to that sale: These are all salient points, and the fewer you can comfortably track, the more of a mystery your audience remains.

Audience Information to Prioritize

digital marketing ohioSo what information is worth knowing about your customers and visitors, current and potential? Sanders highlights four data points:

  • Key Information: The basic demographic stuff. Income. Number of kids. A/S/L, in the parlance of turn-of-the-century chatrooms.
  • Personal Core: What do they want out of life? What are their values? What are their general attitudes and their stated interests?
  • Product Preferences: What are they looking for in a product? What sorts of things do they tend to look for in the pursuit of the products they buy? Where else are they going to get that product if they don’t get it from you?
  • Relationship with Technology: How competent are they when it comes to searching and navigation? How proficient are they with your site in particular? How much do they spend annually on the products and services you offer? Where are they engaging on your site now, and how can you engage them in a meaningful way? How about if they aren’t engaging – how can you encourage them to engage?

This is the information that helps you ask the right questions about your customers, figure out where to find new ones and connect with old and new on a meaningful level with the ultimate goal of creating better experiences.

So where do you get it?

First-Party Sources

You can classify the first-party sources of data into five categories. Determining which of them are the most worthwhile for your website starts with deciding which data is the most relevant to your needs, then gauging which options are the most affordable in terms of cost and in terms of time.

Web Performance Analytics

Google Analytics is the most obvious and popular option here. It’s not the only option, but it’s accessible enough that it should probably be at the top of your list. You can break out users’ interests (Interests, under Audience) by conscious behavior or by general interests. You can track the different steps an individual user takes on their journey via the User Explorer Report. You can ask questions directly via the super-intuitive search bar. You can—well, listing everything Google Analytics can do would be the subject of a novel, not a bullet point, but you get the idea. Web performance analytics tools vary pretty widely in price, from free to expensive, depending on which tool you use and how you use it.

Organic Search Performance

organic search technologyAgain, you’ve probably got your eyes on Google here – specifically, Google Search Console – though there are other options. Use it to identify patterns and categorize information in conjunction with other programs. Google Sheets will suit you fine for your categorization needs, though there are less commonly used options such as Colab and Jupyter Notebook. Organic search performance tools are free.

Ranking Tools

Prices vary pretty widely on these tools. There are quite a few options here, but some of the biggest ones are STAT, Advanced Web Ranking, Conductor and BrightEdge.

Surveying Tools

You’re likely familiar with the big names here, such as Google Surveys and SurveyMonkey. Sometimes, you need specific information from a specific set of people in an expedited time frame, and surveying tools are the best way to get it. Though that’s only if you put up a quality survey – one that is consistent, uses easy-to-understand language, doesn’t ask vague or leading questions, and, if at all possible, has been reviewed by an expert in the field. Not only can these tools, most of which are free or at least inexpensive, get you answers, they can also help you explore customer interests, commonalities and patterns.

CRM

An in-house customer relationship management team is dedicated to gathering the kind of customer-specific information you want – but, of course, it doesn’t come cheap.

Third-Party Sources

There are even more options for audience data when you’re getting it from third-party sources. They’re less likely to be free than first-party sources, but for very specific kinds of in-depth data, they may be your best bet.

Keyword Search Data

keyword researchWouldn’t you know it, Google has a lot of the tools you can use here, too. Keyword Planner, Google Trends and Think with Google Shopping Insights are all options, alongside other tools such as KeywordTool.io and Answer the Public. Keyword Planner is one we use to good effect here at ForeFront when Google’s search suggestions aren’t doing the trick; you can use it to categorize data by intent, brand, questions, location, SERP features and more.

Social Data

Some of the keyword search data tools can be used here as well, if configured correctly; for instance, KeywordTool.io can work in conjunction with YouTube, as can Google Trends with a YouTube filter. Even Reddit can be used to your advantage here.

Audience Tools

Google, Facebook and Adobe all have audience tools (Find My Audience, Audience Insights and Audience Manager, respectively). Find My Audience has a tree tool that can be used to input general information at a high level for the purposes of gaining insights or determining where to start research. Audience Insights, meanwhile, offers the means to look at the Facebook audience for a product and service based on job titles, common locations, most-used devices and suchlike information. You can get that data either by exploring overall Facebook audiences for themes, targets and topics, and pulling demographics from those, or by using your company’s Facebook page to load your own data into the tools.

Publicly Available Datasets

Yes, you can get valuable audience demographic insight from the U.S. Census Bureau. Though if that’s not exciting enough for you, there’s also Google subsidiary Kaggle. Good news: Both are free.

Competitive Tools

Costs are mid-range for competitive tools, which include comScore and HitWise.

Social Listening

social listeningSparkToro is a good example of this technology, covering the top accounts and social media profiles in whatever field you might be seeking. SparkToro offers a whole lot of ways to break down data and the ability to approach data insights from a content or audience influencer viewpoint, making it easy to see where your audience is engaging online.

Research Publications

Resources such as Pew Research Center, Market Research and Demographic Research can be used to get your hands on high-level audience information. Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report is another source with a great deal of insight.

CRM

Though sometimes overlooked when it comes to SEO, in-house CRM teams can be very useful with targeted campaigns – if you know what to ask. If you have a CRM team to work with, it may be worth your time to work with them on frequency (the percentage of respondents who meet certain criteria) and index (which compares to your base audience).

Data Hierarchy

seo data hierarchyAs Sanders explains it, there are three levels of audience data you can use to your advantage – but in the SEO world, we tend to stay closer to the bottom than the top.

The bottom echelon of the data hierarchy is panel data, the broadest information you can access. That would encompass surveys, segment-level analyses, sampled customer data, audiences, that sort of thing.

Move up a level and you get to cookies. You know how this works: If the visitor to your website has the right cookies, you can give them a more custom experience. SEO pros don’t usually climb beyond this level, though that could change in the next decade or so as people find new ways to access the next level.

Said next level would be personal-level data. Essentially, this is an ID that’s gradually assigned to you. It’s not intended to include personally identifiable information, but it makes it possible to very much tailor an experience to you. If your company has multiple ways of tracking visitor profiles, you can close the loop – no, not in that Looper way – by matching up different data profiles that are applied to the same person.

digital customer journeysIllustrating the Journey

So you have your audience data. Now, how can you present it in a way that makes sense to everyone who needs to understand it? Tracking a visitor’s journey through your site gives you a better idea of what you need to do to appeal to them.

Illustrated User Journeys

For an illustrated user journey, you fixate on either an audience group or even a specific user. After you figure out the stages of the journey through your site, you can align the touchpoints of the person’s or audience’s journey, then figure out the focal point of each step in order to learn which experiences are the most worthy of your attention.

Audience Briefs

An audience brief establishes the attributes of the product or service you’re selling – both its explicit selling points and its less-immediately-visible benefits – as well as the things buyers and potential buyers are seeking. Then, you work to align them. Following the model allows you to identify tangible benefits, then functional benefits, then visitors’ values regarding those benefits.

Customer Journey Maps

To map a customer journey, you identify the user’s goal and needs at all of its stages, as well as the locations of the content to meet those needs. From there, you can figure out how to nudge them toward the right funnel.

“Constant Change is the New Normal”

Clearly, you’re not going to use every single one of the resources above in painting a clear picture of your audience. Only you can determine which are worth your time and money. But no matter which paths you pursue, it’s worth keeping in mind Sanders’ closing line: “Constant change is the new normal.” All you can do is continue to adjust your priorities as your audience adjusts its priorities, and maintain a strategy that maximizes your SEO appeal.

Contact Us Today

Garth Bishop is a content writer at ForeFront Web, and he has a much more cheerful disposition than this photo would suggest.?

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What Is The Difference Between UI and UX? http://www.chluaid.com/what-is-the-difference-between-ui-and-ux/ Tue, 21 Jul 2020 14:05:02 +0000 http://www.chluaid.com/?p=4104 Tell me if this sounds familiar. You’re having a conversation with a marketing person/web geek/digital marketing expert (or some other ambiguous title that may or may not include the word “guru”) and they make a reference to UI/UX. When you ask for an explanation, you’re told that it is an acronym for User Interface and...

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Tell me if this sounds familiar. You’re having a conversation with a marketing person/web geek/digital marketing expert (or some other ambiguous title that may or may not include the word “guru”) and they make a reference to UI/UX. When you ask for an explanation, you’re told that it is an acronym for User Interface and User Experience – as if that makes things crystal clear. Like, bro, have your CRO adjust your UI and UX for max ROI, right?

Fear not: I can tell you that a good number of people using the UI/UX acronym only know it as a buzzword, and aren’t even sure themselves of its real meaning. When pressed, some will simply respond, “It’s the design.” That’s closer to the truth, but only in the way that a nail is part of a house.

As a digital marketing company, we often make the mistake of using acronyms with zero context. There are certain phrases that we use every day without thinking, never realizing that, outside of these walls, they are fairly meaningless. So let’s break this one down a bit.

Start At the Beginning: Design

It is accurate to start with the premise that UI/UX are part of design, in much the same way that interior decorating is a part of building a house. Conscious, planned UI/UX implementation is technically optional, but in the same way that refusing to make a decision is itself a decision, ignoring UI/UX is also a choice. It doesn’t go away; it just gets executed by chance.

To better understand what I mean, let’s talk about the design process. Since we work quite a bit with WordPress, I’ll pick on that platform a little.

As it pertains to design and WordPress, when you begin you have two primary options: using a pre-designed theme, or creating a custom design (the pros and cons of which are described in this post). If you go the theme route, a good deal of the design is already done for you; some themes have an abundance of options to revise the design, while others have fairly stringent layout. At the other end of the spectrum is custom design, where you start with a blank canvas. Either way, someone – either the theme creator or the custom designer – has dictated the overall look and feel of the site.

While design is inherently subjective, there are quite a few best practices that expert designers should follow (a topic for another blog post). These practices encompass a wide range of tactics, including color theory, spatial alignment, use of white space and even more esoteric concepts such as the golden ratio. In short, there is MUCH more to creating a high-quality, highly appreciated website design than simply arranging images and blocks of content.

So, with this in mind, we’re ready to tackle the first part of the acronym.

First Up: User Interface

You may also hear this referred to as “User Interface Design,” which leads to the logical question: What is the difference between regular ol’ web design and user interface design?

The oversimplified answer is that web design is the overall look and feel of the entire website. User Interface is the intelligent design of the controls that users use to interact with the website. Admittedly, it’s a fine distinction with lots of overlap. The key is the idea that UI designers go the extra mile to consider actual humans when designing elements.

Taking this a bit deeper, there is a fundamental difference between a site that simply looks nice and one that is easy for the user to understand. There are scads of “inspiration sites” that designers will sometimes refer to when researching designs and keeping up with the latest trends. Quite often, these are filled with sites that are visual bombardments. There are sites that can be absolutely mesmerizing to look at, but then you find yourself stuck with no idea how to get to the next page. This is a classic example of a sizzling web design with zero concern for usability – or, more accurately, user interface.

Have you ever visited a website, then later thought to yourself, “Wow, I really liked that site” without really being able to articulate why? Chances are you just were on a site with a well planned user interface. Sites like this cater to each individual, even if users come to the site for vastly different purposes. Many times, the tactics are very psychological and subtle in nature, such as proper color theory. But it’s those subtle touches that guide users to the right button, the natural flow of content reading and, ultimately, the conversions that all site creators strive for.

Next Step: User Experience

Here’s a shocker: You can be a UX expert without having ANY design experience (not that it would hurt). With UX, we turn the corner from theory and technique to actual functionality. As mentioned, it stands for User Experience, which is a pretty decent short definition.

A UX expert is tasked with making the site, app, software, etc. as pleasant to use as possible (in other words, the exact opposite of most government websites). These folks bring a host of tactics and knowledge that most web designers don’t possess, such as experience with:

  • Content strategy
  • User research
  • User personas
  • Wireframes and prototyping
  • A/B testing
  • User psychology
  • Usability testing

And much more!

Here’s another way to look at it. Think of the Jeep – the iconic design that was introduced in 1941. While Jeep has had competitors through the years, the company has essentially owned its category for more than three decades. But next year, Ford will start selling its new version of the Bronco, and it’s designed to go head to head with the Jeep.

Jeep has had 80 years to improve its vehicle, and improve it the company certainly has. But as a Jeep owner, I can tell you that there are a number of things that you just have to learn to live with, since there is no alternative. The tops (both hard top and soft tops) are ridiculously difficult to get on and off, gas mileage is terrible, and when you take the doors off, you no longer have side mirrors (to name just a few things).

Well, Ford put UI/UX folks to work (whether or not those people knew they were UI/UX folks). The new Bronco shares an overwhelming percentage of its design with the Jeep but, as they say, it’s all about the details. In addition to a multi-piece hard top to make it easier to remove (UX), engine options with reasonable mpg (UX) and body-mounted mirrors (UI/UX), the new Bronco features:

  • A bold new front-end design (design)
  • A more modern, rounded body that reflects current trends (design)
  • Center console-mounted window controls (UI)
  • 8-inch touchscreen to control music, phone and navigation (UI)
  • Wireless charging (UX)
  • Rubberized flooring and washable interior (UX)
  • Slide-out rear tailgate table (UX)

Here’s the thing. There is nothing inherently wrong with the design of the Wrangler; obviously, it has more than stood the test of time. But by ignoring the humans that buy them, Jeep has left the door open to someone taking that very design, adding UI/UX and producing a “better” product (acknowledging that the definition of “better” is also subjective, as seen in the flaming that the Bronco is taking in the Jeep forums!).

Wrapping Things Up In a Pretty Bow

When you really get down to it, there is a tremendous amount of overlap between design and UI, and even more when you throw UX into the mix. That being said, the disciplines are unique enough that there are specialists in all three. We do it here at ForeFront with folks who specialize in design, others who concentrate on UI and yet others who are wizards at UX. That being said, there is much crossover between them, and we all work together to produce great results, kinda like the Ford engineers.

Just don’t tell them that I still like the Jeep better…

 


Scott Kasun started ForeFront Web in 2001 and specializes in strategy, design and UI/UX. He still likes to dabble in programming, and our actual developers have locked him out of more websites than we can count. You can follow him on Twitter @scottkasun.

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Local Boutique Survives and Thrives As Owners Out Hustle COVID-19 http://www.chluaid.com/local-boutique-survives-and-thrives-as-owners-out-hustle-covid-19/ Fri, 29 May 2020 17:58:49 +0000 http://www.chluaid.com/?p=4020 The post Local Boutique Survives and Thrives As Owners Out Hustle COVID-19 appeared first on ForeFront Web.

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How to Use Yoast SEO on WordPress (Effectively) http://www.chluaid.com/how-to-use-yoast-seo-on-wordpress/ Thu, 21 May 2020 19:37:53 +0000 http://www.chluaid.com/?p=3963 The Benefits of the Plugin’s Free Version Are Pretty Awesome We prefer to hardcode the majority of website functionality to mitigate cybersecurity risk, give our developers more control and, honestly, have fewer things to routinely update. But there’s one free plugin that we always pull out of the bag when polishing off a site: Yoast...

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The Benefits of the Plugin’s Free Version Are Pretty AwesomeYoast Plugin for SEO

We prefer to hardcode the majority of website functionality to mitigate cybersecurity risk, give our developers more control and, honestly, have fewer things to routinely update.

But there’s one free plugin that we always pull out of the bag when polishing off a site: Yoast SEO. And let us be the first to tell you: When it comes to the backend of a website, this little section gets more questions from clients than any other.

Why? Because Yoast can do a lot – even though it really shouldn’t. Let’s dig deeper.

What Does Yoast Do & Why Should You Use It?

Meta title and description optimization and customization. This is the primary function of this plugin. The little listings that show up when you search for something on Google? That’s what you can control when you download and unpack this plugin. Not only that, but you can get a preview of what your listing will look like on both mobile and desktop.

The Benefits of Yoast SEO

Yoast for Social Media Titles & Descriptions

When you navigate to the Yoast section on an individual page, category, blog post or custom post type, you’ll see a few tabs. “SEO” will be highlighted by default. Click into the Social tab. This section of the plugin allows you to customize the title and description of the article or page for Facebook and Twitter, along with a desired image.

Some folks like more control over their content and messaging, especially when it comes to their social media posts. In some cases, default meta titles and descriptions look clunky and automatically-pulled images aren’t pretty. Yoast is the solution for all of this!

Get the look you’re goin’ for.

The Limitations Of Yoast As An “SEO Page Grader” & Everything You Can Ignore Disadvantages Of Yoast

We cannot stress this enough: Keep it simple. Ignore everything else about the free version of this plugin. Ignore the notifications you get from it, outside of routine updates. There’s a whole tab dedicated to readability – ignore it. Why? Because SEO cannot be automated, nor should it be. Some of the controls within the plugin are too automatic, including word count thresholds and target keywords per page.

Speaking of which: Don’t “Add related keywords.” This will give you a ton of notifications, red warnings and anxiety that you really don’t need right now. The SEO analysis section? Don’t. Look. At. It!

The only analysis you should look at is the little orange and green bars at the bottom of the SEO title and meta description fields. Get them to green and don’t look back! (Or you’ll turn into a pillar of who knows what spice.)

How To Install the Yoast SEO Plugin On WordPress:

  1. Login to the backend of your WordPress site (www.YourURL.com/wp-admin).
  2. Head over to the Add Plugin section (www.YourURL.com/wp-admin/plugin-install.php).
  3. Type “Yoast” in the Search bar & hit enter.
  4. Click “Install Now” on Yoast SEO (by Team Yoast) and let it download.
  5. Click “Activate” (the plugin should automatically “unpack”).
  6. BOOM – you’re done! Start optimizing that meta information.

Should You Get Yoast Premium?

We don’t like to rely on plugins for functionality. But we sure do like Yoast. And if you like how easy it makes meta optimization, we fully endorse purchasing the premium version just to support a really great team. You really don’t need to buy the full version – everything you need is already included – but you should still support the developers if possible.

And there are some tasks that are made easier by the premium version of this plugin, such as 301 redirects, finding pages that aren’t linked anywhere else on the site and internal link recommendations. Again, if you’re fairly experienced with SEO, you won’t need this. Even if you have an entry-level knowledge of SEO, you won’t need this.

Is the Yoast Plugin Harmful?

No. This plugin is updated quite often to remain compliant and fully cooperative with themes, plugins and other updates. It’s a small plugin, so it shouldn’t have much impact on site speed. The thing has a 5-star rating from WordPress based on 27,162+ ratings. It ain’t hurtin’ nobody.

Our Conclusion: Download The Yoast Plugin. It’s a Good One.

As web design pros and digital marketing experts, we strongly endorse Yoast for its basic functionality. You should use it for your WordPress site! But remember to keep it as simple as possible. Have additional questions about how you can get the most of Yoast?

Contact Us Today

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Digital Marketing Disaster Plan http://www.chluaid.com/digital-marketing-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/ Fri, 13 Mar 2020 18:42:26 +0000 http://www.chluaid.com/?p=3654 What To Do Digitally During A Physical Lockdown COVID-19 is here, and with it comes uncertainty. Many of us, especially here in Ohio, are growing increasingly antsy about health, finances and the future. We’re washing our hands, checking Twitter and keeping it light around the office. While livelihoods and wellness are top of mind, we’re...

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Digital Marketing During a Crisis

What To Do Digitally During A Physical Lockdown

COVID-19 is here, and with it comes uncertainty. Many of us, especially here in Ohio, are growing increasingly antsy about health, finances and the future. We’re washing our hands, checking Twitter and keeping it light around the office. While livelihoods and wellness are top of mind, we’re here to cover what we know best: digital marketing.

We at ForeFront know this subject isn’t top of mind, but marketing plans/budgets can potentially weave their way into the areas that are causing the most insecurities. If you’re able to cover your bases, stock up and settle down, we welcome you to take a look at our digital marketing plans during the coronavirus pandemic.

How to reach clients during a crisis

Inform Your Audience

The best thing you can do during a time of crisis is communicate – whether you’re shutting the operation down, working remotely or maintaining course in the office.

Social Media Upkeep

Announce your hours of operation and/or changes in communication via every one of your social channels. You can also use this space as a chance to spread confidence by posting pet pictures, home office setups and other “real world” content. Whether they’re worried or just bored, people are going to be home, checking these platforms religiously. Be there for them.

Website Banners

If there is a disruption in service, put it loud and proud on the homepage of your website for all to see. If there isn’t, announce that as well. Don’t make people guess while they’re nervous about everything else. Be clear. Be direct. Be comprehensive when we don’t have much else to go on.

Blog Posting

Much like what we’re doing here, giving your thorough thoughts and perspectives about what is happening around the world can give a little more guidance during a time of crisis. Pack in all of the long-form information you want to publish to the public. Show leadership during a time of need – in whatever capacity you can. Your visitors and customers trust you.

Email Blast

Not everyone checks your website every day, nor do they hop on Twitter to see what your organization is up to. Another way to reach your customers and/or members is to go straight to the inbox. Give these folks the straight details – hours changes, ways to reach you, notes about service disruptions, what you’re doing to “flatten the curve.” Leverage that email list you’ve been building for years!

Google Business

This one is really simple: Update those hours and broadcast your recent blog post.

What To Do Each Week For Your Google Page

Dig Deep Into Your Paid Search Channels for GuidanceAdWords during a crisis

AdWords offers a wealth of information about what people are searching for – or what they’re NOT searching for. For instance, we’ve already seen one dental company lose 25% of impressions from one of their locations. Another trend we’ve seen: B2B companies that sell to B2C companies have experienced a drop in leads – not because of a drop in Organic Search performance, but because of a serious decrease in searches for specific products/services.

Follow These Steps To Determine What You Should Do For Your AdWords Campaign

  1. Login to AdWords
  2. Select a current campaign that has run for more than a month
  3. Click the date range in the upper-hand corner
  4. Select the past 10 days & toggle “Compare” at the bottom of the list
  5. Select the corresponding 10-day period from the previous month*
  6. Look at the impressions and cost sections for percentage changes
  7. If you’re seeing a drop of 25% or more, cut your daily spend down by the decrease you’re seeing; this will also remove the wasted spend from ad clicks and artificially inflated cost-per-clicks
  8. If impressions are increasing, cross-reference what your organization can handle & consider potentially increasing spend

*This is important because, sometimes, the AdWords algorithm will give more resources to certain parts of the month

Auction Insights: See What The Competition Is Doing

While still logged into AdWords, head over to the left-hand side of the platform and select Ad Group. This will open up the option to view Auction Insights. Click that. This section allows you to see how much “impression share” your ads take up when people search your targeted phrases. Keep an eye out here.

If your organization can operate remotely and you also see your impression share slightly rising, strike while the conditions are right. Increase your budget – especially if the competition you see in this list is made up of conglomerates (e.g. Amazon). People will want local. They’ll want real people handling their issues.

What To Do If Your Organization Cannot Operate During a Lockdown

If you’ve determined that working remotely isn’t feasible for your company, switch your digital marketing efforts to long-term planning. Shut off your AdWords campaigns, pause those social media advertising campaigns and stock up on long-term power. Invest in your long-term digital vision.

Content Marketing & Blog Writing

Use this downtime to create. Look ahead with optimism and establish a backlog of seasonal blog articles that you can publish throughout the year. Make bold predictions for what the future will hold for your industry. Search engines like to digest new pages and readers like new, value-adding content!

Fire up the Keurig, turn on that Lo-Fi hip-hop radio and let your insider insights be heard.

Social Media Calendar & Routine

Social channels offer a lot in terms of branding and outreach, but often get swept to the side when folks are busy. Some social media automation apps exist solely to make life easier for these people, but require a little bit of learning to set up. Now is that time to learn that new skill.

Whether you’re looking at Hootsuite, Later or any other platform, there is no better time to start building your organization’s social media infrastructure than when things have slowed up a bit.

Attend Webinars & Stock Up On Knowledge

During a lockdown, there will be no shortage of online broadcasting. Keep your tabs on the news, but also sign up for a few digital marketing webinars while you’re out there. Refreshing your Twitter feed can only do so much. You can use this time to learn – especially if you’ve been putting off learning about Google Analytics, Google AdWords, content writing or social media because you were too swamped!

Get Actionable Insights From The Moz Blog

Backlink Building, Earned Links & Guest PostingBacklinking Diagram for SEO

This is the big one for SEO. Building a strong backlink portfolio takes some time, but it’s your strongest tool for boosting Organic Search rankings. While you’re creating content for yourself, take a look at some of your industry partners’ websites – do they need new content? Find a way to give your perspective to their unique client base and link back to your website naturally. Not only does this give your industry partner something to give their audience, but it also reinforces your website as a source of great information. Search engines LOVE that!

Also, if you’re a local business that has a unique perspective on certain subjects, reach out to your local newspaper. Journalists will be hard at work – from home – during this time and will need sources for local perspectives on specific subjects. You can shine in this role and, when the story is published, get a backlink from this authoritative website back to yours – while also providing valuable information to your community.

Have additional questions about what you can do from a digital marketing perspective during the coronavirus pandemic? Wondering what other bases you should cover to best inform your audience? We’re here to help – all the time.?

Contact Us Today

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A Winning Cause http://www.chluaid.com/a-winning-cause/ Fri, 28 Feb 2020 15:46:39 +0000 http://www.chluaid.com/?p=3600 Giving Back to Our Community Through Youth Sports By Garth Bishop For those of us of a certain age (and/or those of us with zero athletic talent), the idea of a price tag attached to school sports teams – much less a prohibitive one – can still seem bizarre. But pay-to-play fees are a reality....

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Giving Back to Our Community Through Youth Sports

By Garth Bishop

For those of us of a certain age (and/or those of us with zero athletic talent), the idea of a price tag attached to school sports teams – much less a prohibitive one – can still seem bizarre.

But pay-to-play fees are a reality. And for an unfortunately high number of kids, fees too high for their families to afford are also a reality. Statistics show that 42% of families interested in youth sports decide not to participate due to the cost, which averages $400 per child per year in the U.S.

All of this, despite the demonstrated benefits of youth sports programs – on physical fitness, on academics, on college admissions, even on crime rates.

So What Can We Do About It?

Here at ForeFront Web, we have a number of former student athletes on our staff. Football, hockey, golf, gymnastics, cheerleading. All of them can speak to the positive impact that experience had on their lives.

socially conscious companies columbus ohWhen we decided to up our charity game (no pun intended) in 2020, it made sense for us to contribute to efforts that help kids participate in sports. A local foundation, dedicated to making youth sports accessible again to Central Ohio children whose families cannot otherwise afford them, is the perfect fit.

That’s why we’re partnering with the Lindy Infante Foundation. All year long, for every website we launch, we’re donating a portion of the revenue to the foundation. You buy a website from us, you’re supporting this amazing organization in its efforts to give every kid who wants one a path to youth sports.

The Foundation’s Work for Kids

The Lindy Infante Foundation was founded in 2017 right here in Dublin, where ForeFront is based. Its mission: to provide financial assistance to families that need the help in order to participate in sports. Families at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level can apply to the foundation to receive up to $300 per child, per year to participate in sports.

charitable contributionsA look at the statistics behind the costs of youth sports shows the playing field increasingly tilted toward wealthier families, which 58% of community-based sports fees on the rise and 24% of U.S. high schools having eliminated sports as part of budget cuts. The foundation is committed to leveling that playing field so that no child who wants to participate in sports is left out. And it has no overhead costs – 100% of donations go directly to making kids and teens part of their schools’ sports programs.

Check out the foundation’s website to learn more about its important work.

About Lindy Infante

Foundation namesake Lindy Infante is a perfect example of someone for whom youth sports made a life-changing difference. The odds were stacked against the possibility of his finding success in life, but after an amazing finish in a nationally-sponsored Boys & Girls Club race at age 14, he got involved in football – and went on to an astonishing career. Over the course of his career, he was a Hall of Fame captain for the University of Florida, an offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns, and head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers. Infante died in 2015, but his legacy lives on through the foundation.

Why Are We Doing This?

At ForeFront, we’ve partnered with a variety of charitable causes over the years, but when we looked over the list, we realized most of them are groups we decided to help after circumstances brought them to our attention. And while we’re proud of the efforts we’ve made to help in the community, for 2020, we wanted to seek out a cause that we could support.

Contributing to the Lindy Infante Foundation is a point of pride for us in 2020, and we’re thrilled to know that more young people will have the opportunity to play sports as a result.

 


Garth Bishop is a content writer at ForeFront Web, and he has a much more cheerful disposition than this photo would suggest.?

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Choice Versus Usability http://www.chluaid.com/choice-versus-usability/ Tue, 11 Feb 2020 21:58:38 +0000 http://www.chluaid.com/?p=3566 Unlimited Choices Are Good … Right? By Scott Kasun “Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” –Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park When I was a kid, you had four choices when it came to watching television: NBC, ABC, CBS and PBS...

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Unlimited Choices Are Good … Right?

By Scott Kasun

“Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
–Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park

When I was a kid, you had four choices when it came to watching television: NBC, ABC, CBS and PBS (which only dads watched, much to the chagrin of the children). Cartoons? You had a brief window early Saturday mornings to get your fill of Bugs and Fred. It’s no wonder we spent all our time outdoors.

We didn’t know we needed more channels until much later, when one of my neighbors got (cue angels singing) … cable.

Whoa. It was mindblowing. Yes, you had to get up and manually punch those buttons – the cord was never long enough – but dammit, man, look at all the channels! 37 options? Crazy!

Fast forward to today, when a typical cable TV subscription has more than 200 channels, despite the fact that most people only watch 12.7 channels. But it’s still not enough – we need more movies, more original programming, more Jennifer Aniston all. the. time.

The same thing has happened to radio, with virtually the same path. Gone are the days of listening patiently to the local rock ‘n’ roll station (shout-out to QFM96, still going strong), waiting with your portable tape recorder and hoping they would play the just-released Van Halen song. No longer will your Camaro be cluttered with 8-track tapes, cassette tapes or even CDs. Nope, just tune into satellite radio or stream your “all-time greats” playlist; annoying songs and terrible commercials are a thing of the past.

It’s amazing how much technology has come and gone, just in my lifetime. And it’s all for the greater good, right? We have more choices than ever before, which means things are better and people are more content, aren’t they?

Not so fast, my friend…

We Are At a Technology Crossroads

I own an older car that does not have a satellite radio-compatible deck. I bought Alexa auto so that I can use voice commands to listen to my XM app and stream it through my car stereo. My wife purchased a car that has Apple Car Play, so she can do the same and/or listen to just about every music streaming service (Pandora, Napster, etc.). Guess what? The majority of the time, both of us wind up listening to good ol’ FM radio. Why? Well, in my case, it’s a pain to try and use my phone – and a horribly designed app – to navigate between stations. In my wife’s case, the Airplay connection is inconsistent, and I don’t think she has a playlist within any of the music services.


As for TV, the meme says it best. With my Apple TV, I have my choice of three different streaming services, all the free apps and also the paid options via Apple.

And since I live an extremely busy life, when I get a chance to actually watch something, the pressure to pick just the right program is paralyzing (and the pressure increases exponentially with each additional family member).

 

What Does Any Of This Have to Do With Digital Marketing?

As much as all of that might sound like complaining, I’m thankful for these platforms, as most have spawned additional opportunities for digital marketing. That aside, we as marketers are equally as guilty of striving to provide every choice imaginable to our audience at the risk of leaving anyone out. More and more marketers are getting better at singular home page messaging, but there are still plenty of folks who think nothing of having 10 or more calls-to-action just on the home page.

Website Fails

Take a look at this screenshot:

This is one version of a WordPress theme that has been purchased almost 175,000 times. This view (on my desktop) is what is commonly referred to as “above the fold.” By my count, there are more than 20 places a user could click, including five actual “call-to-action” buttons (to say nothing of the user confusion from misuse of the action color). What is it they actually want the user to do?

Now, granted, this is simply a theme with dummy data, but I could have visited any number of sites and found the same.

You’ll also see choice overload within site navigation. It’s not an easy exercise, but the top level navigation should be limited to ONLY the most important overall categories. Dropdown navigation should be limited; as visitors find it annoying. Disguising your menu choices via fun or quirky titles is a horrible idea as well (About Us is to the point and easy to understand; X Factor, not so much). Confusing the navigation order is another mistake that we see all too frequently. You should know your visitor’s click path, and the fact that they will investigate your products and services before checking out your awards or getting to the contact page.

At the opposite extreme are the folks who hide their entire navigation behind a hamburger menu. Yes, mobile traffic now dominates search as well as site visits, but why force desktop users to a universally hated menu interface?

Advertising Fails

Websites have a long and rich history of notable failures, thanks to the egregious number of hacks and amateurs out there creating sites. But there are plenty of examples of choice overload in digital advertising as well.

An obvious example: paid search ads that are directed at too broad of an audience. These ads just add to the noise and lead to even more apathy from prospective customers. Couple that with murky calls to action – or, worse, multiple calls to action – and it’s easy to see how amateur digital marketers are making it more difficult for everyone.

Even social media isn’t immune to a heavy touch. For some ungodly reason, Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags in a post. And some marketers seem determined to get close. For the love of Pete, why? I completely understand that hashtags are meant to categorize content and allow users to find content that is relevant to them, but an overabundance leads to overwhelmed users. And an overwhelmed user isn’t likely to do anything you are hoping they will do, like engage with your brand.

The Takeaway

Look, we’ve willingly created our mess. Technology has opened avenues that we never dreamed would exist, and I’d still much rather have 200 channels than three plus the much-disdained old man channel. But it’s also quite evident that managing the plethora of options is going to take better interfaces and more thought – advancements have outpaced user experience.

When you review your site structure, ask yourself how many users suffer from “paralysis by analysis.” Is your digital advertising muddying the water even more, or do your ads cut to the core with laser focus?

Or are your prospects throwing their hands up, and going back to their FM radios?

?


Scott KasunScott Kasun started ForeFront Web in 2001 and specializes in strategy, design and UI/UX. He still likes to dabble in programming, and our actual developers have locked him out of more websites than we can count. You can follow him on Twitter @scottkasun.

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SEO in 2020 http://www.chluaid.com/seo-in-2020/ Mon, 30 Dec 2019 17:19:09 +0000 http://www.chluaid.com/?p=3465 Digital Marketing & Search Engine Optimization Predictions for the New Year By: Stephan Reed No one: Not a single soul: Google’s algorithm in 2019: *ABSOLUTE CHAOS* This past year was a wild one in the world of SEO, especially as it pertained to hyper-local search. BERT shook things up for long-tail searches. Neural Matching/The Bedlam...

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Digital Marketing & Search Engine Optimization Predictions for the New Year

By: Stephan ReedSEO in 2020

No one:

Not a single soul:

Google’s algorithm in 2019: *ABSOLUTE CHAOS*


This past year was a wild one in the world of SEO, especially as it pertained to hyper-local search. BERT shook things up for long-tail searches. Neural Matching/The Bedlam Update threw Google Business rankings through a loop. Core algorithm shifts dismantled low-value healthcare, law and financial advising sites, while the true professionals saw a surge.

If 2019 was the year of language signal experimentation, I predict that 2020 will be the year of the high-value, authority-driven brand. Take a closer look at my 2020 SEO predictions and how you can best prepare for the future:

  • Google My Business (GMB) Domination
  • Better Google Analytics Tracking with GMB
  • Authorship, Accountability & Authority
  • Optimize for Voice Search
  • Tailor Experience & Content for Inquiry

2020 Will Be The Year of Complete Google Business DominationGoogle Business & SEO

In 2019, Facebook moved its review function to a binary system, conceding victory to GMB – that was the first sign. Then, the Bedlam Update happened. Now, with all the new features and functions of Google Business pages that keep rolling out, I predict that 2020 will be all about your listing, the information you continue to put forth via that tool and how you best optimize the page for your target audience.

So, What Can You Do To Make Sure You Don’t Falter or Fail?

Your Google Business page will be important no matter what – whether you’re a dog groomer that lives and dies by local search or if you’re an enterprise-level company that deals with legacy clients all over the world. Lock down your page. Upload photos regularly. Get 5-star reviews from happy customers, clients and industry partners. Optimize the page on a foundational level by ensuring your name, address, phone number, service area, hours, offerings and amenities are ALL accurate. You should even consider adding a basic Google Virtual Tour to your page. Any little bit is going to help, especially if your competition is already going it!

Your Monthly GMB Optimization ChecklistGoogle Business Checklist

  • Create fresh “posts” at least every other week
  • Upload at least 4 new photos every month
  • Regularly update special hours surrounding holidays
  • Post events weeks in advance
  • Establish a positive review generation routine
  • Update amenities as they become available/as you adopt them
  • Answer ALL reviews
  • Answer all user-generated questions*

*If no one is asking questions about your business, have a friend softball a few relevant, frequently asked questions through the page using their Gmail account

The Permanent Power of a Good Website

A solid, fast-loading, value-heavy website will always be relevant to your GMB listing. Even though hyper-local searches will lend themselves to more GMB page impressions, users still (and will always) want to double check their sources. They want to see accolades. They want to read the full list of offerings. They want to see if there’s a cute dog in your office.

Google Business thrives in its unique ability to give a ton of pertinent information in just seconds. Your website can tell more about the product, service and brand story to those that want to hear it. Cover both bases and stay golden.

Prop Bet: Google Analytics Will Get Its Act Together

One of my biggest issues throughout the year was navigating traffic changes year-over-year and telling the story of the GMB shifts to clients. Yes, sometimes it looks like Organic Search remained stagnant while Direct Search absolutely surged, but that’s because more people are clicking “Website” on your Google Business listing instead of scrolling down and finding you at the top of the organic listings when seeking you out by name. This “brand search” seemingly registers as “Direct” traffic, while clicks on your “website” button from service-related phrases are considered “Discovery” and ring up as Organic Search. It can get pretty confusing.

Google Analytics will make this traffic funnel more transparent throughout the year, eliminating the need for cumbersome and sometimes-complicated custom URL parameter codes and complex conversations about green and red arrows. (At least I REALLY hope.)

Respect My Authority: Establish Accountability & A Digital Footprint to Stay On TopBuilding Digital Authority

A recent core algorithm update told us a lot about how Google will treat content in the future. Impacting the healthcare, law and financial industries, this update saw holistic healers drop off the face of the flat Earth, while top doctors saw a vastly improved SEO bill of health. Financial advising websites without a single fiduciary as an author went broke, while esteemed accountants did absolute numbers.

My prediction: this emphasis on authority will trickle into more service-based industries and maybe even into some retail product sectors.

Google has always been in the business of giving the best answers first, and the best answers come from the experts – the folks with industry rapport, accolades they’ve? garnered along the way and maybe even some extra letters at the end of their name. However, not every industry is as life-or-death as healthcare. You may not need a degree to state your case, rather a digital footprint rooted in content, social media signals, backlinks and consistency to prove that you’re the key industry influencer.

How You Can Establish Your Own Brand of Authority

The biggest tip I’ve been telling clients: talk/write like the expert because you are the expert! You know your business inside and out. You know what people ask about and how to answer some pretty niche questions. In 2020, write less “recipe of the month from our accounting department” and “top 5” lists. Focus more on data-driven industry insights, real life case studies and pain-point-optimization. Give more away for free and flex whenever possible!

On Jan. 1 (maybe Jan. 2 if New Years Eve was a little rough), establish your first blog topic of the year. What question did you hear the most last year? Answer it. Easily, effectively and completely. I’ll touch on proper content structure a bit more later, but start the whole article off by giving a single-sentence answer above the fold; deliver a great explanation as you go lower on the page. “Time on Page” is truly an irrelevant metric in many cases, especially when compared to the value of Google easily digesting and presenting your page as an answer snippet in a relevant search!

Blog Writing And SEO

Go On An Ego Trip to Your Blog/News Section

Every post should have an author tied to it to establish accountability. When you click the author, you should be able to see all (or at least some) of the articles linked to that person’s name, along with their credentials, social media links, maybe a bio and other relevant accolades. Not only will you give readers a reason to listen, you’ll do Google’s investigative work for it.

Backlinks For Sustained Authority Building

Backlinks still matter. A lot. But good, relevant and local (if you can get them) backlinks matter even more. External citations act as impartial validation for your expert opinion. Without a strong digital paper trail and a few fingers pointing back at you, you’re less like a keynote speaker, more like the crazy genius in the movie trying to save the world while no one listens.

“Voice Search” Still Won’t Be A Thing For Marketing Purposes – But Optimizing For It Will BeSEO Voice Search

I predict that, in 2020, the algorithm will favor websites that offer succinct bits of data for routinely asked questions. No BS. No marketing garble. Straight-to-the-point facts. You know how Google offers those handy search snippets for just about every inquiry now? Expect more of that – but even simpler. Websites that offer their information in the most accurate and digestible manner will win out, making the inverted pyramid style of website writing all the more useful – organized, quick-hit facts at the top; more detail below.

Your “lede” is your value. The rest of the page is your ethos. In the same way the algorithm pulls information for voice searches, it will start to rank service-based phrases.

My Go-To Examples

When panicked clients call, asking about voice search and how it may contribute to their eventual downfall, I simply bring up real-life ways of how voice search is actually used on a daily basis.

People use “Hey Siri” and “Alexa” to ask things like “How old is Will Smith” or the reluctant “What’s the score of the Browns game?” They’re not using it to pick out their next knee surgeon, dentist, conveyor belt component manufacturer or Class B fire foam supplier. People may use voice search to figure out restaurant hours of operation, but they’re not using it to make the eatery choice for them. They’re asking for more information/reinforcement regarding a brand they already like and have chosen.

Dynamic Digestion: A Rejuvenated Emphasis On Tailoring Content & Experience to User-Intended Action

We’ve always said that SEO isn’t a one-size-fits-all ordeal, and 2020 will see a doubling down on the individualized nature of rankings. Yes, domain age, backlinks and valuable content will always matter, but the direction of the content and experience you offer will matter more than ever. Tailor your pages to appeal to what the users are looking for most. Give straight-up facts when they’re looking for info. Give them forms when they’re looking to be contacted. Give them external links when they want cited sources.

The Digital Hierarchy Of Needs: What Do They Need & What Do They Want?

  1. To know that you offer the answer (service, product or actual answer) they’re looking for
  2. To know that you’re in their price range/local or regional area
  3. To see that you’re reputable, reliable and authoritative
  4. To feel comfortable submitting contact information or making a purchase

You may have an SSL and uncomplicated Contact Us form, but if you don’t actually relay the proper information in an effective manner, the visitor is going to bounce. If you answer the question head-on but lack detail, accreditation or service area information, the fish may hop off the hook and go to the next line. Take care of each need to maximize rankings and conversion rate.

Don’t Over-Complicate The Simple Things

Is someone just looking for the differences between types of financial statements? Don’t inundate them with CTAs and service offerings. They’re looking for a quick answer; they don’t care about how long you’ve been in business – at least not yet. Let your expertise do the talking, allow the user to make their decision to make a buying decision and be the best option when they go digging deeper. You’ve offered high-value information freely and simply, which means you’ve earned some trust points. If they’re looking for a supplier, partner or person to buy from, you’re going to be top of the list already. Don’t give them a reason to opt out and spike your bounce rate by being overly pushy. People (and algorithms) do not like that.

Google is impossibly dynamic. The algorithm is smart enough to know when you’re trying to selflessly inform someone vs. simply market yourself. You can do both, but make sure you’re knocking that first part out of the park WAY before you start stuffing those calls-to-action and that self-promotion in there. Google will cross-reference the type of search (ex. “CPA firms” vs. “different types of financial statements”), take a look at how each organization/website answers the question and reward points accordingly. Use your blog to answer those pain point questions and long-tail phrases; keep the service-based terms for your evergreen marketing pages – but be sure you’re doing both because they feed into each other!

Like many years before, we are going to see a lot more value given to authoritative websites with great content in the next year. However, unlike previous years, paper trail and accountability are going to matter a lot more in the SEO department. Add to this the new emphasis on Google My Business and we’re in for a long, exciting ride!?

Saddle up.?

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Is Google My Business Worth It? http://www.chluaid.com/is-google-my-business-worth-it/ Wed, 04 Dec 2019 18:26:37 +0000 http://www.chluaid.com/?p=3416 How You Can Make The Most Of Your Google Business Listing & Rank Higher Locally By Scott Kasun Optimizing your Google My Business page takes time and effort, and keeping it updated takes even more. Is all the effort worth it? Regardless of whether you are a local, regional, national or international company, the simple...

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Is Google Business Worth It How You Can Make The Most Of Your Google Business Listing & Rank Higher Locally

By Scott Kasun

Optimizing your Google My Business page takes time and effort, and keeping it updated takes even more. Is all the effort worth it?

Regardless of whether you are a local, regional, national or international company, the simple answer is YES. Local search is an integral element of a comprehensive digital marketing campaign, and Google My Business is a huge and ever-growing factor.

Google My Business Listings: The Basics

It’s important to note that even if you don’t want to bother, chances are that someone else will. This may shock some, but you don’t have to be a business owner – or even an employee – to create a Google My Business (GMB) listing. Anybody with a Google account can make one from scratch or update an existing listing. So you’re in the game, whether you want to be or not.

Also, keep in mind that this is free advertising for you from Google, and that’s never a bad thing. Yes, much of this traffic will be branded search, but anything you can do to make your company easier to reach is helpful, especially if you run a local business that serves people at your location.

And, if you do everything with your listing correctly, your business will start showing up in service- or product-specific searches AND potentially competitor-branded searches.

How does Google use GMB listings? In a variety of ways:

  • As a credibility checkpoint (a physical location carries much weight within their algorithm)
  • As a basis for contact information
  • To provide important information quickly, in a standard format
  • As a collection point for reviews
  • As a dialogue flashpoint
  • For simplified mobile access
  • As a reference point to related websites

A recent statistical review revealed that 46% of all Google searches are seeking local information. Might as well give the people what they want, and appease Google at the same time.

The REAL Reasons You Want to Maximize Your Google My Business Listing

One of the first steps we take with new clients is to review and optimize their GMB listing – regardless of the size of the company. Obviously, if GMB were simply a platform for branded search and/or small local business, we wouldn’t waste time with this effort.

So why do we? The #1 reason is simply because Google places importance on it. And the importance seems to be growing – fast. Anything Lord Google finds important automatically becomes mission critical for us. If you’re maximizing your listing, you take up the most possible space in your hyper-local service area. If you aren’t taking advantage of your listing, you may fall behind as competitors garner more reviews, upload more photos and expand their list of official services/products offered.

Other Important Considerations:

Local 3-Pack

Ranking High In Google Local Map Pack

No, having a GMB listing doesn’t guarantee you a spot here, but it’s a big factor. Leverage the odds and optimize the heck out of that thing with 3-pack placement as a goal. The traffic you’ll get is well worth the effort.

Google Maps

A completed GMB page is vital for local map search. Google uses this data to feed Maps, and considering the fact that proximity is a key factor for local search, this is a vital component of a comprehensive local search campaign. Having up-to-date hours & NAP (name, address, phone) data will ensure you’re doing right by your current and potential clients, which means you’re doing right by the algorithm.

The Roll-Up Effect

A fully-optimized – and well-maintained – GMB listing leads to better map placement and possible 3-pack placement, which all has a “roll-up” effect on overall organic search listings. That’s why these listings are important for companies that aren’t only local. When you optimize this piece of the puzzle, it can boost your actual website, too.

What Regular Updates Do I Need To Make?

Posts

Again, Google is providing a free advertising platform, so take advantage of it! It will help your company stand out, and help separate you from your competitors.

One of the most important components is Google Posts. These are short, 100-300 word posts, along with a photo or video. You can dress up your posts with call to action buttons that lead visitors to pages on your site. These are organic clicks that will help your overall site metrics, not to mention directing traffic to high-converting pages.

But here’s your warning: Google Posts only last 7 days. You’ll want to be sure to post at least once per week – more, if you are in retail or a high-volume business.

You have lots of options when it comes to Posts. You can promote events, present special offers or simply highlight something you do with a variety of call to action prompts. The best part? By adding a new post at least once a month, you can control the messaging surrounding your brand on a local level.

Images

There is currently a limit of 2,000 on GMB images, and most people aren’t likely to hit it. It’s unclear the extent to which updated images affect search rankings, but considering that image search is an important part of Google search, it’s safe to say you should add images whenever you can. And hey – people love to look at pictures, and they tell the story of your company in ways that words cannot.

The more new photos you have (whether you uploaded them or a customer did) the better.

Reviews

Yes, reviews matter. Just take a look at Amazon, and the products that sell the most – they are typically the highest and most rated. When you add in the fact that Google puts great emphasis on reviews, it justifies the extra effort you’ll need to make here. Just don’t try to take the easy route, and make up reviews or pay people to do them. You will be found out, and your site will suffer. And if someone trashes you online, respond in a thoughtful, timely manner to protect your brand’s reputation.

GMB also creates a nice little URL for you to share to happy clients. Rake in the 5-star reviews and become the community leader.

The Unknown

I love a good conspiracy theory, so here’s one for your next social gathering (if they are sad and dorky, like mine). Google is up to something bigger here, and I think GMB is just the tip of the iceberg. Up to this point, GMB is completely free, but I think those days are numbered. And when you add in the fact that GMB also includes a website builder, the plot thickens.

Just think: If Google controls the platform, they control the amount of organic search SEO influencing that can be done. That leaves only one alternative: AdWords. Cue the diabolical laughter…


Scott KasunScott Kasun started ForeFront Web in 2001 and specializes in strategy, design and UI/UX. He still likes to dabble in programming, and our actual developers have locked him out of more websites than we can count. You can follow him on Twitter @scottkasun.

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