Changes to Google Guide

If you’re not familiar with Google Guides, it is very similar to Yelp, but with Google Maps mixed into the equation. Essentially, it allows you to leave reviews, check facts, and post photos of your favorite business or location. These photos and changes will appear on Google Maps when people search for them, or within the Google Maps GPS system. This is why it is important to make sure you claim your business through Google Maps and Google My Business.

Google incentivizes contributors by gamifying the entire process through Google Guides. It is very satisfying to “level up” your Google Guide by leaving reviews, fact checking businesses, answering questions, and posting photos. The more you contribute, the higher your level. The process used to add points for every contribution, regardless of content. Starting today, Google is now changing the point system so that the more helpful your content, the more points you receive. According to Google, you’ll receive the most points for adding new places on Google Maps. They have also increased the maximum level you can achieve to LEVEL 10!

You don’t just get imaginary internet points and badges, which have been proven to create endorphin, dopamine, and oxytocin rushes in your brain. Google also gives you prizes, such as extra free storage on Google Drive, free months of Google Play music, and free Google Play movie rentals, early access to Google features, along with MANY other prizes. You’ll also be allowed to set up meet-ups with other Google Local Guides, similar to how works.

Overall, you’re contributing to improving Google Maps as a whole and also helping local businesses. By reviewing local businesses, you help them not only improve the way they do business, but you’ll also help others determine which business or location is best for their needs. By leaving a review for your favorite restaurant, you might help bring them more business and improve their search rank which will help them stick around longer and keep serving up that delicious hot chicken you love!

How to Increase Visability and Improve SEO

Design Web – How to Increase Your Visibility and Improve Your SEO

Making a website popular takes a lot of planning and hard work. Even a great site might not attract any visitors unless you put in enough effort to make it stand out. Considering that the total number of websites exceeds 1.18 billion, it makes sense that not many sites have a chance to earn money.

Before you waste a lot of time advertising your site or company, take a few minutes to think of low-cost ways that you can make your website more popular. Search engine optimization should jump out as your first strategy.

SEO professionals improve website rankings by learning how search engines work. Once you understand what search engines want to see, you can follow a few tricks that will boost a site’s rank. Some of the most useful SEO strategies include using keywords, publishing blogs that other sites want to share, and removing dead links from your pages.

These are some of the simplest things that you can do to push your site’s ranking higher. You can get even better results by working with an SEO professional who knows how to use metadata and other techniques. Still, the basics will get you pretty far.

You can learn more about improving your site’s popularity by reading the How to Increase Visibility & Improve Your SEO whitepaper or checking out the infographic below from CopyPress. It can also introduce you to effective strategies that will make your site more visible for search engines and customers.

seo infographic

Maximize ROI with Behavior Analysis

Many small businesses worry that they don’t have the budget for behavioral analysis. They’re either a non-profit that funnels as much as they can to support their cause or a small business trying to keep the lights on. Neither of these organizations has the budget for large-scale analytics investments. Fortunately, many analytics tools are free and there are multiple sources of data from which to choose.

For example, public records and other forms of third-party data (like industry publications or earnings reports) can tell marketers about their industry and audience. This might be as simple as reading about the spending habits of millennials before marketing to them. This research is typically free and easy to access. Meanwhile, a lot of first-party data is free because it’s collected by the company. This might include donation size for nonprofits, average purchase size, and regularity of purchase or donation. This information alone can help companies focus on their calls to action and frequency of marketing to customers, which can be a huge money saver.

Naturally, data collection and analysis is only the first step of the analytical process. Many companies collect and analyze data but then fail to take action on the insights that they learned. Execution is a crucial step in the behavioral analysis, as the whole process is moot without it.

Check out this infographic by CopyPress on the value of Behavioral Analysis and how it can be implemented throughout your campaign. Even small businesses on bootstrapped budgets can find ways to analyze their customers and tailor their marketing strategies to their needs.

The Current State of the Content Marketing Ecosystem

Today’s consumers expect businesses to own websites. Despite this, nearly half of small businesses in 2016 didn’t have websites. Most of the small businesses that didn’t have websites said that they didn’t want to spend money on them. Looking at the price of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising may have scared them a bit. When you own a business with less than $1 million in annual revenue, you can’t afford to spend much on advertising.

Many small business owners probably don’t know that they can reach new customers online without spending a lot of money. Content marketing offers an affordable way for small businesses to brand themselves, improve their online presence, and convert people into paying customers. Perhaps best of all, content marketing does these things without forcing businesses to break their budgets. With PPC ads, you never know how much you will spend. With content marketing, you have stable costs that you can adjust throughout the year.

When deciding whether you want to pursue a content marketing strategy, consider that 27 percent of freelance content creators only get paid $0.04 to $0.07 per word. You can probably find room in your budget to afford those costs. Take a look at this infographic made by CopyPress to learn more about the current state of the content marketing ecosystem. The company interviewed more than 300 professionals to provide up-to-date information that will help you make a decision that benefits your business.

5 Tips For Creating Great Content For Your Blog

Blogs are a dime a dozen as everyone from writing enthusiasts to businesses and journalists start a blog. There is so much writing and a limited number of eyeballs for each blog post, so you may wonder how your business can be the one that draws attention away from your competitors. This will require content that goes above and beyond what everyone else is creating.

1. Be Original, Unique And Interesting

Great content must be original. At the very least, the content should be unique so that it does not appear as duplicate content from the perspective of Google. Even if you wrote the content originally, it must not appear on a separate page or it will be treated as duplicate content.

But original content is more than simply unique. Your blog should generate ideas that are unique and approach old ideas with a fresh twist.

2. Be Readable And Scannable

Write blog posts based on how they will be read. Internet users, especially mobile users, prefer blog posts that are short and scannable. But in these short posts, you must pack a punch by delivering as much valuable information as possible per word.

This requires that you cut out the filler and only include essential information. Also, to make your content easier to read, use subheadings, include bullet lists and find other ways to make the content scannable.

3. Avoid One-Hit Wonders

Use your analytics to find out which posts are the most popular. While you should create unique posts, this doesn’t mean that you can’t create new posts that are based on successful old posts.

For example, if you wrote a post titled: “5 Mistakes You’re Making With XYZ” and it was a huge hit, consider writing a post titled: 5 More Mistakes You’re Making With XYZ.” Continue working with successful ideas until your analytics show that it is no longer profitable.

4. Be Actionable

Find ways to make your content actionable. Readers love content that they can put into practice. How-to blog posts naturally lend themselves to this goal, but any post can be made actionable.

For instance, if you write a news post about a security flaw that was discovered in a system, you could wrap up your blog post by instructing customers on how they can avoid being victimized by this security flaw. Since blogs are often niche and since the readers are sometimes highly knowledgeable, make sure to respect the intelligence of your readers and only provide instructions that will likely be new and surprising to them.

5. Use Visuals

Use visuals. Not only are the inclusion of images make your content more enticing, but search engines prefer content that comes with visuals. The images should be very specific to the content and should ideally provide additional information. For example, an instructional blog would include images that show exactly how to perform a specific task. Also, use infographics frequently.

When your blog consistently creates great content, it will be more sharable, which will lead to more traffic. Your business will appear more professional. You will also develop a following of readers who will be much more likely to convert into sales.

Jessica is a professional blogger who writes for Faxage, a leading company that provide Internet fax service services for individuals and businesses.


Email Gets A Make Over Today: Gmail Embraces CSS Media Queries

As of today, you will be able to use CSS media queries with Gmail and Inbox by Gmail. What does that mean exactly? It means you can ensure that your message is formatted the way you intended, whether it is viewed on a computer, a phone in portrait mode, or a tablet in landscape mode by using a css media query. You’ll even be able to change styles based on rotation, width, and resolution. Your emails, which stylistically have been trapped in the 90s in regards to design flexibility, will now have the potential to be more responsive, with formatting that can be optimized for every device. Goodbye to standard styling for desktop, tablet, and mobile! Hello gorgeous communications! Let’s hope all other mail service providers embrace this new option soon too.

If you are a business that sends out marketing emails, or a business that would like to start sending out beautifully designed and branded communications, just give Design Web Louisville a shout. They have reusable template designs ready to purchase or custom order.

How to Create Great Headlines

Most writers function on autopilot when they’re creating headlines. They either create something before they begin or throw something in at the end. It can feel like a meaningless task after spending several hours on a piece of content. Unfortunately, a two-second headline can make an article unreadable. The audience might be confused by the language or bored by the bland title. Either way, the hours of work are lost. Consider the effects of quality headline creation on your next piece.

Smart writers will include headlines in their ideation process. Instead of researching basic concepts and assuming the writer will come up with something interesting, marketers need to discuss headline hooks and options that will make the article stand out. Not only will a catchy headline inspire readers to click, it will also give the writer more guidance in how the piece should be covered. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to content creation.

The infographic below starts with the ideation process and teaches writers how to create something amazing. You don’t have to be a seasoned journalist to come up with something exciting, but you do need to inform the audience about what they’re reading. That’s why we start by reviewing the basics and then expanding into more creative hooks and tactics to add to your main concept. With this, you can treat your headline like a sandwich: start with the meat and bread, and then decide what sauces and garnishes to add. Together, the headline and the body make for an amazing meal.
Read on below for more information!

headlines - IG

Questions To Ask Your Web Developer

Many of our clients aren’t savvy when it comes to web development and web design, but that’s why they come to us. Many times, clients don’t know the right questions to ask, so we thought we would make it easier for non-techie clients to know what to ask their web developers. All of these questions are useful when meeting with a developer/designer and we’ve included the kind of answer you should expect to hear.

  1. When do you conduct in-depth keyword and competitor research.
    (At Design Web, we do this first. Good SEO practice should be baked in from the start.)
  2. Will the site be mobile responsive? Do you develop for mobile first?
    (Yes! Mobile, tablet and desktop.)
  3. Will you give each URL a meaningful name? Do you know what stop language is and how to avoid using it?
    (Each URL needs a meaningful and unique name for SEO reasons. Stop language is avoided on all meta tags to prevent issues with search engine robots.)
  4. Do you know how to use relevant meta tags and schema?
    (Meta tags and schema are used to enhance SEO and social media sharing and to ensure that the site is semantic for search engines.)
  5. What site speed is optimal and what do you estimate my site speed will be?
    (We try to achieve a Google Page Speed score of “green” on both desktop and mobile)
  6. Will you use a CMS? Which will you use?
    (We can use multiple CMS platforms, depending on client needs, but we tend to lean towards WordPress for its ease of use and low cost.)
  7. Will you set up and provide hosting and domain or will I be responsible? What will my hosting fees be and do you have a guaranteed up time?
    (Hosting and domain are provided if the client does not already have them. We have a guaranteed 99% uptime. Hosting Fees are free the first year and $100 a year after that.)
  8. What type of security will you be using on the site to ensure that it is not hacked?
    (We have several systems in place to ensure that security is primary concern, including 24/7 security alerts on the site, so we can address issues at any time of day or night.)
  9. Will the site be up to current web standards? Which languages will you be using?
    (At Design Web, we prefer open source languages, such as PHP. We are able to use HTML, AJAX, CSS, Javascript, several JS libraries, MYSQL, PHP, .NET, ASP, and several others. We also have several trusted contract developers we work with to ensure we can cover any client programming need as it arises.)
  10. Will I be able to see the progress on the site during development with a staging site?
    (We provide a staging site during development so you can see the progress being done on your site. You will also have several opportunities to revise content and design during the development process.)
  11. Will you be using any sort of Flash on my site?
    (We never use any type of Flash or Java (which is different than Javascript) on our sites, since these are being phased out and will be an obsolete web technology in the near future.)
  12. How will you incorporate SEO into my site? What types of SEO work will be done both on and off site? Will you set up both Analytics and Webmaster Tools/Search Console?
    (We work from day one with on-site SEO, including keyword optimization, meta tags, and schema. We optimize our code to ensure it is up to standards. We set up Yahoo, Bing and Google webmaster tools, as well as Google Analytics.)
  13. Are you familiar with current UI and UX standards? How will you use UI and UX to ensure my goals are being met?
    (We make sure that current UI and UX standards are being met in order to turn a site visitor into a goal conversion. We are up to date on the latest UI and UX design techniques to ensure we direct the user to the proper goal.)
  14. Will you be developing a custom backend for me to use to make updates to the site? How easy or difficult will it be for me to make updates to content on the site?
    (At Design Web, we can provide a custom backend that will allow you to make changes to most of the content on the website. We also provide maintenance at 1 hour per month for 1 year after site launch for minor updates or changes. We provide a tutorial manual on how to use your new site, as well as training on how to use the site via GoToMeeting.)

If you aren’t satisfied with the answers that your current web developer is providing you, then feel free to contact us at Design Web and we can help make you the perfect website that is up to current SEO, UI/UX, and coding standards. In the meantime, stay up-to-date on all web development news and information on our Facebook page.

40 Free SEO Tips For Small Business – PART IV

Our final installment of SEO tips will go into more advanced keyword and development SEO. These are things that may require professional help, which Design Web is proud to provide!

  1. Add a blog to your website. Regularly adding new pages of content to your site is a snap when you have a blog, and the more quality content you can add to your site the better. You can rank for the subject you focus your posts on very easily.
  2. Create, collaborate and share with other websites and blogs. Once again, it is key to connect with real people who are interested in the same thing as you. Associating with sister sites, bloggers, or content creaters is always good for helping branch out your reach to potential visitors.
  3. Don’t forget to marketing content. Don’t make people will struggle to find you. If they can’t find it, they can’t enjoy it, link to it, or share it.
  4. Write a unique title for every page. Keep it to about 55 characters. Make the topic of a page clear to both humans and search engines and avoid using symbols. Automatic titles are never as good as a custom title.
  5. Write descriptive meta descriptions for every page. Keep it down to bewteen 150 and 160 characters. Clearly describe the topic of a page and be sure to use your keyword if you have one. Write in a natural way that entices someone to want to read more. Never keyword-stuff… ever. Try not to use symbols or “stop words.”
  6. Research keywords. Do your homework. Work smart. Spend your time wisely. If you choose the wrong keywords, you are just wasting your time, or worse yet, you might associate yourself with something that could hurt your business.
  7. Use Google’s Keyword Tool. It can help you to expand on phrases related to the keyword ideas that you enter into it.
  8. Outsource keyword ideas. Customers, suppliers, partners, friends, etc. can see your business differently. While you may be thinking in industry specific terminology and buzz words you are familiar with, the people you are targeting are may associate different words and phrases based on what they want to accomplish.
  9. Focus on your most relevant keywords.
  10. The more relevant your keywords are, the better your search samples will be. If your keywords are all over the place, you may not achieve any real ranking for any of them. There is nothing wrong with variety but you always want to be sure your pages are well organized and fit your theme and when a visitor arrives to your page they find quality information about the subject they were looking for.

  11. Keep commercial intent in focus. You want visitors who are ready to spend money delivered directly to the products or services they are looking for and you want to deliver those who are just looking for information to arrive where they can get everything they need.

We hope that these tips can help you with your website. If you still feel that you need some expert help, including an SEO scan and report on your existing site, contact us today. Make sure to like us on Facebook and stay up-to-date on the latest news and information.

40 Free SEO Tips For Small Business – PART III

We are now on week 3 of our SEO tips for small businesses. We have had 10 search engine optimization tips for small businesses for the past two weeks. This week, we have 10 more tips on how to improve your SEO on your website.

  1. Create content for real people, not search engines. Content that ranks well won’t rank well for long if real people don’t find interest in your pages. No one likes to feel like they are being tricked into something. Don’t keyword-stuff and be natural in you methods to persuade visitors to buy or engage with you. Don’t be a grease salesman, be a genuine authority on your subject that people will go out of their way to find and share.
  2. Remove duplicate content, duplicate content, duplicate content. It is annoying to real people and search engines. Most importantly you can be penalized by search engines for having the same, or very similar, content on multiple pages of your site.
  3. Remove, merge, or add to pages with little content on them. Having lots of small content-light pages, can result in visitors spending short time looking at you pages which reduces page-view time or bounce rate and search engines may start downgrading all of your site’s keyword rankings if they perceive the fast click through rates to mean people are not staying long because they are not finding what they are looking for.
  4. Plagiarism will still get you flunked. Don’t copy content from other websites. Duplicate information is bad when search engines find it on your own pages. If search engines find that content on your site has been taken from elsewhere, that is even worse. Some engines when they discover direct plagiarism may downgrade your rankings. It is not worth the risk and it could effect some, or even all, of your webpages.
  5. Claim all of your pages. Linking your Google+ account is the first step, but did you now there are other places where your site or business may have automatically created landing pages? Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp, and may others will create landing pages to content they deem useful, which may include you — without ever alerting you! Claiming and maintaining your content everywhere it may appear improves both rankings and click-through rate.
  6. Make sure your page is good enough to be in the top results of search listings. If your site is just a facade, there is no way it will get featured on “The Lifestyles of the Click Rich and Search Famous.” Occasionally. a website will get a lucky strike and land smack-dab on the front page for a nice 15 minutes of fame. This is the opportunity to make and keep long-term valuable linkbacks,but if you haven’t created a structure that can withstand popularity than it will be all for naught.
  7. Engaging your visitors. The more engaging, the longer people stay. The longer they stay, the higher the chance of a conversion/goal, and that is a signal to search engines that your site deserves more visitors and they will grant you with higher rankings.
  8. Consider offering videos. Videos increase the amount of time people spend on your site. Videos also allow you an opportunity to get links from video sites like Youtube.
  9. Charts, graphs and infographics are great content. People like to share and link to great easy to understand visual content more than plain written content.
  10. More content sometimes means better ranking. Search engines reward, and visitors trust sites that are filled with lots of content. The key here is to make sure your content is well categorized and of good quality.

Each week, we will have another set of SEO tips to help your small business. Check out Design Web’s Facebook page here to stay up-to-date on the latest news and information.