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 Meetup.com 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

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.

 

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

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.

40 Free SEO Tips For Small Business – PART II

Last week we touched on 10 search engine optimization tips for small businesses. This week, we have 10 more tips on how to improve your SEO on your website.

  1. You don’t need to submit your website to the search engines. They have evolved beyond that now but you can request a forced crawl to update faster when an important page on a website, is created. Google’s direct advice on this topic is:
    “If you’ve recently made changes to a URL on your site, you can update your web page in Google Search with the Submit to Index function of the Fetch as Google tool. This function allows you to ask Google to crawl and index your URL.”
    Bing offers this url submission link.
  2. Get advice directly from Google and Bing. Google offers information via their Webmaster Guidelines and Webmaster Help Videos. Bing also has a Webmaster Help Page.
  3. Don’t risk Black Hat penalties. A penalty from trying to cheat the system results in a significant, and often long-term, loss of visitors to your site. Never use manipulative methods or try to cheat the system. Coming back from black listing and delisting is time intensive and very expensive to repair.
  4. You are responsible for all of SEO on your website. Search engines won’t remove a penalty on the basis that you didn’t do, or didn’t know the implications of, the SEO work being done on your site. Many SEO companies can offer to sell you page likes, clicks and traffic but if it isn’t genuine engagement by real people it will actually hurt you in the long run.
  5. Set-up and use Google and Bing Search Console. These consoles are a treasure trove of information about keywords, your site is ranking, and which sites are linking to your site.
  6. Set-up and use Google and Bing Analytics products. Track how many visitors your site gets, the keywords they use to find it, and what pages they visit on your site.
  7. Set-up a Google+ page for your business. The majority of internet searches come from google so having your google plus page filled out and avaialble for clients to find is just good and courteous business practice. Having a google+ page also builds trust with Google and may improve rankings for localized keywords.
  8. Diversify your targeted traffic sourcing. Google is a great source of traffic but don’t forget Bing and Facebook. Being 100% reliant on any one source for visitors puts you in a vulnerable position. Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket. Branch out and you will see a big difference.
  9. You may want to use Pay Per Click in addition to SEO. If you can afford to do both, then do both but keep an eye on your ROI or return on investment. Not all keywords or ad campaigns will give you a return as high as your investment. Some keywords are highly valued due to demand and not actual customer traffic value. PPC can be costly, you can get visitors to your site straight away for any keywords that you want but you want to be sure that you are not spending more than you are making.
  10. Low quality equals high risk. Never pay for or endorse low quality backlinks and/or low quality on-site content. Never copy and paste content. It will just result in your site being penalized by search engines.

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.

40 Free SEO Tips For Small Business – PART I

What is SEO?

SEO means “Search Engine Optimization” and it is the art of helping visitors find your website from search engines.

  1. If you don’t use SEO, search engines can’t categorize and rank your site for keywords relevant to your business. Keywords being the main words and phrases potential visitors are using to try to find the services, information, or products you offer on your site. If your website were a brick and mortar space on the internet, SEO would be represented by things like a big sign out front, word of mouth from a reputable source (Google), and great lighting so people looking for you can always find you with ease.
  2. Both on-site SEO and off-site SEO are incredibly important. If you try to do one without the other, you’ll only end up with half the ranking you should have. On-site SEO includes things like making sure all of your images are tagged, all of your text is visible to search engine crawlers, and your addresses, phone numbers, and other information are labeled correctly with schema and rich text markup.
  3. Start doing SEO now. SEO is like a running on treadmill. Do a little everyday, every month, or every time you think about it. Once you have the basics down, you will want to invest in a routine plan which might include adding blog pages, increasing social media activity, sharing and connecting to off-site SEO resources, or keeping the static content up to date.
  4. Know your competition. Learn from sites ranking on the 1st page for the keywords that you want to rank and imitate the work they are doing. Don’t copy them directly as that can hurt your SEO, but do learn from their methods and use that information to increase the success of your own SEO plan.
  5. Websites are like snowflakes, no two are the same. An SEO strategy that worked for one site isn’t guaranteed to work for your site because there are so many variables. Try to be flexible with your SEO plan. SEO results can be slow at times, but if you don’t see incremental results after a few months don’t be afraid to add new tricks to your action plan.
  6. SEO doesn’t have to be expensive. You can get big results on a small budget if you invest time. The best SEO is based on grass-roots connections with real people. That doesn’t mean you need to go out and shake hands and kiss babies, but you do need to focus on creating good content and building online relationships with real people and not just the faceless masses.
  7. SEO results aren’t instant. This is the hardest thing about SEO — the results of SEO work done today might not become apparent right away. Some SEO work you do might not be credited by search engines for weeks, or even months, and even once that credit is acquired it may take a little bit longer still to harness the stream of impressions you are receiving.
  8. Newer websites need more patience. It takes time to build authority and trust. Think of building SEO like building political support. First and foremost, you will need to create trust and authority on your subject or service and until you’ve developed both. You shouldn’t expect to outrank older, more established sites that are already ranking highly for the same information right away.
  9. Your website will never be finished. Just like a computer, websites will only last so long before they need upgrades… and every so often replacement. If you want your site to continue to rank higher, attract more visitors, and make more sales, then you need to create a plan to perpetually review, correct, grow, and improve.
  10. Adapt to algorithm updates. Adaptability to your SEO strategy is key. Search engines evolve rapidly. Search engines continuously update algorithms that decide how they serve information to different types of searches. People have tried to figure out and exploit these algorithms since search engines came into existence. In response to these exploitative “black-hat” SEO tactics search engines are forced to continuously close exploitable loop holes to protect their users. What does that mean for you as a business owner with a website? It means you have to be ready to change gears to meet new requirements when they come out. It also means that you should always focus on the suggested methods provided by Google and Bing associates instead of using “black-hat” tactics. A risky attempt to exploit a search engine algorithm can result in serious damage to your ranking when that loop hole is found and closed — or worse yet when loop hole users are penalized with delisting.

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.

Is Your Site using UI and UX?

The design of a website is an influential part of navigating and using the site. If the design catches our eye, we will be more apt to return for a future visit. When trying to attract someone to your web site, it is important to have a design that not only catches the attention of the people, but is also easy to use. When the flow of the design is flawless, customers will keep coming back. If your design is lackluster, you will not have the traffic you desire. The layout of your design may have to be restructured in order to get the flow you need. Technological advances can ensure that the best web design is created. It is important for the flow of the design to evolve as the needs of the consumer evolves. By using the latest standards of user interaction (UI) and user experience (UX), we can ensure that visitors will get the information they need.

Web Design and Development

It is important to have a clear set of goals in mind before setting your design in motion. Developing the right structure will help to guide the visitor directly to your goal. The basic structure of the design is an essential element in its overall success. It is important to enlist the help of a UX/UI designer to overhaul the initial design and create a flowchart of user movement through the site. Every new design will always have some flaws. When choosing a UI/UX developer, it is important for them to have a clear understanding of what you are trying to get accomplished. Developing the right design structure depends on many different elements. The designer has to identify what elements need to be developed and in what order they should be placed for your website to have an effective design. Size, demographics, operating practices, and essentially the audience it is meant for may influence the structure of the design. It is important for the designer to keep these in mind when developing the outline of the design. Never give up on an idea that will enhance the lives of others.

For example, one of the sites that we worked on, kentuckymedicareplans.com, has larger buttons, easier flow, larger fonts, and more accessibility to allow for seniors to use the site more easily.

Design and Technology

Technology is always changing and also plays a huge part in many aspects of design. Utilizing technological innovations may ensure a well developed design. Instructional design and technology are tools that could potentially enhance how well your design is developed. Pairing them with the PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act) will give designers the tools to ensure the design survives in the 21st century. As the content of the design evolves, the trends and structure of the design will evolve with it. There is always going to be room for many improvements. Implementing new and innovative ideas into the design will essentially contribute to the design’s success.

We mentioned User Interaction and User Experience earlier. Making sure that the right UI and UX is completed on the site takes a lot of research. If you have an existing site with any sort of analytics, it can be used to gather more information about how current users interact with the site. Using this information, a professional UI/UX designer can put together a great design that helps direct users through your site and directly to your goal.

No matter what the structure of a web design may be, there will always be room for improvement. Many different elements influence the direction the design should follow. It is essentially up to the business owner to determine the direction of the design. It is also important to know whom the design is designed for. When you know your audience, it is relatively easy to develop the design around their needs. Aligning all the aspects of the design with innovative ideas and technology will give the deign a chance to evolve and be successful.