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A company website is one of your customer’s first touchpoints with your business. It is a powerful marketing tool that can help make or break a lead. It tells the story of your brand, showcases your products and services, provides a platform for customer feedback and expands your reach across borders.

Determining your company website objectives based on your company’s short and long-term goals is crucial as it helps you measure your ROI. Analytics programs also allow you to collect data about your customers and how they behave on your website which helps in tweaking your strategy to improve your website effectiveness.

Sounds simple? It is! However, in a survey done by Clutch, 29% of small business owners still don’t own a website. Out of these, 31% cited using social media profiles instead of a website while 25% attributed it to a lack of technical knowledge as the top reasons for not having a website.

Image by Clutch

In Southeast Asia, more than half of the population use the internet to find information that provides a solution to their queries. Having a website allows businesses to create and leverage content that will interest consumers regarding their brand’s identity and offers.

5 Crucial Steps That Will Aid Your Company Website’s Pre-Development Phase

1. Know Your Enemy (or Competition)

The best way to learn what a good website looks like is to look at your competitors. Analyzing the competition’s website design, functionality, and practices are vital to ensuring your own business website gets off to the best possible start online. You want to learn what works and what doesn’t in attracting your customers to your website and creating a positive online customer experience through their success. Here are three tools that can help you suss out the competition:

  1. SEMrush.com (Limited Demo): SEMrush gives you an overview of your competition’s organic and paid searches, their backlinks and unearths other competitors in the space.
  2. I Web Check: Provides a detailed SEO report you can run for your competitors to find gaps that you can improve on and apply to your own future website.
  3. Rank2Traffic: This tool shows you the competition’s traffic, including their engagement and keywords they typically use to find the competition.

2. Creating Your Customer’s Persona

Creating your customer persona means defining what your ideal customer looks like. You would need to identify the who, what, why and how of your customer.

Demographics: This covers the “who” of your customer persona. Go through your customer database and pick out the trends in their demographics and background – age group, gender, location, etc. By finding out these information, it would help you create the right messaging to appeal to the audience that you want.

Psychographics: You would also need to know what your customer motivations and challenges are and why they face them. Set up interviews with your top clients and note down quotes that help you understand the language they speak and how to craft the right message.

Once you have gathered these information, you can create your customer persona. If you need help in getting started, download our customer persona template here. [insert download]

3. Map Your Customer’s Digital Journey

Most businesses invest in websites with designs that make for an excellent or unique user experience. However, gimmicks are not everything in selling products or services; it also involves understanding the other areas of your website that users find trouble understanding or navigating.

Here are two things your customer experiences when they visit your company website:

Intent: Understanding your customer’s intent to visit your website allows you to position certain elements that will interest them regarding your offers. For example, as an air-conditioning repair company, audiences might take interest in general DIY cleaning tips, which urges them to subscribe to your newsletter. To urge them further on their customer journey, you can create specific HVAC-brand cleaning tips that you can send directly to their emails.

Obstacles: If your landing page has frustrating navigation issues or even fails to load, customers will look elsewhere for their solutions. If the content on your company website fails to convey your offerings due to difficult terminologies or writing styles, then customers will definitely “bounce” from your site.

The best way to know your customer’s journey is to conduct a survey with a decent sample size to try a test version of your website before launch. Perform an interview or automate it by measuring the customer’s journey length, pages that gain more attention, areas audiences typically stop browsing, links the get the most clicks, and attention to different forms of media present in the website, such as photos or videos.

4. SMART Website Objectives

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound, and each of these items are crucial when setting up goals for your site.

Specific

What exactly do you want to achieve with your website? Be specific with your goals by attaching concrete numbers such as increasing the number of qualified leads by 10% or improving conversion rates by 5%.

Measurable

How do you intend to measure the effectiveness of your website? If your objective is to achieve brand awareness,  then the number of visitors to your website matters. If it’s to collect leads, then having a contact form helps you track the number of leads you’re getting.

Attainable

Ensure your goals are realistic. Data you collect from analysing your competitors help you set attainable goals for your site’s conversion rates, brand retention, or overall impressions.

Relevant

Your website goals need to match your business goals. For example, if your business objective is to grow sales by 25%, your website objectives can be to contribute to 10% of the overall increased sales.

Time-Bound

Set a deadline for that goal. Are you able to achieve the results you want from your website in 6 months or do you think you need a year? If you’ve not set up a website, you won’t have data until after the first month is launched and often, you might need to tweak the design of your company website and continue optimizing it till you get it right. So be sure to factor those in when setting your goals.

5. Determine Company Website Purpose

Once you know what your customer needs and have set goals for it, you’re ready to determine what purpose your website will serve your business.

Your website can be one of the following:

An E-Commerce Platform: If you are selling products to users, especially B2C, e-commerce is something you might consider. An e-commerce platform allows users to directly purchase products from your website so ensuring the whole buying process is smooth for your customer is key. For example, Avery Online has a wide product range of stationery products. To showcase their diverse range and make it convenient for their customers to buy their product online, they engaged 2Stallions to develop their e-commerce website. You can work with us or with any other Digital Marketing Agency for your own website.

Service-based Websites: If you’re selling services, then e-commerce is not ideal. Instead, the purpose of the website would be to help tell your brand story and attract customers to want to engage your services. Your website needs to be positioned as the dependable, trustworthy and experience and your website needs to communicate that. This was the case for IBULK Singapore, a dry bulk shipping consultancy company, whose main offering was its consultancy services in chartering, operating, project finance and sale and purchase. Check out their website here.

Blogs: Blogs help you attract a regular audience to keep coming back to your website to read and engage with exciting content. The content needs to appeal to your customers and be regularly updated to maintain a constant stream of visitors who revisit your website. It’s perfect for building brand loyalty or a community.

When determining your website’s purpose, make sure to focus only on one function that would strongly benefit your customers. Once your website is up and running, and you have collected enough data about your customer behaviour on your website, then you can focus on improving or expanding the purpose of your website.

Wrap-up

It’s important for every business to have a website, no matter how small but it can be quite daunting if you don’t know where to start. It’s not that difficult to if you start by analysing your competitors, identifying your ideal customer persona and mapping out your customer journey first. These are crucial to developing SMART goals that help you determine the purpose of the website. This helps you have a clear picture of what you want to achieve with your website. With all these information in hand, you will be ready to start developing a website that is efficient and meets all your business goals.

What other data do you think is vital before you develop your business website? Write them down in the comments section below!

If you’re still using an Android or iOS device’s voice-search feature, search engines are still relevant. If you use Google for research, then search engines can still be used for content marketing.

Some marketers believe search engine optimization (SEO) is dead. The reason behind the belief: social media advertisements and mobile applications make content marketing more effective. They believe spending on SEO nowadays is a waste.

However, the industry is still growing. According to SearchEngineLand, research by Borrell Associates shows that businesses have spent about $65 billion on SEM campaigns. The researchers note that the industry can grow to $72 billion by 2018. Their reasons include the decline of traditional advertising, increasing fact-checking attitudes of audiences, and sophisticated techniques.

Sophisticated SEO is spot on. SearchEngineLand’s Stephan Spencer writes that SEO is a “shape-shifter.” He writes about how it has changed in practice over the years. Modern SEO is a far cry from just optimizing headers and meta-tags. It is now about monitoring “entities” or subject-specific keywords and informative content. Spencer also highlights the importance of UX (which Google measures).

seo-website

SEO has changed with the advent of Web 2.0’s appearance and technicalities.

Source: Slideshare 

SEO plays a vital role in any business. In 2009, Marin Search Marketer helped improve Century Novelty’s overall revenues by 20%. The 1951-established party decors and supplies business saw new light online after the project. Marin Search Marketer focused on creating keyword-bidding goals to minimize their paid ad budgets and maximize ROI.

Another example of SEO success is this one project of Prime Visibility (now known as WPromote). The company helped Compass-Guard Security Systems improve its sales by using SEO targeted content and a PPC campaign to minimize paid ad spending costs. The result of their 2005 search engine marketing efforts increased content visibility by 79.4%. The business site had 278 CTA button clicks per month, effectively increasing their leads.

Never underestimate the power of a reliable SEO agency willing to provide excellent results. If you need to look for one, you must make sure to note these five characteristics.

Five Characteristics of a Reliable SEO Agency

1. Assess their Assessment

Most SEO firm sites want you to send your email and your interest in scheduling a free appointment. Take the plunge; sign up and wait for their correspondence. Their online correspondent will ask you through an email to detail your business, its performance, and SEO goals. The free consultation, just like the real thing, will take time. The correspondent may likely ask for more information; remember not to provide delicate ones crucial to your business.

Once they provide you a final recommendation and quote, assess their assessment. Ask the firm how they came up with the milestones and methods. Inquire why they feel strongly about using the indicated procedures. Finally, question them how they measured the projected results.

If you want to make an informed decision, then you need to use the free quotations of other prospects, too. It may take some time to wait for each assessment. However, it will be worth it because a data-backed, informed decision will significantly save your business time and money. You can have a free quote here.

seo-company-tools

If they’re willing to, ask their tool’s tool accuracy, too.

Source: Backlinko 

2. Performance Metrics Guaranteed (and Fulfilled)

Reliable SEO agencies want to help you genuinely. It might seem silly to believe a copy that talks about their passion for data, analytics, and seeing growth. However, some firms sincerely feel it is their goal in existing.

These companies know the realistic metrics they can achieve for your business. Reputable agencies will need to know your goals for the SEO campaign, the timeframe you expect it done, and the budget you have to implement it. You will have several meetings with them. The goal of these interactions is to adjust certain metrics to achieve your goals within a realistic timeframe and budget.

Reliable companies will advise you on the type of digital marketing style advantageous for the company. They can create drafts for ideal and realistic plans to show you the difference between timeframes and budgets. SEO agencies you can depend on will never begin any project without your approval. They will also include in the contract all agreed metrics they intend to deliver for your business.

3. Years of Experience

An SEO company that is has been around in the industry for years indeed sounds impressive. Digital marketing as a whole is a continuously-changing environment. For a company to survive a year, they must have provided excellent service to their previous clients. However, make sure to observe their methods and assess their assessment (as mentioned earlier). If you do this, you can maximize your investment in these long-established companies.

4. Portfolio

If an SEO company strongly caters to you, it wants to achieve one of these two things. It might want to expand their services and learn with you. It could also be that the firm is confident because it had handled cases similar to yours. You can answer this question by asking them for their portfolio of case studies.

Some companies publish these case studies on their site. Some firms can digitally send them for your reference. Make sure to prioritize studies and service renditions similar or relevant to your industry.

If their portfolio is informative and data-packed, then the more helpful it will be for your evaluation. Take note of the set milestones and the results. See if they met these goals. Next, check the space of time between each procedure implemented and achieved the goal. These small details will help you make an informed decision in using the firm’s services. Meanwhile, feel free to check our previous works here.

5. Feedback from Trusted or Similar Businesses as Yours

A reputable SEO company can forward you to customers they serviced. On their pages, you can also find a list of client feedbacks. Most of these will be positive. You can email the agency and ask them to provide customers with your reference. Prioritize references for industries similar to yours.

Make sure to ask about the referred client’s goal during their project. Have them describe the firm’s attitude. Discuss scheduling and milestone achievement frequencies. Ask about the overall working system and logistics of the company. The more informative their answers, the easier it is to know whether the SEO firm is reliable or not.

Wrapping-Up

SEO is an industry that is bound to get bigger than its current stature in the next few years. Social networks, target-centric search engines, and applications might invade specific markets. However, users will still keep on researching regarding particular, and search engines are vital to doing this.

You will need an SEO firm to help your content and advertisements reach the top of results pages. Outsourcing SEM campaigns will be better for your business. Having a team dedicated to the task is time and resource-conserving than having an in-house equivalent.

Let’s start by traveling back to a time when Google and Yahoo! were still evenly matched. Imagine Google’s clean homepage were to take 10 seconds to load, while the Yahoo! homepage loaded in 2 seconds. Do you think Google would be the top search engine in the world today? Speed matters – you have 8.25 seconds to capture the interest of your reader. If you fail, they will move on to the next site.

According to a report by the Microsoft Bing search team, a 2-second delay in page responsiveness reduced user satisfaction by 3.8%, increased lost revenue per user by 4.3%, and reduced clicks by 4.3%. Google is blatant about including your site speed into its ranking algorithm, with their PageSpeed Insights tool to test your site speed.

The importance of website speed when it comes to SEO, visitor attention and retention and eventually, your bottom line, cannot be overstated. This infographic by KissMetrics further drives home the point of having a fast website.

3 Steps To Speed Up Your WordPress Website

There are 3 simple steps to speed up your WordPress site.

1. Perform A Speed Test

The first step is always to know where your website currently stands. Use one of the following three tools to test your website speed. Not only do these tools provide you your site speed, most also offer a slightly deeper analysis to fix the problems.

1. GTmetrix 

Type in your website URL, and GTmetrix will generate a report for you to analyze. It only tests from a server in Canada for their free version.

2. Website Speed Test By Pingdom

Put your website link and choose “test from” to select a location nearer to your server, if you’re a localized website.

3. Google PageSpeed Insights

As mentioned earlier, Google’s own tool to test your speed.

2. Address The Low Hanging Fruits

Once you run your site speed test, you will likely be left with a score, a ranking or a grade, and an analysis of what you could improve. Depending on your technical know-how, you may or may not be able to understand all the items mentioned, which is why we wrote this. Take note that there will likely be some items, such as ‘Server response time’, that you cannot directly control. If you’re on a shared server hosting, you may face this problem and you probably cannot address it unless you switch to a higher level of hosting.

That’s why it’s always best to focus on the low-hanging fruits when it comes to the analysis.

3. Call In The Developers

Once you tackle the low hanging fruit with your WordPress site, you may find your site speed has improved to a satisfactory level. You may see anywhere between a 20% to 70% improvement in speeds, which is good enough for most folks. However, if you REALLY want to push the envelope, then it’s time to give your WordPress developers a call to fix the final few issues and bring your website to blazing speeds.

Basic Site Speed Tweaks

The following are tweaks you can attempt for yourself on your WordPress website to see some immediate wins in the loading times for your website.

1. Optimize Images

This is the simplest thing you can do if it is highlighted as a problem. Many of our clients tend to upload high-resolution images, which may be unnecessary for the web. A lossy compression on an image can reduce its file size by over 80% while still looking great. While WordPress has built-in functionality that you can activate for compression of images, it requires some technical knowledge. So we suggest you use one of the following 2 free image optimization WordPress plugins instead. Do be wary of the settings and keep a backup before proceeding.

  1. WP Smush (Go Pro for more benefits) – https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-smushit/
  2. TinyPNGhttps://wordpress.org/plugins/tiny-compress-images/

Explore optimizing images further with this WooCommerce article on how to get fast-loading, fantastic-looking product images.

2. Enable Gzip Compression

If Gzip compression is currently not enabled for your website, you need to get on it right away. It is a standard practice for most websites and in essence, it compresses files, making them smaller for a faster transfer over a network.

Your hosting provider may be able to do this for you, so drop them an email or open a ticket to see if they do. If they do not, you can either install a WordPress plugin that just does Gzip compression or you can use a caching plugin, which we discuss in the next section.

3. Leverage Browser Caching & Enable CDN

For these items (and more), you would make use of one of the popular caching plugins available for WordPress. Some of the free ones you can utilize include W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, and the one we’re going into detail for this post – WP Fastest Cache. If you have a specific preference (you’re already ahead of the curve if you know your caching plugins and have a preference), then here are guided articles for the other two WordPress caching plugins:

  1. W3 Total Cache Plugin + Cloudflare (CDN) is a great combination to speed up your website – https://www.bloggingwizard.com/w3-total-cache-cloudflare/
  2. WP Super Cache Configuration Guide – https://www.shoutmeloud.com/wp-super-cache-wordpress-optimization-plugin.html

The purpose of creating an actionable guide for WordPress caching is to show you how simple it can be. To make our guide comprehensive, we also show how to set up a working CDN option (free as well) to ensure you get the best improvements possible. Do note that every WordPress site uses a different set of plugins and themes, so it’s possible this configuration may not work the best for you.

Speed Up Your WordPress site with WP Fastest Cache + Jetpack

Even though there is a premium version for WP Fastest Cache plugin, the free version is usually good enough to get considerable benefits from. It is a plugin that is gaining in popularity – with over 300,000 downloads already! When we tested it against other free plugins, we found that it was the best in terms of usability and simplicity. Jetpack, a popular WordPress plugin pack with over 3 Million installs, comes bundled with new WordPress installs and provides you with a free Content Delivery Network (CDN).

So let’s begin!

Setup & Configure WP Fastest Cache

  1. Go to your WordPress dashboard
  2. Go to Plugin -> Add new

 

  1. Search for WP Fastest Cache

 

  1. Install & Activate the Plugin

 

  1. Navigate to WP Fastest Cache settings from your sidebar

 

  1. Choose the settings as below. These are usually Minify, combine, Cache System, Gzip and Browser Caching. Be careful with the settings – it’s better to take things slow. Make one update at a time and refresh your browser to test if anything is broken before moving on to the next. That way, if your website doesn’t work correctly, you can quickly roll back to a working setting.

 

  1. If everything is fine, test your website’s speed again for any improvements.

Setup & Configure Jetpack

  1. Go back to your Plugins page and search for Jetpack.

 

  1. Install the plugin & activate it.
  2. Connect your website to wordpress.com (If you don’t have an account, you can create one for free).
  3. Follow instructions and choose the free plan.
  4. After Jetpack redirects you back to your WordPress dashboard, click Activate Recommended Features.
  5. After that, go to the Settings Tab and select “Media and Activate Speed Up” image.

 

  1. Now go back to WP Fastest Cache settings, go to the CDN Tab and click CDN by Photon.

 

  1. When you click it, a popup will appear, and all you need to do is follow instructions.
  2. When “Enter CDN URL” field appears, choose one that you like.
  3. After this step, your setup and configurations are complete!

  1. At this point, check your Page Speed again. You should see a significant improvement.

Is This Enough?

The answer is no. Aside from the issues mentioned earlier, there are still other factors that can affect your WordPress site speed. In fact, some items in the Page Speed Insights test are extremely hard to resolve due to services that Google themselves offer, like Analytics or Google Fonts.

Many novices end up with a broken website after installing a caching plugin, because they are unable to grasp the nuances of minifying the files on their site.

If you cross that hurdle, you will notice that every new plugin you install will degrade your site speed. While a fast website is great, it is also paramount to have tight WordPress security and your marketing will surely require additional plugins. Therefore, it’s an on-going process and you should probably seek a professional to help keep your page speed up and everything running smoothly every quarter.

A Case Study – Does Speed Really Matter?

A case study is able to illuminate the impact of speed on an actual website much better, in our opinion. We recently did a talk on Features Of A Good Business Website, where we presented a case study of a client we helped with their page speeds. While you should probably go through the entire slide deck, we’ve clipped the case study results slide below.

For the startup client mentioned in the slide above, the GTmetrix data on the left shows the results before we worked with them. The GTMetrix on the right shows data 9 months AFTER we worked with them. The 51.4% improvement in page speed down to 5.3s has had a significant impact on the business for this startup.

More visitors are not immediately leaving their website, as evidenced by the bounce rate improvement of over 80%. This, in turn, has led to visitors spending a lot more time on the site, and looking at 68% more content than before. These online improvements have translated into more leads and greater revenue for their business. And we still work with them every quarter to tweak their page speeds and help their site metrics keep improving.

Conclusion

By this point, I hope you have a definitive conclusion of your own as to the importance of website speed, as well as some actions you can take right away to improve your own site speed. If you have any concerns or experiences with making your website faster, feel free to share in the comments section below or contact us directly.

Have you had a conversation with your digital marketing agency about content marketing lately? You probably encountered topics you do not quite understand. Sure, you understand that content marketing is important for your digital strategy, but how much do you really know?

When it comes to content marketing, you have to research your audience, create an efficient and feasible strategy, and execute your campaign on multiple platforms. It’s a lot to manage for most marketers.

Content marketing is a learnable skill, but unfortunately, it is not something being taught formally in universities. In fact, 82% of digital marketers gained knowledge on the job. So, let’s kickstart your content marketing self-learning journey to help you keep up with your agency.

See: 8 Kick-Ass Copywriting Techniques To Boost Small Businesses

Image by Writtent

3 Ways To Self-Learn Content Marketing

There is a ton of material available for you to learn this. Here are the three most effective ways to do so in this day and age.

#1 Podcasts

Podcasts, when done right, can be a useful, and easy to consume learning tool for people who are willing to give it a chance. Back in 2014, The Washington Post published that podcasts subscriptions have reached over 1 billion and attract over 75 million monthly unique listeners. Recently, even big brands such as GE, Slack, and Virgin Atlantic has started integrating podcasts into their marketing strategies.

With so many podcasts available today, which ones are worthy of your precious time when learning content marketing? We’ve narrowed down the list of podcasts that are easily digestible, fun, and educational.

  • This Old Marketing Podcast by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose – this podcast is a must for every person who wants to learn more about marketing. Each podcast is quite long (60 minutes) but broken down into three parts, so it is easier to consume. You learn the latest news in content marketing and samples from the past. Learning points are discussed, and content marketing questions answered by Joe and Robert.
  • The Superheroes of Marketing by Alisa Meredith and Kelly Kranz – small and medium-sized businesses can get a kick out of listening to these two marketing superheroes. The podcasts will help you learn from real-life experiences of business owners, project managers, and marketers. They tackle a broad range of topics such as effective marketing strategies, lead generation, and even relationship building.
  • The Mad Marketing Podcast by Marcus Sheridan – It began as a pool selling website, but Marcus Sheridan discovered the magic of doing content marketing and created a tremendously successful business. He is very passionate in talking about how he built his business from the ground up and the lessons he learned along the way. Each podcast usually features marketing leaders, discusses different marketing principles, and a question and answer portion.

#2 Online Courses

Thanks to many online platforms, modules, and lectures can now be accessed anywhere in the world, even in the comfort of your own bed! Content marketing certainly has plenty of courses to choose from. Here are the top 3 courses from our perspective:

  • Content Marketing On Steroids – this paid online course was created by 2Stallions and tackles everything you need to know about content marketing. You have the option of learning from an e-book, video lectures, or even one-on-one coaching through Skype. The course videos are also cut into small, digestible segments, to make it easier for students to learn topics. If you are looking for the best results, you should definitely check out this course.
  • Hubspot Content Marketing Certification Course – is a free beginner course that will teach you the basics of content marketing. There are ten classes in this course that can be finished in as little as 4 hours. At the end of the course is a 60 item test. If you pass, you will get a Hubspot certification proving your content marketing mastery.
  • Content Marketing Training Course – is a 25+ hour online course that tackles content strategies and tactics for businesses whether it is B2B or B2C. The course will also teach you how to achieve your marketing objectives by formulating your own content strategy. It is a bit more advanced than the two courses mentioned above.

#3 Guides

Bits and pieces of material is a good way to start learning, especially if you are finding it hard to commit time. Guides are also beneficial for people who are looking for specific knowledge when it comes to a particular topic. These are some of the most interesting guides online:

  • Content Marketing – The Free Beginner’s Guide – whether you know a lot or know very little, this guide will help you in all aspects of content marketing. The guide is broken into nine different chapters making for an easily digestible read. It even boasts of a cartoon in every chapter to make sure that readers do not get too stressed out and intimidate while going through the guide.
  • The Advanced Guide To Content Marketing – don’t let the word “advanced” intimidate you. The guide is engaging for beginners and experienced marketers alike. Since it is divided into several chapters, it’ll be easy for you to jump into topics relevant to your business. However, I strongly suggest you read the whole thing to gain full knowledge about content marketing.
  • The Beginner’s Guide To Content Marketing – if you are really pressed for time, this guide is for you. In less than 15 minutes, you will learn about the bare bones of content marketing. Some of these are advantages over traditional advertising, fatal flaws of traditional advertising, and tips on making your marketing effective. It might not be as in-depth as the other guides, but it beats knowing nothing about it.

Learning content marketing on your own takes time and a lot of patience. Luckily, there are plenty of marketing professionals who can help you with your business while you are still learning the ropes. You can also check out our Content Marketing Services if you need immediate help.

With all the massive changes in the digital landscape over the past few years, you might be tempted to think that SEO is a thing of the past. However, SEO remains one of the most potent online marketing strategies around. SEO has been evolving with every Google update to their search engine, but the desired results remain the same. An effective SEO strategy should be able to increase your website’s traffic, brand awareness, and ultimately your conversions.

A sound SEO strategy is not a wand that you can just wield anytime for instant results, though we may all wish a hidden Harry Potter inside us. According to Forbes, it takes at least 6 months or longer to implement an effective SEO process. This often involves a step by step process consisting of research and planning, technical SEO work, content creation, and analysing results. The amount of legwork involved would take an awful lot of man-hours.

However, we also understand the need for quick wins although ‘fast’ here is a relative term. If you want to see improvements for your website rankings on Google, there are a number of things you can start doing immediately.

1. Publish content regularly

regular content

One of the driving factors of SEO is quality content. Making sure that you are publishing quality content on a regular basis means you are already on a certain path to having your website rank higher in search engines.

The critical word here is quality. Make sure that your content targets your ideal customer or audience. After publishing the post, be sure to share it with family, friends and current customers as well as on relevant forums and social media channels. Then, watch your website’s traffic increase!

Don’t forget to identify a keyword phrase for each page that you want the page to rank for. A good exercise would be to make an educated guess on how your audience would search for the content you’ve just published. Lastly, repeat that phrase and variations of it a number of times within your content.

As long as you can publish smart, quality content on a regular basis that people enjoy reading and sharing, you’re on your way to good search engine rankings.

2. Create a sitemap for Google Search Console

create a sitemapA lot of marketers overlook the value of creating a sitemap. According to Google, if a website keeps putting new pages then it is likely that Google web crawlers might overlook some of them. However, creating a sitemap is vital whether your website page count is constantly growing or it’s stagnant and small.

Even if your site is new and contains few external links, submitting a sitemap to Google is important. Googlebot and other webcrawlers scour the Internet by following links to go from one page to another, which may result in your website getting overlooked if you do not submit a sitemap.

How to Submit A Sitemap

The first thing that you need to do is figure out which pages on your website need to be crawled by Google. Find a canonical version for each page. Figure out which site format you want to use (you can find a list of sitemap formats here). There are numerous third party software that you could use to make your sitemap, including Google Sitemap Generator.

Next, you should test your sitemap. This will determine if the sitemap that you have created is valid. In order to do this, just go to Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools), click on Site Configuration and go to Sitemaps. There is a tool at the top right called Add/Test Sitemap.

sitemap

If the test Google runs is successful, add your sitemap to your robots.txt file and submit it to Search Console.

3. Check your Metadata

Your webpages contain metadata or information regarding the content of that page. Meta tags have been around since the early days of webpages and are an important element of SEO. Metadata is not as huge a factor as it once was in Google’s algorithms, but it can still play a big role in your website’s ranking. There are three types of metadata that you should know about:

The first is Title metadata. This is the title that will be displayed within the tab in your browser window when you load a page. It is also shown as the clickable link within Google search results. See the image below.

Browser Tab

On Google

The second is the Description metadata and it is the text description that will be used as your site’s summary. This should be short but insightful, providing the right information to get readers to click. It shows up on Google under your main link. See image above.

Lastly, we have the Keyword metadata. These are the search phrases that your audience will may type to find your pages. Don’t overpopulate this. Try to keep this under 6-8 phrases containing 1-4 words. Do note that meta keywords are not a Google ranking factor but are a nice-to-have, so if you want, you can also ignore them.

4. Create a better URL structure

url

Check the URL structures of your pages and make sure that they are optimized. Making it easier for Google and your audience to decipher your URLs will yield you better results in page ranking.

For example, make your URL easy to read so that people will easily figure out what they should be expecting from your page. You have probably seen webpages with URLs like “mydomain.com/ hdh23hrakhd/44uh34su2iu/jasnja=f#loaddelay” Not only is it impossible to remember, it’s also confusing and looks unreliable.

Wouldn’t it be better if your website URL was “mydomain.com/amazing-outdoor-photography/landscapes”? It is clean and gives the reader an instant idea as to what he/she should expect to read on your page. Furthermore, it’s much easier to recall. Just like humans, Google also prefers URLs to read like this, as it makes it easier for them to determine the topic of your page and rank it.

5. Create relevant anchor text for links

anchor text link

Anchor text is the characters or words that is visible for your hyperlinks. Different people have various approaches to what they use as anchor text. Some prefer an exact match, which means that the anchor text uses an exact keyword, from the page that it links to.

Others use a variation of the keywords as their anchor text. There are also other ways like images, generic words such as ‘click here’, or brand names.

Anchor Text Guidelines

There are some guidelines to what makes great anchor text. First and foremost is to make the anchor text relevant to the page that it is linked to. The next would be to avoid using generic words for anchor texts.

For example, instead of using words like “click here”, try using words like “check out some amazing landscape photos”. Try to keep it as short and as clean as possible. A good rule is to decide on the fewest number of words to still make the anchor text pop.

Final Thoughts

What we’ve shared are quick action items to start improving your website ranking today! However, if you want an in-depth and effective long-term strategy, then check out our Search Engine Optimization page for our services. We would love to hear from you and discuss how we can further improve your search rankings and drive more traffic to your website.

Do you have any anecdotes or additional tips about quickly improving a website’s ranking? Please feel free to share with us in the comments section below.

You just started a consumer-facing business (Congratulations!) and you’ve heard the Internet is a great way to gain traction and get the masses flocking to your place of business. Without any online business strategy, though, you are likely to jump into the following scenario:

You decide to start small and ‘simple’ – with a Facebook page. After all, almost 1.5 billion people, including all your friends, use this platform. You set it up, and invite your friends to like your page to get the ball rolling.

And then… your business loses its way online.

You post regularly on your page but can’t seem to get anyone apart from friends to like the posts – and even their enthusiasm wanes quickly. You discover that those 1.5 billion people you hoped for are only accessible with a fee. So you pay to promote each post and get more likes but it does not translate to more business in your store.

After a while, you choose to cut your losses and let it slip into oblivion. You decide that you are going to do things ‘old school’ instead and convince yourself that you are not losing out.

You are not alone in this state of denial – plenty of business owners sabotage their online business presence through the lack of foresight and investment in professional guidance. Here is how you can start formulating a foundation for a successful online business strategy.

1. Know Your Motives

It is extremely important to first know WHY you want an online presence. Is it to increase brand awareness? Provide alternative means for customers to make purchases? Generate leads for your business? Or something else?

This motive will aid in determining what assets you need for your online business strategy.

2. Understand Your Customers’ Online IntentCustomer Intent Online - 2Stallions Blog

In order to know what sort of online presence you need – you must understand your customers’ intent i.e. how they find you and why they use a particular online platform.

How: Google conducted a study, which found that 4 in 5 consumers conduct a local search on search engines for product information, directions and operating hours of businesses near them. Speaking to existing customers of yours will also help you answer this question.

Why: The table below shows you the user intent behind using search engines and social media – the two areas in which consumers spend most of their online time.

INTENT ON SEARCH INTENT ON SOCIAL
Navigational: user wants to go somewhere Socialize: user wants to find out what friends have been up to and communicate with them
Informational: user wants to know about something Discover information: user has information – photos, videos, articles, news, brands – fed to him based on his likes and what his network likes
Transactional: user is looking to buy something Share: user posts information on products/services/articles that interest them
 

The user intent explains why Google Adwords – Google’s paid advertising offering – is booming. Businesses know that visitors coming through search will likely turn into customers because they are actively seeking a solution. For social media platforms like Facebook, however, although 66% of marketers claim that social indirectly impacts their business performance, only 9% claim it can be directly linked to revenue. This is probably because users on social media don’t actively search for things – they tend to discover them through their news feed.

3. Your website is the key to an online business strategyKey to an Online Business Strategy - 2Stallions

We came up with 11 reasons why your business needs a website but to go a bit deeper (it gets technical here), it is to have your content appear in search results.

Facebook does not allow Google to look at the content on their Facebook pages (yes, they control your content on their platform) so the content you produce on your Facebook page cannot be found via Google search. This means you lose out on opportunities to be found organically by users looking for your products or services if you do not have a website. Whatever online business strategy you adopt, your website needs to be central to it.

A website is like your physical storefront. Build it according to your brand guidelines but understand that making it look pretty does not guarantee you any “footfall” or traffic. What helps you get traffic? Marketing, of course. Getting your website indexed by Google so that Google knows your website exists, is just the first step in a long journey to online success. The results on the first page of Google get 71.3% of the clicks for all search results. In a nutshell, if you’re not on the first page of Google, you’re not going to get much traffic.

4. Online Marketing To Attract Your Target Audience

So, how do you get on the first page? Focus your online business strategy towards Search and Social media once your website is up.

4.1 Search

Your options for search are Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a long-term approach which helps your website to rank organically, without paying for it, on the first page of Google and Bing! search results. The white-hat technique recommended for improving your SEO is content marketing. Write articles on topics within your business domain that users would search for or find interesting. Share these on your social media channels.

Use traffic drivers like guest posting on ‘authority’ blogs in similar domains to get a backlink and engage an interested audience. Other traffic drivers include YouTube (for videos) and Slideshare (for slide decks). All these pieces of content would end up ranking for a myriad of keywords that drive targeted traffic back to your site from search.Search and Social Media - Online Marketing - 2Stallions

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) provides an immediate possibility of showing up on the homepage of Google through paid advertising. Besides Google, your advertising can also show up on related sites on the network of sites that use Google Adsense.

4.2 Social Media

The number of social media platforms out there means the options here are astonishing. There is Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Reddit just to name a few. What you need to understand is that not all of these are relevant to your business and you should choose what suits your motives best.

For example, Facebook can be a great way to provide customer service and increase brand awareness and that may be the only tool you need. However, an eCommerce brand with product photos could be better off including Pinterest and/or Instagram to their online business strategy.

5. Putting it together for a robust online business strategy

Your strategy needs to frame every platform you are targeting and cover the basics: how, what, and when. All your online assets should have key performance indicators (KPIs) that would be analyzed every period of your choosing (usually monthly or quarterly) and tweaked accordingly.

The following infographic titled ‘Ins and Outs of Web Traffic’ shows how your online actions will drive traffic back to your website. This should give you a clearer understanding of how your online assets rely on each other for the overall benefit of your business and aid in the formulation of your own strategy.Ins & Outs of Web Traffic - Infographic - 2Stallions

The online business strategy you develop serves to keep you focused on your motives. However, it is also important that it remains a flexible document which adapts as you discover things that work or don’t work for your business.

Want to find out more about how we can help refine your online business strategy? We’re happy to have a chat… Have questions or additional insights? Share with us via the comments below!

In today’s digital age, it’s interesting that some business owners still pose questions such as “Why do I need a business website” and “Do I need a website”. These questions explicate why many are still on the fence about creating a website for their business.

According to Clutch, 38% of small businesses choose not to invest in a professional website. The B2B research firm surveyed small business owners and found that cost, irrelevance to industry, and social media are the key reasons behind their decision.

In contrast, 64% of them built a website with the primary purpose of establishing brand identity and growing a wide customer base online.

These varying research findings show that not everyone realizes the pivotal role that websites play for business success and are missing out on the opportunities that a business website offers them.

How about you? Which category of business owner do you fall under? If you’re not convinced for the need of a website, read on to learn the 6 rewards that you can reap from a well-designed website.

1. Your Website Helps Build Credibility

Most customers look for information online to be informed about their purchasing decisions. They usually research a company on the web before deciding to buy a product or acquire services.

In fact, a Verisign 2015 research reported that 84% of consumers find a business with a website more credible than those with only a social media page. That means people are more likely to make purchasing decisions through a company’s website, not social media.

However, a professional website can only increase your chances of building credibility if you make use of that digital space wisely. That’s why your website, while focused on content such as your certifications and award-winning products or services to build trust, should also be modern, aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly.

People are visually wired; they focus on elements such as colours, fonts and images. If your website uses visuals effectively, it would be easier to establish trust with visitors.

Also, your business website needs to be user-friendly. There are several factors of a user-friendly website—mobile compatibility, ease of navigation, loading time, information architecture and so on.

For example, visitors should be able to navigate your website via their mobile phones and PCs and have a similar, if not the same, user experience. This intuitive and comfortable overall experience will make your website more appealing for potential customers, thus boosting your online credibility.

2. Your Website Saves You Time and Money

Save Time and Money With Your Website - 2Stallions

Many business owners tend to take the “penny wise, pound foolish” approach when it comes to setting up a website. While a business website builder can be an option, it’s better to hire the services of web design and development company.

This lets you focus on your business growth while leaving your website creation to professionals. Of course, your content and branding direction will ensure that your ideal customers are still able to find the right information about your business, products, and services and resonate with your brand. Your investment will pay for itself as you start generating new leads or sales through your website.

Once your professional website is up and running, it will promote your business 24/7, with the potential to reach a global audience. You can also edit information on your website immediately. Contrast this with traditional flyers and brochures, which you mostly distribute locally and where a product update means re-printing material to contain the latest information. Over time, a business website leads to monetary savings.

Additionally, your business website can also save you time by answering repeated questions via an FAQ (‘Frequently Asked Questions’) section on your website. By directing customers and visitors to your FAQ to find answers, you free yourself to tasks that help your business grow.

Finally, your website can also facilitate instant customer feedback. A contact form or chatbox allows your prospects or customers to engage you—whether it’s a complaint, compliment or just general feedback – allowing you a quick avenue to correct issues, thereby saving you lost revenue and time.

3. Your Website is an Incredible Marketing Tool 

TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and billboards are expensive traditional marketing options to promote your business. Today’s digital age provides new channels to spread the word about your brand at a fraction of the cost!

Your website should be central to your digital marketing efforts. Whether you engage in social media advertising, search ads, email marketing or generating organic search traffic, your audience should eventually end up on your website to look at your product information or to leave you their details or to make a purchase.

For example, if your website content is optimized for SEO, your business can become more visible on search engines, allowing potential customers looking for products or services you offer to find you.

4. Your Website Exposes You to a Global Audience

Go Global Digitally - 2Stallions

Retail businesses do quirky things to drive foot traffic to their physical store. Brick-and-mortar store owners put out unique window displays, decorate window walls, and use prominent or vibrant decors to increase walk-ins and attract in-store sales.

With the booming trend for online shopping, these strategies no longer guarantee retail stores results. Customers shop online for various reasons including convenience, competitive prices and more variety, amongst others.

According to a 2018 Statista research, there’s an estimate of 1.8 billion people worldwide who purchased goods online. This highlights that consumers have experienced a dramatic shift from visiting stores physically to visiting them digitally.

The smartphone has enabled people to research products online, send product inquiries, and make purchases without getting off their couch.

Nearly 90% of shoppers begin their hunt in digital channels and 57% of online shoppers have made a purchase from an overseas retailer. These statistics suggest that if your business has an online presence, especially a website, you will have higher chances of getting new customers from across the globe, only limited by your ability to deliver to them.

Put simply, a professional website opens up the entire world to your business. It helps you to reach users and be found by anyone looking for products or services that you offer through a simple search.

6. A Website Lets You Measure Results

Your marketing doesn’t end once your campaign is launched. Analytics installed on your business website can give you micro insights into how your campaign is performing, and what sort of results it is driving.

We’re not just talking about online results either. There are ways to measure results from traditional marketing channels such as flyer distribution by tracking visitors who scan a QR code from your flyer to visit your website.

Of course, if you use digital marketing channels, you can see the performance of these via your analytics and tweak your campaigns accordingly. Proper analytics set up on your website lets you measure your return on investment (ROI). You can start out with Google Analytics, a free tool that is the most widely adopted analytics tool around the world.

You can measure and get insights into social and visitor behavior data, amongst others, through analytics.

Social insights

Visitor behavior insights

6. A Website is Your Extended Business Card

A business website is an excellent networking tool that helps broaden your client base regardless of the time of day.

These days, an immediate reaction when sifting through business cards you collect is to look up the person and company online to see if there is a potential synergy to work together.

A business card fits only basic details (i.e. phone number, email, website address etc.) on it. Your website then becomes the source of the additional information – product data, customer stories, testimonials – that is needed to bring a conversation further.

A satisfied customer may share your website when recommending your services to family, friend or colleague.

If the reasons shared have you convinced, then carry on reading, otherwise let us know your doubts in the comments section.

How to Create a Professional Website 

As discussed, having a business website offers several advantages. However, you can’t expect to achieve all of them if you fail at making your website work for your brand.

Here’s a quick guide to creating a professional website:

  • Determine your goals. You can’t start with web creation without a fundamental goal. Be sure to set goals that are SMART— specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
  • Devise a branding strategy. Identify your target market (the individuals whom you want to reach and turn into paying customers). Then, research your competitors to get a feel for what the competition is doing. You also need to define your brand identity, which includes a logo, brand colours, style and writing tone.
  • Plan web design and pages. Use your branding elements consistently on your site. Decide on how you want your website to look and how many pages will your website have.
  • Prioritize user experience. Your website should provide a positive user experience. Ensure visitors to keep browsing by looking into these factors: navigation flow, website layout, content readability, and mobile-friendly design.
  • Optimize for search engines. Build your website with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind. Perform keyword research, write every content piece following SEO practices, and pay attention to other elements such as meta tags, and alt text.
  • Test website before launch. Test your website on all major browsers before it goes live. Run compatibility testing to ensure plugins work well, double-check if all the URLs are correct, proofread the content, and check for any tiny errors.

All of the above are areas that a good web development agency would help you with, so if you’re looking for one, reach out to us. Visit our web and development page to learn more about our services and development process.

The Takeaway

The increasingly digital business landscape means you cannot ignore establishing a solid online presence for your brand. You must give your business every chance to be successful and your digital presence begins with building a professional website.

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