How to do SEO for your local business: The Local SEO Checklist

November 20th, 2017 Posted by Local SEO, SEO 1 comment on “How to do SEO for your local business: The Local SEO Checklist”

Note: At the end of this post, you can download a nifty single-page PDF version of the checklist! It distills all the important bits into an attractive list of bite-size bullet points. You can also watch our in-depth video here.

“I know I need to work on SEO for my business’s website, but there’s so much to do and learn and I don’t know where to start.”

If that’s something you’ve said (or found yourself thinking), then this blog post is for you!

We want to de-mystify this arcane art of search engine optimization. We’re doing that by giving you a checklist-style guide to the main things you should be concerned about when it comes to SEO for your local business.

First off, here’s the big picture as a series of straightforward bullet points:

The Local SEO Checklist

  1. Find the keywords you want to target and rank for.
  2. Use your keywords for effective onsite optimization.
  3. Proactively work on link building.
  4. Get your Google My Business page up to date and ask for Google reviews.
  5. Create, post, and promote unique, high-quality, original content.
  6. Use website analytics to measure your results.
  7. Have a snappy and responsive mobile site that loads quickly.

Now we’ll take a look at each of these items, and explain how you can take practical steps to improve your business’s SEO.

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How to Build an Email Marketing List

November 15th, 2017 Posted by Digital Marketing 0 comments on “How to Build an Email Marketing List”

At first glance, email marketing might sound a bit old-fashioned and out-of-date. Social media have opened a world of new opportunities for advertising and have been a hot topic for marketing experts over the last few years. So why would one still prefer email over other forms of online marketing?

The first and most important factor is mere quantity. To mention just some of the stats – while Facebook has 1.6 billion users, almost a billion more people use email. Furthermore, 91% of them use this channel daily, and for 58% of them, it’s the first thing they check online, compared to Facebook’s 57% and 11% respectively. Differences are radical when it comes to ROI as well, with email marketing being 4 times more successful than social media. The crucial reason for this is the fact that email is still the media most frequently used for transactions, as well as for doing business. A journey that starts by setting the list up and ends with collecting the money can be divided into three steps: developing the list, maintaining it and, last but definitely not least, converting.

Developing your email list

The first step in creating the list is basically the same as in any other marketing endeavor: identifying your target audience. The majority of emails you obtain usually comes from your website, where people willingly fill in the opt-in form. The best way to convince them to do this is to have quality content on your website that people will want to read. Therefore, adapting your content to your target audience is essential at this point. Once you do that, how do you get people to want to receive more of it?

One of the usual ways is to tease them – let them read just a first part of an article and offer them to send the rest of it via email. Even better, use the power of videos. A video on a landing page can increase the conversion rate by a staggering 80%, and when included in an email, it can increase the click-through rate by 200-300% on average. Therefore, creating and publishing a first episode of an online course related to your niche on your website is a great way to attract people to subscribe in order to receive the rest of it via email.

The key to success is, of course, the quality of the content. It should be relevant, fresh and it should use the language suitable for your target audience. It’s very important not to be too salesy and in-your-face – don’t try to sell people anything directly in the video as it can be seen as obtrusive and irritating. Show the people some tricks, share some knowledge and let them absorb it and ask for more. Send them an email with more of the same together with a simple call-to-action button, and make sure to keep the good content coming.

Apart from content, you should pay attention to a few other things: first of them being the opt-in form. Make it visible and simple. An average number of fields is 2-4 and you should stick to this number, as too many fields can drive your potential subscribers off. Moreover, don’t be ashamed to use pop-ups. Yes, most of us find them annoying, but they do the job. As you would expect, pop-ups will increase your bounce rate a bit, but on the other hand, they can double the number of subscriptions, so this is a risk worth taking. Using contests, quizzes, surveys and other interactive strategies is also a powerful tool for increasing the number of subscribers. Simple awards for those who subscribe can be very effective as well.  

Maintaining your email list

The process of building the list further and attracting more people to it never stops. Besides that, you need to make sure that people who are already on the list open your emails regularly, don’t report them as spam, or unsubscribe. On average, complaint rate is as low as 0.03%, while unsubscribe rate is around 0.1%. This may not seem like much, but on a large sample this can turn out to be a substantial number. Of course, if you want to avoid your emails to be reported as spam, the best thing you can do is obviously not to spam. Apart from that, and in addition to maintaining the level of content and copy in your emails, you should consider one very useful trick – segmentation.

Segmentation means making a selection among your emails so that certain emails are being sent only to a segment of your list. Think of it as a sort of a targeting strategy. You can take numerous different criteria into consideration when deciding who should be receiving which content through your emails – from personal traits like age or gender to strictly economic criteria like average value of a purchase or purchase frequency. Segmentation improves all your numbers significantly: open rate goes up by 14%, unsubscribe rate goes down by 9% while click-through rate is improved by a stunning 100%.

Converting from your email list

Conversions will come naturally with good content, good copy and clever segmentation. If you try too hard to convert and push people to buy, it won’t affect your sales well. You might be anxious to start converting because your click-through rate seems too low, but have in mind that an average rate is around 2-3 percent, so don’t expect that half of your list will start buying stuff after a couple of emails.

The point is, don’t make your call-to-action buttons too pushy and aggressive. Of course, they should be clearly visible, simple and predictable – you don’t want to confuse people with loads of links and buttons they can click and that will land them on pages they don’t want to see. Another step you shouldn’t forget is testing. If you want to see which approach actually works when it comes to converting, performing A/B tests can be a good way. Have in mind that this step might be crucial – here you can find a few useful pieces of advice on how to perform proper testing in order to convert your email campaign.

All in all, be patient, methodical and remember that every list is different. You should analyze the numbers and be prepared to regularly modify your tactics with respect to the feedback. The important thing is not how high your numbers are, but that they are constantly on the rise. With a combination of good product, good content and good targeting, the chances you’ll succeed are second to none.

 

Ready to Learn More?

How To Increase Your Customer Base With Website Accessibility

November 14th, 2017 Posted by Accessibility 0 comments on “How To Increase Your Customer Base With Website Accessibility”

 

Having a website that is universally accessible isn’t just morally right, and good for your reputation and your customer base — it is also the law. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states that it is illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities.

In the last almost three decades since the act was passed, the application to websites has become more and more relevant. The law implies that sites, as well as physical buildings, should be universally acceptable.

What Is Website Accessibility?

Accessibility protocols focus on making websites usable for all people, including those with disabilities. There is a wide range of impairments that are technically defined as disabilities in the US, including impairments that affect hearing, seeing, learning, cognition, and physical mobility.

All disabilities need to be considered, which makes accessibility an in depth and complex endeavor. The current standard for making a website accessible is called Web Content Accessibility Guidelines  2.0 .

20% Of The Population Is Disabled

Website analytics are not telling you how many users with disabilities are attempting to use your site. For this reason, it can be hard to get a grasp on what kind of results your efforts regarding website accessibility will have.

For example, if you know that 25% of the people that use your website are using mobile devices, it makes sense to put time and money towards making your website compatible with mobile devices.

For privacy reasons, you will not be able to see how many people who are attempting to use your site have disabilities. However, a recent census report shows that about 1 out of every five people in the US is disabled.

Your First Steps

Making your site accessible for these 56.7 million people will widen your customer base. The people who find your website will have varying abilities when it comes to navigating through it. If they cannot comprehend or move through your site, they will abandon it, and you will lose a potential customer.

The best place to start with website accessibility for any business is to stop and analyze where you are now and build a business case that can guide you through the process. Assessment can be completed through self-testing of your existing web pages or requesting an audit from a company that specializes in web accessibility.

Once you know where you stand, it will be time to come up with company-specific goals with regards to website accessibility.

Website accessibility is good for business, and it is also the law. Despite the fact that your analytics can’t show you how many disabled people are using your site, statistics show that almost 20% of the population has a disability.

To include this segment in your customer base, you’ll have to make sure your website is compliant with the WCAG 2.0 guidelines. A great way to start yourself on the path towards accessibility is to assess how accessible your site is now, and then create a plan for moving forward.

To Summarise

Your site should always:

  1. Label any images
  2. Label structure of pages
  3. Use clear linking
  4. Be mindful of not using too much non-HTML design
  5. Use an open design structure
  6. Keep in mind readability and useability
  7. Avoid using noisy music or flashing images
  8. Keep in mind sensory requirements
  9. Keep your web pages consistent
  10. Use simple language
  11. Make sure a system of user testing is in place

 

Ready to Learn More?

The Best Online Marketing Resources We’ve Found

October 18th, 2017 Posted by Digital Marketing 0 comments on “The Best Online Marketing Resources We’ve Found”

One of the great things about the internet is how you learn how to use it better by using the internet.

Yup.

But given how much information there is out there, it can be nice when someone curates it for you and just gives you the best of the best.

Here are the go-to internet marketing resources we’ve used to learn the trade and that we heartily recommend to others. Bookmark this page because we will update it as we find new ones.

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Website Analytics Tools, CRO, & Remarketing

October 11th, 2017 Posted by Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Local SEO 1 comment on “Website Analytics Tools, CRO, & Remarketing”

Note: Here’s a video covering the same material as this article, in case reading detailed posts isn’t your cup of tea.

Take a moment to think about why your business has a website in the first place. Your site is not a static brochure that you tell people to go look at; it is a lead-generation machine. Your business’s site should be working for you, bringing in leads, and making your job easier (certainly not harder!). So how do you make your website into an effective tool for churning out valuable leads?

That’s where website analytics tools enter the picture. Website analytics can help you make sure that the site is doing its job — bringing in more clients/customers (or donations/volunteers if you are running a nonprofit). Secondly, analytics can help you identify ways to fine-tune your website so that it can do an even better job. Here are some of the questions that analytics can answer for you:

  • Is my website working for me and generating leads?
  • Where are people falling out of my funnel?
  • What can I do to bring them back?
  • Which channels are bringing in the most traffic and leads?
  • How can I make my website even better?

Website Analytics - Conversion Funnel

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How To Dramatically Improve Your Store’s Conversion Rates – Fast!

September 27th, 2017 Posted by Ecommerce marketing, Guest Blog 0 comments on “How To Dramatically Improve Your Store’s Conversion Rates – Fast!”

Your online store needs to work hard for you. You want every potential customer coming through those doors to leave with something. And if they don’t make a purchase — you’ll want to retarget them with relevant content and products. But how can you improve your in-store experience? How can you increase your conversion rates fast — when you’ve only get a few hours, days, or weeks to play with? Here are some quick and effective ways to improve your conversion rates STAT.

Love data

Seriously — data is at the heart of every good CRO (conversion rate optimization) strategy, especially in ecommerce. Get to grips with your web analytics and keep pushing for deeper insights. The best way to spend time with your data? Open your data dashboard and investigate the following:

  1. Where do customers usually drop off?
  2. How many failed product searches is your search bar returning?
  3. What are your highest (and lowest) converting pages and products?
  4. Does seasonality affect your web traffic and conversions, and how?
  5. What’s your overall & page-level bounce rate like?

Armed with data that answers these five questions, you should have a pretty good idea of things that you need to focus on. Start by addressing ‘problem pages’, and then replicate strategies that worked on highly converting pages.

You need this same data-driven attitude when it comes to evaluating your marketing campaigns, especially paid ones. Don’t forget to put your in-store conversion rates in context with where your traffic is actually coming from. A store reliant on organic search vs. a store mainly getting traffic through Facebook or Instagram ads will look very different from a data perspective.

Don’t go for scrolling carousels

Kill the carousel.

The ruling from Peep Laja’s CXL blog is pretty damning: “conversion killers”. It’s been consistently found that scrolling carousels and image sliders are bad for conversions. They confuse users, dilute the brand voice, and create a user-experience nightmare.

A static hero image is a much better way to tell your brand story in an engaging visual way. If, like most people, you struggle to come to a decision on things like this: change your hero image every now and then to spice things up. A seasonal banner or a refresh of your visual identity is always a good idea, as long as you keep your branding consistent.

Confusingly, an image gallery on a product page is actually a good idea — so keep slideshow content to product pages only.

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Improve Your AdWords Campaigns Using SEO Data

September 20th, 2017 Posted by AdWords 0 comments on “Improve Your AdWords Campaigns Using SEO Data”

Many businesses we talk to shun Google AdWords because they don’t want to pay for traffic. We generally find that’s because they tried AdWords halfheartedly in the past without following The 10 Commandments of Google AdWords. Oddly enough, though, they’re often willing to pay an SEO agency like us to help them earn organic traffic.

But guess what? Earning clicks from SEO and paying for clicks using Google AdWords are not opposite approaches. The best approach is to use the two, organic and paid traffic, to inform and improve each other. AdWords lets you gain clicks to your website fast, while SEO takes longer and can benefit from the lessons you learn in your AdWords campaigns first.

In this video, we discuss how to use SEO data from Google Search Console to create more strategic Google Ads.

 

Ready to learn more?

What Should a Local Business Blog About?

August 15th, 2017 Posted by Local SEO, SEO Link Building 0 comments on “What Should a Local Business Blog About?”

Your local business should have a blog; it demonstrates expertise, builds trust with potential customers, and helps you rank higher on search engines.

Maybe you added a “Blog” section to your WordPress site, but there’s nothing living there except the default “Hello World” post. Maybe you started out writing a post every week, but it’s fizzled out because you couldn’t maintain that posting schedule. After all, when you’re running a local business, you’ve got much higher priorities than writing articles, right?

Maybe you never even bothered with the whole blog thing, and you haven’t touched your website since your nephew set it up for you last year. Whatever your situation, we want you to understand that blogging is actually crucial for your business.

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Tingalls Graphic Design Madison WI

Web Design Trends 2017

August 11th, 2017 Posted by Guest Blog, Web Design 0 comments on “Web Design Trends 2017”

This is a guest blog post from our partner Tingalls Graphic Design in Fitchburg, WI. Check them out for inexpensive, great-looking websites!

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Charlton Heston - The Ten Commandments

The 10 Commandments of AdWords

July 18th, 2017 Posted by AdWords, Google, Google AdWords 0 comments on “The 10 Commandments of AdWords”

Ask many small business owners about online ads, and you might hear something like this:

“I tried AdWords, but it just didn’t work for me.”

Or worse still, perhaps they bought ads from Yelp and received little to no return on ad spend (ROAS). Then they threw up their hands despairingly and concluded that Internet ads are no good.

(Protip: Never buy Yelp ads.)

Here’s the thing: most people don’t use AdWords correctly because, admittedly, it’s not 100% intuitive without some understanding of Internet marketing and search engine traffic. Even when you do have a working knowledge of those things, it’s not always simple to maximize AdWords to its full potential.

But on the other hand, if you do use AdWords correctly, it can be a terrific channel. Here’s how to do it right. If Charlton Heston were here today, these are the commandments he would have for you.

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E-commerce Marketing Plan

May 7th, 2017 Posted by Ecommerce marketing 0 comments on “E-commerce Marketing Plan”

It’s not enough to throw up an ecommerce store on a platform like Shopify or WooCommerce and wait for customers and their dollars to roll in. You need to think through how people will get from where they are on their computer to your site so they can even consider buying your products.

Here are our top suggestions for paid ad and organic SEO strategy for ecommerce stores.

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How a local business can track AdWords conversions

April 19th, 2017 Posted by AdWords, Google, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager 0 comments on “How a local business can track AdWords conversions”

You shouldn’t spend money on digital marketing unless you have the proper analytics set up to measure the results. But what if customers aren’t buying something directly from your website like they would on an e-commerce store?

For local businesses, a conversion is usually when a lead contacts them. This can be through:

  • a contact form
  • a phone call
  • an email
  • a scheduled appointment

Luckily, it’s possible to track these website actions. Yes! It can be done with the power of an amazing free tool called Google Tag Manager (GTM).

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Link building lego man

Link Building: The Most Important Part of SEO

March 5th, 2017 Posted by SEO, SEO Link Building, SEO Ranking Factors 0 comments on “Link Building: The Most Important Part of SEO”
We started ranking in the top 3 organic results on Google for “seo madison” after launching our website last July, and we believe links played a deciding role in this ranking.
Google Result page for "SEO Madison"

 

The paid SEO tool Ahrefs shows we’ve earned at least 184 backlinks.

SEO backlinks for Get Found Madison SEO agency

That number of links would probably be overkill for most local businesses, but we needed to be aggressive in our link building to compete with six pages of competitors who also do this professionally. We knew links would be important, so we took earning them seriously. If you want lots more visitors to your website, you should take links seriously, too.

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What Do We Actually Know About Google’s Algorithm?

February 18th, 2017 Posted by Google, SEO, SEO Ranking Factors 0 comments on “What Do We Actually Know About Google’s Algorithm?”

How Google Works

If Google’s algorithm is proprietary, how do SEO professionals know what factors can help a business optimize for top rankings in the search results? There are a couple different ways.

We can:

Here’s a talk I recently gave at PechaKucha Madison on this subject. It’s a neat format, 20 slides in 20 seconds apiece, that forces you to be concise.

 

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How to Grow Your Business Through Online Search

January 20th, 2017 Posted by AdWords, Local SEO, SEO 0 comments on “How to Grow Your Business Through Online Search”

Huge thanks to Wegner CPAs for hosting us at their Wake Up With Wegner event at the Sheraton on John Nolan Drive. We spoke on “How to Measurably Grow Your Business Through Online Search,” touching on pro tips, strategy and tactics for SEO, Google AdWords campaigns and Google Analytics set up and tracking.

Here’s a video re-recording in case you missed or would like to brush up.

Top Google AdWords tips for Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaigns

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“Hair Salon Madison WI” SEO Google Page 1 Analysis

January 4th, 2017 Posted by Local SEO, SEO 0 comments on ““Hair Salon Madison WI” SEO Google Page 1 Analysis”

What does it take for a hair salon in Madison, WI to appear on the first page of Google?

We analyzed the top known local search engine optimization (SEO) factors to let the businesses currently ranking lower what it would take to earn a spot higher up on the first page.

Here’s an indication of the kind of monthly search volume a phrase like this gets according to Google’s keyword planner: 1300 per month! That’s real money every single month of the year for those who go after it.

monthly google searches for hair salons madison wi

Why page 1 matters and what it takes to get there in general

Here’s an overview video in which we discuss how ranking higher for popular search engine queries can grow your business. We also describe the top ranking factors SEO companies target to make gains.

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Local Businesses – Slideshare

December 16th, 2016 Posted by Local SEO, SEO, SEO Ranking Factors 0 comments on “Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Local Businesses – Slideshare”

Here’s the SlideShare presentation about local SEO we gave on Dec. 14 to SCORE in Madison.

Is it still necessary to submit your website to search engines?

December 16th, 2016 Posted by Bing, Google, Local SEO, Search Engine Submission 0 comments on “Is it still necessary to submit your website to search engines?”

It’s worth questioning whether manual search engine submission is still worth doing. Here’s some information that calls into question the need to manually submit your site to Google and Bing:

“You don’t need to submit your website to search engines because search engines have evolved beyond the point of needing to be directly notified when a new website, or page on a website, is created.”

Source: http://www.seomark.co.uk/submit-website-to-search-engines/#ixzz4T0imBPfD

“Since 2001, not only has search engine submission not been required, but has become virtually useless.”

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Use this email template to ask for Google Reviews

December 6th, 2016 Posted by Google, Local SEO, Reviews, SEO 0 comments on “Use this email template to ask for Google Reviews”
Reviews on your Google My Business page are a likely ranking factor for Local SEO. And as you may know from our post about creating links to get Google reviews, once your business gets five reviews (update: you don’t even need this many any more), your stars start appearing.
Wisconsin SEO map pack results plumber
Those stars next to your business name help you stand out and make searchers want to click on your listing. Just look at the example above for “plumber verona.” Which would you click if your shower drain was backed up?

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Madison SEO onsite grade

SEO on your own website: onsite optimization

November 30th, 2016 Posted by Local SEO 0 comments on “SEO on your own website: onsite optimization”

Onsite optimization makes a big difference to your SEO because search engines crawl your site and glean keyword information directly from it. Keyword research is step 1 in a local SEO campaign, and onsite optimization is step 2.

Once you know what keywords to target, you can evaluate your website to see if they are included in strategic places in your website’s HTML. Sometimes this means re-vamping your existing web pages and sometimes this means changing your website structure by creating new pages on your site to target specific keywords. 

Your website is one of the few places on the web where you have absolute control over your content online, so we want to take advantage on your home turf!

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