The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website for Mobile

The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website for Mobile

How addicted are we to our phones?

Well, for starters, recent research reveals that 50% of smartphone users check their mobile phones first thing in the morning. And another study showed that as of 2018, 52.2% of all global website traffic was generated via mobile devices.

This is great news for your brand and website. Consumer love for mobile devices makes it easier for your prospective and current customers to access your website.

But if you want to make the most out of this global love for smartphone usage, you’ll need to optimize your content and website for mobile traffic.

Without optimization, you’ll be losing out on massive traffic. Google has stated severally that it wants to serve its users mobile-friendly websites.

This makes optimization a must, as not only will it help your SEO but it will also boost user experience on your site, which will ultimately reduce your bounce rate.

With that said, let’s see some quick definitions and then how you can optimize your website for mobile.

A Brief Description of Mobile-friendly

A mobile-friendly website simply means a site that appears well not just on personal computers but also on mobile phones. That means users can easily click the navigation elements and links on the website, and the text on each page is visible enough to be read.

“Mobile friendliness ensures that visitors can properly consume your site’s content when using mobile devices.”

To know if your site is mobile friendly you can use Google’s free mobile-friendly test tool, which will show you what aspects of your website you should optimize for adequate mobile compatibility.

To do this type in your site’s URL and hit run test

View the results:

or:

Next, click on “page load issues” and scroll down for more details:

A Short Definition of Responsive Design

You may have probably come across the term “responsive design”. It is generally used to mean a mobile-friendly design; however, that’s a misconception.

There are numerous ways to create mobile-optimized websites, and utilizing a responsive design is just one of them. Responsive designs simply adjust the content of a webpage to the

10 Ways to Optimize Your Website for Mobile

 

1. Improve Site Speed

Studies have shown that 53% of visitors will leave a website that takes over 3 seconds to load. That means you can lose more than half of your traffic if your webpage loads slowly.

Check out the visual below, the bounce rates rise as the page load time increases:

To avoid this and try to keep your page loading time below 3 seconds, you can simplify your design by eliminating heavy images and unnecessary design elements. The first step, however, is to test your site’s mobile speed and Google has the best tool to help you with that, the mobile speed test tool.

All you’d need to do is type in your site’s URL and then click the arrow button:

The tool will then scan your website and analyze how fast it loads on mobile devices:

If you want more information, you can scroll down and see how well your site’s speed does against your competitors, and the number of seconds you could take off your loading times.

Here are a few ways to optimize your site load performance based on the results of the mobile load test:

Use Caching: When you implement caching, most of your website files will be saved on each user’s device, which ensures your pages don’t have to be downloaded every time visitors access a new page.

Go with a Content Delivery Network (CDN): A CDN allows you to store copies of your files in a series of servers that are in different geographical locations instead of delivering them from a single central server. The effect of using a CDN is that your load time would be the same for all users regardless of their location, while cutting down on your bandwidth usage.

Compress Images: Most times large image files are behind slow loading times, so you’d want to reduce their size by compression. By compressing them, you can decrease image size without hampering on quality.

Minify Your Site’s Code: By optimizing your websites Javascript, CSS and HTML code you can shave off seconds from you load times.

2. Use Simple Menus

When designing your sites menu options, keep in mind that mobile screens are smaller than desktop or laptop screens. Your desktop website can have extensive menus with many options but on a smaller screen, such elaborate menus can complicate things.

You wouldn’t want your visitors to have to zoom in and out or scroll just to see the navigation options. It needs to fit into their screens.

Check out this example from shareaholic:

That’s how the brand’s website menu looked before optimization. Navigation would be near impossible to the user, as they’ll have to zoom out to see their choices clearly or zoom in to see the menu properly.

If this is how your website appears on mobile devices your bounce rate would probably skyrocket and you’ll lose prospects.

Now look at the menu optimized for mobile:

The brand was able to cut down the complexity of the previous menu to a simple menu option. The options fit properly on the screen and the user can easily navigate to their desired page.

Evaluate your website and optimize it’s menu options for mobile visitors. Also, except if you’re using the kind of sidebars in the image below:

3. Use Short Forms

Check all the forms on your site for irrelevant lines. If you’re asking mobile users for too much information, it’ll hurt your conversion rates. Rather, ensure your forms are as concise as possible.

When desktop visitors are filling out forms on your website, long forms won’t be an issue, because they’re using larger screens and can navigate smoothly. But with tablets and smartphones, this won’t be the case.

For instance, if you have a form on your webpage asking visitors to subscribe to a newsletter, you don’t need lines on the form asking for their phone numbers and street address.

Forms for sales conversion should not include lines for irrelevant questions. Just ask for shipping and billing address. Data even shows that complex checkout processes initiate shopping cart abandonment:

To avoid frustrated users hitting the back button, optimize your forms for mobile.

4. Have Clear Call to Actions

53% of websites use a call to action that takes users 3 seconds to identify. That’s way too much time.

For your mobile design to be effective, your call to action buttons needs to visible. Since mobile visitors are on smaller screens, you don’t want to overwhelm the user with numerous CTAs on the screen.

Whatever the primary goal of your landing page is, that’s what you should focus your CTA on. Are you gunning for new subscribers? Sale conversions? New downloads? or a boost in your social media following?

The exact goal is what your CTA should be about and has to be visible to the user in one or max two seconds.

5. Add a Search Bar

Remember the bit about menu optimization?

This relates to it.

If the desktop version of your website has a menu with many options, it may seem difficult to make it concise enough to fit into a single page on mobile devices. But it can be done, by including a search bar to the mobile version of your site.

Motivating users to search for their queries eliminates the need for you to depend on a complex menu. When you give visitors too many options, it could negatively affect your conversions because you’ll end up confusing them.

Take, for example, retail giant Amazon, they offer users more than 12 million products but don’t use complex menus because it’ll be impossible to display all those products on a single screen, so they use a search bar.

Use a search bar to break down complex menus and boost user experience on mobile devices.

6. Resize

For desktop visitors, browsing through your website can easily be done by controlling the cursor with a keypad or mouse but for users on smartphone devices, navigating with their thumbs it isn’t as easy.

Screen size is something you must keep in mind when placing different elements for your mobile page. Icons need to be big enough, so visitors can tap them with their thumbs. Also, ensure you leave enough space between each icon or button so people don’t accidentally tap the wrong one.

The right placement of buttons on the screen will increase the quality user experience. You need to place clickable elements where their thumbs can quickly access as 75% of smartphone users tap the phone screens with their thumbs.

Here is an image that shows the right to place clickable buttons:

Try to avoid placing them at the corners of the screen because it’ll be difficult for people to access those areas with their thumbs when holding a phone. The best place to put icons is close to the center of the screen.

 

 7. Use a Responsive Theme

 

If you’re looking for a quick fix then changing your theme to a responsive one entirely will be an excellent option. For an established website, this may not be the best step but if you’re just getting started or still getting low traffic, then changing your theme to a responsive one is an easy solution.

If you use WordPress, you can easily change your theme by navigating to your WordPress dashboard and click on ‘themes’ under ‘appearance’ and then click ‘install themes’.

Type in responsive and search, the search results will show you all the responsive themes in the WordPress database, pick the one most relevant to your website and install it.

8. Get Rid of Pop-ups

Eliminate pop-ups on the mobile version of your site. Most web users do not like pop-ups, as they are annoying and negatively affect user experience. A major issue with pop-ups on smartphones and tablets is how hard they are to close.

Keep in mind that people would be clicking with their thumbs to tap a tiny “X” button to cancel a pop up on a small screen which can be frustrating.

Visitors may even end up clicking on the ad while trying to cancel it, which will take them to another landing page and ultimately make you lose potential leads.

Users may sometimes try to zoom in on the “X” to tap cancel but then the dimensions of the screen may not adjust properly, making for horrible user experience.

The best approach to handling pop-ups is to remove them altogether. Try out other methods to promote whatever it is your pop-up is showing users.

If you do decide to keep popups on your website then you need to do a lot of testing to ensure that mobile visitors can easily navigate away from it if they choose not to engage with it.

Other than eliminating popups from your mobile site, here are other alternatives to handling the popup problem for phone users:

 

  • Make them Simple: The first alternative is to simplify the popup form (assuming it’s an opt-in form) and ensure that it’s easy to cancel.

 

  • Only Use Onclick Popups: This is the best alternative solution of the two. The idea with this is that the popups come up only after the user clicks on a certain CTA. To achieve this you offer visitors a lead magnet and ask them to click it if they want to get it. Once they do, a pop-up will appear and request their details.

Web users are a lot more receptive to these kinds of pop-ups because they asked for it.

9. Use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

 

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) was created by a collaborative effort of Google and other major brands to boost user experience for mobile users. These are still HTML/javascript pages but they load fast for mobile users, which is why Google encourages website owners to implement them.

AMP is a method for developing mobile-friendly versions of your website’s pages. It involves stripping down the site’s content and eliminating irrelevant media files and elaborate layouts. When users access your site with a mobile device these AMP versions will be served to them.

Is it compulsory that you make AMP?

There’s no definite answer because on one side it’ll help you attract new visitors and give your mobile visitors a great experience, but on the other, you’ll need to have two versions of your site.

If you’re using WordPress, it’s a lot easier because you can just install a plugin to enable it.

10. Don’t use Large Blocks of Text

While you’ll need to use words to effectively pass your message across to your visitors, try to keep them as concise as possible. Large text blocks can easily overwhelm the reader, and remember that if a paragraph is 4 lines long on your site’s desktop version, it could be 8 or 9 lines long a phone.

Focus on user comprehension and the ultimate goal of the page when creating your text to ensure users don’t have to stare at large chunks of text.

 

Conclusion

If you haven’t optimized your website for mobile users you’re missing out on a lot of traffic and potential leads.

You should properly optimize your website for smartphone and tablet visitors and to do this effectively you need to follow certain guidelines such as improving load speed, resizing images, enabling AMP pages and using a responsive theme, etc.

You must also keep in mind that people using mobile devices use their thumbs to tap on icons and buttons, so your placement needs to be where they can easily reach with their thumbs. Just follow the tips in this guide and you’ll effectively optimize your site for mobile.

If you have any experience or tip about mobile optimization, you’ll like to share with us comment below!

13 Small Business Search Engine Optimization Tips For 2019

13 Small Business Search Engine Optimization Tips For 2019

As a small business owner, you know that that the top SEO tips can greatly impact your search rankings, but more importantly, your overall business in 2019 and beyond!

You begin to ask yourself, “Where do I start, who do I believe, and where will I find the time to learn this ‘wizardry?’”

You’re right to give SEO attention because it can increase your business, help to create a brand, and help take in warm leads who are 13% more likely to close than cold leads.

Now that you’re giving it attention and doing research, you might be overwhelmed with technical jargon and conflicting strategies.

On one end of the spectrum, you’ve heard that content is king and that once you start making a lot of content the backlinks will start rolling in like thrifty shoppers to a Black Friday sale.

On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve likely read that content doesn’t matter and that you should focus on getting backlinks by any means necessary.

The two statements above are not wrong… but they’re also not completely accurate.

There’s a lot to explore in between those two ends of the spectrum; strategies that are pretty easy to implement and don’t require you to have hacker-like coding skills.

All the while this is happening, you have the added pressure of your competition outranking you in all the search terms you want to rank for.

This adds to the frustration because you can’t put your finger on what they’re doing differently from you and how they are getting the results.

You know they’re successful because of their SEO edge. Your business would progress to the next level if you could achieve their rankings.

First, relax. When you started your business, you didn’t do so in order to become an SEO expert.

You focused on perfecting your craft or creating a smooth operating business that helps those it serves but also adds to the bottom line.

What we are going to do today is go through the top 13 small business SEO tips that I have used for local clients, software clients, and mobile app companies.

We’ve spent years practicing, trialing, and tweaking our SEO practices so that you can get the success

without the heartache or the tears.

After implementing these you’re going to start getting more traffic, warm leads, and more importantly,

more paying customers from your higher rankings.

These tips are useful whether your industry is competitive or easy to compete in.

1. Start using Google Analytics

Let’s go driving with a blindfold on. Sound like a good idea?

You wouldn’t agree to do that, but if you’re not using analytics you’re driving your business with a blindfold.

There’s a reason why 6 million websites use it.

Analytics will help you determine if the efforts you make based on this post help your business or not. You wouldn’t know otherwise.

Analytics can provide a bunch of great insights into your business, like what’s working on your site and which pages are the worst-performing.

You can get this info pretty effortlessly in analytics by going to behavior in the left-hand menu, then content, and finally select exit pages.

2. Set Up Google Search Console

Google Search Console is like the heart monitor of your website’s health in the eyes of Google.

First, when you sign up, it will ask you to claim your website by placing HTML code on to your site or by logging into your hosting account.

You can gain a lot of information on your website… info that isn’t available on Analytics or anywhere else.

For example, you can check your site’s HTML to figure out what is slowing things down on your site.

Backlinko found that the faster your site, the more successful it is.

 

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Another great feature of Google Search Console is the rich snippet tool.

We will discuss this later, but in a nutshell, it helps search engines understand the information your website is presenting.

Lastly, you can figure out what users are searching the most in order to land on your website.

You’re not going to get this information anywhere else in the world and this data is worth gold to you.

Now you know exactly what kind of content to produce to bring in new traffic. Or if you’re not getting leads, you know what topics are not converting.

3. Run An On-Site SEO Audit

It’s embarrassing when you’re out and you have a piece of food in your teeth or you’re caught with your fly open.

Aside from the momentary blushing caused by the person helping you, overall you’re happy they decided to say something instead of allowing you to walk around like that.

An onsite SEO audit is a bit like that, except this time you and most of the people on the internet are walking around with their metaphorical fly open or food in their teeth.

We’ve seen plenty and carried out plenty of onsite SEO audits, and trust us when we say you’re not the only person with this problem.

SEO Audit

We could talk about this more in-depth (and we probably will in a later post) but we will give you three of the basics right now.

Make sure you only have only one H1 or title tag per page.

Bonus Tip: The closer your keyword is to the beginning of the title the better. If you need help with keyword research, Mangools has a great keyword research guide.

The title tag tells Google what the page they’re crawling is about, so having more than one would likely confuse them.

Spend time on your meta tags title and description to encourage clicks!

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When you take the time and put thought into your meta, you reap a lot of benefits.

The main benefit is you can signal to the searcher that you understand what they’re looking for because of the words in bold in the description, and which encourage clicks.

Lastly, check for broken links.

If your site was a railroad, and Google spiders (also known as crawlers) were the train, then a link on your site represents a connection to a new track.

If you have a broken link on your site, the crawler stops in its tracks because it does not know where to go from there.

This is especially bad if the link is an internal link.

4. Set-up your Google My Business account (GMB)

If you run a local business or service that is area-specific, this tip is non-negotiable.

Moz asked 113 expert SEOs what ranking factor was most important for local businesses, and 19.01% ranked Google My Business (GMB) as the most important factor for local business.

Google also confirms this expert opinion by letting us in on the fact that 76% of local searches via mobile visit the business within a day.

When a searcher is nearby, looking for a solution or a business that fits their needs, the map listings will be the first screen you see.

Local Business Search

You may need to create or claim your listing in Google My Business, but that’s a straightforward guided process.

What is worth noting is that you do not want to rush through the process.

Take the time to use the 750 characters allotted to describe your business and why it’s different.

This is not a place to keyword stuff, to be spammy, or abuse with the caps lock on.

Make sure that the category you pick is not misleading, and be honest about the area you cover, because it may create leads you have no intention of serving or paying a visit to.

Lastly, you need to make sure you…

5. Have A Consistent Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP)

Name, Address and Phone number (NAP) consistency is tedious but important.

“Why is it tedious, Joe?” you might ask.

Well, I’m glad you asked me that. It’s tedious because you need to make sure that wherever your website is listed, it is listed consistently, right down to the punctuation.

It won’t kill you but would be considered inconsistent if you listed your address three different ways:

  • 123 fake st.
  • 123 fake st
  • 123 fake street

Google won’t know if you have three different addresses or if it’s three different businesses; it could impact your rankings.

Pretty petty, I know…

If you’re not using a service like BrightLocal or Moz to push your address out to other directories, your best bet is to use a template to capture how you want your address to look.

Then you can go to each directory to copy and paste the identical business name, address, and phone number.

It’s important because it will help send signals to Google about your location, and help you capture the 76% of people who are searching for businesses like yours in the area.

A best practice would be to do your GMB Name, Address and Phone number first.

Before you submit, copy it and paste into a spreadsheet like this one, so when you go to create other listings you can easily copy and paste.

 

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6. Utilize Schema On Your Website

Schema (semantic vocabulary), also known as rich snippets, takes what you are saying and gives it meaning for search engines.

Without getting too technical, what you’re really doing is adding microdata to the HTML of your website.

Here’s an example in action for the search “steps to starting a business.”

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Here’s what happens, any time you include the words steps, top, list, or any other synonym that signals to Google you’re looking for a list.

Google then attempts to make the user experience better by showing you the answer without leaving the search.

Now that you’re an expert, here’s the simplest way to capitalize on schema as a small business.

First, locate that template you created when making your GMB profile.  

Now you can copy and paste your NAP into your footer and in various places on your website.

Then follow these steps through Google Search Console and add the code to your site.

An alternative way to create structured data is to use a tool that creates the schema code for you to paste into your site’s code also.

Whatever route you choose, always be sure to test it with the structured data test tool.

7. Submit Your Listing To Other Directories

You’ve got your GMB set up and have copied all the NAP from it.

You’ve listed your business address using schema on your website using the identical NAP.

Now it’s time to go out onto the internet and spread your NAP-like Johnny Appleseed.

You don’t have to look for every directory known to man, but according to Moz there are a few that apply to pretty much every business:

  • Acxiom
  • Apple Maps
  • Bing
  • Citygrid
  • Facebook
  • Factual
  • Foursquare
  • Infogroup/ExpressUpdate
  • Localeze
  • Superpages
  • Yellow Pages
  • Yelp

Just remember that you have to keep up with these accounts to ensure they’re accurate and to respond to reviews.

8. Spy On Your Competition

Want to run the competition out of town?

Great! All you have to do is play their game… but better.

You can use tools like Ahref or SEMRush to figure out what your key competitors are doing (if they are doing anything).

They both have limited free use, but for your purposes, you should be able to get enough information out of them to figure out:

Who’s linking to them the most—if someone is linking to your competitor, they’re likely to link to you, and; What kind of content they’re producing and which is getting the most traffic.

You’ll know the hot topics to write about and you can go to your competitor’s linkers to show them the better content you made that is more in-depth and personal.

Lastly, you can see what Adwords your competition is running so you can create content around those words to show up organically under their paid ad.  

It may take a little time to get indexed but when you do, searchers will trust your listing more than a paid ad.

The logic behind this is that you didn’t have to pay Google to get listed, and Google has a good track record of listing the best resources, so searchers trust your organic listing more.

9. Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly

You’re on vacation and start to feel the precursors of being hangry (hungry + angry). What do you do?

Go back to your hotel room to turn on a desktop to search for a restaurant? Or do you take out your smartphone to do a quick search of the area?

If you’re anyone who isn’t stuck in 2006, you’re pulling out your phone and doing a quick search for “tacos near me”.

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You’re not the only person who would have chose the smartphone route, either.

In 2016, mobile traffic outpaced desktop traffic 53% to 47%, a fair split.

In 2017 the scales tipped more towards mobile traffic, showing a 10% swing with a split of 63% to desktop’s 37% share.

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You have to promise yourself not to make the common mistake of focusing only on your desktop version of your website, but also to make sure your website is responsive for mobile devices.

Since mobile devices are often running on 3‒4g broadband, it’s more important than ever to optimize your load speeds by:

You can check the speed of your site by using Google’s official tool, or if you prefer a slightly more straightforward insight, use Pingdom.

10. Get Reviews To Your Google My Business Page

We millennials have a saying: “Pics, or it didn’t happen.”

Your customers have a similar standpoint: reviews or you don’t have any happy customers.

They’re not literally saying that, but before a visit to a business, 90% of searchers read reviews first.

There’s also the psychology of having your star rating next to your business name, along with real reviews.

Studies have shown that customers are willing to spend 31% more money at businesses which have stellar reviews.

Here’s the best way to a lot of honest reviews from past customers.

First, create a review URL by doing the following steps:

  1. Go to Google Places API
  2. Enter the name of your business
  3. Give your business name a click
  4. Your Google Business ID is underneath your name

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Now take this URL and add your place ID:

https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=you_id_here

This causes the page to open like this:

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[Optional Step] If you want to track what mediums are getting you the most leads, use a service like Bitly to track clicks.

Armed with this URL, you can now email customers asking for reviews. Make it part of the checkout process, or place it in your social media profiles.

11. Secure Your website—Correctly

I’ve covered this already in pretty good detail: why you should have a secure website.

Having a secure certificate is now a ranking factor that Google openly admitted to.

Instead of going into depth again about this topic, let’s go over the most common mistake (other than not having it)..

If done improperly, your whole site won’t have the SSL certificate. That can create a situation where you appear to have duplicate content, which will hurt your rankings. 

There are a lot of other accidental duplicate content scenarios, but the easiest fix of them all is the SSL certificate.

If you have just implemented an SSL certificate and you’re using WordPress, it could be as easy as installing the Easy HTTPS Redirect WordPress plugin.

12. Clean Your URLs

You’re casually searching the web and you come across a web URL that looks like this:

“www.somesrandomsite.com/blog/adlkje94sn?=al;iue34asdfhj332a32”

Are you able to guess what the topic of that page is?

Neither can Google, and that will impact your rankings on search engines in general.

The general rule of thumb is that a user (and Google) should be able to guess what your page is about based on the URL.

Matt Cutts, former head of the webspam team at Google, suggests that your URL tail be 3‒5 words or you risk losing weight to those words.

The title of this post is “13 Small Business Search Engine Optimization Tips For 2019”.

By default, WordPress will generate the URL:

/13-Small-Business-Search-Engine-Optimization-Tips-For-2018

But I modified it to read like this

/13-Business-SEO-Tips-2019

Here’s how to change this default option on your site if you’re running WordPress.

When you log into your backend, hover your mouse over the settings tab on the left and click on permalinks on the menu that appears.

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On the next page I like to select the post name option because if I forget to change the URL, the title of the post will have me covered, with a URL the represents what’s on the page.

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Now when you’re posting a new blog post, click the edit button and change the post URL to whatever you want.

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Just don’t use any special characters or underscores.

13. Use Internal Linking

Internal links are the links you use to get users from one place on your website to another.

If you go to tip 11, you notice me referencing one of my old blog posts that connects the user (and Google) to that post.

Why is this important?

It’s important because you’re helping Google to learn the structure of your website, and you’re also passing value from one post to another.

Let’s say you’re in the dental industry. You write a great how-to, step by step guide on how to take care of your teeth after cosmetic dentistry work.

The page gets wildly popular and tons of people link to it.

You’ve linked to your cosmetic dentistry sales page from your post with the anchor text “cosmetic dentistry”.

Here are some of the amazing things that are happening in the background.

The post is getting linked to a lot of backlinks, which communicates to Google “I’m an awesome page”.

While that is being communicated, that “awesome” page is linking to your sales page on your site passing along the “link juice”.

Link juice is an old SEO term that means it would pass some of the page’s value to the pages it linked to internally.

This allows Google to easily crawl your site and easily determine what the page is about, using the anchor text.

Action Steps:

  1. Go to each step and implement one at a time
  2. Measure the results they drove on a weekly/monthly basis
  3. Adjust and tweak because SEO is an ongoing process of learning

Conclusion

There are a lot of facets to SEO to wrap your head around.

With algorithm changes happening daily,  new approaches, conflicting data, and tools being created, it’s easy to see why you probably don’t know where to get started.

Just thinking about it makes me go a little cross-eyed.

A good start is to go over what we covered:

  1. Start by using Google Analytics to make sure your efforts are positively impacting your site.
  2. Get set up in Google Search Console to get the data you can’t get anywhere else.
  3. Run an onsite SEO audit to see where your metaphorical fly is open.
  4. Set up your Google My Business account to get into the local map pack in searches.
  5. Have a consistent NAP based on your Google My Business profile.
  6. Use schema on your website to tell search engines what your information means.
  7. Submit your NAP to the core directory listings on the internet.
  8. Spy on your competition using Ahrefs and/or SEMRush.
  9. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly and loads fast for mobile devices.
  10. Drive reviews to your Google My Business profile to increase the amount people are willing to spend at your business.
  11. Get an SSL certificate for your website and make sure it’s implemented properly to avoid duplicate content.
  12. Clean up your URLs so that they are clear and concise.
  13. Use internal links for your website to pass “link juice” to your other pages and help Google crawl your website.

These may seem simple, but the tips will have a cumulative effect and lead to great rankings and more traffic.

What SEO tips have you used to increase the rankings of a smaller businesses?

8 Mistakes I’ve Made As An SEO [And How To Avoid Them]

8 Mistakes I’ve Made As An SEO [And How To Avoid Them]

We’ve all heard “a wise person learns from their mistakes, while a wiser person learns from the mistakes of others.”

Today I’m hoping that I can make you wiser about SEO by learning from my mistakes.

When I first got into SEO it was because I was looking to promote my iPhone app and was looking to spread the word about it.

I was probably a lot like you, trying to figure out how to use Google to get in front of my ideal customer to create awareness around your business.

If you’re starting from ground zero, you probably can’t tell good information from bad information. It’s not something to be embarrassed about because we all started somewhere when learning a new skill. To be honest it happened to me.

In this article, we are going to try to help you prevent the hardships of being de-indexed by Google or spending a bunch of money with “experts” who don’t get results.

We know that ranking well in Google could take your business to the next level with warm leads who are looking for your products and services. Knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do.

These mistakes can be bad but the good news is they are very easy to avoid.

Learning From The Wrong People

 

We touched a little bit on getting malicious and misinformed SEO advice. Avoiding misinformed advice is simple, don’t take advice from people who don’t practice SEO consistently or aren’t in the industry.

To put what I said into perspective, who would you take money advice from, Warren buffet or your uncle Larry who’s living paycheck to paycheck? I trust you know the right answer.

The malicious advice is much harder to avoid because sometimes this advice is spread by “experts” who can show you results and are running their own agency.

This is the trap I fell into when I first got started to learn SEO. You’ll notice that a lot of the early mistakes I made in my career were rooted in this simple mistake.

I don’t want to burden you too much around this because the next three mistakes I talk about later were all learned from these band of characters who taught hundreds of people (maybe thousands) of people these outright unethical tactics.

I put a lot of thought into whether I should mention their names or not and ultimately I decided it’s best I don’t give them any more publicity than they already have.

To help you avoid learning from these band of characters, I will give you the tools to avoid them and provide you with good sources information.

A way to weed out malicious “experts” is to ask yourself the following questions:

Is this person promising instant results?

Do they mention the word shortcut or fastest way to do SEO?

Do they focus only on keywords and promise number one ranking?

Do they oversell the ease of their methods?

Are they teaching an “advance” tactic that very few know about?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions then you’re likely dealing with someone who is selling you snake oil that will likely work in the short term and sink you in the long-term. If it were this easy everyone would be an expert SEO.

The general rule of “if it’s too good to be true then it is” holds true here.

Below is a list of amazing people to learn from but before I introduce you to them, I want you to notice that all of these sources give an abundance of free information that you could use. The snake oil salesmen aren’t willing to do that.

nrewMJB6 400x400

Brian Dean – Brian from Backlinko is a great resource for those looking to learn how to build backlinks in a safe and organic way.

neilpatelbrand

Neil Patel (doesn’t always look this serious, sorry Neil) – This is a person I personally invested money into to learn about content marketing and SEO. Neil has a way of simplifying complex topics and making it actionable. He focuses on the broader topic of digital marketing.

search engine land logo

Search engine land – Want to keep up on Google algorithm changes and SEO news? Search Engine Land is usually always first to break the news and how it could impact your website.

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MOZ – Great local SEO resource that will help local businesses navigate SEO if you’re a brick and mortar store looking to get more foot and website traffic.

I’ve spent years reading their articles and implementing their advice for years. The basics rarely change (they evolve) and all four of these resources always keep the basics in mind.

You might go to their websites and feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of information (I was) available. You can sign up to get a free SEO checklist that will give you the basics in an organized manner.

Looking For Shortcuts

 

When I first started to learn SEO for myself and my web design agency, I wanted to learn how to show up in Google for searches relating to web design.

I was hungry to get results but not hungry to do the work required to get those results. So I took shortcuts taught to me by the snake oil salesmen under the guise of “everybody” is doing it.

bigstock Maze Shortcut 41279914

I am here to tell you that everyone who won’t be around for long is doing it. As a matter of fact, a lot of these people are no longer teaching SEO.

First thing I learned from them (and later unlearned) was how to create a personal blog network (PBN).

A PBN is a network of websites that were purchased for the sole purpose of linking to your business website.

I would go out and purchase expired domains who have a history of being indexed by Google only to rebuild them to blog on them. On this blog, I would create content around the web design topic and shamelessly link back to my business.

The results came but they didn’t last long because it didn’t take long for Google to figure out what I was doing and tank my website. Most SEO’s won’t admit they made this mistake but if I never talk about it then you won’t have the chance to learn from it.

Another malicious tactic taught was to go to “link farms” and pay them to put your link on their website. A link farm is a website that has a bunch of links on their site and charges others to place their link on the site.

Why is this really bad for your website you might ask? That’s because one you’re usually charged a lot for link placement and you can’t control where or how your link is placed.

If you’re a dentist who is trying to generate more relevant traffic, it’s not a good idea have your link in a place around spammy links that have to do with prescription drugs, cheap designer stuff, and etc.

Although I never practiced this, it’s important to know it’s wrong.

Now we know how not to get links, let’s talk about how to get them.

The right way to get backlinks is to create great content that is helpful, establishing relationships with people who visit your site and influencers who relate to your niche.

Once you’ve established a relationship with these people you can ask them to link or share your content.

I know this may seem very time intensive (it is) between doing research and reaching out to these influencers or related sites but you automate the outreach if you use a tool like Mailshake.

Mailshake will mass send emails for you and has a lot of great pre-loaded templates to help cut down on emailing for relationship building.

mailshake

Expecting Instant Results

 

Another poor habit I learned was expecting results to happen overnight. I think this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make because it really hurt my drive.

I would try something and not see results right away. The next thing I would do is get discouraged by the lack of results and walk away from SEO only to pick it back up after a few months.

This is a lot like doing one workout and then quitting because you don’t have six-pack abs immediately after.

What I needed to learn was that SEO isn’t an event but a process which means that you need to put in consistent effort day in and day out.

Understand that SEO success can take 6-months to appear and sometimes longer. You wouldn’t plant a sunflower seed and expect a fully bloomed flower the next day.

In the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, he talks about how making 1% improvements daily is what separates the best in the world from the wannabes of the world.

 

Not Tracking My Results

 

When I first started doing SEO all I would track is my search rankings and nothing else. Now I give myself credit for tracking something because it’s better than nothing. But that ’s not good enough.

I was working on wrong assumptions that lead me to chase down tactics and topics that weren’t adding value to my visitors and that means it wasn’t adding value to my business.

To understand if you’re getting 1% better every day you need to be able to track your progress and look at the right metrics then improve them.

Google provides plenty of free tools to get started. Learn how to use Google Analytics and while you’re at it learn how to set goals for your website.

Goals is a very important part of analytics because it puts meaning behind your rankings and traffic. A Google Analytic goal is the last part of the basic analytics triangle of knowing what works.

Google Analytics Triangle

To put it in perspective, You’re the top rank for both the terms “ice cream” and “ice cream shop Troy, Mi”. The short tail word shows 10,000 monthly visitors while the long tail term shows 1,000 monthly visitors.

If you’re able to have 1% of the visitors from the short tail word do a measurable action but 25% of the longtail word, then you know not to waste your time with such broad terms.

 

Being Selfish With My Content

 

I use to view content as a commodity that was a medium to introduce keywords onto my website and nothing else.

I would commonly practice writing on a subject just to signal that my website was relevant to a certain topic and nothing else. This was a really crappy strategy because it made my job a lot harder than it needed to be.

Since my content sucked, it made it extremely difficult to get other sites and influencers to share my content because they do not want to feed crap to their base.

Because my content did not serve my visitors and only myself, it made my site have a terrible bounce rate. Someone would visit my website and instantly not find what they were looking for and leave… that’s not good.

When I did create good content it was usually salesy which also added to my bounce rate because even though we would all love that every visitor is ready to buy, they’re not.

To avoid these woes make sure to focus on the informative content and not just the quantity.

The likelihood of creating evergreen content goes up dramatically when you focus on the quality because your visitors are likely to share your content with people just like them.

Since evergreen content lives forever, it’s more powerful than advertising because it takes minimal work to generate ROI on it whereas ads stop when you stop paying.

Not Doing Proper Keyword Research

Doing keyword research properly is pivotal to doing SEO that gives you an ROI.

When first starting my SEO the extent of my keyword research would start and end at Google keyword planner. From there I would search random terms and make guesses on what to target.

I would usually do this based on volume and my uneducated opinion of what I thought was being searched for.

I would also look at the volume and think “yeah that is worth going after.” Just because a term has a large estimated volume doesn’t mean it’s a good phrase to go after because of competition, relevancy, and many other factors.

That’s like playing the game Guess Who and trying to pick the right person before your first turn. It’s not a good strategy for that game and it isn’t for SEO either.

There is no definitive answer to help you know exact words you need to target but there are ways to make sure your guess is more educated.

You want to use multiple tools to help gather more market insight. Using tools like Google Trends, competitor analysis, and customer personal profile will help you push in the right direction.

Using some of the tools I mentioned above will help you target long tail keywords which are less competitive and usually more profitable. Long tail keywords are usually what your searchers intent is and not just a general phrase or term.

If you want a good overview of keyword research then have a look at what SEO PowerSuite has shared.

 

Ignoring Meta Descriptions

 

I use to think that once I posted my content I was done and didn’t have to worry about it after. This is a very common mistake people make and I was part of the crowd.

Remember when I said that I use to only check rankings and no other metric. I was finding that when I did start to get good rankings, my traffic didn’t improve as much as I thought it would. What gives?

What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was being out clicked by others who were spending more time on their metadata. Metadata is the title of your listing and the short description shown under it.

If you are going to get serious about your SEO then you need to start getting serious about your metadata. Not because it’s going to help you improve your rankings but it’s going to help you receive more clicks for the rankings you do have.

In general, you want to accomplish a few things with your metadata. First, you want to make sure your title relates to the search it is showing up for.

Second, you want to put a short summary of what the searcher is going to learn but be careful not to be misleading. If you can naturally fit keywords in the description you will stick out more than those who don’t because the keywords will be bolded.

meta example

There is a lot more that goes into crafting great meta descriptions and if you’re interested in learning more about it check out what Frank Isca has to say about it.

 

Summary

 

Learning SEO doesn’t have to be a mystery and shouldn’t create frustration or bruise your confidence in SEO.

Hopefully learning from my mistakes will help you avoid the stupid mistakes I made when first learning to do SEO.

As long as you make sure that you:

  1. Learn from the right people
  2. Don’t look for shortcuts
  3. Only practice white hat SEO
  4. Allow for results to bloom
  5. Do proper customer research
  6. Create quality content
  7. Put user experience at the forefront of your strategy
  8. Craft mindful meta descriptions

There is no reason why you shouldn’t be successful in search engines and attracting relevant traffic to your website.

What SEO mistakes have you made and how did you fix them?

7 SEO Myths Busted

7 SEO Myths Busted

SEO has become more difficult than it was in the past. Yes, Google is getting smarter every day making it harder for blackhat SEO tricks to work.

As someone who makes their living through SEO, I think this is just a part of the evolution of search engines. The real culprit of your search engine woes is the SEO myths that are either no longer or never true.

Imagine you’re going on a road trip and you unknowingly picked up an outdated or outright wrong map to help you navigate.

When you didn’t get to the destination you were anticipating, would you blame the map or the car? Any sane person would blame the map because the car only goes where you tell it to go.

Well, the same holds true for SEO. Your beliefs and knowledge about search engine optimization is your map and your SEO work (your website) is the vehicle.

In this article, we are going to bust seven of the biggest myths that relate to SEO so that you have a clear map to success with no detours.

1. SEO Is Magic or B.S.

 

If you start asking around what an SEO is then you’re going to hears one of three things: “they’re scammers”, “they’re people who know how to manipulate Google”, or “what’s an SEO”.

We are going to ignore the people who fall into that third category and focus on the first two responses. We have to address them separately even though they may seem one and the same.

Let’s talk “scammers,” it’s a shame that although I’m calling this a myth there is a little truth to this but it’s no different to any other profession who has a low barrier of entry.

Here’s why anyone can claim expertise:

Google never publishes it’s algorithms to the public and that means you can’t really test someone’s knowledge accurately against it like you could a mechanic against a manufacturer’s manual.

Another reason we can’t test against Google’s algorithm either is it changes every day. It’s likely changed while writing this article.

So if something is always changing and isn’t published, how can anyone certify themselves or anyone else in it? It’s not possible unless Google is doing the certifying.

When you can’t certify SEO’s then you can get some scheisters who shouldn’t be trusted who will offer snake oil or black magic hat SEO.

At the end of the day, an SEO is no different than an investment banker. You’re going to want to trust the investment banker who’s done the groundwork and seen some things.

Who would you trust more, the investment banker who navigated the tech bubble and housing crisis or someone who navigated through Nutella shortage scare of 2017 and didn’t give any indicators they studied pivotal economic events.

Of course, you’re going to pick the banker who navigated the experience and learned from it over the person who makes no mention of it. Same goes for SEOs, they should be knowledgeable about Google’s major updates and how to have your site comply with them.

In reality, SEO is a process of increasing targeted search traffic by making your website comply with Google’s expectations with search queries.

It’s actually not hard to learn the basics of SEO and content marketing or have an employee in your company learn it to beat out your cross-town rival.

If I were to create a myth 1.5 then I would say it would be you have to be an expert to get your website ranking on Google.

A lot of businesses are in areas where their competition is like a toddler trying to pour milk into a cup, it’s messy and it’s going to need a cleanup. Learning the basics will put you way ahead of your competition

Now, if your SEO doesn’t tell you exactly how they help improve your site’s visibility in search results then you need to run away as fast as you can.

Your “expert” isn’t really one or they’re practicing some shady blackhat methods of SEO that will hurt your website.

A trustworthy SEO will give you a plan of action and will be transparent about everything they do. Next time you get an ambiguous excuse for a lack of results because of Google’s algorithms you know that it’s a myth they’re feeding.

2. It’s All About Keywords

 

It’s all about your keywords is what you hear when talking SEO with people who don’t fully don’t understand SEO.

There is a lot of buzz around keywords that simply lead you in the wrong direction because it’s either outdated or misguided well-intentioned advice.

You’ve likely heard someone mention keyword density claiming that you need to put your desired keyword on your site so many times so that it’s some percentage of the content.

Imagine someone trying to show you they’re knowledgeable on a topic by constantly repeating a word like they’re trying to summon Beetlejuice.

You’d think that person is nuts. Well, Google and your website visitors are thinking the same thing.

Keyword density used to be a tactic that worked and you could tell it did because a common practice was to repeat your keywords in white text on a white background so that your visitor wouldn’t see it but Google’s crawlers would.

Google since figured out what people were doing and did away with it as part of their algorithm.

You’ll also hear “keyword research is the most important part of SEO.” Although well-intentioned, it’s somewhat true and could use some updating.

To be honest, I hate hearing this because to me it doesn’t make sense.

Think of the last time you did a teeth cleaning, built a deck, or whatever service you offer, were you doing that for a keyword or a person?

You might think that’s a dumb question and the answer is obvious but all over the web businesses are optimizing for keywords and not people.

I want you to take an oath to replace the phrase “keyword research” with “searcher intent” or “customer research”.

Your results are going to go through the roof because if you make this shift in thinking your website’s relevance to your visitors’ expectations will improve a lot.

When your relevance increases then the number of shares your site will get increases and your bounce rate reduces which will increase your rankings.

3. You Need to Submit Your Site

 

I’m sure you can relate to getting a poorly crafted email along the lines of “we submit your website to search engines to help you Google for low low price!”

I’m here to tell you that that is a load of shi crap. Do you really think Google can’t find your site unless you submit it to them?

To put things in perspective, Google is in the autonomous vehicle race so I think it’s safe to say that Google is crawling your site and has no problem finding it.

Don’t believe me? Then do this, go to Google and type in the following without the quotations “site:yourURLhere.com”. You’re going to see your site come up as the only result on the page.

If you’re not showing up you’re either a brand new website or you’ve been penalized because you let a hack job manage the SEO of your website.

Although I can’t give you advice on how to fix the shotty work without doing a deep dive, I can help if you’re a brand new website then I can show you how to get indexed quicker.

Just to be clear submitting your site can help new websites but it’s necessary because like Liam Neeson, Google will find you and index you.

Here’s how you get started submitting your site’s URL to Google:

Go to the Google Webmaster Homepage and sign in

Click the “start now” button and either sign in with your Google account or create one

Add your website’s URL and be sure to include https:// (you’re using SSL right?)

From there Google wants you to prove that you own the site by giving you various methods. The simplest way to do it would be to do it through the domain name provider

Once you’re in the dashboard click on Crawl and “Fetch As Google”

Once you’re in the dashboard click on Crawl and “Fetch As Google”

Click request index

Finally prove you’re human, select crawl URL and it’s direct links, and go

Now you’ve given Google the headstart on letting them know your site exists. While you’re here you should submit your sitemap to help Google navigate your site.

4. You Need To Keep Updating Your Site So It’s “Fresh”

 

Unless you’re a news website or informational website the odds are you don’t need to worry about updating your website frequently.

Odds are you’re a small business who offers services or products. With that said the information surrounding your product or service doesn’t change much.

A more productive (and cost-effective) way to think of this is you need to make keep your website’s content accurate.

That could mean if you write about industry standards you need to ensure it’s accurate and updated when standards change. It also means if your phone number or address changes you need to update your site and other local SEO factors.

Another part of this myth is the belief that you need to change the elements of your site to signal to Google your keeping your site up to date.

This is not only wrong but it could actually hurt your site rankings and conversions. You should never change elements of your site because you “feel like” you have to.

Should only do this is with a clear goal in mind. The most common goal is to improve conversions. The best way to do that is to split test a page and seeing what the results lead to.

5. Traffic is The Only Metric You Need To Worry About

 

Throw a rock and you’ll hit an SEO who promises to increase your traffic which is great because you want to have more eyes on your business.

The assumption is more traffic means you’ll have more customers and we can all agree more customers is better than fewer customers.

Although the logic seems sound it doesn’t tell the whole story when it comes to successful SEO work. What you should be focusing on is not only getting more traffic but getting more of the right traffic.

Let’s say you have two businesses, business A is doing $1,000,000 in revenue and business B is doing $100,000 in revenue.

Business A is making 1% profit and business B is making 10% profit. Which company would you rather own?

You would want to be business B because you’re making the same amount of money while having to make less revenue.

Your website is no different than a business. If you’re getting a ton of traffic but your conversion rate is low then you’re either not creating great content or you’re attracting the wrong people.

There are three main areas you might need to look at: your customer research, assess your converting elements, and lastly your user experience.

Best way to know what to attack first is by making sure you’re looking at the right metrics.

Once you start to track the right metrics you can determine which one of the three buckets is the culprit.

6. It’s All About The Rankings

 

We’ve all heard the shady sales pitch, “we guarantee #1 spot in Google searches!”

Great, but what are you going to rank for exactly? Do you care to be the number one result when someone searches “how to ride a unicycle” when you own a hair salon?

Unless you’re a circus Salon, you’re probably don’t care to rank for that search. So ranking high alone has zero value on its own.

You want to rank for terms relevant to your business and helpful towards the searchers intent (see myth 2). When you’re helpful and providing rock solid info, your site is going to be shared by the people who discovered you and share it with others who have the same interests.

Now that you’ve tailored your site to your searcher’s intent and start to rank, you notice no one is clicking your listing.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in the number one spot if no one is clicking your listing.

Your next move is to focus on your meta description. Your meta description is the snippet of text under your listing which searchers use to decide if they are going to visit your site or not.

With a great meta description, you can get more traffic the sites who rank higher than you because your listing signals to searchers that you have what they want.

The best ranking isn’t the number one any more… it’s ranking zero aka having Google show a snippet of your content.

This will make you standout relative to all the other listings and if you’re not the number one result, no problem you’re showing more predominantly than any result for that query.

Neil Patel does a great job of explaining snippets and how to get them.

7. You Can Optimize For RankBrain

 

RankBrain is Google’s branding for artificial intelligence it uses to help it learn more about content and how to present rankings for better user experience.

If you want more than my completely watered down explanation of RankBrain then head over to Backlinko where Brian Dean does a hell of a job describing it.

The reason you can’t optimize for this is that Google is using machine learning to determine the intent (there’s that word again) of the searcher and then picking the sites that match it the best.

This is why when you search “where to get an Apple” vs. “where to get apples” Google understands the first search is likely someone looking to get a piece of tech and the second search is for a fruit.

It’s why I put emphasis on optimizing for intent and not keywords. Google has gone from looking for keywords in your search to understanding what you’re trying to accomplish.

At the core of every Google algorithm change and innovation is to improve the user experience.

That means there is no clear way to optimize for RankBrain but if keep your user’s intent and experience at the center of your strategy like Google then you’re sure to improve relevant traffic and leads.

Conclusion:

 

Misinformation can lower confidence, harm, and hurt your businesses ability to compete on the internet.

I encourage you to take a look at the information you read today and compare them against your SEO strategy. Find which myths you were operating on and assessing how you can fix them.

Some of the fixes will be easy and others will take a little longer but I promise you will not be disappointed with the results after you put in the work.

Are there any myths I missed or have questions about? Share them in the comments to start the discussion.

How To Create Brand Awareness For Free

How To Create Brand Awareness For Free

Just think about it. How many times have you shopped, and ended up picking a product you’ve never heard about before?

 

Now, compare that with the number of times you’ve gone for that specific item you can relate with.

 

Not much of a comparison, is it? Ok, let’s be fair and introduce something extra to balance out the parameters in these two scenarios.

 

Well, remember that time you went to a convenience store to buy a product you had no idea about? Then on the shelf were several almost similar versions of the product, each from a different company?

 

Confusing, right? I know the feeling.

branding selection

So, to help yourself out, you decide to call the attendant. But, just as you raise your arm, you spot a brand you’ve heard about before.

 

All the other versions of the product are quite unfamiliar. But there’s this specific one you’ve seen before.

 

I’d love to know what you’d do at this point. Proceed to seek help from the attendant? Or drop the whole idea altogether, go for that familiar brand, and move on with the rest of the shopping?

 

Chances are, you won’t even think much. You’ll probably just pick that specific brand without worrying that others could potentially be superior.

 

Let’s face it. That’s the mind of a typical consumer. That’s why 77% of marketers agree that brand awareness is fundamentally important to future growth.

The Importance of Creating Brand Awareness

Creating brand awareness is the reason why large enterprises like Coca-Cola seem to be everywhere.  

 

You might hate the fact that its all-too repetitive commercials are persistently interrupting your TV viewing time.

 

But, admit it. Coca-Cola is the first thing on your mind each time someone drops the word “soda”. Even when you know very well that your taste buds would appreciate a different brand.

 

That’s the sheer power of brand marketing.

 

You thought selling should be your principal focus? Well, get this. 70% of brand managers say that rallying an audience around your brand is far more important than converting sales.

 

Ok, this is where you pause for a minute. Oh, no they didn’t dare. Who would have the nerve to make such a claim?

 

If you went through the 2017 State of Branding Report by Onbrand, you’d notice that the survey respondents were essentially marketing decision makers. They know their stuff.

 

Still doubt it?

 

Consider this. Back in 2009, Adobe expanded to the e-commerce and digital marketing space. They acquired Omniture, and dived head first into an industry already dominated by the likes of Oracle and IBM.

 

As a relatively new solution, Omniture had no chance against its established competitors. But, something came up in 2012 that shook the entire industry.

 

No. Omniture didn’t boost its features to surpass its competitors. And no, IBM and Oracle didn’t close shop.

 

Here’s the interesting bit. Adobe simply retired the name Omniture and shifted to Adobe Marketing Cloud.

 

Now, that was the ultimate turning point. Because everyone, particularly digital entrepreneurs, recognizes the name Adobe.

 

I won’t deny that feature upgrades in the system had something to do with its subsequent exponential growth. Or the fact that IBM, Oracle, and Salesforce have been putting up a notable fight.

 

But, let’s not ignore the fundamental point here. That the name Adobe has been the primary attraction for its ever-growing user base.

 

By 2017, according to the then Gartner Magic Quadrant for Multichannel Campaign Management report, Adobe ultimately overtook its predecessors. In a space, it previously had nothing to do with. Then became the overall market leader.

 

The bottom line?

 

You’ve probably figured it out by now. That the whole point of a branding strategy is establishing trust. Then using that as a stepping stone to build a following. And that’s when you’ll be able to seamlessly convert the corresponding opportunities into sales.

 

As a matter of fact, the bulk of CMOs can attest to this:

image3

But, there’s one problem.

 

So, let’s address the elephant in the room.

The Problem With Creating Brand Awareness

 

I know. I’ve only mentioned large enterprises.

 

And I assume it makes sense to you. At least to a certain extent. Because brand awareness is seemingly a game for the big guns. Only large enterprises with enough money to splash around.

 

Well, I understand why you’d feel that way. And for what it’s worth, you’re not alone in this school of thought. Most people actually assume creating brand awareness needs money. Loads and loads of it.

 

To be fair, that was true at some point. When TVs and newspapers were the primary sources of information.

 

But not anymore. That period is long gone. The internet has not only expanded the audience base. It has also drastically changed how we approach brand awareness.

 

Of course, you could spend some bucks on it to market your brand. But one thing’s for sure. You could as well achieve extensive brand awareness without spending a dime.

 

Yes, totally free of charge. That’s the magic of the web.

 

And for clarity’s sake, I’ve only used large brands as examples to drive the point home. Because everyone can relate to Coke and Adobe, right?

 

I tell you what though. I’m willing to share my story. Just to show you that a small time business can make it too.

 

Now, a while back, I found a clever way to wake people up. I developed an iOS app that would help you deal with all the sluggishness in the morning.

 

It pretty much woke people up with engaging puzzle games. So, to keep things simple, I named it Game UP Alarm Clock.

 

Yes, you’re right. My friends loved it. But I had a huge problem. A significant hurdle ahead of me.

 

You see, my friends were barely enough to make up 20 users. I had to find a way to create widespread awareness.  But I could not afford to spend even a fraction of what large enterprises use for marketing just an app update.

 

So I turned to what I knew I could do best. Doing it for free through SEO.

 

With the right tactics, I was able to spread the word quite extensively. Media houses interviewed me, and tech authority sites like Lifehack featured the app.

 

Then awareness developed into trust. And trust gave rise to converted sales.

 

Eventually, Game Up Alarm Clock became a top 12 app in the US, 7 in Japan, and 3 in Ukraine for Utilities.

 

This taught me that free is the way to go. If anything, 59% of consumers don’t trust sponsored campaigns.

 

The best way to capture their attention and generate an organic following around your brand is leveraging SEO. And we’re not talking about typical run-of-the-mill strategies.  

 

I am all about using proven tactics to promote your business. And yes, I’ll walk you through all that.

 

But, before we do, let’s get the basics right.

How Your Brand Fits Into Moments

We’ve seen how Google algorithms are developing at an astronomical rate. The main objective has always been improving the overall user experience.

 

And one way it currently does this is identifying distinct micro-moments;

  • Want-to-buy moments
  • Want-to-do moments
  • Want-to-go moments
  • Want-to-know moments

 

Think about it this way. All Google users live through these micro-moments. They might change from time to time. But the bottom line is that you’re definitely in one of them as you run a search.

 

How’s that?

 

Well, let’s see how Google explains it:

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Does it all make sense now? It really is that simple.

 

So, what am I driving at?

 

Basically, your brand will appear in the search results if you effectively interpret such moments through SEO.

Let’s see how you can do this…

Tell Compelling Brand Stories

Allow me to take you back to 2016.

 

Can you guess what closed the year as the world’s highest selling album? Ok, I’ll give you a hint. It was composed around an infidelity theme, taking listeners through various stages a victim goes through. From discovery all the way to forgiveness.

 

Yes, you’re dead right. Beyonce’s Lemonade album.

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Admit it. This was an unusual one, to say the least. No, at least not because of the fact that it was a visual album. We’ve seen that concept quite a couple of times now.

 

Its success had everything to do with the story surrounding it. It was emotional. And most importantly, admittedly compelling to the pop culture audience.

 

It turns out that the plot started unrolling as early as 2014. A rather controversial video was leaked, showing an infuriated Solange (Beyonce’s sister) fighting the singer’s husband, JayZ.

 

The web was excited. And the video went viral. Consequently triggering rumors that perhaps the husband might have been unfaithful to the singer.

 

And for two years, the rumors were just that. Nothing more than hearsay gossip, which only increased overall curiosity.

 

Then boom! The album dropped and it let the cat out of the bag. Everything was confirmed and the singer even revealed further details.

 

The result? Let’s just say that the storyline was worth over $50 million. Since the album ultimately sold more than 2.5 million copies.

 

Now, this is a perfect example of how compelling brand stories can build a substantial online following. You just have to find a way to connect with your target audience. Through stories that actually matter to them.

 

This is precisely where content marketing comes in.

 

Take prospects within the want-to-do micro-moments for instance. They could very much use educative content.

 

Their want-to-do counterparts, on the other hand, would be more interested in entertaining pieces.

 

But one story is never enough. You have to do regular engagement stories spreading across multiple moments. 47% of consumers usually view about 3-5 content pieces before proceeding to buy.

 

Thanks to such consumer behavior, marketers prioritizing on blogs usually attract 13 times more leads. Certainly one of the most effective ways to get noticed by Google and create brand awareness.

 

And you know what? Any content doesn’t cut it. It has to provide actual value. Coming to think of this, it makes sense why the average length of Google’s top content pieces is 1,140-1285 words.

 

That said, you have to admit that written words alone might be bland. And Google knows this. That’s why its algorithm goes further to factor in other content types.

 

I’m talking about things like videos, infographics and images. Precisely what your audience would be interested in.

 

So far, we’ve seen blog articles with images attract about 94% more views. You could say we all like our articles with some dose of graphics and pomp.  

Optimize Social Media Engagement

 

Social media is, by far, the most expansive online platform today. No doubt about that. It hosts more than 2.5 billion users and still growing.

 

Then, going by the fact that users are increasingly registering multiple accounts, the overall number of accounts might soon surpass the total human population. Fascinating, huh?

 

What does this mean?

 

Well, of course, companies like Facebook will continue keeping their accountants busy. And so will your business, if you tactfully capitalize on this opportunity.

 

You’ve probably seen how enterprises have been trying to do this.

 

From 2008, up until sometime in 2015, they were particularly fond of Facebook. They overwhelmingly registered pages and bombarded users with brand messages.

 

And to be honest, some of them actually got impressive results. That’s why 92% of marketers, by 2014, were already convinced that social media was extremely important for their businesses.

 

Until Facebook finally decided enough is enough. According to them, users’ timelines were predominantly filled with irrelevant content from multiple brand pages.

 

So, in response, they scaled down organic page posts. Then users started connecting more with their actual friends than brand pages.

 

It also meant more income for Facebook. I actually believe that this might have their principal objective.

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Source: ConvinceandConconvert

 

But, let’s save that debate for later. And focus on the bottom line instead. That social media engagement for brands has changed drastically.

 

Even Youtube and Twitter joined the bandwagon with algorithm changes that favor user connection over brand engagement.

 

Consequently, social media organic reach for brands has dropped sharply in recent years. The Financial Times, for instance, reported a 42% decline in organic Facebook reach.

 

Marketing Land also did a follow-up assessment and established a 52% drop.

 

Quite devastating, right?

 

Wrong! The most strategic brand marketers actually love this. Because it gets rid of the spam and bots. Then leaves the game to the real gurus who understand what brand awareness is all about.

 

So, no. You don’t have to pay even a dime to promote your brand on social media.

 

The secret is pretty straightforward. Simply dance to their tune.

 

Instead of fighting their user–optimized engagement algorithms, find ways to leverage it to boost your brand.

 

Take Facebook, for example. Content shared by a user will ultimately be posted to all their friends’ timelines. And the more the engagement frequency on that post, the wider Facebook’s algorithm will spread it.

 

Now, which specific content type can’t social media users get enough of?

 

Yes, of course. Videos.

 

55% of internet users watch online videos on a regular basis. And Facebook is responsible for about 8 billion video views every day.

 

Catch my drift? Your page post might only reach a fraction of your followers. But, if it’s a compelling video, they’ll watch it and subsequently share with to their friends. Who’ll then watch it and the cycle continues.

 

Even Facebook agrees that videos engage way more prospects than other content types. Including photos, regular status updates, and links.

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Source: Facebook

Reach Out To Influencers

One thing that large businesses might have an edge over you in is celebrity advertising.

 

And from what we’ve seen in the past, some of these celebs have cult-like followings. They might even be more popular than Santa. Or the Eiffel Tower.

 

It’s understandable that they possibly seem like a buffet rich in prospects at first. That’s why they charge money that would only come by if you robbed a bank.

 

But, take a minute and think again.

 

Going by recent trends in band marketing, most people can actually see through their paid promotions. As a result, prospects end up ignoring everything altogether.

 

Mainstream celebrities have been overtaken by digital influencers, who now sit at the top of the brand marketing food chain. And no, not by a foot or two. But by several miles.

 

Consider this. 30% of consumers are more likely to purchase items suggested by influencers, as opposed to celebrities.

 

All because of one simple reason. Individuals essentially feel more connected to non-celebrities.

 

Collective Bias even conducted a study on this by interviewing more than 14,000 consumers based in the US. It subsequently established that 70% of the millennials consider peer recommendations in the whole buying process.

 

Now, this is literally driving all marketers insane. Everyone now wants in on the action. Hence the following remarks on the developing role of influencer marketing:

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Source: Statista

 

Pretty exciting, right?

 

But, hold your horses for now. While this type of marketing is proving to be increasingly effective, not all influencers would be ideal for your brand.

 

Secondly, remember we are only reviewing free tactics? So, no, you will not be paying anyone.

 

Where does that leave you?

 

Simple. Just search widely and reach out to your friends in high places. But focus only on selected influential websites that are relevant to your business field. That’s how you generate organic interest in your brand.

A thoughtful approach would be running a parallel complementary campaign along with your influential partners. Promoting their brand as they push for yours is a good way to keep your marketing invoice at zero.

Distribute Valuable Guest Content

Remember those few occasions your school hosted guest speakers?

 

What did you think of them?

 

Well, I admit that I didn’t actually recognize more than half of my share of speakers. But, I always thought of them as big shots for being invited to such platforms.

 

And, of course, I’ve always remembered the talks that were exceptionally captivating.

 

Undeniably, that’s pretty much how guest posting goes.

 

Just one small exception. Don’t hold your breath for an invitation. Or you might be waiting around till a second big bang.

 

Take your time to scour the web for the most outstanding platforms that are relevant to your field. Then reach out to their editors with your guest content proposal, and see how it goes.

 

At the very worst, some might not bother getting back to you, which isn’t that big a deal. But, you’re bound to get a couple of positive replies, especially if your content is exquisitely valuable.

 

Now, this is where it usually gets complicated for most people.

 

Typical run-of-the-mill content doesn’t cut it. Because you’re not just seeking SEO links. You need the audience to respect you as a thought-leader, and subsequently recognize your brand.

 

This is only achievable through valuable, engaging guest content.

 

So, surprise the audience with something they never expected. A deep composition that’s very helpful that it compels them to excitedly share it with their friends.

 

And guess what? 94% of individuals who share content actually do so to help others.

 

Valuable content, therefore, potentially expands its audience reach quite substantially with each new viewer.

 

That’s how BufferApp was able to raise awareness and acquire about 100,000 users in just 9 months.

 

Let’s just say that Leo Widrich, its co-founder is one remarkably persistent guy. Within that time, he had written and distributed 150 solid blog posts.

 

Admittedly, this entire process wasn’t easy at all, not by a long shot. The initial pieces were particularly poor since they drove very little traffic.

 

But things gradually improved as he widened his channels and optimized traffic analytics.

 

Ultimately, 100,000 new users were quite a rewarding catch, to say the least. And that formed their baseline users, from where they were able to escalate their brand marketing to boost the users tenfold.

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Source: Buffer

Conclusion

You thought selling should be your principal focus? Well, get this. 70% of brand managers say that rallying an audience around your brand is far more important than converting sales.

 

The whole point of a branding strategy is establishing trust. Then using that as a stepping stone to build a following. And that’s when you’ll be able to seamlessly convert them into sales.

 

Of course, you could spend some bucks on it to market your brand. But one thing’s for sure. You could as well achieve extensive brand awareness without spending a dime.

 

If anything, 59% of consumers don’t trust sponsored campaigns.

 

Consider using compelling brand stories to build a substantial online following. You just have to find a way to connect with your target audience. Through stories that actually matter to them.

 

And you have to do regular engagement stories spreading across multiple moments. 47% of consumers usually view about 3-5 content pieces before proceeding to buy.

 

Instead of fighting social media user–optimized engagement algorithms, find ways to leverage it to boost your brand.

 

Then search widely and reach out to your friends in high places. But focus only on selected influential websites that are relevant to your business field. That’s how you generate organic interest in your brand.

 

Finally, take your time to scour the web for the most outstanding platforms that are relevant to your field. Then reach out to their editors with your guest content proposal, and see how it goes.

Action Steps To Remember:

  1. Go through the article
  2. Implement each tactic to your business as you see fit
  3. Measure the results on a weekly basis
  4. Adjust your strategy accordingly

Do you know of any tips we missed? Let everyone know in the comments below!

A Beginners Guide To Content Marketing For Real Estate

A Beginners Guide To Content Marketing For Real Estate

Are you having trouble getting new leads from your blog efforts?

Are you not getting any leads from online because you’re part of the 5% who isn’t on the web?

Don’t worry about it because you’re alone.

Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases someone will make in their lifetime, so naturally, they want to work with someone they feel they can trust.

You need to find a way to build trust with a stranger and convey to them that you understand their needs.

It sounds like a daunting task but if you have the right strategy and mindset you’re going to be the model for others to try to replicate.

Know your customer

It’s only right we start with the foundation of your livelihood of what you do and consider the people.

Notice how I said people and not keywords. You never take a phone call from a keyword who’s wanting to buy a property.

It’s important that you really drill down on who your customer is personally.

Creating a customer persona can increase your conversion rate because you’re not targeting a “market” or a keyword.

A customer persona is where you create a customer profile of a person like you’re filling out their Facebook profile.

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Companies like Buffer are advocates of using personas as their north star to creating their content.

It’s important not to guess when doing this and base your persona off of facts you find through research.

To start your research look for forums that relate to the real estate market and home buying experience.

It’s easy to find these forums, go to Google and type in the search your product or service and add “forum” (with the speech marks) then pick the top 3-5 forums.

Look for at least three pain points, three things they like and finally three reasons why they won’t buy.

Also check reddit because there the users have already done the hard work for you by voting on the topic, saving you time on deciding if it’s an important topic or not.

You also want to use Google’s auto-suggest function capture phrases that your potential visitors are searching.

google search suggestion

For a more in-depth guide, Opti Monster provides a great process with templates.

Find creative ways to guest post for influencers

You’ve nailed down the person(s) you’re writing for but now you need to figure out where to post your content.

Of course, the number one spot you should be hosting your content is your website because that’s where your call to actions is to get visitors to become leads.

If you want to build trust with your real life personas then a great way is to guest post on an influencers site.

70% of millennials prefer product endorsements from non-celebrity bloggers.

According to NerdWallet, it is a priority to purchase a home by 82% of millennials.

It’s a good idea to get in front of the people who are prioritizing purchasing a home in the near future.

If you’re thinking, well no one in the real estate industry is accepting guest posts, don’t worry about it.

Follow Neil Patel’s lead by bridging the real estate market to other niches that can find your industry interesting.

He provides examples that relate to marketing but you can bridge to any type of niche, here are some ideas:

  • How a realtor coached their client in style to sell their home for 10% more than asking price.
  • How a realtor negotiated a home price below asking by utilizing social media.

These may be extreme examples but they get you into different niches that help you get in front of your persona.

An easy way to have guest posting opportunities to come to you is to sign up for BloggerLinkUp, where you’ll get an email every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with opportunities to guest post.

If you’re hell-bent on guest blogging on a particular website, take the domain and place it into aherfs and see what their most popular content is.

Determine if you can bridge that topic with real estate and reach out to the site owner and say “Hey – I have a great blog post about XYZ that fits right in your niche and your readers would love!”

This shows you did your legwork and is a good signal you’re going to have quality content for them.

Create long-form content

I know I sound like a broken record but long-form content is always one of the best ways to create awareness of your brand and build trust with new visitors to your site.

Now that you’re an expert on your user’s gripes, likes, and reasons they won’t contact you, you can proactively create content around that to address or amplify those points.

When creating long-form content, it’s best to create content that is educational and informational.

We have been bombarded by advertisements and sales pitches so to have a piece that can be educational is a nice breath of fresh air that will build trust with visitors who could eventually become clients or refer you to a friend.

Long form content improves your ability to show up for long tail searches which increased traffic by 20% for the people WPBeginner.

Long tail keywords are searches that include 4+ words in the search.

Long tail keywords typically have lower search volumes but they make up for 70% of search traffic on the internet and are much easier to compete in.

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Imagine trying to rank for the keyword “homes in Troy” and how hard it would be to compete in that search.

Now imagine if you were targeting a long tail phrase like “best neighborhoods in troy for parents,” that would have much less competition and would be much easier to rank in the top ten searches.

Creating long-form content generates more long tail keyword opportunities and ultimately more traffic.

Know your content type options

Not everyone enjoys getting their information through reading. Images are like and shared more than 3x than any other media.

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The best part of using different mediums to communicate your content through a different medium is you can take a topic you’ve already created and repurpose it.

We are going to stick to three types of media that generate great opportunity to be shared and earn backlinks.

Infographics

Infographics are graphics that combine statistics with imagery to make the complex or mundane topic more interesting and easily digested.

It’s not surprising the popularity of infographics because 65% of people are visual learners.

Not only are the majority of people visual learners, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster versus text.

There are few ways to go about deciding when to use infographics.

The first way is to go to your content and pick your most popular topics and repurpose them as infographics.

The reason you’re doing this is that it already shows that the content is warmly accepted by your searchers and popular among others enough to share it.

Take it a step further by turning it into an infographic to make it more shareable.

The second way to find infographic ideas is to go to your competition and find which of their posts are doing really well and has the most backlinks via ahrefs.

Create a great infographic that captures all the information from their post and make it more digestible.

Once you’ve done that use ahrefs again to find who has linked to the post and use BuzzSumo to find everyone who shared their content.

Now reach out to those people via email with a link to your infographic saying “I noticed you shared article XYZ. I have an infographic that is updated and digestible. I think your followers would love it.”

Now you don’t have to become a designer to make an infographic. You can hire someone from UpWork or if you’re on a budget, use Fiverr to get it at a fraction of the cost.

Last step you want to upload the infographic to your site and generate embed code for your website so you can make it easier for people to share and copy your infographic.

Now you’re ready to reap the 50 times the engagement rewards that infographics provide.

Videos

With internet speeds and broadband speeds improving over time, videos have become more popular than ever.

A survey done shows that 78% of people watch videos at least once a week.

54% of those watching branded videos click through to the brand’s website too.

Here’s how you can leverage videos when you’re in the real estate industry.

The first way is the easiest because it’s easily outsourced.

You find content for these videos with the same steps you used to find content for your infographics.

 This video does a great job of taking a complex topic and simplifying it for viewers to understand.

The second way to use video is to use a live video that has you in it to build trust.  

One way to use a live action is to have a video that tells your story and why you’re in the real estate industry.

 The key here is to be authentic and relatable so that the viewer feels a connection with you.

If you’re camera shy and you have clients who are not, a great way to incorporate a live-action video is to have your past clients give testimonials of their experience with you.

Be sure to make sure the video comes off authentic and to use these tips to create a great testimonial video that doesn’t seem staged or risk hurting the trust.

A recent study showed that video testimonials had the highest effective rating for content marketing by 89%.

Lastly, creating virtual tours of the homes you’re showing boosts great results and sets expectations for the viewer to motivate them to contact you about the listing.

For animated videos, you can go to UpWork or Fiverr again because the animator can independent of your location.

To do live professional videos you need someone local with equipment. The cheapest high-quality way to get this done is to reach out to local videography schools and ask if you can hire a student to do the project for you.

This live video cost me less than $500 but is part of the reason why I had so many social shares.

 

Quizzes

Quizzes are a form of interactive content and studies showed a higher level of deep learning when utilizing interactive content.

Chances are you’ve had an awkward aunt who is part of the average 1,900 social shares that took a quiz to determine which shoe she was.

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The reason why this works so well is that it feeds the ego and it has a personalized feeling to it.

Don’t believe the power of these quizzes? BuzzFeed has perfected the quiz and continue to use it.

Their quiz Which State You Should Actually Live In got 3.7 million shares.

buzzfeed quiz

How can you create a quiz that is “what city you should move to” or “what kind of a house are you?”

This will get traffic to your site and social shares from people who are thinking about moving or at least interested in homes.

If you’re using WordPress for your website then you’re in luck! Here’s a list of 20+ quiz plugins to help you create a quiz for your website.  

Conclusion

Real estate doesn’t have to be a boring topic and you don’t have to always be selling all the time to be successful in real estate on the web.

Make sure you start with the foundation of creating detailed personas of your customers that include details like age, sex, income, number children, and their children’s age.

You then want to start creating long-form content around the gripes, likes, and reasons for contacting you so they have content that is valuable to them.

You also want to sensor overload them with infographics, videos, and quizzes which encourages social sharing.

If you do these correctly, you’re going to be the realtor or brokerage that everyone else in their trails.

If you’ve tried different approaches then I’ve listed, tell me in the comments or ask me any questions, I’m happy to help.

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