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Web Design

The Internet is a place that’s always changing and evolving. As a business owner, you want to keep your website up to date. Not only is this important for potential customers’ perception of your business, but also to help with marketing. For example, as more searches have shifted to mobile devices, Google has adjusted their algorithm to reward sites that load quickly and work properly on those devices. Businesses that haven’t kept their sites up to date are missing out on a very important marketing channel.

Since the above issue is just one example of why web design trends matter a lot, we want to highlight five of the most notable for 2017:

Content-First

There was a time when many design trends revolved around utilizing lots of flashy elements to make sites highly interactive. While it’s still important to have an engaging design, huge platforms like Facebook have set people’s expectations with modern but understated design. Since content is what people truly care about on social media, as well as when they visit individual websites, it’s important for design to play a supporting role that makes it easy for content to be consumed on devices of all sizes.

Typography

In the past, it was often quite challenging to support anything other than very basic typography across different devices and operating systems. But thanks to advancements in technologies like CSS and web fonts, it’s now possible to create a consistent experience with custom fonts. By emphasizing typography, a business can establish strong brand recognition online.

Plenty of Color

As you may have noticed from what we’ve covered so far, a lot of the current trends in web design are driven by using fewer elements but making the most of every one that is used. This can be seen in how color is being used. Instead of the muted palettes that became quite common several years ago, many current designs are using strategic pops of color to grab people’s attention and strengthen brand recognition.

Focus on Conversions

At Web Strategy Plus, we’ve always approached web design and development from the perspective of accomplishing business goals. More people are starting to understand the importance of using design as a conversion tool, which we’re very happy to see.

Storytelling

Given all the content that bombards people whenever they pull out their phone or open their laptop, it’s easy for marketing messages to get lost in the noise. One way that businesses are trying to combat this is using design as a way to weave compelling narratives throughout entire websites.

If going over the trends above reminded you that your business website is in need of an update, be sure to take a look at how we can help you execute a successful website redesign.

Website strategy

If you want your website to be as compelling as possible to the people who visit it, images need to be a part of your overall website strategy. Once you start thinking about this aspect of your website, it’s important to understand that not all images are equal. A common mistake both business owners and web designers make is going with the first image that looks good to them. Even though this may ultimately be better than not having any images on a website, this type of selection is unlikely to maximize the effectiveness of those images. To get the best results from the images you add to your website, it’s vital to take a few different factors into account:

Identifying a Purpose

When you start thinking about adding an image to any page on your website, you’ll want to think about the purpose that image should serve. This is because the style of image you choose for a sales page may be completely different from an informational blog post. Different content serves different purposes, which is something your website’s image strategy should reflect.

Additional Search Engine Traffic

The ability of images to send additional search engine traffic is something that’s commonly overlooked. By giving your images a descriptive filename and alt tag, you can help them rank well in Google Images and then get targeted visits from people searching for relevant terms.

Social Media Sharing

You’ve probably read about the importance of writing great headlines for the content you publish. The reason headlines matter so much is even if you have a great post or another piece of content, it’s not going to grab people’s attention without a great headline. That means fewer clicks on your site, as well as fewer shares on social media. The same concept applies to images. Complementing a piece of content with a great image will noticeably boost how well it performs on social media.

Don’t Forget to Optimize

While there are a lot of good things to say about strategic image selection for websites, there is one big potential downside. The file size of images can be quite large. If this type of image isn’t optimized by compressing its size, it can significantly increase how long it takes a website to load. And because speed is something that’s very important to Google, a website which takes longer than average to load may be ranked lower in Google’s results.

By incorporating images into your website strategy and thinking through the issues we covered above, you’ll be able to make your site even more compelling. And for help with any aspect of your website’s design, contact Web Strategy Plus for expert service.

What_is_search_engine_optimization

Over the years, search engine optimization has been described in many different ways. But at its core, SEO is simply a way to help your website show up near the top of Google and Bing for relevant searches. While there are individuals and companies that engage in SEO practices specifically prohibited by Google, the type of search engine optimization Web Strategy Plus does for all of its clients is in full compliance with Google’s guidelines.

To get a better understanding of what exactly goes into search engine optimization, we want to highlight several of the key building blocks of this practice:

1. Strategy

Successful search engine optimization requires an investment of time and resources. That’s why it’s very important to start with a well-developed strategy. By thinking through issues like which keywords are going to bring in actual leads or customers, you can ensure that the investments you make in SEO will help move the needle for your investment.

2. On-Page Optimization

Since your business website is the foundation of all SEO efforts, it’s important to have it fully optimized. In addition to things like using the right keywords in your H1 tags, you also need to address any technical issues. Specifically, Google has placed a lot of emphasis on page speed and mobile friendliness in recent years. Having a site that’s slow or doesn’t load easily on devices with smaller screens will hamper all of your SEO efforts.

3. Content

Related to on-page optimization, regularly publishing quality content is essential for helping to rank for all the keywords that are relevant to your business. The type of content you publish will likely be a mixture of blog posts and landing pages. Utilizing SEO strategies like internal linking will help maximize the rankings of these pages.

4. Links

Google still relies on links from other websites to determine popularity. However, link building can easily go wrong when people do things like focusing on quantity instead of quality. And it’s also important to understand that the optimal approach to link building for a local business website will differ from a site that’s trying to rank for more generic terms.

5. Data

Ranking data is important for seeing how a website is advancing on target search engine results pages. But it’s also important to go beyond that and look at analytics data like average page views. Seeing this information will help confirm if the pages that are ranking highly are actually providing visitors with what they’re searching for.

There’s a lot that goes into developing and executing a successful SEO strategy. If you want to ensure that you have a knowledgeable professional on your side to help with all of this work, you can easily learn more about how Web Strategy Plus approaches search engine optimization.

4 Essential Tips for Effective Social Media Marketing in 2017

 

Although people are spending more time than ever on social media, that doesn’t mean reaching potential customers through social is easy. The reason it’s actually quite challenging for a business to stand out on any social platform is there’s a lot of noise and competition. Since publishers and businesses across countless industries have realized the opportunity that social media presents, simply posting a few links every now and then on a profile isn’t going to generate meaningful traction.
If you want to get real results from social media, it’s important to take a strategic approach. That’s why we want to share four tips that can help you maximize the effectiveness of the time you put into social media:

1. Less is More

While you want to grab people’s attention on social media, what you don’t want to do is overwhelm them with a post that resembles a wall of text. People like social media posts that are short and sweet, which is why research has found that shorter posts can increase engagement by up to 86%. Although fitting everything you want to communicate into fewer words can be a challenge, making this a priority is a proven way to improve your social media marketing efforts.

2. Curate

It’s always helpful to think of social media as a cocktail party. When you’re in this kind of setting, you generally don’t want to be around someone who only talks about themselves. Instead, you want to be around someone who has a lot of interesting things to say and is also happy to listen. You can give your business this kind of personality on social by curating. While it’s fine to periodically promote your business, focusing on sharing content that will provide value to the types of people you want to reach will help draw them to you.

3. Use Images and Videos

Images provide a great way to grab people’s attention without typing a single word. And because all of the major social media platforms have made significant investments in video, it’s definitely worth trying to incorporate video into your overall social media marketing strategy.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Share More Than Once

When a business begins getting active on social media for the first time, it’s generally not hard for them to come up with interesting content to share. But as time goes on, it’s normal to hit points where you feel like you’re out of fresh ideas. The good news is there’s nothing wrong with sharing great posts more than once. In fact, because it’s common for only a small percentage of followers to see any one post, sharing more than once will ensure you get the most value out of your best posts.
If you want to implement these and many other strategic tips, contact us to discuss how we can take your social media marketing to the next level.

Twitter Editing

 

Although millions of people are using Twitter at any time of the day and the platform continues to be a powerful marketing channel for businesses of all sizes, the company itself seems to be stuck in a perpetual identity-crisis. Despite generating quite a bit of revenue and getting public feedback from passionate users, the company always seems to have a hard time setting a strategic course.

While Google is known for throwing all kinds of things against the wall and then not hesitating to kill off the ones that don’t work, Twitter has a tendency to over analyze their next move. This has caused them to fall behind on multiple occasions in areas where they should have been the leading social platform. On top of that, Twitter has made a few key decisions over the years like pulling the plug on popular third-party apps that seem to go completely against what all of their users want.

Trying to Get Back to Basics

At the end of 2016, Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey used his account to solicit feedback from users about the changes and improvements they want to see over the next year. Not surprisingly, being able to edit tweets is a request that came up quite a lot.

Since many users were requesting this feature, Dorsey replied to one of them and asked if it’s more important to be able to edit mistakes quickly or edit anytime. He then expanded on this topic by explaining that even though those features might seem quite similar, there’s actually a significant difference. The difference stems from the fact that Twitter is often the public record for many statements and issues, which means the ability to edit anytime would also require the platform to implement a change log.

How Editing On Twitter Would Work

Based on the statements that Dorsey made, it appears that the company is leaning towards giving users a five-minute window for editing their tweets. Not only would this require less technical resources from the company, but it seems like a good balance between giving people a chance to fix a mistake instead of requiring a tweet to be deleted, while still preserving the essence of what this platform has always been about.

In addition to shedding light on the issue of editing tweets, Dorsey also brought up two other issues. The first is giving users an easier way to save or bookmark things. And the other topic is combating harassment. While Dorsey did make it clear that Twitter has already taken steps to fight harassment, he also stated that it remains a priority for the company.

Tips to Create the Right CTA for Different Types of Content

4 Tips to Create the Right CTA for Different Types of Content

Even though online users are notorious for skimming content instead of reading it in full, research has found that 90% of people who take the time to read a headline will also read the call-to-action copy on that page. Since that’s a significant amount of people who are reading the section on a page that may be most valuable to business owners, it’s important to take full advantage of this opportunity.

In terms of what it takes to write a great CTA, relevance is a huge factor. A common mistake businesses make is writing a single call to action and then including it in their website template so that it shows up on every page. Although that approach is better than not having any CTA, it’s unlikely to give people the motivation they need to take action.

Part of that has to do with banner blindness. This term refers to people being less likely to notice advertising online because they’re so used to seeing the same size of ad units across the Internet. So unless a generic CTA is compelling enough to get people to take action the first time they see it, the chances of the same call to action accomplishing anything on subsequent pages are slim.

The good news is you can overcome that obstacle by tailoring CTAs to the type of page and content where they’re listed. If you’re wondering exactly how to do that, the following four tips will help you get started:

1. Be Clear

If you’re creating or refining your conversion optimization strategy, clarity is often an area that can help move the needle. The reason that being clear can play such an important role in optimizing CTAs is it helps remove any barriers or hesitations people may have about taking action.

2. Use 5 Words or Less

While there may be exceptions to this rule, CTAs generally work best when they’re 5 words or less. This provides enough flexibility to create relevancy for a specific type of content but not so much that it distracts visitors.

3. Include An Action

This may sound obvious, but many people forget the A part of CTA. Download, call, register or read are all good examples of action words that can work really well.

4. Utilize Scarcity or Exclusivity

These techniques won’t work for every call to action. However, if you’re writing a CTA related to something that is only available for a limited time or in a limited number, make sure to communicate that. Doing so may be the extra nudge someone who’s on the fence needs to actually take action.

If you’re looking for a Cincinnati, OH content marketing provider, be sure to look at the content marketing services Web Strategy Plus offers.

Social Media Marketing

Social media is something that businesses of all sizes should be using. Social channels make it possible to reach people who are interested in the products and services you offer. In addition to reaching them, the ongoing nature of social media means you can build the necessary level of trust that’s needed for someone to buy from your business.

As a social media consultant, We help businesses with all kinds of issues related to social media. Since this gives me an opportunity to see how different businesses are approaching their social efforts, I’m able to notice trends across multiple industries and organization sizes. One issue I commonly see is businesses struggle to measure how well their social media efforts are performing.

Although it wasn’t that long ago when getting concrete data from social media platforms was quite hard to do, the good news is that’s no longer the case. These platforms understand the value that data can give businesses and are happy to provide it. However, just because data is available doesn’t mean that measuring social media marketing performance is a breeze.

Not only is there the issue of needing to measure results across multiple platforms, but there’s also the problem of trying to figure out which metrics are even meaningful. Without having a clear way to measure results, most businesses will struggle to find traction with their social media management. That’s why we want to cover the why and how of three social metrics worth measuring:

Likes and/or Shares

While social media can bring customers to your business, it’s important to remember that this channel generally sits at the top of the marketing funnel. That means most people will want to engage with your brand for awhile before actually purchasing. You can measure that engagement through likes and/or shares. When these metrics are used as internal benchmarks, they go beyond vanity metrics and provide insight into what types of content best resonate with your audience.

Clicks

Once someone is familiar with your business, you want to get them on social media and on to your website. Clicks are an ideal metric to measure for this purpose. You can see general trends about how many people are clicking to your site on a daily basis, along with which specific efforts are best at driving clicks.

Average Time on Site

It’s important to remember that not all clicks are equal. That’s why you should also measure how much time people spend on your site after clicking. If you suddenly notice that a bunch of social media visitors stayed on your site much less than normal, it probably means you pitched something on social that didn’t actually line up with the experience those visitors had when they arrived on your site.

If you want to create a strong social media strategy that includes a clear strategy for measuring performance, contact us how we  can help.

Social Media Marketing Tactics Businesses Need

The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for many businesses. Given that this rush is just right around the corner, it won’t be long until the holidays wrap up and 2017 arrives. If you want to make next year the best one yet for your business, you need to be on top of your social media marketing.

Over the last few years, social media marketing has gone from a practice that many people questioned the effectiveness of to something that businesses of all sizes view as essential. But just like other online strategies such as SEO, knowing that social media marketing is important doesn’t make it easy. Given that large platforms like Facebook and Instagram continue to change their algorithms, many businesses struggle to use their social reach to connect with the types of prospects they care about.

If you’re committed to finding success with social media marketing but aren’t sure where to focus your attention, we’ve put together the top four tactics that will help you thrive throughout 2017:

Redistribute Content

Redistribute content marketing

Social media has become a very busy place. This means that when a business shares a piece of content, not all of their audience on that platform is going to see it. Although this can be frustrating, the good news is there’s a simple way to solve it. Instead of viewing sharing as something you do once and then move on to the next thing, you should make content redistribution a standard practice. Whether it’s three or seven weeks later, you should find the interval that works for your audience and standardize redistribution into your content efforts.

Work with Influencers

influencers marketing

From business that sell clothing to those that operate in a B2B space, every industry has influencers that target customers keep up with on social media. Instead of competing with influencers for attention, you should find ways to work with them. By exploring options that can range from sponsored giveaways to co-publishing a white paper together, collaborating directly with influencers who have a large social audience of the people you want to reach is a proven way to fast track your social efforts.

Get Comfortable with Video

Videos for business

Not only did the amount of time spent on YouTube explode in 2016, but other platforms like Facebook emphasized video throughout the year. Since this a trend that’s here to stay, your business will benefit from getting comfortable with creating and sharing videos, including live ones.

Focus on Engagement

social-media-engagement

While social media can definitely drive sales, many businesses forget that these platforms are generally at the top of the funnel. That’s why the businesses that do best with social media, make engagement their top priority. Once you find the best ways to interact with your audience, you’ll create a loyal following that will convert into sales.

By redistributing content, working with influencers, getting comfortable with video and focusing on engagement, you can put all the pieces in place for your social media marketing efforts to thrive during 2017.

How Google's Possum Update May Affect Your Local SEO Strategy

One of the reasons that search engine optimization and especially local SEO can be so challenging for business owners is Google’s always making changes to how they rank websites. On top of changes to their ranking algorithm, Google regularly experiments with different design elements that affect the visibility of how many unpaid listings actually show up on results pages.

Google’s latest update that will directly affect the local SEO strategy of many businesses has been nicknamed Possum. Before we dive into the details of this update, if you’re wondering where its nickname came from, it’s the result of “many business owners thinking their Google My Business listings are gone, when in fact they are not. They have just been filtered – they’re playing possum.”

The Basics of the Possum Update

Based on our analysis and that of the SEO community as a whole, the Possum update took place on September 1st. The focus of this update was the 3-pack and Local Finder results. You may be familiar with Local Finder as Google Maps results. While organic results for local businesses also saw some shakeups, it appears those were the result of a separate update that occurred shortly after Possum. While Google generally doesn’t provide official in-depth commentary on these types of changes, it seems like their goal with Possum was to diversify local results, as well as ensure fake spam listings are unable to rank. It’s also worth mentioning that based on all of the data surrounding this update; it’s likely the biggest local update Google has made since they rolled out Pigeon back in 2014.

5 Things You Need to Know About This Google Update

Now that we’ve covered the basic details of this update, we want to get into a few specifics. The first is that businesses which fall outside physical city limits have seen a significant uptick in their rankings.

Second, one of the implications of Possum is Google is now filtering based on address and affiliation.

Third, Google is putting a lot of emphasis on the physical location of people searching.

The fourth change is search results vary more based on slight variations of the keyword searched. This makes sense given the ever increasing amount of data and computing power that Google has at its disposal.

Finally, the local filter refined by Possum seems to be running more independently from the organic filter. That means it’s more important than ever for small to medium businesses with a local presence to have well-defined strategies for both general and local SEO.

If you want to work with an expert partner that can help guide your business through Google’s Possum update and any other updates that come along in the future, learn more about the local SEO services offered by Web Strategy Plus.

Make SEO and UX Design a Winning Combination

The goal of search engine optimization is to bring targeted visitors to your website. When SEO is done correctly, your website will rank at the top of Google for a variety of highly relevant searches. However, it’s important to understand that SEO is just part of the equation for online business success. Once those targeted visitors arrive, they need to have a great experience on your website. If your SEO is strong but your focus on user experience is weak, the traffic you work so hard to attract is going to leave your site and never return.

Another reason that UX design is something that should be thought about under the same umbrella as SEO is Google continues to place more emphasis on user actions when calculating its search engine rankings. That means regardless of how many quality links you build, if your site has serious problems like the majority of visitors clicking the back button shortly after arriving, it’s going to be very difficult for your site to achieve the best possible rankings.

3 Ways to Succeed with SEO and User Experience Design

The first step to creating a successful strategy around SEO and UX design is using a responsive website design. This approach to design ensures your site looks and functions just as well on phones as it does on large screens. Since this is the design method Google recommends for mobile compatibility, it’s an absolute must.

Second, you need to think of the individual pages on your site. We recommend doing an audit of the top pages that bring search traffic to your site. As you go through this process, you’ll want to see if each page has a clear layout, content that’s relevant to its core search term and a clear call to action. Figuring out the single most important call to action will help guide visitors to where they need to go.

Another important part of this strategy is taking steps to make your site load as fast as possible. While an optimized responsive design is a good starting point, you’ll want to dig into individual elements like images. Although compressing and re-uploading images is something that can be done in a matter of minutes, this single improvement can drastically speed up how fast your site loads for visitors.

Although pulling all of these pieces together in a cohesive way can take a lot of work, the good news is it’s not something you need to deal with on your own. As leaders in the online marketing space, Web Strategy Plus offers a comprehensive approach to SEO and design. To speak directly with us about crafting and implementing this type of strategy for your business, please call us at 1-877-224-0478.

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