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.
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.
The original iPhone was released on June 29th, 2007. Although the iPhone was far from being the first mobile device, it did change the mobile landscape forever. Prior to the iPhone, using the Internet away from a desktop or laptop was limited to watered-down webpages that rendered as text. But because the iPhone included a full online browsing experience through Safari, it kicked off an explosion in the mobile web.
Mobile’s Evolution Over the Last 9 Years
While the mobile web as we know it today is less than a decade old, it’s already gone through several evolutions. The first was the app gold rush. In addition to the Safari browser, Apple also launched the idea of apps with their device. This led to developers and businesses rushing to create apps. However, it became clear that most people don’t want to use a dedicated app for every business they’re interested in. This is supported by recent research which shows that most people use less than a half dozen apps on a regular basis.
Since it doesn’t make sense for most small to medium businesses to have a dedicated app, there was also a time during the last nine years when the focus was on having a separate mobile website. The reason that trend has come and gone is there were several major problems. Not only did it create an often frustrating experience for website visitors, but it also required businesses to manage two different websites.
Why Responsive Design is The Best Solution to Mobile
Multiple studies have confirmed that mobile is now the most common way that people of all ages search online and visit websites. So even though it doesn’t make sense for most businesses to have an app or separate mobile version of their website, having an optimized mobile presence is a MUST!
The option that has emerged as the best mobile solution for businesses is responsive website design. With this approach, a website will automatically resize to a screen of any size. That means a site will load quickly, look great and offer full functionality on any mobile device, tablet or standard computer. And unlike the previous approach of having two versions of a website, responsive design is done through one set of code, which makes it very easy to manage.
How do you know if your current website has an optimized responsive design and is fully mobile friendly? The best way is to use Google’s free mobile friendly test tool.
What If You Don’t Pass the Mobile Friendly Test?
If you don’t pass Google’s test, it almost guarantees that your site isn’t ranking as well as it should for mobile searches. It also means that visitors who do come to your site via a mobile device are more likely to abandon it due to a less than optimal experience.
Since those issues mean your business is missing out on potential revenue every day, you need to fix them as soon as possible. That’s where Web Strategy Plus can help. With our responsive web design services, we can fully update to your site to ensure it’s completely mobile friendly.
To get your site’s mobile problem solved as soon as possible, contact us now for a free consultation and quote!
When people go online, there’s a good chance they’re doing it from a mobile device. Whether it’s on their phone while they’re out or using a tablet from the comfort of their couch, these devices are changing the way people of all ages interact with online content. What’s interesting about this behavior is it may not always be mirrored by the people creating the content that’s so often consumed on mobile devices.
Many content creators prefer to use laptops or even dual monitors as they create content that will be published online. While there’s nothing wrong with that type of workflow, it is important for creators and businesses to remember that the content they publish may be accessed on small screens with slower mobile connections.
To ensure that the hard work put into producing content doesn’t go to waste because someone wants to look at it on a smaller screen, here are the top content marketing strategies I’ve found for engaging mobile readers:
Direct mail copywriters use to spend a significant percentage of their time honing the headlines of their letters. This is just as important with mobile devices. Given that people are always a single tap away from games and other entertainment, taking time to perfect the headlines of your content is crucial for anyone to notice and care about it.
Start with a Bang
Once someone is drawn to a piece of content by the headline, you want to keep the momentum going. The best way to do that is by diving right into at least some of the meat of what you’re writing about. Even if it’s just a teaser, this will keep people moving deeper into your content.
Keep Paragraphs Short
No one wants to deal with reading a wall of text on a phone or tablet screen. You can make the reading experience a pleasant one by keeping paragraphs short and using subheadings throughout the body of your content.
Wrap It Up
Even if people are interested in a piece of content, they may still quickly scan through to the bottom. The good news is you can still connect with those types of readers by wrapping up what you’ve talked about at the end and including a relevant call to action.
Use Media Strategically
Images can be a great way to augment content and even make it more likely that people will share. The same can be true for embedding a video. Just be sure that these things are done in a way that will keep the content mobile friendly. With images, use a program to compress the size prior to embedding. And check a video once it’s embedded to ensure it’s not dramatically slowing down how long a post takes to load on a mobile connection or causing a weird sizing issue.
If you would like professional guidance for your content marketing, I’m here to help. Learn more about Web Strategy Plus and the content marketing services we offer.
“Michelle Hummel, CEO and founder of Web Strategy Plus LLC, feels her business is an excellent place to work because she offers the best tools and training to the Social Media Community Management team. The company also created Social Apps Match, a directory of social media tools and applications to keep employees up to date, she wrote in her application.
The company is a leader because it offers a one-stop shop for a multitude of services, in addition to investing in social media tools, training and community development. Also, Hummel founded Cincinnati Social Media Enthusiasts to offer training classes and a social media lunch. The group now has chapters in 11 cities across the country.
Hummel has ensured the company’s future success through options such as Web Media University, Social Apps Match, Franchise Success Team and more.
“Web Strategy Plus has built many tools, proprietary strategies and relationships nationwide that will ensure its continued success,” Hummel wrote.
She expects major growth this year, which she has already seen. Web Strategy Plus has been bringing on as many as five new accounts each month per franchisee.
As Web Strategy Plus is a leader in digital marketing, it has presented to 23 organizations, including the Clermont Chamber of Commerce Business Technology Summit, Northern Kentucky University and the Home Builders Association.” Read More
Facebook is currently in the process of rolling out design changes to business pages. If you’re wondering what this means for your page, we’re going to start by comparing the current and new designs, then share a few helpful tips for making the most of your page’s new look.
[Tweet theme="basic-white"]3 Notable Facebook Design Changes[/Tweet]
The first change is Facebook is reducing the width of the header image. Instead of stretching across the entire top, the new design reduces the width of this element to 3/4 of the page. The second change has to do with Facebook shops and services sections. If you have either enabled, they will now be prominently displayed on your page above all the status updates.
The third change applies to when you’re logged into Facebook and viewing your own page. When you’re looking for the promote button, it will now be in the left sidebar at the bottom instead of its previous position at top right of the cover photo. Related to this is statistics have been moved from that top right spot to below the status update box.
What You Can Do to Optimize Your Updated Business Page
Even though it always take a little time to adjust to a new design change like this, the good news is Facebook didn’t make any massive changes. In fact, most people agree that the new design changes look quite nice. Additionally, moving the shops and services sections higher up on the page should encourage more visitors to check out what businesses have to offer.
With that being said, this is still a change, which is why we want to cover a few ways to make the most of it. Previously, header images had multiple elements overlapping and covering them. The new design gives this image a dedicated space, which is why you should consider making it even more detailed than before. The recommended size for this image is 828 pixels wide and 360 pixels tall, which Facebook will then resize based on device and screen size.
Since the new design has a dedicated space for a call to action button, make sure you add one if you haven’t already. Otherwise, there will be a blank space in the upper portion of your page and you’ll miss out on the opportunity to drive targeted clicks. The same goes for filling out the information on the various tabs. These links are now more visible, so you don’t want someone to click and then not see anything interesting. You can go a step further by adding custom tabs as well.
If you want to make your Facebook page and other social media profiles look their absolute best, be sure to take a look at our social media design services.
Whether you’re launching a new website or want to redesign your existing business website, the decisions you make will determine whether the design is great or a flop. Since you want a design that’s going to look excellent and help your business achieve its goals online, I’ve put together a list of the top tips to ensure your new design is a winner:
Many websites now get more than half of their traffic from mobile devices. Because so many people are using devices with smaller screens as their primary way to get online, it’s important to have a website that’s going to be easy for them to access. The best method for handling mobile screens of all sizes is to use a responsive design. Going with this type of design will make your site work properly on any screen size in 2016 and beyond.
Have a Clear Goal for Each Page
Not only do you want your business website to look great, but it should also provide an excellent experience for visitors. One obstacle that can prevent a visitor from having a great experience is a website that’s difficult to navigate. You can avoid that type of issue by ensuring that every page added to your site has a clear goal. Additionally, pages should include a relevant call to action based on what you want visitors to do.
When in Doubt, Go with Less
There are a lot of decisions that will need to be made during the design process. Having to make so many decisions is why plenty of websites end up with far more design elements than they need. That’s why the best rule of thumb to follow is whenever you’re on the fence about whether or not an addition is necessary, your best bet is to leave it out. The result will be a cleaner design that visitors can navigate with ease.
Design with SEO in Mind
While building links and other off-page strategies are an important part of SEO, getting on-page right provides a foundation for success. You can ensure that all essential SEO elements are included by keeping this practice in mind throughout the design process.
Images and pictures are a great way to make a website more engaging. While it’s worth investing resources in getting quality images, it’s equally important to optimize them before adding them to a design. Optimizing an image means giving it an SEO friendly filename, as well as compressing its size. Compressing an image file will ensure it doesn’t slow down the amount of time it takes for your site to load.
When businesses start using social media, they usually reach a point where they’re interested in getting even more out of these channels. When that point is reached, one option that may come up is utilizing a social media community manager. Since this type of role is still something that’s fairly new, many businesses have questions about what exactly it means.
5 Things That a Great Social Media Community Manager Does
Another reason that it can be a little challenging to figure out what someone in this role does is they generally do quite a bit. The first task on the list of a social media community manager is creating content. While you may already have writers, designers or other individuals that help you produce content, it’s important to remember that every social platform is different. What a community manager can do is take existing pieces of content and properly optimize them to the unique nature of each platform.
The next thing a community manager for social media does is market analysis. Because individuals filling this type of role are interacting with prospects on a daily basis, they’re able to spot trends that can help a business improve their online marketing efforts. Additionally, a community manager can take the analytics collected for different social platforms and translate them into actionable information.
The third thing that a great social media manager will do is stay on top of the news. This includes news surrounding the industry a business is in, along with broader news that’s relevant to the business. There are a few reasons why this type of activity is important. Not only does it provide content and things for a manager to engage with social users about, but it can also expose opportunities where it makes sense for a business to create their own content around a specific event.
Fourth on the list is providing customer service. When a business is on social media, they’re going to interact with both prospects and existing customers. As social media becomes a primary form of communication for more people, providing customer service through these platforms is going from something that’s helpful to a mandatory benchmark. Having an active community manager can help a business stay on top of any customer service issues that come up via social.
Last but certainly not least, a social manager facilitates opportunities. From collaborating with influencers to highlighting especially passionate customers on social media, having someone consistently focused on this type of social interaction can create a lot of interesting opportunities.
If you’re interested in reaping all the benefits that the right social media community manager can offer but don’t want to hire a full-time employee for this role, learn more about the solution Web Strategy Plus can provide.
There was a time when most people thought that LinkedIn was only useful during a job search. But as the site has continued to grow and develop, it has become the leading social network for professionals across countless industries. So whether you’re interested in finding new leads, networking or simply want to learn new strategies that you can apply to your business, LinkedIn is the place to go.
Because LinkedIn continues to grow and develop at a rapid pace, the platform is always gaining new features. Given how powerful LinkedIn has become, it’s easy to overlook some really compelling features. That’s why I want to cover a handful of great LinkedIn features you may not know about but will want to start using now:
Optimize Your Profile By Reordering It
A standard LinkedIn profile follows the format of summary, experience and endorsements. Then within sections, the site has a default method for how information is displayed. Although many users assume that’s the format they have to stick with, LinkedIn actually makes it possible to change the order of both the sections and the content within them. By making even just a couple of tweaks, you can ensure that the information you care about the most is what people first see when they look at your profile.
Personalize LinkedIn Requests
As with profiles, LinkedIn has a default format for requests that are sent. While these requests can be a great way to grow your network, they can appear spammy at times. You can combat that issue by using the mobile app to customize your requests. The way to do this is instead of clicking the connect button when you look at someone’s profile, click the three dots that are displayed in the upper right. Choose Personalize Invite, and then you’ll be able to write any message you want.
Join More Groups
When people start investing some time in growing their LinkedIn presence, they usually discover that groups provide numerous benefits. If you’re part of groups but it’s been awhile since you’ve looked at any new ones, you may not know that LinkedIn now allows you to join up to 100. Given the value that participating in groups can provide, it’s worth looking into joining at least a few more.
Video is the Future
The amount of video that’s watched online every single day is amazing. As the Internet continues to become more interactive via video, you can take advantage of what this medium has to offer by adding at least one to your profile. And if your business has a YouTube channel with multiple videos, you can easily connect it to LinkedIn.
If you have any other questions about LinkedIn or how you can use social media to market your business online, you can easily get answers by contacting Web Strategy Plus.
One of the best ways for companies to get more out of their social media efforts is to get their employees involved. Not only does including employees in social media make it easier to consistently produce content, but having multiple perspectives is interesting for customers and other individuals who follow or encounter your company on social media.
Although there’s a lot of value in including employees from all parts of your company in social media, this idea generally brings up the same concern. That concern is how can a company be sure that the employees who are communicating on behalf of the company will do so in a way that reflects the company’s brand and avoid posting things that could have a negative impact.
Since there are companies that have had to deal with an employee posting something less than desirable on social media, this is a legitimate concern. Fortunately, there is a solution for reaping the benefits of having engaged employees on social media while also protecting your company’s brand. That solution is a social media policy.
How to Create and Implement a Social Media Policy
A great social media policy will accomplish two things. First, it will provide employees with guidance on how to contribute to your company’s social media activity. By providing a clear overview of your brand, along with examples of both good and bad social media posts related to your company, you’ll be able to maximize social media collaboration in a positive way.
The other component of a strong social media policy is it covers what is and isn’t acceptable for employees in regards to their personal posting activity. In terms of the individual elements of this part of your social media policy, we recommend keeping the following in mind:
1. Communicate to employees that you understand they may have complaints some times and provide an actual way for those complaints to be heard that doesn’t involve social media.
2. Your policy should cover exactly what’s considered confidential company information and should never be shared via social.
3. Explain to employees that what they post online can spread beyond their intended audience and that they will be held responsible for what they share on all social media platforms.
4. Outline how employees should engage with other people who may be critical of your company. This will prevent mistakes from being posted in the heat of the moment.
5. Make sure your social media policy is educational and provides a direct contact person for any employee who has additional questions.
If you need expert help creating an optimal social media policy for your company, contact Web Strategy Plus today to discuss how we can assist with the creation and implementation of your policy.