Website maintenance is the perfect example. It might seem unnecessary – and you might wonder if it’s something you can ignore.
Hot tip: It’s not. In fact, website maintenance is essential to everything from SEO to user engagement – and those things both lead directly to your bottom line. Here’s why.
Google and Website Maintenance
Let’s start with something that’s a huge priority for most business owners: earning (and keeping) a high Google rank for your primary keywords.
As you know, Google doesn’t make its search algorithm public. However, we do no some things about it. For example, we know that:
WordPress and Website Maintenance
If you used WordPress to build your site, then you need to do routine maintenance to ensure that your theme, security, and plugins are all up-to-date.
In fact, that’s true of any Content Management System (CMS) websites, including Drupal, Joomla, Magento, and others.
A failure to do regular (at least monthly) updates on your website can lead to a host of problems, including slow loading times, security breaches, and even a drop in your page rank with Google.
Most updates don’t take long and considering the negative impact they can have on your website, they’re worth doing regularly.
Website Maintenance and the User Experience
What does website maintenance have to do with the way users experience your website? The short answer is: quite a lot.
You’ve probably had the experience of clicking on a link from Google’s SERP and landing on a page that’s slow to load. You may have hit the back button to return to the list of search results and try another site. In other words, you bounced – and that means that, as a user, you had a negative experience with that site.
A user’s experience on your website can also be affected by these things:
Website Maintenance and Security
We’ve already covered several reasons that website maintenance should be a priority, but there’s one more – and it’s hugely important.
The security of your website – that means everything from your data to your users’ privacy to your server – depends upon regular website maintenance.
Let’s use WordPress as an example. If you have a WordPress site, then you’re probably using multiple plugins, whether they’re free or premium, to give your site the features you want. Any plugin has the potential to give hackers access to your site if it’s not properly maintained.
It’s your responsibility to install any updates and patches as soon as they become available. You’ve also got to ensure that your code is up-to-date and that you’ve done things like update your site to HTTPS to protect and encrypt your data.
What You Can Do Right Now to Maintain Your Website
You know why website maintenance should be a priority, but what can you do about it right now? Here are some quick suggestions.
Maintaining Your Website is a Must…
Website maintenance might not be glamorous, but it can spell the difference between building a meaningful web presence and having your website fall off the map. Dedicating just a little time to it each month will ensure that users to your site have a great experience – and that your data is safe.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: it’s not enough. If all you’re doing is updating your anti-virus software and filtering out spam, you’re still vulnerable.
Scared? You should be. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something to protect yourself. Cybersecurity experts are working constantly to stay ahead of hackers. Here are 8 ways you can protect your website and data.
#1: Keep All Software Updated
Have you ever received a notification that your software needed an update and delayed it because it wasn’t convenient? The answer is probably yes, and yet delaying updates for your website can leave you vulnerable to hackers.
One of the best ways to protect your site is to install all updates and patches as soon as they are available. Yes, it can be a pain to do it. But you need to weigh that against the inconvenience and cost of being hacked. Any software, application, or plug-in you use should be as up-to-date as possible at all times.
#2: Install an SSL Certificate on Your Site
As of 2018, Google Chrome is displaying a warning on any site that doesn’t use HTTPS protocol to protect its data. But that’s only part of the problem.
Having a secure site will build trust with your users. More importantly, it will make it far more difficult for a hacker to gain access to your data or to use it in the event they can break through your other defenses.
There are several types of SSL certificates. You can read about them here and decide which one is best suited to your needs.
#3: Require Strong Passwords
When you log into your site on WordPress, do you use a password that you also use for other sites? When was the last time you changed it? If the answers are yes and never, it’s time to create a new password, one that uses upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and special symbols.
At the same time, look at your password requirements for your site’s other users. If you allow clients to sign in on a portal, you should require them to use strong passwords and update them regularly. This is a common-sense change you can make that can prevent hackers from accessing your site.
#4: Hide Your Admin and Login Folders in Plain Sight
Hackers sometimes take the easy way out and scan websites for folders with names like ‘admin’ or ‘login.’ They can focus their attention on those folders and, if they’re successful, gain access to your data through them.
There’s actually a very easy way to prevent this – or at least, to make it more difficult for hackers to find your folders. Instead of giving your folders obvious names, try giving them innocuous names that don’t reveal their importance. A determined hacker may still be able to find them, but at least you won’t have made it easy for them.
#5: Use Double Validation for Form Data
Do you collect data using forms that are embedded in your website? If you do, then the potential exists for a hacker to inject malicious code using the form. And, if your form is in a “one and done” format, you’re making it easier than it should be for them to do exactly that.
The solution is to use double validation for all of your form data. That way, you can accomplish two things:
#6: Limit File Uploads
If your website has a customer portal where users can upload files, you’ve got to be careful to include extra security measures around the uploads. Why? Because an infected file could easily take your website down. A user might even upload a file they don’t know is infected.
There are a lot of things you can do to protect yourself, but the best option is to quarantine uploaded files outside of your server, so they can be scanned before you allow them in. You should also use secure transport methods (like SFTP or SSH) when allowing files to be uploaded from the internet. Learn more here.
#7: Minimize Administrative Access to Your Site
How many people have the login information for your site? If you have given administrative authority to multiple employees, then you could be opening yourself up to attacks by giving hackers more potential entry points to your data.
Does that mean you should deny anyone access to your site? Not necessarily. But here’s what you should do:
Website Security Should Be Your Priority
A lot of small and medium-sized businesses think they won’t be targeted by hackers because they don’t store the same kind of data that big organizations do. Don’t make that mistake. Even a small data breach can do irreparable harm to your business, causing you to lose money. Even worse, it can damage the trust you’ve built with your clients.
In fact, I’ll take it a step further. If you’re not opening your inbox to find new leads from your website every day, you might as well not have a website.
The good news is, you can change that. Your website might be basic or have all the bells and whistles. It might be years old or freshly designed. No matter what it looks like, you can make it better and turn it into a 24-hour marketing machine.
I’m not going to bore you with the same old advice you’ve heard a million times. You know that your site needs great content and a killer call to action. Instead, let’s dig into some of the next-level stuff you can do to kick your website’s lead-generating power into high gear.
Do a Complete Website Audit for SEO and User Experience
Audits. Nobody likes them, but they’re necessary if you want to fine-tune your website and get more leads than you are now.
A website audit should look at two things. The first thing is SEO. You want to make sure that:
The second element of your audit should focus on the user experience. You may even want to hire testers to pinpoint roadblocks on your site. If your pages take too long to load or your site is difficult to understand, user testing can help you get to the bottom of it. You can find a list of effective usability tools here, including some that will allow you to create heat maps of your site even mimic the eye movements of users.
Use Responsive Content
For many local businesses, creating one-size-fits-all content is the goal. It’s certainly easier to do that than to work on unique content based on the user’s preferences and needs. But I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s also holding you back in terms of conversions.
You have two basic options when it comes to tailoring your content to a visitor’s interests:
Here’s a simple example of responsive content. This martial arts school prompts visitors to choose a program on the home page. Once they do, they get a page of content where they can choose “pain points” to see the benefits of the program.
Once they finish choosing, the page would display information related to their choices, including benefits and frequently asked questions like this.
Writing this type of content doesn’t take any more time than it would take to write individual pages of content. It ensures that every visitor to your site feels that they matter. You can even offer lead magnets that are tailored to each product if you choose.
Live Updates and Chat
What happens when someone visits your website outside of your regular business hours? If the answer is that visitors are greeted with a static site that does nothing to acknowledge their presence, then it might be time for an update.
Interactive and live content can help you engage new visitors to your site and give the impression that you’re there to serve them even if you’re at home with your family. There are two simple changes you can make that will engage visitors at any time of day.
The first is by providing live updates. That means displaying a notification any time someone new fills out your contact form or buys your product. This is something we’ve been seeing on some sales pages as well as on website home pages.
To see an example, check out the website for Inspire Martial Arts in Burbank, CA. They display a notification that reads, “Jane from Burbank requested information about our classes.” If your site gets a decent amount of traffic, these notifications will capture visitors’ attention and create a sense of urgency.
The second option is live chat. You’ve probably noticed live chat windows popping up on some of the websites you visit. They often have a greeting, something like “Hi! How can we help you?”
The technology behind this type of live chat is actually less complicated (and less expensive) than you might think. It’s basically a chatbot that can be programmed with simple answers to your most commonly asked questions. If you’ve got an online store, your chatbot can even make product suggestions.
It might surprise you to learn that there are programs that will allow you to design your own chatbot. Of course, you can pay a programmer – and you may need to if you want your bot to engage in complex interactions. But if all you want is a simple bot to give the impression that you’re available at all times, you can check out this article for more information on DIY options.
FAQs and Self Service
If it’s been a long time since you updated your FAQs, then reviewing them and adding some updated information with internal links to your lead forms and sales pages can go a long way toward helping your website generate leads.
Not sure which questions to answer? Try checking your social media pages for ideas. Your followers probably ask questions and if several people ask the same question, it should be part of your FAQ.
A related issue is self-service options. The more information you provide on your site, the more likely it is that visitors will want to buy from you. Providing articles, links, infographics, and other information can help you keep visitors engaged and increase your conversions.
There’s no reason your website shouldn’t be generating leads around the clock. In addition to the usual advice about your content, images, design, and call to action, the four areas we’ve outlined here can help you engage visitors, get more leads, and ultimately, close more sales.
It seems that entrepreneurs either really LOVE or really HATE social media... There doesn't seem to be a lot of middle ground. And what’s worse is that posting just isn’t enough today, you have to create engagement. Engagement is the key to online visibility and a successful social media marketing strategy. Facebook rewards engagement by opening your content to new viewers so if your post doesn’t get any traction early it is most likely doomed to not be seen.
For a post to be successful you must engage your followers by interacting with them and encouraging them to interact with each other. This means sharing, liking, commenting, mentioning, messaging, and more. If you can successfully create this interaction, you will see your visibility, credibility and audience grow and become more active over time.
Keep reading to find the 5 things you can do TODAY to increase your online visibility and engagement to create the credibility and sales you need to grow and thrive online.
1. Get Personal
Let your audience get to know you. Remember people do business with people so you need to showcase you, your talents and your interests.
Entrepreneurs seem to either LOVE or HATE social media. There doesn't seem to be a lot middle ground here. There are many reasons for this but the most prevalent reason is that there are so many people that are introverts that do not like to promote themselves at all.
Whether you love it or hate it there are probably some things you can do to get more personal. Start blending a little more of your personal life into your posts. People want to know you.
2. Get Engaged
Asking and answering questions is a great way to put yourself out there to make new connections. The first rule of social media is to be social. The best way to sell on social media is to sell yourself first. Don't just drop product links and hope people will buy.
Asking questions on your profile, pages and groups will get people involved even if it isn't business related. It will also help to open the algorithm for your posts to be seen by more people. The more you can get people to engage the more your posts will be seen. As people start to engage with your content they will see it more regularly. That means they will see your promotions as well.
People do business with people and you have to make connections for people to know, like and trust you. Answering questions is the best way to help and let people get to know you and ultimately trust you to buy your products or services.
3. Get Current
Current events are a great way to capitalize on local and national happenings. There is no shortage of content surrounding events. People are always celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and more. Celebrating with gifs and comments can go a long way for exposure.
People love to be recognized so be on the lookout for accomplishments that you can congratulate others for as well. Be sure to post your own content but be on the lookout for other people's content that you can like, comment and share to gain exposure.
There are always specific hashtags for events to be sure to use those to get more traction and exposure for your content.
4. Get Inspired
Since the invention of social media networking, sharing inspirational quotes has been the most widely used form of posting on social media. Today with all of the negativity and bulling on social media we could all use a little more encouragement.
There are many ways to encourage and share good will online. Today we are going to go over a five ways you can inspire and encourage others to take action. People are naturally drawn to positive people and will want to join in which in turn pays it forward!
Inspiring others to take action will make people take note of your ability to lead and hopefully want to work with you.
5. Get a Plan
Social media is an extremely fast moving form of media and of course you can fly by the seat of your pants and post all willy nilly but you won't get good traction with that approach.
Social media can also suck you in and trap you for hours if you are not careful. You need to have a plan of action and know the steps you need to take when it comes to using social media for business.
There are some simple steps that will allow you to save time in the long run. Most of these are one time steps that will help you organize and streamline the process.
Having a plan will help you to have more time for engagement activities like commenting and interacting with others thereby making real connections.
Need Step by Step Help with Implementing These?
Facebook continues to be one of the most popular and influential social media platforms in the world with more than one billion active users.
As a business, you can no longer continue to leave Facebook out of your online marketing strategy.
If you want to grow your business, you have to have a presence on Facebook. However, to be successful, and build your Facebook fan base, you have to be engaged with your audience.
Here are five of the best ways that you can boost Facebook engagement and increase your fan base.
A great way to spark dialogue with your audience is to ask them questions. It’s by far one of the easiest ways to boost audience engagement on your Facebook fan page. The type questions that you can ask to get your fans to engage with you are endless. The key is to just get the conversation started.
Include Call to Actions
Unfortunately, from a marketing standpoint using clear CTA’s is something a lot of small businesses simply overlook.
Placing a call to action on your website pages and social media platforms sends psychological nudges that are proven to help you drive your audience to respond the way you want.
Want your audience to click here, call now, or schedule a consultation? Then tell them to do so. People tend to respond more often when they are told what to respond to.
Get the Timing Right
This may be obvious, but when it comes to posting to your Facebook page, timing is crucial. Facebook’s organic reach is already pretty low so the last thing that you want to do is post when everyone is working or sleeping.
Numerous studies have proven that the best times to engage with your audience is to post at 9 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm. These are the times that your audience is most likely to check for updates. Scheduling your posts ahead of time is an easy way to keep your audience engaged, even when you’re not online.
Utilize Facebook Ads
Due to Facebook's newest algorithm, only a small fraction of your audience will get to see the wall posts on your Facebook page. If you want to boost the engagement of your audience, you can promote it through page post story ads, which will help your posts reach more people.
The frequency that you post has been shown to have a significant effect on Facebook engagement. According to recent studies, businesses that post one or two times per day have 40 percent higher engagement rate than those who post more than three times per day.
What works for some businesses may not work for others when it comes to boosting audience engagement. But generally speaking these tips are a great place to start if you want to increase your engagement with your audience, and generate more targeted traffic to your business.
Promoting your business online in today's short attention span theater isn't easy. Even those companies that currently rank well on search engines or have a thriving social media presence still face stiff competition. But simply ranking fairly well and engaging with your audience on social media is going to cut it.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, an effective content marketing strategy is a must. Developing and executing an effective content marketing campaign takes a lot of work, but it will be well worth the long term benefits it can provide your business.
Every time you add a new post to your blog, it’s another page that Google is going to index. While having more pages doesn’t necessarily correlate to more search traffic, it does give you the opportunity to rank higher for more search queries. By targeting long-tail keywords and topics that your customers search for, you won’t have any trouble appearing in those searches with your archived information.
Higher Domain Authority
Producing more, higher-quality content will increase your perceived authority, expertise, relevance, and trust of your site and business. When your content gets more inbound links from external sources, your domain authority rises. A higher domain authority directly relates to higher search rankings.
Increased Conversion Potential
The primary reason to create content is to engage, inform, help, and bring value to your audience. Once you’ve taken care of this, you can use the remaining space to pitch what your business has to offer. When done right, this can lead to a noticeable increase in your conversion rate.
Improved Brand Recognition
The people that are reading your content are building an impression of your business. When visitors are looking for helpful information to a problem or an immediate need they have, and they find what they are searching for on your website – This builds trust and credibility, and you can quickly become an authority with your audience.
Decreased Marketing Costs
The only thing that content marketing will cost you is time (and effort) but it can provide a pretty darn good ROI. Effective content marketing isn’t a race. But you’ll get there. The sooner you start investing your time in a solid content marketing campaign, the sooner you'll begin to see results.
No matter what you are looking to achieve, whether its higher conversion rates, increased traffic, or a genuine relationship with your customers, there’s no reason not to include content marketing in your overall marketing strategy.
It’s easy to share images of entrées you serve in your restaurant. And who is really going to complain about your new fall fashion line for your boutique clothing store?
And if your business sells items like handmade crafts, you have definitely got an “in” on Instagram. But, does this mean that every business should consider using Instagram as part of their marketing strategy?
It IS possible for just about any business to use Instagram. But, some businesses may need to be more strategic than others in their approach.
.. And may end up with unfollows if you this approach.
If your business doesn’t translate well on Instagram, you may have to think of alternative methods to get your message out. For example, that same insurance agency could use images of disaster aftermaths and their company disaster relief team helping the people who were affected.
Then ask your followers to comment about their own experiences & encourage them to share their own images.
This is just one example of the many ways you can engage with your audience through Instagram, even if you don’t think you have post worthy content to share.
The more you get your followers involved, the easier it will be to get people to share. Also, the higher the influence of the people sharing, the greater the reach.
This is not to say you should just simply focus on influencers, but, they can definitely expedite the growth of your following.
Instagram is a new medium for small businesses but that is changing, and there hasn’t been a better time to “get in” when it’s good.
Do a little competitor research and find other insurance companies on Instagram (or whatever your business happens to be) and pay attention to the type of engagement that is happening. If It works for them, there is a good chance something similar can work for you.
Another option is to consider partnering with other businesses that are complimentary to yours. Connect with these businesses and brainstorm some mutually beneficial promotional ideas.
One idea is to offer special discounts for your partner’s business through your Instagram and your partner does the same for you. Keep in mind REFERRAL business is the BEST business. And both businesses benefit by tapping into a fresh customer base.
It’s important to not lose sight of the fact that Instagram is a social platform. Be less willing to sell and more willing to reach out and help others. Be involved in a meaningful way.
Find ways to give valuable content that makes it easy for followers to share it and you might find Instagram to be a great platform for your business… No matter what business that happens to be.
When it comes to establishing a strong foothold within your industry, it is absolutely necessary to build a unique and recognized brand that aligns with a clear and direct brand message.
Your brand message should clearly and concisely convey to potential customers what you have to offer, and how committed you are to providing quality and value.
But here’s the thing… “You aren’t the one who defines your brand message – your customers do!”
However, your customers will be the ones who decide what your overall brand image is based on their interactions with your business.
A well-defined, strategic brand message can build instant credibility in your industry, while helping you gain authority in your market and shape how customers perceive your business. It’s quite often the key difference between a well-structured online presence, and a faltering business that is struggling to connect with its audience.
So, how can you build a recognized brand that provides a clear message that resonates with your market?
Start by thinking about your target audience and what is most important to them. Once you’ve evaluated your audience, you will be able to position yourself so that you are directly addressing their most burning questions, concerns and needs.
To do this, you need to gather as much intel on your market as possible, which you can do easily just by looking at the competition.
What are other business owners and product developers offering your audience? What kind of products and services are they successfully selling?
Take things to social media and begin by evaluating social signals – which are clear indicators as to what is currently in demand, popular and selling well. The higher level of interaction, the more advertising dollars spent, and the more engagement; the better.
Knowing how to develop a strategic brand message begins by recognizing what is already successful and improving on it within your own business.
You want to become the go-to person in your niche market, the obvious choice when customers are considering who to turn to when making their purchasing decisions.
When you work towards building an unwavering presence in your market, starting with a strong foundation of trust, you’ll eliminate the initial barriers standing in the way of you connecting with your target audience.
To do that, you need to learn as much about them (your customers) as possible so that you can build a brand around what is most likely to capture their attention.
You’ll also be able to lower the barrier of resistance and leave a lasting impression on them. When you do that, they’ll come back to you time and time again.
And how do you do begin? It starts with what is called a U.S.P.
USP stands for unique selling proposition (or unique selling point), and it is critical that you establish what yours will be right from the start.
What U.S.P Really Means
Contrary to popular belief, a USP has nothing to do with logos, slogans or graphic design.
Sure, those are components of your overall brand that help people identify your products and recognize you, however, a USP is far more important than that when it comes to building your customer base, and breaking through the barriers of resistance that most businesses experience when they first appear in their market.
A USP is what truly tells potential customers how you are different from the competition. It helps to align your goals with your customer’s. Your USP tells them that you can be trusted, that you have their best interests at heart, and that you fulfill all promises. And most importantly, a USP ensures you aren’t a faceless brand.
This would include key factors that differentiate a product or service from its competition, such as the lowest price, an extended, no-risk guarantee, a unique or exclusive product or offer not found anywhere else, or the first-ever product of its kind.
Your USP should also demonstrate your dedication to satisfying customers, and provide reassurance that you stand by your products, and that there is no risk to your customer when doing business with you.
To start, think about what your product or service has that the competition doesn’t.
Consider ways you can highlight those differences and emphasize the benefits. Paint a clear picture as to why a prospect is making a wiser, sound decision to purchase your product instead of someone else’s.
Your USP is the driving force behind clearly illustrating value and giving potential customers a reason to purchase from you rather than the competition. That’s its one and only job.
Creating a unique brand that stands out in your industry and communicates to customers that you have something better to offer than your competitors can be an up hill climb at times, and nobody said it would be easy.
The key is to focus on defining how your brand is different than others and why customers should choose you over the competition and then going the extra mile for them.
A stagnating business is more likely to fail than one that’s growing.
I mean, let’s face it. That’s just common sense. Businesses that experience new growth – in the form of new customers – have an advantage over businesses that are barely managing to hold onto their existing customers.
That’s not to say that customer retention doesn’t matter. It does! But attracting new customers is a must. And it can be expensive.
In fact, research shows that attracting a new customer can be up to 10 times as costly as retaining an existing customer.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. And, not all customer-attraction methods are necessarily expensive. Here are seven (relatively) low-cost ways to acquire new customers and grow your business.
#1: Update Your Audience Research
I’m always amazed when I talk to business owners and they tell me that the last time they conducted audience research was years ago.
That’s crazy. Audiences change. You’ve got to know who’s interested in your products – and why they’re interested – if you’re going to understand how to bring your audience to your site.
If it’s been a while since you conducted any audience research, it’s time to get back on the horse. For example, you can:
- Check your analytics and look for new trends
- Create a customer survey and email it to your list
- Do a social media survey
#2: Know Your Competition
Competitor research is another key component of customer acquisition. After all, you and your competitors are vying for the same audience. Knowing what they do and how they’re doing it can help you pull ahead in the race for new business.
A couple of easy tactics to use include:
- Tracking your competitor’s backlinks and traffic
- Monitoring your competitor’s social mentions
- Doing a complete audit of their websites
- Reading their blog and other marketing materials
#3: Focus on Benefits, not Features
Another common mistake business owners make is getting too wrapped up in their product’s cool features at the expense of considering the customer’s experience.
Let’s face it. A potential customer doesn’t want to hear your brag about how awesome your product is. They want to know what it’s going to do for them.
Don’t tell them that a frying pan has a non-stick surface. Tell them that it will simplify their clean-up! That’s a simple example, but it illustrates the point.
You can list your products features briefly, but most of your marketing should focus on benefits. Think about your customer (see #1) and the problem they want solved. Then, explain how your product will solve it.
#4: Build Trust with Your Target Audience
If you know anything about marketing, then you know about the Rule of 7. It says that, on average, a customer must have seven interactions with your brand before they’ll buy from you.
The key to building trust is to use those seven “touches” wisely. You’ll need to be consistent. That means knowing your audience, having a clear vision for your brand, and using the same voice for all your online content, whether it’s on your website or social media.
And speaking of social media, it’s ideal for building trust. You can connect with your followers every day without seeing overly sales-y or obnoxious.
#6: Pair with Other Businesses
You can’t expect your direct competitors to refer business to you. That would be counterproductive for them. But that doesn’t mean that B2B referrals aren’t possible.
Try searching for businesses in your niche – or in a related niche – that aren’t in direct competition with you. Then, approach the owners about the potential for a reciprocal referral program or joint venture.
For example, if you sell dog training products and there’s a company that sells cleaning products for people with pets, you could pair up to create special offers and referrals. You might link to their site and have them link to yours, and you could even create limited time offers and specials.
The key is that you’ll get access to their customer base and they’ll get access to yours – and you probably won’t have to spend anything to do it.
#5: Create a Referral Program
It’s important not to ignore your current customers as ambassadors for your brand. After all, who’s in a better position to tell new customers about the benefits of buying from you?
The key is not to assume that your existing customers will spread the word about you and your products. They might do it without prompting, but why not make it easy for them? A strong referral program can bring you snew business on a regular basis.
Many referral programs incentivize referrals. For example, you might offer customers a free product (or a free month of service) in return for a referral. Or, you might host a special event for customers who refer new business to you.
Make sure to specify the terms of any rewards and to provide customers with what they need to make referrals, whether it’s a supply of business cards or brochures or a dedicated URL on your website.
#7: Create Shareable Coupons and Offers
A referral program is one thing. But what if you could convince your existing social media followers to spread the word about your products in return for a simple coupon?
You can! The next time you’re running a promotion, encourage your followers to share it. Your call to action can say something like, “Why keep all the savings for yourself? Share this post with your friends and family so they can get a bargain, too!”
The key is not to assume that people will share your content. They may not know that it’s okay with you for them to do so – so make sure to ask in your call to action.
New customers aren’t everything…
But, if you want your business to grow, you’ll need to expand your reach. These 7 simple tips can help you attract new customers without blowing through your marketing budget. Instead, you can use them to blow past your competition!
If people can’t find your website, they’re not going to buy from you.
Sounds simple, right? It’s internet marketing 101. You can’t expect people to purchase your products or try your services if you’re essentially invisible to them.
Google is the world’s top search engine. They also own YouTube, which is the second-largest search engine. That means that getting a high rank on Google can make or break your business.
So, all you need to do is focus on the things that are most important to Google and you’ll be home-free.
Here are the 5 things you need to know to improve your site’s rank and rise to the top (or as close as possible) on Google’s SERP.
#1: Backlinks to Quality Sites Still Carry Weight
In a Q & A session from March of 2017, Google revealed their top three ranking factors. Backlinks were number one. Since Google rarely comments publicly about their algorithm, we can’t say for certain that backlinks are still number one, but it’s safe to assume they’re very close to the top.
A backlink is any link that leads from another site to yours. If you want backlinks to have a positive impact on your Google rank, they must be from authority sites. Multiple links from the same site won’t help you since Google evaluates backlinks based on domains, not volume.
Remember that spammy backlinks won’t help you. In fact, they may hurt you. When a low-quality site links to yours, Google may associate your quality site with their low-quality content or practices. Instead of buying links or engaging in other “black hat” practices, focus on organically building quality links.
#2: Content is Still King
The next most important ranking factor is your content. Google’s aim is to provide highly relevant, quality content to searchers. The better your content is, the more likely it is that your site will rise to the top of the SERP.
Not all quality is created equal. You can signal quality to Google by doing the following things:
- Use keywords properly. Keyword stuffing won’t help you, but using keywords in your URL, title tag, H1/H2 tags, alt tags, and in the first paragraph of your content will.
- Make your content long enough to be satisfying. There’s no specific word count to aim for. Instead, your goal should be providing visitors to your site with the information they’re looking for. If you do that, they’ll be satisfied – and your rank will reflect it.
- Make your content comprehensible. By that, we don’t mean making sure people can read it. Rather, it has to do with providing context for your content. The use of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) words can help. In other words, remember that your content doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
#3: Mobile Responsiveness is a Must
The next thing to consider is whether your site is mobile-friendly. As of 2017, more than half of all Google searches were conducted on mobile devices. That’s not something you can ignore.
If you’ve been paying any attention to developments at Google, you know that their Mobilegeddon update in 2015 penalized sites that weren’t mobile friendly. As of 2018, not being mobile friendly will have a negative impact on your Google rank.
Mobile users expect the sites they visit to be easy to use – whether they’re accessing them on a smartphone or a tablet. They’re not going to frequent your site if:
- They must wait too long for it to load
- The buttons are too small for them to use properly
- They must scroll horizontally to read your content
- They can’t access the same content they can on a computer
#4: Slow Loading Pages Will Drive Users Away & Affect Rankings
Web users are notoriously impatient. People who visit your site will expect it load quickly. If it doesn’t, they’ll find another site, instead.
Since “quickly” is a relative word, let’s talk about what it means. One study found that 47% of web users expect a site to load in two seconds. Of those, 40% will navigate away if the site takes longer than that to load.
You can test your site’s speed with Google’s Page Speed Insights tool. If it’s too slow to load, you’ll need to address the situation. Some things that may affect your loading speed are:
- Poorly optimized images
- No Content Delivery Network (CDN)
- No caching plugin (WP Rocket is an example)
#5: HTTPS is a Must
You probably know that, as of 2017, Google is penalizing sites that aren’t secure. That means that if you aren’t already using HTTPS, you should be.
HTTPS provides a secure user experience for your site. Sites that use HTTPS display a webicon of a lock. Those that aren’t secure get a message stating that the site isn’t secure, instead.
Switching to HTTPS requires buying a security certificate, installing it, and rerouting traffic from your HTTP site to the new HTTPS site. Once you do, your site will display the lock icon and you may get a boost in your Google rank, too.
Google’s Algorithm is Proprietary…
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t take steps to improve your site’s rank. The five ranking factors listed here are key to moving up the SERP – and getting the search traffic you deserve.