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  • 8 Rules for Designing Call-to-Action Bars

    A call-to-action (CTA) bar is a widget area on your page, typically in a color that stands out from the rest of the design and invites visitors to take an action. Using anchor text in your call to action can increase your conversion rate by as much as 121 percent. Call to actions matter, and the way you deliver them matters.

    You already know that UX is extremely important – the user experience is everything if you want visitors to stay on your site. Figuring out the best way to present even a CTA bar can mean the difference between strong conversions and weak ones. If you aren’t quite sure how to utilize a CTA bar, here are eight rules you can follow to make sure yours is as effective as possible.

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  • How Data Visualization Benefits All Industries

    Even the most skilled analyst has difficulty reading raw data because it's nothing more than a wall of text, numbers or data points. Looking at a long list of addresses and city locations, for example, doesn't really give you a clear understanding of the regions where most of your audience comes from. Sure, you can probably identify several cities or states, but that doesn't offer anything actionable.

    To take collected, raw data and turn it into something useful or practical, you must utilize a process called data visualization. More importantly, data visualization allows you to present data to nearly everyone on a team, even those unfamiliar with the information or content in question. For example, you can make charts and diagrams to explain a particular demographic or data set to executives. With the right tools, you could even just send them the visualized data, and they'll be able to
    understand it.

    Of course, none of this is possible with raw data.

    data visualization

    1. Understand or Identify Value

    One thing that is increasingly common these days, thanks to big data systems, is that the information we are collecting streams in endlessly. While not technically accurate, this notion is correct in the sense that you'll always have something new to process or analyze. The problem with raw data is that it may never reveal or even have inherent value. You may have a long list of telephone numbers or email addresses, for example, that give no clear indication of how or what to use them for.

    Step one regarding data visualization is to discern how valuable the data you have in your hands is. This enables several things, the most obvious of which is the option to put that information to use internally. But it also tells you what data is most valuable, providing you with even more assets to sell or barter with. You could take the data you have, for instance, and sell it on a second or third party marketplace. Even though it may not directly help with your brand and processes, it can still be valuable to someone else — and help you by creating an additional revenue stream.

    Visual content is a must if you want to capture the attention of your audience. But you would be none the wiser if you merely threw up some media on your brand's social profiles and then checked back every so often. You'd only be able to discern what was popular and what wasn't. You'd never be able to apply that information to future campaigns or posts. With data visualization systems in place, however, you can better understand which visual content works, how, why your audience likes it and even pinpoint exactly who likes it.

    2. Near Instant Access to Business Insights

    Whether you are at the top of a company as an executive or c-suite member or you're further down the ladder as a project or department manager, the information you need to make informed, accurate decisions is mostly the same. You need a clear, comprehensive picture of the steps you are going to take so that you can make accurate predictions and use this as a basis for your decisions.

    In layman's terms, you can look at various conditions or scenarios and gauge how they're going to affect your business.

    Data visualization processes allow you to see these connections, to make sense of what and why something is happening. For example, you can see how a particular decision affected your most recent shipments, and what that resulted in on the consumer side of the equation. This allows you to either change or optimize the process, ultimately, to boost that bottom line.

    Simply put, you cannot make a decision or take action — at least not efficiently — without the proper insights. Data visualization is the act of taking all the data you have and making it practical or actionable so that you can extract insights.

    AOL teamed up with a data analyst team at Dapresy to iron out a more actionable way to reach their audience with the data they were collecting. As a result, they were able to meet ballooning business objectives, unlock hidden insights and increase their customers' confidence in them.

    3. Stay Up to Date With Trends

    The general market is continually shifting, and when you have an ever-changing audience, you have to stay on the bleeding edge. It's difficult though, especially when it comes to making accurate predictions about trends, to predict which way they're going to go. If you align your business objectives to match a growing trend, and it does the opposite and disappears, you're going to lose out on a lot of opportunities and waste a lot of resources.

    Data visualization helps you take control of the situation and plan for the worst while optimizing for the best. It offers the insights and statistics to spot trends and opportunities early so that you can take full advantage of them.

    More importantly, with the data compiled and processed, decision makers and managers have the information they need to assess customer behaviors and conditions. This enables them to take appropriate action and direct the rest of the organization as necessary.

    This visualization of "daily routines of famous creative people" allows you to see what all key influencers have in common. You know that saying "great minds think alike," well this visualization proves otherwise. It also offers some other fascinating insights, so take a look when you have the time.

    4. Get More Minds Involved

    A data analyst or a data scientist is a professional that can look at various data sets and understand what it means and figure out what to use it for. That definition is a bit broad, but you get the gist of it. And there are many data analysts across a variety of industries, including marketing, retail, customer service and more.

    Of course, it costs money to employ a data analyst, and it does no good to have them or a related team confined to a single department or area. The data they are viewing and processing, needs to be passed to other key leaders and team members. In fact, a data analyst may not even know how valuable a set of information is if they don't understand other processes, tasks or projects going on at their company.

    Data visualization allows you to take data, which would otherwise be remarkably dull and confusing, and make it readable for everyone and anyone. It can then be passed on to other departments, getting more minds and team members involved. This opens up many new opportunities, especially if those looking over the visualizations can find a unique use for it.

    IBM was able to determine cities with the most commuting woes, simply by reorganizing the data they collected during a 2010 survey. This allowed them to better understand and present the data to everyone, not just an internal group of analysts.

    5. Improve Performance and Sales

    After launching a new product, you will eventually find out how it performs. You'll know if it sold well, how much money it made and maybe even what areas or stores had the most sales of the item. You could use that information to build a decent customer profile for future campaigns.

    However, the insights you collect without looking at the actual data are shallow and basic. You can't make a more informed decision with them. It would be like grasping at straws. It's still considered a gamble in many cases, because you may not fully understand why a product even sold well or performed poorly.
    By collecting loads of data and organizing it to be more viable through data visualization, you can improve the performance and sales of your brand. You can identify the product changes you made that improved or decreased sales as well as what future changes might correct any issues.

    The point is that data visualization enables you to boost your company's performance and sales because you can make sense of the vast amounts of data coming in. You can also discover more actionable insights and turn those insights into strategies.

    Lexie Lu

    Guest Blog Author: Lexie Lu

    Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest web design trends and always has a cup in close proximity. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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  • How Does Social Media Marketing Affect B2B Businesses?

    Social media provides an excellent platform for marketing efforts, helping drive user engagement and acquire leads. Plus, 92% of B2B marketers utilize social media in their marketing efforts. As a result, marketers who do not embrace social media tend to fall behind the competition regarding reach and exposure.

    Although many perceive social media outreach as more suitable for business-to-community (B2C) outreach, the proliferation of businesses on social media has narrowed the divide between B2C and B2B. Social media aids tremendously in connecting with both consumers and other businesses. Seven strong social media strategies a company should incorporate into its marketing efforts include the following.

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  • How to Accurately Appeal to Potential Customers

    What is that special “it” factor that makes some businesses more appealing than others? In a perfect world, you would put out a tweet or an ad and customers would instantly flock to your store or website. However, in the world of marketing, you have to do some very specific things to make an impact and grab the attention of potential customers.

    There are some specific psychological triggers you can use to appeal to potential customers. Figuring out what makes your target audience tick is the main component of appealing to them. Here are seven ways you can stand out to the exact people you most want to reach.

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  • How to Effectively Monitor Your Competitors

    Thorough insight of your industry can aid tremendously in distinguishing your business strongly from others. You and your competition mold industry trends and approaches, so it makes sense to gain insight by thoroughly monitoring your competition.

    Monitoring competition has several benefits. For one, you can use a specific marketing campaign or social media strategy as a case study, without taking the risk that the competitor did by actually implementing it. By seeing what works, along with what doesn't, you can craft an enticing campaign in response.

    Monitoring is a great way to maintain cutting-edge knowledge of your industry. The five methods below are a great place to start for monitoring your competitors:

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  • How To Highlight Your USP On Your Website

    A Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, is a factor the seller presents to the target audience to convey why a product or service is superior to competitors. You can verbally mention a few advantages during a radio or television ad or show images that get your point across in print media.

    So how should you go about calling attention to a USP online within your website? Keep reading to get tips, as well as case studies from brands that excel at this.

    Showcase Industry-Related Knowledge

    Perhaps you sell a product easily obtained almost anywhere, but it’s an item that has varying levels of quality depending on the source. Since the late 1800s, the De Beers diamond company has used the slogan, “A Diamond Is Forever.” It has successfully established itself as a brand able to provide enduring jewelry that matches that phrase.

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  • Is Your Company Guilty of Inconsistent Branding Strategies?

    brand attributes

    A consistent brand image makes your business instantly recognizable to the public. Consider some of the larger companies out there and how their branding works. For example, when you think about Subway, does freshness come to mind? When you think about Nike, you likely think about fitness or sports. These brands have consistently advertised their companies in a way that creates a powerful image that stays with consumers.

    In a survey of 3,000 consumers, researchers found more people are looking for an omnichannel shopping experience, where they interact with brands across physical and digital platforms. As the way consumers shop changes, look for ways to present a consistent image across every channel where your company does business. Inconsistency may make you seem untrustworthy, and at best, will confuse your customers.

    Minor differences in marketing are sometimes tricky to spot, however. Recognizing where you're not consistent is one of the first steps to fixing your branding issues. Here are nine questions to determine if your branding is spot on or needs some work.

    1. Do You Have a Mission Statement?

    Does your brand have a mission statement? Your mission isn't what you sell, but why you run your company. For example, perhaps you saw a need for working families who want to put quick, but nutritious, meals on the table, so you started a meal kit delivery service. Your mission is to help families enjoy healthy meals that are easy to put together. You may need to brainstorm a bit to figure out what your mission is and what value you add to the world, but with a little work and collaboration with employees and leaders in the company, you should be able to come up with a solid mission statement.

    2. What Is Your Brand Personality?

    Some brands make a mistake because they have one personality on social media and another on their website or in person. You need to figure out what your brand personality is and use it in all interactions with your customers. Think about your typical customer — if you serve generation Z, your brand's personality is probably young and fun. If you serve baby boomers, you might be respectful and serious. Whatever your personality, define it and use the same tone across all content. That helps consumers develop a sense of trust that your brand is authentic and not playing games.

    3. How Do You Involve Current Customers?

    One of your best brand ambassadors is a customer who already loves your product or service. Reward your customers when they refer someone to you. A consumer who comes to you from someone they know is about 18% more loyalthan one who stumbles across your brand accidentally. Companies are sometimes uncertain about how to implement a referral program, so they avoid it. However, all you need to do is figure out the value of a new customer and share some of that profit with the referrer. Get your accountant involved if necessary, but figure out a way to reward your word-of-mouth marketers.

    As for consistency, when you have fans promoting your brand, you must develop a strategy that allows them to share the word about your company, but provides them with the materials that match your image. So, you might post memes on social media and ask followers to share, or you might send out an extra promotional item for them to give away to family and friends. Doing so helps you control the message.

    4. Does Your Team Have Access to Templates?

    If you want a consistent look across ads, social media posts and other elements your team designs, you must create templates different team members can use. Platforms such as Canva and Adobe Cloud allow you to develop a template any member of your design team can download and adapt for a new campaign. So, if you want all your hero images on your website to be a certain size, the template ensures that. However, you can go further and add a frame to all Facebook posts or add a specific font and size for text.

    5. Have You Created Document Guidelines?

    Write down your expectations for how your brand appears. Since your sales team may send out something different than your marketing team or leadership team, it's essential to develop some brand standards everyone in the organization adheres to. Place your guidelines in a readily accessible document and include details such as the tone of voice with examples, commonly used phrases, color palette, typography details and what fonts and sizes get used when and where. Add details to the document as you wade into new marketing outlets. Creating a document also makes onboarding of new employees much smoother, as you'll have references in writing of what represents your brand best.

    6. Do You Know Where Your Audience Hangs Out?

    Small businesses sometimes throw a bunch of marketing out there and hope something sticks, but this isn't the most effective use of your marketing dollars. You must first know who your target audience is, then you can look at factors such as that 55% of 18- to 29-year-olds use Instagram. You must study where your people hang out online, as well as where they hang out in real life, and come up with branding that reaches the right demographic.

    7. How Is Your Internal Branding?

    Did you know your employees are some of your best — or worst — brand ambassadors? They share details about where they work and what they do with family and friends. If you create excitement and consistent internal messages, that will translate when your employees go out into the world. Treat your employees like they're part of a family, and develop a company culture that reflects your mission and brand values. Going back to the example of starting a company to help working moms, how does your business help the working moms on your payroll?

    8. Who Are Your Brand Police?

    Have you ever seen a post go up on social media, only to have the brand remove it shortly after? This situation is a result of inconsistent messaging and not having the safeguards in place to protect your brand from hiccups. Ensure your company has consistent messaging by appointing a few people to police social media posts, advertising, communications with others and anything that goes out with your brand name on it. Ideally, your "police squad" should involve people who've been with the company for a long time and fully understand the values and message behind the name.

    9. Do You Look for Positive Associations?

    Be careful who you align your brand name with. You might have complete control over your image, but if you partner with a brand that suddenly has an image crisis, it can reflect poorly on you. Make sure you fully understand the purpose of any cause you put your name behind. Choose charities in keeping with your goals as an organization. For example, if your mission is to help those working moms, you might team up with an organization that provides free resources to single moms.

    Create a Stable Image

    Uniform branding requires attention to detail and making sure you monitor what people are saying about your brand and how you are communicating to the public. You'll spend years ensuring your branding is consistent — it's an ongoing job. However, the result is a brand consumers recognize and trust, so the effort pays off in the end.

    Lexie 1

    Guest Blog Author: Lexie Lu

    Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest web design trends and always has some coffee nearby. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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  • Marketing Your Website - The Importance Of Using Analytical Tools

    website traffic

    You create a beautiful website for your business, optimize it for search engines, market it through social media, and start receiving visitors. But wait! Do you even know where your visitors are coming from? Are they interested in what you have to offer, or are they just passing their time? How many of them are actually going to purchase your product or service?

    Answering such questions might seem difficult, but it won’t be once you set up a tracking tool within your website. A tracking tool will enable you to track your visitors, their sources, the number of clicks, the number of conversions, etc. Analytics are crucial because they will help you understand why something in your digital marketing strategy works or why something doesn’t.

    For example, you can determine how engaging your latest Twitter or Facebook post was, which landing page is working the best, etc. Since you have invested time and money on your website, it’s important to define goals and use them when measuring web analytics. You can use this valuable information to improve your website and make the necessary changes to correct the particular problem.

    What Will You Determine?

    Website analytics will help you determine five essential pieces of information:

    • The type of people visiting your website - do they belong to your target audience?
    • Their physical location. 
    • The pages they visit and the kind of action they take on pages.
    • The time when your visitors are using your website.
    • The channel through which they reached your website.

    Why Is Analytics Important?

    Website analytics are important because they will provide you with the following capabilities:

    • Set Specific Goals: The goal of having a website is not to just receive visitors, but to have those visitors take specific actions. With analytics, you can set up particular goals and determine how close you are to achieving them. For example, you might want your visitors to go to a booking form, online store, inquiry page or a particular landing page.
    • Improve Your Website and Marketing Campaign: With analytics, you will understand both your website’s and your marketing campaign’s shortcomings. With this information, you can improve upon them. You will get to know how your visitors interact with your website and how they navigate through it. Then you can adjust your website to better guide your visitors. For example, you can place calls-to-action on pages with the most traffic to guide users to a specific page.
    • Enhance Your Visitor’s Experience: Through analytics, you can see what devices visitors are using to access your site. Are they browsing your website using a tablet or smartphone? If so, you may need to optimize your website for mobile devices and make other adjustments to improve your visitors’ experience.
    • Improve Your Marketing Strategy: Since marketing is a critical component of a business, analytics will aid you in determining the weaknesses and strong points of your marketing strategy. For example, you can modify the keywords that visitors use to reach your website, improving your SEO or paid advertising. Or, you can develop tailored content depending upon the visitors’ geographical location.

    Analytics Tools

    There are a number of free tools available to track your website traffic. Two of the most popular are:

    Google Analytics- sign up at https://www.google.com/analytics/

    Statcounter- sign up at http://statcounter.com/

    In most cases, you will simply add a code to your website to enable traffic. Full instructions are provided after you set up a website analytics account.

    Sources
    http://www.professionalacademy.com/blogs-and-advice/why-are-web-analytics-so-important-to-marketers-and-businesses-alike-
    http://lazcreative.com/blog/business/web-analytics-the-importance-of-measurement/
    https://www.yola.com/blog/how-to-use-analytics-and-why-theyre-important/
    https://www.smartdatacollective.com/4-top-advanced-web-analytics-tools-to-get-more-out-of-your-website/

     

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  • Marketing Your Website - Through Social Media

    social media marketing

    Once you develop your website, you need to point traffic to the new website. In order to receive visitors and potential leads, you will have to market or advertise your website. One of the best ways to do that is through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Linkedin.

    If you’re just starting to look at using social media to market your website, here are the benefits of doing so:

    Your Website Will Receive Exposure

    Social media is highly effective in generating mass exposure for a website and the associated business’s products or services. This is because billions of people use social media on a daily basis. For example, you can create a business page on Facebook and promote it through paid advertising.

    You Can Acquire International Visitors

    If your website is intended for an international audience, social media will definitely help. Since people across the globe use social media platforms, your website will become visible to them as well.

    It’s Cost-Effective

    Using social media marketing is much cheaper as compared to traditional forms of marketing like radio, print ads, and television. It can be a better fit for a new business' marketing budget. At its most basic, social media marketing can even be done at no cost by simply using the free tools available that allow you to post and engage with customers on your business’s behalf. All you need to do is create an account for your business, and you can begin using these features on most social media platforms for free!

    Boost Your Revenue

    Even if your website is acquiring visitors from other sources, using social media marketing will raise the number of visitors. Therefore, you will be able to obtain more leads and more customers.

    While social media is one of the most effective tools in marketing and promoting your website, there are things you need to do to use social media in an effective manner.

    Determine The Correct Platform

    There are many social media platforms out there such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. In order to establish a brand, think strategically and decide which platform would be appropriate for your business. This depends on your target audience and the type of product or service your website is offering. Different social media platforms have different user demographics, so it's important to know your target audience.

    You may also want to consider developing different types of content for the various social media platforms that suit your business. After all, each social media site has its own unique purpose, layout, and functionality. What works well on Facebook may flop on YouTube, TikTok, or Linkedin.

    Build Better Content

    Social media platforms rely heavily on content like articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, webinars, etc. You need to create content that is highly engaging and attention-capturing. One great way to do this is by providing free information to your visitors in the form of how-to and DIY articles. This will also build trust and reputation for your website.

    Listen To The Needs Of Your Audience

    When building social media marketing, you have to be patient. Success doesn’t happen overnight. What you need to do is listen to the needs and problems of your intended audience and offer them solutions through your products or services. Once that is achieved, your social media campaign will start producing exponential results.

    Optimizing Your Website For Social Media

    Before you start sending social media traffic to your website, make sure that your site is set up and optimized to allow users to easily share your content.

    In order to get the most from Facebook, be sure to implement Open Graph tags on your website. If you are using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla, there are a number of plugins that you can use to easily add these Facebook tags. For Twitter, you'll want to make sure that your website can use Twitter Cards effectively. See the developer documentation at https://dev.twitter.com/cards/overview, and look for an appropriate plugin if using a CMS.

    These are just two examples, but other social media platforms may have their own ways to link with your website and optimize it for the traffic generated on their site. Make sure to check for these tools with each platform you decide to use. 

    If your website does not use a CMS, you might need your website developer to help with setting it up to allow social sharing. Let us know if you need any help.

    Sources

    https://blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-create-a-social-media-marketing-plan/

    http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/7-steps-for-a-successful-social-media-strategy/

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2014/08/11/the-top-10-benefits-of-social-media-marketing/

    http://www.business2community.com/social-media/benefits-social-media-marketing-01140985

     

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  • Marketing Your Website – Different Options For Analytics

    sample google analytics

    Business analytics technology has opened a host of opportunities and benefits for small and medium-sized businesses to level the playing field with their larger well-established rivals. Through the use of analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, businesses can have up-to-date information about customer preferences and use it to fine-tune their marketing strategies to ensure high sales revenue and growth.

    Google Analytics has been the first choice of many businesses for taking advantage of analytics because it is free and very comprehensive. However, there is a much more comprehensive premium version called Google Analytics 360 that is out of reach for most small business entities, with an annual cost of $150,000.00. That may make it worthwhile to look for cheaper but still more comprehensive paid alternatives.

    This can be crucial for cross-checking data from various points of information to utilize a more robust and comprehensive decision-making process. In this post, we will explore various other analytics alternatives that you may use for your business.

    Clicky

    This is a web analytics tool that provides excellent analytics features for your business. The tool lays out all essential details of customer visits and other analytics-related information in a clear and user-friendly report format, allowing you to have access to all crucial information under one format, unlike in the case of its Google rival.

    Furthermore, Clicky provides updates about customer information in real-time that allows you to be up-to-date with the latest developments and improve your decision-making. Another plus side to this feature is that you can easily use it from the comfort of your phones or tablets and monitor analytics insights on the go.

    Open Web Analytics

    As an open-source analytics tool, Open Web Analytics gives you the advantage of obtaining key insights for multiple websites. The tool provides you both detailed and individual snippets pertaining to each customer visiting your website in terms of referral source, pages viewed, browser type, and location.

    Kissmetrics

    Kissmetrics offers unlimited report samples for analytics information, which means that you can view insights across a wider range of data. Unlike other analytical tools, Kissmetrics is unparalleled in segmenting customers based on the information obtained. This can be helpful for building different marketing communications to appeal to specific customer groups to achieve higher profitability and market penetration.

    FoxMetrics

    FoxMetrics provides you with the benefit of helping you monitor metrics that are unique to your business. Through its API settings, you can configure analytics to respond to specific details that can provide considerable insights about what your customers are doing and gauge how they respond to your marketing campaigns and messages.

    Sources

    https://www.searchenginejournal.com/7-alternatives-to-google-analytics/38764/

    https://www.woorank.com/en/blog/analytical-tools-other-than-google-analytics

     

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  • Marketing Your Website- Hiring An SEO Company

    SEO Company

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a comprehensive and complex task. It can be difficult for those that do not work in the field to follow and keep track of all the requirements and algorithms of Search Engines to improve their website's rating. 

    For one, this process requires knowledge about both the technical and creative aspects of website ranking. Secondly, it can take a lot of time. And thirdly, it is an ongoing process. This means that you constantly need to update your website to ensure that it maintains its position in search results. If you do not do this, your website may lose its position, no matter how high it ranks.

    Due to these reasons and many others, Search Engine Optimization is not a job that everyone can perform well. Just like we leave web development, graphic design and other such tasks to specialists, it is better to leave Search Engine Optimization to the professionals. 

    There are many people and companies who can do effective Search Engine Optimization for your website. In addition to knowing all the techniques and tips of the process, they are also aware of the most recent changes any Search Engine has made to its algorithm, and make sure your website always ranks high in search results pages.

    What To Look For When Hiring An SEO Company

    So, you have decided to get help from an SEO company to boost your business. Keep reading in order to avoid wasting money and getting no return on investment:

    • Discuss The Methods That The Company Will Use

    Whenever you consult an SEO company, ask about the methods and strategies they will use to improve your website's ranking. A company that does not discuss its process and methods in detail or does not give you a timeframe for getting the work done should be avoided. A professional and reliable SEO company not only identifies the problems and glitches in your website but also discusses them with you in detail, along with the measures needed to be taken to get rid of them.

    • Stay Away From Companies Promising Fast Results

    Achieving a high ranking on search result pages is a long and continuous process. If a company is making huge claims of bringing your website among the top ranks within a short span of time, consider it as a warning sign and stay away from their false promises. SEO companies that make too-good-to-be-true promises usually make use of ‘Black Hat’ techniques, such as buying links, cloaking, hidden links and text, and keyword stuffing. While this may provide quick results, you are most likely to end up facing a penalty by Google. Search Engines have strict rules and policies against those who do not follow their guidelines and are involved in illegal processes to improve their website ranking.

    • Inquire About Their Strategy For Link Building

    Many SEO companies buy links to improve your Search Engine ranking. However, this is not the right way to go about it. Search Engines have become smart. Spam links no longer provide results. A reliable and professional SEO company is one that takes measures for earning links rather than buying them, such as developing relationships with authoritative websites. 

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  • Marketing Your Website- Map Listings For Your Business

    google maps sample search for website design richmond va

    Adding your business to popular maps like Google Maps is not difficult and can yield great results for your company. Having map listings for your business enables you to reach a wider audience and allows them to quickly locate you whenever they are in need of your products or services. For local searches, Google displays map listings above the organic search results, as we wrote about in this post.

    If you have a retail location like a restaurant or store, Google Maps listings are very important for mobile search. They'll appear when a user searches terms like "restaurant near me" on their phone, and the user can easily call or get directions to your business.

    What happens if your business is not listed on directory maps? Not only will your customers have a hard time locating you, but there will also be a loss in potential customers and sales.

    If you are wondering how to add your business to Google Maps, here’s how.

    Adding A Listing To Google Maps

    Google provides the functionality to add your business location to its maps. It is done through an online tool known as Google My Business, which is a platform for managing your presence on Google Maps.

    • Access the tool by navigating to Google My Business.
    • Click on the tab ‘Manage Now.’
    • Follow the instructions to create your business listing.
    • In some cases, your business might already be listed, and you will just need to claim it. However, if it is not, you can add it to the map by clicking on ‘Add Your Business.’
    • Supply basic information like your business’s name, address, phone number, and website. Remember to choose the correct category for the type of business you own. You'll want to answer as many questions as possible, like your hours. If you have images, upload those too. The goal is to make your listing as complete as possible.
    • As the final step, you will have to verify your business through a PIN code. If your business address is not already verified, Google will mail a postcard with the PIN, and you'll receive that in 1 to 2 weeks. If your address is already verified, you should be able to get the PIN by phone.

    Benefits Of Adding Your Listing

    There are many advantages of adding your business to Google Maps. Some of them are:

    • It enhances your online presence and could increase your main business website’s ranking in Google’s search results. A higher ranking in search results means more traffic for your website.
    • Your customers and potential customers will be able to find you easily and reach your premises, as well as getting important information like your business hours.
    • It improves customer satisfaction by providing all the important information about your business on a single platform.
    • Your product or services can be reviewed by customers, and potential customers can read them as well. Whenever someone leaves a new review, you'll get an email notification.
    • Google Maps is used heavily on Android and iOS devices, so mobile users will be able to search for your business and its products or services 24/7.

    Sources

     http://www.business2community.com/social-business/add-business-google-maps-01094521

    https://www.google.com/business/benefits/

    https://support.google.com/partners/answer/143059?hl=en

     

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  • Marketing Your Website- Paid Online Advertising: A Beginner’s Guide

    online advertising

    Advertising your products or services is the key to business growth and development. Until people know what you are offering and how that can help them, your business will not grow. This is the purpose an advertisement serves.

    Previously, businesses relied on traditional media sources to market their products. But the advent of the internet has changed the face of advertising. The internet is not just a source of information; people widely use it for shopping too. Shopping is not only consumer-driven but also business-to-business (B2B) as well. This has resulted in the evolution and spread of online advertising.

    Companies invest huge amounts of money in advertising their products and/or services online as part of an effort to get more traffic to their websites that will ultimately result in the growth of their businesses. Online advertising has become a multi-billion dollar industry that accounts for over half of the total media spending.

    Different Kinds Of Paid Online Advertisements

    You can increase your online visibility and get more visitors to your website in many different ways. One of the most effective methods is paid online advertising. But if it is not done properly, you may end up wasting a huge amount of money. Selecting the right way to advertise your business online is important. Having a clear idea of what your goals are, and who your target audience is, will help assure that you make good decisions.

    Here, we are highlighting some major methods of paid online advertising to help you select the right kind of advertising according to your needs:

    Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising

    Pay Per Click advertisements (PPC) are those in which you pay money to the publisher only when a person clicks on your ads. These ads can be triggered by doing a search at Google or other search engines.

    Paying for performance is contrary to traditional advertising methods in which you pay for exposure with no guarantee that anyone will take action based on seeing your ads. This creates a big advantage because you can target specific users that take specific actions. For example, you can target users in a specific area searching for products or services similar to those you offer. This makes your advertising more effective and allows you to get the best return on investment.

    Display Advertising

    Banner advertisements are one of the oldest and most common forms of paid online advertisements. They are image-based and appear in different sections (top, bottom, sides) of a website. These kinds of advertisements take users directly to the advertiser’s website whenever a user clicks on them. 

    Banner ads can be purchased as pay-per-click, or like traditional advertising, can be purchased based on expected or actual impressions. An impression is the number of times that a user sees your banner ad.

    One important type of display advertising is called retargeting. These ads are triggered to users that have visited your website and keep your brand in front of visitors for several weeks after their visit. 

    Influencer Marketing

    Social media has created new opportunities to get your product in front of many people. An influencer is a prominent social media user that has many fans that follow their updates. Like a celebrity, having a social media influencer use or endorse your products can cause other people to buy from you.

    As you can see, there are many ways to get the word out about your services. You should consider getting some help from an experienced digital marketer before you get started with online advertising in order to assure the best results.

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  • Marketing Your Website- SEO - What Is It?

    SEO

    SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization.’ It is the process of using different techniques to get more traffic to your website by making it rank high in search results. Search Engine Optimization is an essential component of business marketing that consists of both creative and technical elements and is needed for improving your website’s ranking and getting more visitors.

    The world today is connected through complex information technology, and people have been using the internet in every discipline in order to perform all their tasks. This has also increased the reach of businesses as they can now connect with millions of people to sell their products or services. But, they need to take certain measures to ensure people can easily find them, visit their websites and buy their products or services. 

    Since most people use search engines to find goods and services, search engines control the majority of web traffic. Therefore, businesses need to make sure that their websites appear high in search results on all major search engines. This process of attracting a large number of people to your website is called ‘Search Engine Optimization.’

    Search Engine Optimization has become one of the major priorities of businesses today as it aids in growth by directing the right people to your website.

    How To Rank Your Page High In Search Engine Results

    Two major factors that contribute to improving your website’s search engine ranking are:

    • Updated, Quality Content

    Search Engines show only those pages that they consider relevant and authoritative in search results. This means that your website should contain useful, updated and quality content that contains words and phrases people generally use to search for the products and services you offer. These are also known as ‘keywords.’

    • Links From Other Web Pages

    Another important factor that contributes to better SEO ranking is the number of links a website has from other pages. However, the quality of those links also matter a lot. So, focusing only on getting more and more links is not the key to rank high in search results; rather, the quality of those links is what matters. Building high-quality links can be achieved by making your website user-friendly and updating it regularly to include information that users find relevant and useful. 

    Types Of SEO

    There are two major types of Search Engine Optimization:

    • White Hat SEO

    White Hat SEO is the one that makes use of methods and techniques in accordance with Search Engine guidelines such as developing high-quality and useful content, quality links and HTML optimization of websites. Businesses that use this type of SEO are the ones who achieve long-term and sustainable digital marketing goals.

    • Black Hat SEO

    Black Hat SEO is exactly the opposite of White Hat SEO. This type of search engine optimization finds weaknesses in algorithms of search engines and then exploits those weaknesses to get a high ranking for websites. This type of SEO does not follow, and even conflicts with, the guidelines of search engines. Black Hat SEO includes keyword stuffing, spam links, hidden links and text cloaking. This type of SEO might have produced short-term gains at one point, but in the modern world, Search Engine algorithms are too smart to be fooled like this.

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  • Marketing Your Website- SEO Basics

    Search Engines

    In today’s world of information technology, people primarily rely on Search Engines for getting information and for finding solutions to their various problems. Search Engines provide quick results and also give you multiple answers to your questions. Whenever you enter a question in a Search Engine, you get a list of websites that contain information relevant to your query, and these results only take merely a few seconds to execute. 

    Have you ever wondered how this happens and why some websites rank higher than others? There is a whole process behind this phenomenon.

    Fundamentals Of SEO

    Although understanding how Search Engines work is important, this is only half of the equation. In order to improve the ranking of your web page, you need to know more about the functioning of Search Engines. Search Engine Optimization is an umbrella term that entails multiple processes and techniques to make your web page visible to as many users as possible. Some basic steps that can be taken to ensure this are:

    1. Find Your Website’s Current Standing With Google Analytics

    Before taking measures to improve your website’s ranking, it is essential to know where it currently stands in Google search results. Many tools are available for this purpose. Google Analytics is one of those tools. When you link this app to your website, it gives you information about your site’s pages. The information includes whether a page is working or not, the number and location of people visiting each page, links that they click on and the time visitors spend on any page.

    2. Know About The Factors Search Engines Look For When Ranking A Page

    While there are multiple Search Engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo, Google is the most commonly-used Search Engine. Due to this, web developers and companies mainly work according to Google’s rules regarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Therefore, learning about the factors that Google looks for in a web page in order to rank it higher in the search results is really important. Some of the important factors are good content, number of links that point to your website, the words that are used in links, titles of content, the words that are used in your content and the reputation of your website. Make sure the words people normally use to search for you are included in your content and those keywords are also used in the links. Also, realize that Google can increasingly evaluate your site’s user experience, and optimizing your website content for users is the most important step of all.

    3. Additional Tips

    In addition to developing high-quality content, using the right keywords and taking measures to earn as many quality links as possible, it is important that you stay updated with any changes in the algorithms of Search Engines. Use ‘Alternate Tags’ to describe videos and pictures on your website. This is important because Search Engine crawlers may not understand images and videos. If your website delivers important information through images and videos, there is a chance that they may get ignored by crawlers if there are no ‘Alternate Tags’.

    These are the basics, but you should realize that SEO is a complex undertaking. In many cases, you may need to consult a professional in order to get significant SEO results for your website. We'll talk about hiring an SEO company in our next post.

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  • What the Apple Keynote Presentation Taught All of Us

    On Sept. 12, people from all over the world eagerly waited to see what Apple would unveil at its latest keynote address. Missed all the action and felt left out as your tech-savvy friends shared the buzz on the big announcements? No worries. Keep reading to get a recap, plus a rundown of what we can all learn about how and why the tech giant made headlines with this event.

     keynote presentation

    Using a Keynote to Promote Multiple Products Can Be Effective

    Tech analysts had long suspected this Apple event would give insights about the availability of a new iPhone. They were partially correct, because the keynote revealed not one, but three, new models.

    People learned about the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, along with the verifiable star of the show, the iPhone X. Though the X in the name is meant to be read as the Roman numeral for “10,” some people say it may as well signify the letter X — for a shortened version of the word “exclusivity.”

    The gadget has a brand-new, bezel-free design, and the appearance of the phone itself is a strong indicator of Apple’s desired future direction. The iPhone X is also compatible with wireless charging devices and uses facial recognition to grant access to the phone’s interface.

    The iPhone X was the most impressive of the three phones discussed at the keynote, but the others generated interest, too. If you think focusing on only one product at a time during a promotional event is the way to go, Apple did something that might make you re-evaluate that stance.

    Enforcing Exclusivity Does Not Always Draw Criticism

    Navigating to the livestream of the Apple keynote presentation with a Safari browser allowed users to click a button to join the presentation automatically. However, viewers couldn’t watch the keynote on a different web browser, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Accessing the content through an option other than Safari was not possible.

    News outlets announced the specification in a matter-of-fact way, rather than bringing up how making the streaming content inaccessible to people on other browsers excludes a significant portion of the audience. It just goes to show brands as big as Apple can do things that force people to use certain platforms without being massively criticized.

    Granted, the majority of individuals who tuned in were significantly interested in Apple’s products. If they didn’t already have access to the Safari browser, they could find a way to download it or borrow a gadget with Apple’s browser installed before the keynote event.

    The Right Event Space Matters

    Normally, Apple’s keynote events are focused on new products. However, this most recent event was slightly different because it featured a new space, too. The 1,000-seat Steve Jobs Theater is a feat of design, with many people saying it’s exactly as its namesake would have wanted it.

    Interestingly, the underground theater is and not as sizeable as the other venues Apple has used for previous events. The latter reality has caused many tech people in the know to speculate the reduced capacity will make attendees feel more honored than ever to be in the building for highly anticipated happenings.

    Though the Steve Jobs Theater is comparatively smaller, any spacious event venue warrants consideration about how to dampen and enhance sounds. Acoustic designers often use special panels to ensure people can hear clearly, no matter where they are in the room. These components minimize echoing, too. Because events in this Apple-centric space occur live while millions watch, the engineers involved undoubtedly made acoustical quality a priority.

    Technical Glitches Don’t Always Signal Doom

    During all the positive buzz about the iPhone X, some people pointed out a minor, but still embarrassing, mishap with the phone’s facial recognition technology. Craig Federighi, one of Apple’s top team members, had all eyes on him while trying to demonstrate the facial recognition technology on the iPhone X. However, the feature failed to work twice, making him have to resort to using a backup gadget.

    The problem caused a momentary drop in Apple’s stock prices. However, it didn’t last long. Later, analysts reviewed the launch event and said it put the brand in an “extraordinarily strong” position. That’s probably because even though the feature failed to perform when in the spotlight, people know Apple characteristically puts significant investment into making high-tech capabilities as good as — or even better than — what competitors offer.

    For example, many Android phones have long had facial recognition abilities, but they can be hacked into if someone merely produces a photo of the phone’s owner. To combat that spoofing problem, Apple reportedly worked with Hollywood mask makers and makeup artists while tweaking the phone’s technology so it would only recognize rightful owners. It even works when people change their hairstyles or wear glasses or hats.

    Premature News Leaks Don’t Spoil Things Too Much, Either

    Much to the dismay of Apple’s executives, the keynote event wasn’t as surprising as it could have been. Major leaks occurred beforehand, reducing the desired “wow” factor. However, tech experts gave their opinions after the event’s conclusion, and most agreed that despite the leaks, Apple still reasserted itself as a brand leader in numerous product categories.

    Apple’s latest keynote reminded us that well-respected mega-brands can easily defy norms and emerge unscathed. That’s even true when things don’t go as planned and the stock market briefly reflects the blunder.

    Lexie Lu

    Guest Blog Author: Lexie Lu

    Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest web design trends and always has a cup in close proximity. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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