Monthly Archives: April 2015

Google Has Done it Again… small businesses need mobile friendly websites – STAT!

Stats showing small business need mobile friednly websites diesgn. Smart phone  search increase 17%, tablets 28%,, desktop searches down -1%

If you haven’t heard already you may be one of the few left on the planet who doesn’t live and breathe all that is the internet. What is being referred to as  “mobilegeddon” (don’t you love tech-nerds?) or, Google’s mobile website algorithm change launched last week. Small businesses need mobile friendly websites now more than ever. The algorithm change was announced two months back very clearly by Google and they actually went ahead and launched it on the pre-determined deadline, Tuesday, April 21, 2015. What the change means to small businesses who do not have mobile friendly websites is that your company website will either not come up in mobile Google searches or if it does, it will come up so far down it might as well not come up at all.

I can hear some of you now, ‘So, what? Most people search our site from a desktop computer.’  ‘We provide a service, people don’t search for us on their smart phones or tablets, they wait until they get home and research on their computers.’ Not so my friends. “In the final three months of last year, estimated 29 percent of all U.S. search requests – about 18.5 billion – were made on mobile devices.”   – comScore.com

The increase in numbers from desktop to mobile searches will continue to grow. The largest percentage of mobile searches currently are done by people shopping for products, however local services searches are not far behind. “Searches with local intent are more likely to lead to store visits and sales within a day. New Google research says that 50 percent of mobile users are most likely to visit (the store) after conducting a local search, while 34 percent of consumers on tablets or computers will go to a store.” – Search Engine Watch

Mobile searches are steadily increasing for local services including, home healthcare services, restaurants, home improvement services and more.small businesses need mobile friendly websites now to come up in those search inquiries.

  “According to Google, 56% of searches on smartphones have local intent. ” – Wordstream

Searches-Infographic2Google is the top-ranking search engine claiming two thirds of United States web searches and even more in other countries. Mobilegeddon has the potential to effect sales volume especially for small businesses who have not had a strong reason to upgrade to a mobile friendly website yet. If we give an example of  a residential home builders website in Lansing who has not upgraded the website since mullets were in style, compared to a national residential home builder with a mobile friendly website targeting Lansing clientele – where would you place your cards on search results?

Not sure if your small business website is mobile friendly or not?

Check out Googles “Mobile-Friendly” test page in its developer section. Type in your website URL (domain name) and see the results. (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/.

Mobile Friendly Website Solution for Small Business

If you do not have a mobile friendly website and you are ready to make the change, you have a few decisions to make. First you can choose to keep your desktop website as it is and create a completely separate mobile website to satisfy mobile users (and Google!). The drawback to this solution is you now have two websites you must maintain. The other option is a responsive website. Responsive WordPress websites format to fit which ever screen size a visitor is using. On a desktop monitor the website looks good on the screen without unplanned scrolling or clicking. On a tablet it condenses slightly to fit the screen with limited scrolling and on a smart phone the navigation will collapse to a drop down screen. All of this is automated with a responsive website design. The other benefit of a responsive website design with WordPress is small businesses can now update their own website without programming knowledge. Updating is also easier because you only have to update one site instead of a desktop website and a mobile website.

Mobile-Friendly Website Design considerations:

  • design web pages so that they load quickly
  • make content easily accessible
  • page scrolling up and down (as opposed to left to right swiping)
  • make call to action buttons (like BUY NOW!) easily seen and touched even on small screens
  • make your contact information clickable – click to call, click to map location
  • make your text size large enough to read on small devices

No budget for a small business mobile-friendly website right now?

Or do you have a mobile-friendly website on order but all the local website design firms in Michigan or your state are booked solid a few months out? Since Google searches do show local listings first make sure all your local information is current. Get a Google+ page set up if you haven’t already, check your Yelp listing. Get your website listed on Google in Google MyBusiness section. These steps will help while you are working toward upgrading your website to mobile.

If you’re one of those small businesses who need a mobile friendly website right away, give us a call today! We are taking  orders and turning custom designs around as quickly as possible. We also provide mobile-friendly  Wordpress responsive website design solutions for those of you who want the freedom to access and update your own website .

Stay connected!

April 2015

Is there value in getting listed in local web directories?

Local Website Directory Listings

I know you’re getting the calls too. Internet marketing companies calling offering you website marketing solutions, asking if you know the value of getting listed in local web directories. We get them too.

What’s the big deal about getting listed in local web directories?

Although SEO protocol has changed and it is said there is not as much SEO value in being listed with directories there is still value in directories, especially niche directories and local directories. High traffic directories such as Yahoo Local,  read more…


On the Blog:

7 Conscious Steps to Connect with Website Visitors

Internet marketing for small business, also known as web marketing, online marketing, digital marketing and online small business marketing is comprised of many components. Internet marketing encompasses several disciplines, involving everything from websites, email, search engine optimization (SEO),social media and more. There is no one-size-fits-all for internet marketing campaigns. Depending on your business and your target market, finding the right balance between the many options available may take some trial and error but this effort will often lead to great results in internet marketing. Read more…


Monthly Spotlight

Local Small Business Website

We love working with entrepreneurs – especially first timers. Our spotlight this month is on Mid-Michigan Window Cleaning. Raleigh Schefer recently launched his window cleaning business in the Lansing Michigan area.

Ralaigh knew a professional web presence was important to compete with his competition and demonstrate credibility to prospective clients.

Most small start up company budgets are tight and it is challenging to determine how best to stretch dollars. By providing a 3 page responsive website that can expand as the company grows and be easily edited in house, Mid-Michigan Window Cleaning is able to keep marketing costs under control and focus on growing and promoting their business.

http://midmichiganwindowcleaning.com/

Is there value in getting listed in local web directories?

website marketing solutions

I know you’re getting the calls too. Internet marketing companies calling offering you website marketing solutions, asking if you know the value of getting listed in local web directories. We get them too.

What’s the big deal about getting listed in local web directories?

Although SEO protocol has changed and it is said there is not as much SEO value in being listed with directories there is still value in directories, especially niche directories and local directories. High traffic directories such as Yahoo Local,  Bing local, etc. increase your website exposure to visitors searching those sites. Also the more links you have directing back to your site the higher your website rank.

Can the guy on the phone help increase my website exposure?

After receiving call after call and claims Connection Group could be listed on all the top directories for $100 I decided to give one of the a shot. The package also included website SEO consultation and benchmark progress reporting for the lsitings. Since I had purchased other products from this particular company in the past they offered me a 50% discount – score! What American can resist a sale?

When the contract started they did a report to show where connectiongraphics.com stood at present with our listing and referral links. We received a grade of 87%. They confessed that was a pretty high percentage. Then my competitive nature kicked in. I thought if we had gotten this far on our own, maybe this top 100 corporation had some magic sauce that could get us to the coveted 100%! (Now is when you remind me how many times I have shared with you that there is no such thing as miracle marketing sauce – I hang my head in shame.)

In 30 days I received a report that our numbers had actually slipped one point even though they reported to have listed us a in a couple new directories. They explained that it was too early to see results but within 3 − 6 months we would see improved numbers. Paying $100 each month for 3 − 6 months. This is just to get 13% higher – remember we started at 87%.

At this point I am skeptical but you know I am going to get my $50 worth so I give them a call for the website SEO consultation that was included in the contrast. I was happy to know we were already implementing the suggestions they offered for website SEO. Sadly, the SEO questions I had for them were not answered. I continually heard “Well, that’s a good question! I don’t know if that works or not.”

Hmmm, no offer to look into my inquiry and get back with me, just, ‘I don’t know, good question’. I chose not to continue the contract after the first 30 days.

How hard is it to get listings in local website directories?

There is value in getting listed in local directories and optimizing your website to come up higher in search results and it does honestly take time to implement. Getting listed in the top local directories doesn’t require a recurring $100 monthly fee through perpetuity. In many cases submitting your company to directories can be handled by an in house staff person. Here is a list of the directories we recommend getting starting with.

The basic free listings on these websites will work for most business needs. There may also be paid directories that are of value to your business. We recommend getting the free listings set up first and if a particular directory is driving traffic a premium listng may be of value.

If you find you don’t have the time to get this going we can dedicate the time to get you posted to all the directories on the attached list for $300.00. If you would like to continue and have us get you listed in custom directories for your industry or your locale we may need to add some more time and increase the investment – but I promise you you won’t be paying $100 a month indefinitely to get listed in only 5 new digital directories a month.

7 Components of Internet Marketing for Small Business

7 Components of Internet Marketing for Small Business

7 Conscious Steps to Connect with Website Visitors

Internet marketing for small business, also known as web marketing, online marketing, digital marketing and online small business marketing is comprised of many components. Internet marketing encompasses several disciplines, involving everything from websites, email, search engine optimization (SEO),social media and more. There is no one-size-fits-all for internet marketing campaigns. Depending on your business and your target market, finding the right balance between the many options available may take some trial and error but this effort will often lead to great results in internet marketing.

Inbound marketing components are used in concert with your website to convert visitors to customers. When visitors come to your website inbound marketing works to turn those in-coming prospects to customers. Inbound marketing works under the premise that your social media fans and website visitors are expressing an interest in your product or service purely by coming to your website or social media pages. The  same can be said for phone calls coming in from direct mail campaigns and other marketing efforts. Inbound marketing puts practices in place to respond to these hot leads through office procedures, marketing automation software, online contact forms, visitor tracking and through email marketing.

Components of Internet Marketing for Small Business

1. Websites

Some small businesses still don’t have websites – yes, really! Many small business owners do not pause to consider that people search the web for everything. Even if a business is not selling online and the majority of customers or members don’t come from internet marketing campaigns people search for phone numbers, hours, etc. Having information online and available also establishes credibility.

Do you need to make updates? Businesses lose credibility points from visitors if they see a dated website design or information that isn’t current. Outdated information can be frustrating to the visitor and make it seem as if keeping your information (and your customers and prospects) in the loop is not important to you.

What steps can you take to get your website current?

2. Getting Customers to Your Website

Is your website address on everything? You have your website address on your business cards of course, but do you also have your domain name on your company vehicle, in tv ads, radio spots you are running and on all of your social media profiles? Are their places your customers frequent where you can post your website address? Do you include them in ads, social media pages plus blog, and email signature?
Where can you add your website address ?

3. Relevant Content / Keywords

Do you have information on all your products and services posted on your website? We’re you hoping to get back to that someday? Search engines rely on keywords people use when making a web  search query. Adding the words and terms to clearly describe your products and services helps answer customer questions and it helps your website be discovered on search engines.
What products or services need more details on your website?:

4. Calls to Action

In every marketing effort a clear call to action helps to increase responses. Some websites require an email to access content, others offer a live chat option to answer customers in real time. Most website calls to action are requests to fill out online forms, including quote forms, make an online purchase, email, or pick up the phone. Online forms help to capture emails, phone numbers and other contact information of prospects. A clear call to action leads the customer smoothly onto the next step to connect with you.

Web savvy visitors have become hesitant to offer up emails or other contact information readily. Offering an item of value for free in exchange for emails or phone numbers is a great way to be able to follow up with interested customers. Some of the free value added items to offer your customers are e-books, free consultations, free trials and discounts . The key is to create a truly valuable item that your customer benefits from. Offering a download of a one page Top 10 list from your industry and calling it an e-book is not an authentic way to begin a trusting, long lasting business relationship— make sure you are giving value. Be careful not to ask for too much information from them. If you plan to send emails capture their name and email, don’t try and get their snail mail address just in case you need it in the future. The less information a visitor has to fill in the better.
What calls to action can you add to your website?

What can you say or offer to entice visitors to leave an email, call, or fill out a form?

5. Blogging

Company blogs serve as an outlet to post new information about products and services. They also help to educate prospects and customers about how your product or service can help them and they can recognize the value your company offers to them. Blogs can give updates to warranty information, announce new products, company press releases, samples of completed work, customer case studies and industry news. Adding a blog to your company website demonstrates your leadership in the industry and assists with search engine optimization. Consistent blog posts show search bots that your website has current information that should be indexed. Every time you update your site or blog you increase visibility to search engines.

What can you write about that will include your keywords within the context of your blog?:

6. Landing Pages

To highlight a special promotion, product, or service, create a landing page with a strong call to action. Landing pages are stripped down versions of your website that focus on the service or product you are promoting and that promotion only. The page should offer quick bullet information about the item being promoted. Include your logo, a form to complete the purchase of the promotion or a form that gathers information and has a follow up to the customer such as a free download. Landing pages have unique URLSs and are usually associated with a specific email, advertising, or internet marketing campaign. Landing pages can be tied directly to each media used in a campaign. This helps to provide data on what marketing methods received the most activity. You can then use this data for choosing the same or similar marketing methods for future campaigns. The unique URL’s make it easy to check analytics nd gather all kinds of information.

What information is of interest to your website visitors?

What can you offer in exchange for their contact information?

7. E-Mail Marketing

By now you have probably figured out what you will be doing with all of the emails you are capturing. That’s right, email marketing campaigns! There are a variety of ways to stay connected with your customers when you have their email. You can send individual personal emails, weekly or monthly e-blasts or e-newsletters that offer discounts, product updates, etc. You can also create automated emails when visitors perform a specific action on your site. Emails can also be formulated to send at specific times along the sales chain. Creating a process that responds intuitively to customer inquiries serves the customer quickly and makes efficient use of everyone’s time.

How will you use the email addresses you capture? (e-newsletters, send coupons/discount, etc.)

Another large component of internet marketing for small business is social media marketing for small business.  When fed well and frequently, social media marketing campaigns can drive visitors to your website.   Set your intentions and be conscious of how your internet marketing will boost you company brand and sales. If you have question or need help getting an inbound marketing campaign going,  please give us a call. If you are interested in getting more of these detailed small business marketing tips be sure to check our workbook format e-book Mastering the Art of Marketing for Small Business for 2015.

 

Beware Fake Bill and Invoice Scams

Businesses and individuals with websites should keep an eye out for scams that they receive in the mail. These scams often target businesses with what looks like a bill or an invoice. Scams like this are an attempt to collect money for services that they don’t provide, are phishing for your financial information or looking to trick you into signing up for services that you don’t use.

Some examples of these are Website Hosting Invoices on places you’re not hosted and Website Backup services at a place that doesn’t have access to your website.

Be aware these scams are out there. If you are ever unsure about a bill or invoice, research the business online and contact your website administrator to find out if the bill is real.

Below is one example of an actual scam we received recently. WebsiteBackup.com sent out fraudulent invoices to people around the country asking them to send money to WebsiteBackup Company.

Ripoff Report is a great tool for finding and reporting scams.
Here is an example of a Ripoff Report Complaint about the scam campaign sent out in this example.

phishing-scheme-website-backup