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  • Organic SEO & the Small Business Owner – Day 1

    For most small businesses available budget for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is usually close to the bottom of the list.  It is typically expensive to pay someone to help you and you still end up working with them to ensure that their messages are in line with your corporate message and mission statement.

    Investing in your website is a good thing and needs to be done if you generate most of your business from it.  Websites and blogs are both living and breathing entities.  You must feed them regularly to ensure that traffic is continually driven to them both.

    If you get into pattern of posting to your site or blog at least once a week, you will soon see the results.  Below are some points that you need to consider that will help you increase your organic SEO rank and therefore increase the number of times your URL appears at the top of search engine results.

    What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

    Search engine optimization is the process webmasters use to get their content to rank highly on search engines like Google and Microsoft Edge.

    Search engines have a variety of algorithms that they use to generate ranks for websites and blogs.  Although they change their different algorithms regularly, the basic concepts you need to complete to achieve results do not change.  If you cover the basics you will be sure to increase your organic traffic and results.

    1. Do your Keyword Research

    Keywords are everything.  You must remember that Google is a machine.  It matches the words you write to determine if it’s a fit compared to the queries people are searching for.  Your website must be optimized for keywords to increase the chances of your content ranking for a keyword.

    I highly recommend using KWFinder to do keyword research: It will help you to determine if a keyword has people searching for it and give you insights about how competitive a keyword will be.  There are a lot of websites that offer keyword research, both free and paid for.  Choose the one that works best for you and your budget.

    The idea is that you want to optimize your posts for keywords that have more monthly searches but are not very competitive.  The less competitive the keyword, the more chance your post or webpage will come up in the results.

    1. Optimize for Search Engine Optimization

    Add your chosen keyword(s) in the fields listed below to optimize your pages for Google.  Depending on the software you have used to build your website will depend on what you need to do to find these fields.  For example, if your site is built in WordPress, download a free plugin called Yoast.  Yoast allows you to edit all these fields for all the pages and posts that you have published.

    • Title
    • Meta description
    • Alt text of images
    • Subheadings
    • Your internal links
    • Within the body text of your article
    • There are more, but these are the key areas you need to focus on.
    1. Write Content that Calls to the Person Reading your Website or Blog.

    Take into consideration that all changes that Google makes to its algorithm has its end user experience in mind.  For example, Google knows that users do not like popups, so they negatively score websites that use them, and they also know that posts and blogs that are longer give the user more value for money, so they rank those higher.

    It goes without saying, that you need to write about what people what to hear about.  So, when you write your website content or blog, ensure that the topics are current, interesting and well written.  Double…Triple…. quadropoly check for grammar errors and typos.

    1. Understand your Competitors

    Online Marketing - Unique ResultsWhy? You can check out the best-ranking SEO keywords that your competitors have, and then copy them.  This can be achieved manually; however, I advise SEMRush – you must pay for it, but it is worth the money.  There are other options like SEMRush that are free, but you get what you pay for!  SEMRush are all about Search Engine Optimization and when used will definitely increase your results.

    1. Self-host your Website or Blog

    This does not mean that you need to buy a web server and set it up yourself.  It means that you should NOT use Wix, Weebly or other DIY website design tools.  Without a self-hosted website, trying to rank for content is an uphill battle. Wix, Weebly etc., do not rank well on Google search engine.

    1. Good Web Design & Theme

    You may not see it now, but the website theme you use will affect your do-it-yourself SEO efforts in many ways.

    For example:

    • A good website theme will ensure that your website is mobile responsive.
    • A good website theme will not slow down your site unnecessarily.
    • A good website theme has built-in SEO functions.
    • A good website theme looks good and keeps visitors around.

    These functions should not stop you for looking for places for you to work on your Search Engine Optimization rules!  There are thousands of themes out there built for a variety of different applications.  Choose the theme that appeals to you the most, then research for the above features.

    1. Create a Brand that Stands Out

    User retention is incredibly important. If people land on your site from Google and then leave immediately, Google takes note and adjusts your rankings accordingly.

    You want to have a solid brand that stands out so that people don’t just read your post, they end up on your website for a long, long, time.  Your brand must be memorable so that people can refer others to your website and blog.

    1. Create an Audience of Loyal Readers with your Email List

    This applies more to a blog page than a website page but a blog post with people visiting definitely has a higher chance of being ranked.

    Social Media will allow you to send a ton of traffic to your blog posts, so that these people can then share, link and generally create interest in your post.  We have all heard the phrase “viral”.  You want your post to go viral for good reasons.  A highly shared page is more likely to be classified by Google as having “high-quality content” and that is worth being in the top 10.

    Prompt users to subscribe to your blog and page.  This will help you to build an email list that you can then send information to about your latest posts every time you publish.

    1. Long Tail Keywords

    If I had to start over in a new niche and newly launched website, I would invest heavily in writing articles optimized for long-tail keywords.  Long-tail keywords often have hyper-relevance and it will get you a tribe of people squarely in your target audience.

    For instance, by ranking for “newsletter content ideas” instead of “newsletter”, you can create a community of people with a specific need that you can solve and monetize easily.  It is also a lot easier to rank for the less competitive long-tail keywords.

    1. Write Regular Content

    Regular PostsYou must write regularly if you want organic traffic.  Once a year is not going to get the results you are hoping for.  No articles = no ranking = no search traffic = no subscribers = no business.  Everyone has things that annoy them the most…for me it is bloggers and news outlets that do not date stamp their articles.  For good or bad, the internet is forever.  News and information fast become out of date.  By date stamping your articles and blogs, users can appreciate your article with a difference view.

    1. Get Social Shares

    A blog post with traction is a lot more likely to get ranked than a blog post with no visitors.  Post away on all social media platforms.  Ask friends and colleagues to share your posts to help you increase your traffic.  Depending on your topic you might also try using Pinterest.  It is very effective alternative to drive traffic to any blog post or website, aside from Google.

    There are a variety of social sharing plugins.  You can review Hootsuite and Social Warfare.

    1. Market your website

    We have been discussing both blog posts and websites interchangeably throughout this article.  Promoting both simultaneously will generate great results.  I am avid reader of the Entrepreneur magazine and website.  They had a great article that gives you some great ideas for marketing your website – Here is the link  https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/283832

    1. Use Yoast SEO Plugin

    The Yoast SEO plugin is a great plugin to use to help you to optimize your WordPress website and blog posts.  It is worth the extra 5 minutes before you hit the Publish button to give Yoast some attention.  Make sure all of your Yoast comments have a GREEN DOT!  At that point you get a pat on the back!

    If you don’t have Yoast SEO plugin installed yet, you must. It’s one of the best WordPress plugins available on the internet.

    1. HTTPS your website

    You may have heard of Google’s not-so-recent move to prioritize websites with an SSL certificate.  Basically, your website URL will start with “https” instead of “http”.  There are a variety of places now, that you get a free SSL and using WordPress plugins you can easily add your SSL certificate to your website and blog.  Having an SSL cert is especially important if you are selling and accepting payments on your website.  It indicates to the user that you take their online security and identity seriously.  It also adds a little “lock” icon in the address bar beside your website address.  Once installed, if you are still not seeing the lock icon, contact your hosting company.  They will be able to help you ensure that you entire site is secure.

    1. Install a Sitemap

    Having a sitemap for your website is important.  Yoast has a setting that allows the plugin to automatically create a sitemap.  By having a sitemap, your page will be indexed quickly and more efficiently for Google and other search engines.

    Thank you for your time reading my article.  I hope that I was able to answer questions about SEO and take away some of the mystery that surrounds it.  If you need help with your website or marketing material please email me at alyson@webdesignshop.us or call me on 601-667-0009.  You can also use the form below to contact us.

    Alyson Stasek

    Owner at The Little Web Design Shop

    www.WebDesignShop.us 

    Package Options from The Little Web Design Shop

    #webdesign #webdevelopment #SEO #SearchEngineOptimization #smallbusiness #mississippi #tlwds #bloggin #onlinepromotion

  • Why is it that most small business owners do not research the difference between 100% custom, and template based websites?

    Just saw a question on Alignable about web design and small businesses, and thought I would post the question here and my response. Let me know what you think:

    https://www.alignable.com/…/why-is-it-that-most-small…

    Why is it that most small business owners do not research the difference between 100% custom, and template based websites?

    1. Small businesses run on a tight budget…a fully newly written website coded just for them is not usually an option, and yes they are way more expensive than using a WordPress theme for example.

    2. WordPress has some great templates and themes that are fully functional for small businesses and allows them to incorporate all the features that they need, the site looks custom, and they also able to optimize for SEO using relevant keywords.

    A good WordPress developer will take the tools and make them work effectively. I would not suggest to small businesses that they use Wix or other similar template options as yes, they are restrictive and yes they typically do not look professional and on a long term basis they end up expensive and ineffective.

    3. I do not believe that anything is better than nothing…a dated, badly designed website will turn clients off and stop them from calling your company. It makes your company look inefficient and out of touch with todays world.

    4. It is not because business owners are apathetic (read some of the comments below before I responded) and to be honest, I think that is an insult to most small business owners. A small business owner cannot know everything! Like any business professional they need to delegate when they do not have the relevant knowledge. In fact, the sign of a great manager and owner is the ability to delegate and to accept that they do not have all the answers. It has nothing to do with being unwilling to learn or to expand their repertoire.

    5. Being a small business owner is challenging at the best of times and the owner needs to focus on what they do best…serving and supporting their clients. Web design is not a skill that most small business owners have in their arsenal. Doing due diligence on picking a web designer is based on a variety of things…location, price, value for money and customer service are used just to begin with. These are the things that most small business owners understand irrelevant of the product and service that they are selling themselves.

    6. Referrals are the best way to find a contractor/web designer and small business owners recognize this. That is why Alignable is such an awesome tool and networking site for all small business owners.

    Let me know what you think…either via comments below or email me at alyson@webdesignshop.us!

  • So…you now know who your potential customer is – now find their pain!!!

    Gone are the days, when marketing materials included just a brochure/flyer and business card….and maybe some advertising in the most relevant magazine or newspaper.  
    The game that we all play has now got way more players and closing the sale is harder than ever before.
    Do not be disheartened though.  We are all unique and we all have something to offer that others do not.  You need to find that unique attribute, and apply that skill to what you know your customers need.
    So your list of marketing materials and medium may have significantly increased, but your messaging can still be on-point.  
    Sadly the customers with the greatest potential do not know what they need and therefore your message must peak their interest and touch a pain that they currently have.  
    Going back to the example I was using before of a swimming pool maintenance company, people that own pools know the different pains involved with maintaining their pool but they may be unaware that you offer a release from that pain and that your solution is way more cost effective than they imagined.  You may not be cheaper than self maintaining, but you save them time and frustration and the ability to just jump in the pool and go swimming without having to take time to vacuum and sweep the pool.
    Simply put:  PAIN:  purchasing chemicals, vacuuming, sweeping, time, frustration managing chemicals, equipment maintenance.  All of which equates to less swimming time in the small amount of time your prospect has after work.
    Each service or product that you are selling will have a variety of pain points based on the type of prospect you are targeting.  Focus on that and your message will resonate with your prospects.
    By touching those pain points, and solving them for your potential customer you will gain their attention…but you have do all of that in first 10 seconds on your website, Facebook page or marketing material.
    Be unique, be focused, but helpful, and be resourceful.  As a small business these are all key attributes that clients really appreciate.
    If you would like some help with understanding your prospects pain please call 601-667-0009 or email alyson@webdesignshop.com.  You can follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TLWDS/ or www.webdesignshop.us


  • Figure out exactly who your customer is and who your customer is not!

    This task is actually tougher than it seems…for some small businesses it may be very simple.  However understanding who your customer is a big step in understanding how your marketing will work.

    The technical phrase that is used to describe customer classifications is “Personas”.  You may just have 3 or 4 customer personas, you may have over 100.  Segregating your customers into personas allows you to choose the marketing medium(s), messages and tools that you want to use, based on the demographics and pyschograpic information that you have collected about those customers and prospects.

    As a small business owner I am sure you have come across groups of people and other businesses that you do NOT want to work with.  This group of people and businesses will be your “negative personas”.  By removing this group when considering your digital strategy you can avoid the challenges involved with these customers such as low ROI, high cost of acquisition and even that they are too advanced for what you are selling.

    Understanding your customers, may require you to so some research.  Very small businesses, can typically fill most of the questions in themselves.  Here are some of the questions though that you may want to consider asking:

    Basic demographic information: Age, gender, home ownership, employment, family members, hobbies etc

    Psychographic information:  What does a day in their life look like, do they currently have any pain points that you can help them solve, what do they value most in their business and what are their business goals.  Where and how do they gather information, and what are their main criticisms or objects to your product or service.

    You can expand on this list of  questions as you see fit based on the service/products that your business offers.  Having all of this information in a database that allows you to filter customers/leads by the information collected will be very useful in your marketing campaigns.

    If you are not able to use a database or excel spreadsheet, index cards are great to begin with.  I used to buy horse food and equipment from a local small business.  This was a few years ago but their index card system was very impressive.  It included a flurry of stars and paperclips which told the salesman what horses I had, if we competed and what groups of items I had purchased in the past and what products they thought I might like.

    They would even target certain customers with samples, and it was those samples that kept me returning and sharing information with them (horse owners are sadly typically poor and value every freebie that they are given!) and of course continuing to be a customer.  I can guarantee that I never left the store with just a bag of feed!  It made me feel special and unique!

    This index card system was simple but very effective!  Marketing has taken some huge leaps and bounds in the last 20 years and I am sure that the index card system used by that small business, would now be covered in clips, stars, fireworks and magical tricks!

    The trick for you though is get the mix of marketing mediums and messages perfect for the persona you are targeting!

    If you need some help with setting up persona questionnaires, or understanding the marketing mix some more please call 601-667-0009 or email alyson@webdesignshop.us

    You can follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tlwds/ or get extra information about our company at www.webdesignshop.us

  • Budget Friendly Website Design

    About our Sponsor!

    About our Sponsor

    The Little Web Design Shop is a small company located in Mount Olive, Mississippi.  They focus on offering support to small businesses that need to a website to help promote their products and services.
    Business owners may have used one of a variety of online tools to try and create a website.  All businesses in today’s world need some online presence but finding the time to set something up is tough and typically small business owners are focused on doing the work/service the business offers and has no desire to learn how to set up a website, let alone play around with pictures and fonts.
    That is where The Little Web Design Shop comes into play and can work with you so that your company has a well-designed website.
    www.webdesignshop.us
    www.facebook.com/tlwds/

  • Day One – Your Digital Marketing Strategy

    For those of you that have read the “SEO Tips of the Day” and the “Reviewing your Website Tips of the Day” may see some duplication here….HINT – if you see duplication in tips, it doubles, triples the importance of that item…so give the tip/job special attention.

    So now we are moving onto discussing and deciding on a digital marketing strategy.

    Without understanding the tools available to you it is tough to decide and plan anything.  Lets group things together so that you at least can focus on each group of options.

    1.  Website – your business website
    2.  Social Media – Facebook/Instagram/Twitter – which ones and why
    3.  Paid online advertising – pay per click etc
    4.  Blogging – article writing
    5.  Online networking – LinkedIn/Alignable
    6.  Email marketing
    7.  Press releases
    8.  Marketing collateral such is flyers/brochures
    9.  Events
    10. Local networking groups

    Within each of these groups, there are different methodologies, some free, some time consuming and some expensive.  How you choose to manage these, and implement will mostly be driven by how much budget you have.  I will visit each of these in the next few days.

    Some of the items we will discuss over the next few days, will apply to one or all of these groups and although they are all interlinked and to some degree results are dependent on how they all interact, you can at least keep the plan simple and add to it as you move on.  I am working on an application that allows me to have view-able timelines that link different messages together in a cohesive group based on subject, task and the task groups as I listed above.  Will keep you posted when it becomes available..

    The first thing to do is to set a goal that is attainable…dream goals like selling your company to Google for a billion dollars in the next 6 months sadly is pretty much unlikely.  As a small company your main focus is your customers and your bottom line.  So your goals will be wrapped around those two items.

    Increased profit margin FOLLOWS a focus on customers 

    & bottom line!

    Do you want current customers to purchase the same product more frequently or do you want to promote a different product to them.  You goal could be related to either option of even related to an increase in followers on your social media as an intermediary goal before you start measuring sales.

    By setting a measurable goal you will know if your efforts are starting to make a difference.  Each type of task will have have a different type of goal…each campaign you have will again have a different goal than your tasks.

    Climbing the ladder is hard at the best of times.  Having these measurable stepping stone achievements will give you the strength to jump to the next stone.

    Here is an example of a small business setting goals…

    George owns a small swimming pool maintenance company.  George is planning on expanding his product portfolio by adding a range of pool skimmers.  George does not necessarily see his customers when he completes the regular maintenance on his clients pools so has to consider other ways to make these customers aware of the product.

    Here is George’s plan:

    Goal 1:  100% of my current customers should be aware of product availability.

    To do this George plans to run an email marketing campaign direct to customers and also a social media promotion on his Facebook and Instagram pages.  He will use promotional videos and statistics provided by the skimmer manufacturer to help with his promotion.

    Goal 2:  After 2 months George wants to see $X in sales of the skimmer products.

    Without going into too much detail, when planning each of your campaigns and tasks you need to consider the marketing mix.

    To do this you must look at the 4 P’s.  Product, Price, Place, Promotion.  This will help you focus on what you need to be able to provide for your products/services and therefore provide for any campaign related to that particular product/service.

    The image below gives you a good idea of the key elements you need to be considering.  For small local businesses the answers are generally simple and the same…PLACE will always be your own store front for example be it physical or online but you will always need to consider inventory, physical items you are selling, or enough staff available to provide the service.

    Tomorrow we will discuss the audience that you are targeting and how you should edit your messaging to get the perfect response….a new customer!

    If you need help or have any questions please contact alyson@webdesignshop.us.  Please also share this blob with your colleagues and business friends.

    You can also follow Tips of the Day via Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TLWDS/

  • Getting up to speed on your digital strategy

    Getting clued up and putting together your digital strategy.

    All this time we have been discussing search engine optimization and reviews of your website…you have been learning about how you can promote your website and make sure that you get the best possible results and return on investment of your marketing dollars. 

    The next step is to take this knowledge and apply it in a marketing plan that clearly outlines your digital strategy for online marketing and promotion.

    Sadly implementing a digital strategy is all about focus, dedication and consistency.  .It cannot be a one off advert/boost promo on Facebook.  It cannot be a one-off open day at your location.  Set up a plan and have faith in your concepts and ideas.

    Over the next few days, we will discussing some ideas on how you can build this plan.  To begin with lets get you up to speed with some acronyms that will help you understand the big bad world of digital marketing…click here to access the acronyms.

  • Old and outdated or does your website just need a new “font refresher”?

    When you reviewed your website yesterday for “call to actions” and easily visible options for potential customers to interact with you, did you notice if your site is looking a little old? When I say old, does it look like it was created a couple of years ago, some of the information is not relevant anymore and you have either discontinued or added some new products and services? If you have answered “YES” to any of the above it is time for a revamp. Now, a revamp could be as little as changing the font. Popular fonts today are typically clean and straight. Not too many “frills”. I personally like Lato, Gotham and Roboto. If you think that it needs a little more than just a “font refresher” make notes of the areas you think need some help. Be brutally honest…it is better to have a longer list which can be broken down into “have to change”, “would be nice to update” and “would be awesome to have a new vibrant image” groups. Below are some images of some really old websites that are no longer live…I have one client that wants the “old look” but in a updated format. Now that is proving to be interesting! If you want someone to do a quick review and let you know if you need an update, call 601-667-0009 or email alyson@webdesignshop,us Please follow and share this post on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TLWDS/


  • Budget Friendly Website Design

    Videos are a great way to keep people watching your website and your product.

    Is your website fun? Does it catch someones attention? If you are selling to consumers, a great way to catch their attention is via video.

    Over 80% of people who view a video of your product are more likely to pick up the phone and call or email you.

    It is not as tough to create a video as it used to be. You have to pretty good on your computer, but if you have already designed your own website you can probably create your own video. I mean, I hate to say it but car dealerships and furniture stores advertising on local TV channels set a pretty low mark to reach!


    Even your smartphone with a steady hand or tripod will take a pretty good video. Any good web designer can take a rough video and add a few bangs and whistles. www.Fiverr.com also has some great contractors that can put together a good video with some images and video file from your smartphone. Small businesses live on a tight budget so I understand the need to keep the production costs low.


    Dollar Shave Club has some fun videos that are promotional but keep you watching…also I must admit Walmart had a classic video that keeps me laughing every time I watch it – here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsvAj6qfmFQ and K-Marts videos for “shipping” items are hysterical and reminds me that K-Mart now is not just a brick and mortar store.

    So think of the fun side of your product no matter how boring it is, gather a few friends and family who don’t mind letting their hair down and saying a few lines, and the chances are you will be able to pull together something that will work.

    If you do need some help with your video and website please call 601-667-0009 or email alyson@webdesignshop.us

    Also to regularly get tips of the day, please follow our blog at @ https://tlwds.blogspot.com/ and follow our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TLWDS/




  • It is tough to get someone to visit your site, and even tougher to keep them there!

    Do a test run with your website as if you are a potential client. How much time did you spend on your website looking for either a phone number, email address, your price list or a way to get a quote. If it takes you more than 10 seconds (taking into considering that you know where to look) to get to any one of these three things, it is TOOOO LONG!!! When people are looking to get a quote for work, they A, want to find a way to get that quote quickly and B, they really don’t care about your long story about how you got established. They are on your website for a reason. So it is key to capture their information and to see what they need. How they got there is also important so that you can make sure your marketing dollars are working but keeping them there is even tougher! Have a landing page designed for all leads that come in from a link….the landing page will be fully designed for what people are looking for – a quote, a phone number or email address or even a form for them to fill out which is clear, bright and helpful…also have an obvious link to your main home which allows them to read more to get gather more information about your company and product. www.webdesignshop.us