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How We Think About Marketing at JM

What comes to mind when you hear “multi-dimensional and always evolving”?  If you said technology, you’re right. A less common answer, but also correct, is marketing! Technology and marketing evolve together. Technology is in the driver seat transporting civilization forward, and marketing is always a half step behind doing its best to keep pace.  At JM we think about marketing on multiple levels, but it all starts with your website. 

Your Website is Still #1

When it comes to your business image, your website gives you the most control. It’s the only “place” on the internet where you have full control of how customers view you and interact with your business. When you look at the development of online platforms and how people are using them the math tells us Google and Facebook will not be around forever.  To have your entire online business presence built on a platform you can’t control, and one that will likely go away or dramatically change is risky. And, some of the most effective online advertising still requires a landing page hosted on your own domain.

Build a New Website

Building Your Website is Only the First Step

If you built a 5-star resort in Hawaii would you rely on word of mouth advertising for people to find it? Probably not.  Your website has a lot more competition compared to your 5-star Hawaiian resort. There are over 1.6 billion websites online. If you build the best website in the world nobody will know it exists without the proper promotion. In order for customers and prospects to find your website and care, you must actively promote it in a variety of ways.

How Will They Find You?

Google is the number one website on the Web when it comes to traffic volume. For over 90% of people who discover your business online, their first touchpoint is on the Google search result page – not your website. Google has its own priorities and driving people to your website isn’t on the top of their list. More and more Google is building features to keep users on the search result pages rather than clicking on organic links. 

  • Google My Business & Local Pack
  • Featured Snippets
  • People Also Ask

It’s great that people can find your business website using Google but increasingly, search users are getting their information without ever clicking through to a website. You need a strategy for engaging those users through the new features Google continues to introduce.

Paid Ads on Google

You want to put your advertising dollars in the highest traffic areas. Right now, that’s Google. There are a number of different types of paid ad campaigns you can use on Google to better help customers find you. 

Search – A “Search Network” campaign will show text-based ads above Google search results, and other sites in the network, when a person searches for terms that are relevant to your ad’s keywords. For example, say you run a local barbershop school. Your Search ads will be shown to high-potential customers at the moment they are searching for “barbershop schools” and above all the search results (called organic results).

Example of where Google Ads are placed in search results

Display – The Google Display Network helps you find your audience. It helps you reach people while they’re browsing favorite websites, watching YouTube, checking their Gmail account, or using mobile devices and apps. 

example of Google Display Ad placement

Video – Video campaigns allow you to show video ads on their own, or within streaming video content on YouTube and across the Google Display Network.

Shopping – More than a Search ad, Shopping ads show searchers a photo of your product, title, price, name of your store, and a link to purchase. All this is placed above other types of search results and sometimes on the right side of the search result page.

Social Networks

The social networks can’t be ignored if you’re aiming to maximize the potential for customers to find your website. If you’re thinking there are too many social networks and not all of my customers are using them or only using a few – you’re right. You only need to engage through the social networks your customers are using.

  • Broad-Reach: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram
  • Specific Targeted Audiences: Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitch

We help businesses determine what social networks their customers are using, and value-added strategies they can use to engage them. Give-aways is one effective way to get your customers to engage on these platforms.

The Near Future (1-2 years) 

Image Search

Over the past several months, Google representatives have said they are focusing on Image Search. They followed through on that by announcing several new features at their recent I/O conference. These features include using high resolution images and 3D objects to use in Augmented Reality (Like this chair? Open the camera app and see this chair in your living room!). Knowing Google, their long-term interest is in how to best sell ads on the Image Search results page. Nonetheless, all the changes and new features offer new opportunities for your business to attract new attention.

The Question for You: How is your audience using Image Search in their everyday life?

Voice Search

Currently, 25% of people are saying voice is their first choice for searches. Personal voice assistants like Siri on Apple’s products and Amazon’s Alexa are becoming more and more popular among users. Voice presents new and interesting problems that haven’t yet been solved. But as Artificial Intelligence helps develop new capabilities, user adoption of voice technologies are expected to grow over the next several years.

Voice searches are more conversational and specific. Keywords people use for their voice searches are often a string of 5 words or more.

Example:Backlinko found an example in Google Home results for the query: Are figs good for you?

When you’re optimizing your content to answer questions in voice search, answer the specific question directly as possible. Studies show that 29 words are ideal.

Example: “Figs are high in fiber and a good source of several essential minerals, including magnesium, manganese, calcium, copper, and potassium as well as vitamins, principally K and B6.”

Further Future (next 10 years) 

What is in store for us 10 years down the road? Will Google and Facebook still be here?  If they are, will they be used in the same way? 

The truth is we don’t know what’s coming, but we can forecast with confidence that whatever is coming will be something few can imagine today. With the current rate of innovation and the way artificial intelligence algorithms are advancing, automation and immersive user experiences are some of the biggest breakthroughs we’re likely to see.

In the coming years the issue of user control will only get more intense.  We can’t predict the future, but we can prepare for it to the best of our ability. With everything that’s in our future, the best way to secure your online presence and image is with:

  • A website built to be flexible enough to adapt to rapid technological change
  • A strategy that takes advantage of the digital platforms best suited for your brand and your customers

Ready to start making your business online work for you?

Request a Call

4 Ways to Update Your Website

If you’re a business owner having a website is a must for any kind of effective online presence. For starters, you need a website for online advertising. A website also gives you the most control for managing your business image.

Google and Facebook are necessary now, but there’s no guarantee they will be around forever. If you already have a website, you need to make sure it’s modern and optimized for user experience on both desktop computers and mobile devices. Let’s take a look at how an Omaha web design company like us can help you get your website updated or built from scratch.

reasons to have a website

Use WordPress

WordPress is one of the best platforms for building a business website, or any website, and is what our Omaha web developers use most often. WordPress is cost effective. The designing and development are affordable, and the upkeep and maintenance expenses are inexpensive. WordPress is search engine optimization ready. WP websites have simple and constant codes making them ideal for Google indexing. Our WP websites designs are responsive, meaning they adapt to mobile devices automatically.

Use Professional Photography

Photos enable you to show your customers and clients what you have to offer them. Consumers like to see things for themselves before making a purchasing decision. The photos you use on your website represent your business. Low quality, unprofessional photos communicate a “low quality” message about your company and products to the people viewing the images. That’s just how the human mind works. Investing in professional quality photos is an investment in the way customers and prospects see you — first impressions do matter.

Clarify Your Message

If you have a great looking website and professional photos, but your messaging is poor or confusing you will lose business.  Every word serves a purpose.  Right away you need to be clear about what you’re offering and why it’s going to make your customer’s life better. You need to focus on the benefits first and the features second. If you’re not familiar with the principles of persuasion and effective sales writing investing in professional copywriting services is just as important as investing in professional photography.

Add Value by Educating

Potential customers come to your website because you’re an authority in what you do. You’re an expert in your industry. Instead of telling customers you’re the best, prove to them you’re the best by giving them some value upfront. Share your expertise about what you know, and educate your audience. Once they feel empowered with new knowledge, they’re more likely to make a decision and choose the expert who helped them fill in the gaps of their understanding.  You can educate on any page within your website, but regular blog articles are one of the most effective ways to accomplish this. It also has the added benefit of helping your SEO rankings.

Ready to Update Your Website?

The most important things to consider for a modern website is making sure it’s responsive, has good photos, and clear messaging. If you hit those three points, you’re probably in good shape. If you’re lacking on one or two of those and don’t want to take on all the updates yourself, we can help you out.

Does Your Website Need an SSL Certificate?

http browser security message

In 2018 Google started the process of flagging websites as untrustworthy if they do not have an SSL certificate, and our Omaha web hosting team began making recommendations to all our clients to purchase and install and SSL certificate. If your website is not updated with an SSL certificate people who visit might see a red “Not Secure” message in their web address bar (URL), along with a full red screen warning them to advance at their own peril. As an Omaha web design and web hosting company we’re on the front lines and have a close up view of how this is affecting website owners. 

In addition to giving a dangerous impression, non-secure websites will suffer in Google search rankings making it increasingly difficult to find your website. The good news is it’s easy to get a SSL certificate and avoid having the dreaded red screen greet your visitors.

Who Needs an SSL Certificate?

After the release of Chrome 62, EVERY website with any kind of text input will need an SSL certificate. If your website has text inputs in the form of login panels, contact forms, search bars, etc., you’ll need the upgrade. If your website is on HTTP:// you’ll need the upgrade. There are very few websites that can get away with not having an SSL cert now. 

Benefits of an SSL Certificate

Secure Sensitive Information

If you don’t like the feeling of being “forced” to upgrade by Google, there are some benefits that come with the certificate. For starters, any information you send on the internet is passed from computer to computer and eventually arrives at the destination server. If you’re sending unsecure information any computer in between you and the server can see what your sending. Credit card numbers, usernames, passwords, and other sensitive information are vulnerable. When you use an SSL certificate the information becomes unreadable to everyone except for the server you’re sending the information to. Securing sensitive information is always good practice.

Cybercriminal Defense

Cybercriminals are becoming more and more sophisticated. Not only do they put together scams, they are starting to use techniques that capture unsecured data that’s moving between destinations. More than ever an SSL certificate is necessary to ensure your sensitive information is secure from these tech criminals.

Trust

Perhaps the most significant benefit is trust. When visitors come to your website and it has an SSL certificate they will see visuals that signal trust. In the URL they’ll see a lock and a green address bar indicating that secured encryption is in use. When your visitors see this, they’ll feel at ease and will stay longer. Using HTTPS will give you a stronger Google ranking as well.

SEO Benefits

Switching to HTTPS moderately correlates with organic search engine rankings. While it’s not a major determining factor, Google has stated it could be a tie breaker in indexing, ranking an HTTPS website above the HTTP competitor.

How an SSL Certificate Works

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is standard security technology that establishes an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. The link makes sure all the data passed between the web server and browsers remains private and secure. The process looks something like this: 

  1. A browser or server tries to connect to a website secured with an SSL certificate. The browser/server requests that web server identify itself.
  2. The web server sends the browser/server a copy of its SSL.
  3. The browser/server checks to see whether or not it trusts the SSL. If it does, it sends a message to the web server.
  4. The web server sends back a digitally signed agreement to start an SSL encrypted session.
  5. Encrypted data is then shared between the browser/server and the web server.

Don’t Get Flagged!

Having an SSL certificate is now a must have if you want visitors looking at your site – which you most certainly do. It’s important for SEO and user experience. If you don’t already have an SSL certificate you could be losing hundreds of potential customers every day – or more depending on the size of your business.

5 Things to do Tonight to Improve your Business Online

Do you have a small to midsize business but no or minimum online presence? Have you been thinking about looking into SEO services in Omaha? Before you make a decision to invest in search engine optimization and web marketing you should get the big picture overview of the value. We’ll cover each of these topics in more depth in later posts, but for now these are the main things you can start thinking about and doing to improve your businesses’ online effectiveness.

1. Update Your Website

First, if you don’t have a website you’ll want to get one to have any online business presence. A website is necessary for online advertising and gives you control over your business image. Google and Facebook aren’t guaranteed to be around forever, so banking on a Google My Business (GMB) listing or a Facebook page for presence and credibility isn’t a great long-term strategy. If you do have a website, you need to make sure it’s modern and optimized for good user experience on both desktop computers and mobile devices.

reasons to have a website

Tips for a Good Website:

  • Use WordPress for a robust and flexible content management system.
  • Use professional photography as this builds credibility and assists is enhancing a beautiful design.
  • Have a clear message and readable content so customers know they can trust you and exactly what they need to do to begin using your product/service.
  • Add value to customers by educating them and they’ll be more likely to trust you… not to mention Google will reward you.

Simple Website Action Items:

  • Your listed phone number should be clickable
  • Add new photos
  • Teach customers something valuable

UPDATE MY WEBSITE

2. Claim Your Google My Business Listing

When people search for you or businesses like yours the majority of the time they use Google. If you don’t have a GMB listing the chances of them finding you are slim to none. A GMB listing tells your potential customers valuable information, like your website address, physical address, telephone, and shows your reviews from past customers. It also features a map with a pinpoint showing your location.

JM Google My Business Listing

Tips for Your GMB Listing: 

  • Make sure the name, address, and phone number match exactly
  • Add photos to show what it’s like to work with you
  • Use the service area 
  • Enable messages, if you can commit to immediate responses

Here’s JM’s free guide to setting up a GMB page.

3. Create a Facebook Business Page

Facebook is still King of the social media platforms. If you run a business you need a Facebook business page. People will actually search for you on Facebook. It’s also a way to post helpful information and make announcements to your customers and potential customers. You can link your website to your Facebook page offering another avenue for prospects to reach you. Once you’re on Facebook join local groups that have an interest in your industry. You can make connections, learn what people are interested in, and even offer solutions to common problems to establish yourself as an authority.

steps to take for facebook success

4. Search Yourself

Finding out how easy it is for your customer to find you is critical for your online success. If you’re online but barely visible, you’re leaving a lot of money and potential customers on the table. The best way to test this is by pretending you are one of your customers.

Google search for what customers are looking for

Start by making a list:

  • List your services & Products
  • Add other names for those services and products
  • Add the names customers commonly use, especially when they’re wrong

Type your list items one at a time into Google search. Is your website at the top of the first page on the search result? Is your website on the first page at all? Who is ranking number one? Examine the number one ranking website and look at their information. What is the format and the content? Can you do better?

Maybe you can’t be number one, but you should have an aim to be near the top, and it is doable with the right strategy.

HELP MY SEARCH PRESENCE

5. Make A Content Plan

You can have the most amazing looking website in the world, and it won’t sell a thing if the content is weak.   Your customer needs to know what your offering and why it’s going to make their life better.

Great content is a result of asking yourself the right questions and providing those answers to your customer.

Here are the questions you need to ask:

  • What can I teach my customers?
  • What questions do I answer repeatedly?
  • What’s new in my industry?
  • What information in Google search could I add clarity to?
  • What is my competition doing?
  • What search terms are relevant to my business that my website isn’t addressing?

If you Build it They Will Come

After you’ve answered those critical questions, you can start building your content machine. Things to think about moving forward: 

  • Content is text, image, audio, and video
  • Who is going to write your content?
  • Who will create, edit, and post your content?
  • How will you promote your content?
  • What will your content schedule be?  

CREATE YOUR CONTENT PLAN

Where to Start?

Hopefully you now have a sense of the online business landscape and where you should be focusing your energy. You don’t need to do everything overnight, but you should start taking action on the most important aspects. If you need help getting started give us a call and we’ll give you some advice on where you need to focus first.  

Mobile First More Important than Ever

Google has a mobile first mentality. Not so much because Google likes mobile, but because people like mobile. Now, more than ever before, people are using mobile devices to navigate the online world. Because of consumer demand Google has adjusted, and if the website user experience on mobile isn’t excellent, it hurts the website’s organic rankings.

If you’re thinking about SEO in Omaha and improving your web marketing you’re going to need to make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices in 2019. 

Responsive Websites are Mobile Friendly  

We build responsive websites. Responsive websites respond to the resolution of the device, and the format shifts depending on the resolution the website is being viewed under. In most cases the desktop view will inform the mobile view.

The big benefits of responsive websites in the context of mobile include:  

  • Increasing your reach to tablet and mobile audiences
  • Increasing sales and conversions
  • Consolidating your analytics and reporting
  • Increasing your visibility in search engines
  • Saving time and cost on site management
  • Saving time and cost on mobile development  

The Big 5 Mobile Optimized Website Benefits

1. Improved User Experience

What happens when you receive a link via a text message from a friend, you click the link and it takes you to a jumbled mess of a website that you can’t understand? You leave. And you likely never go back, killing the chances of that website ever making you a customer.

If users can’t easily browse and read the content on your website from their mobile devices, they will always leave uninspired. Mobile optimized sites are critical for attracting and retaining new customers.

A website built for an enhanced mobile experience will keep users engaged through clean page formatting, with intentionally ordered content and clear calls to action. A good experience is not just the direct result of a nice looking page – but also of a page with valuable content.

2. Increased Time on Site

Time is the currency of the internet. You have only a few seconds to capture a website visitor’s attention. You have even less time when users are on mobile devices because they’re typically accessing your website when they’re out and on the go. When visitors encounter your mobile friendly website, they stay on the website longer, and you increase the odds of making them a customer. Increased time on site also one of the most critical factors for SEO success.

3. Faster Loading Speed  

Speed is important because as we just mentioned – time is a huge factor for user experience. A website that isn’t optimized for fast load time will render very slowly on a mobile device. In worse case scenarios it will not render at all. Studies show mobile website users will abandon a page if they have to wait more than 6-10 seconds. Check out some ways you can increase you website speed here.

4. Improved Mobile SEO  

If Google recommends it, we do it. Google recommends website developers build their sites to be responsive. A responsive website increases the likelihood your site will rank well in Google mobile search results. So, that’s what we build, because we build websites with search engine optimization in-mind.

5. Competitive Advantage  

Despite the data, and the recommendations, a lot of companies have ignored the growing trend of mobile users. By building pages with mobile experience in mind, you’ll keep yourself ahead of the competition.

Why have a Mobile First Mentality?

Mobile optimized websites are a big part of search engine success. It’s critical for any business that wants to compete to make sure they have a website that is mobile friendly. A one second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. The good news is we make responsive websites that are designed to thrive in the mobile online environment.

If you’re looking to make your website mobile friendly or need a new responsive website give us a call, 402.292.7500 and we’ll walk you through your options. 

The Importance of Link Equity

Link equity is a search engine ranking factor for your website. In essence, it refers to the equity or “value” passed from one page, or one website, to another through posted links.

Search engines like Google view links as votes by other websites indicating that your page is valuable and worth promoting. Having quality inbound and outbound links on your site can boost your organic rankings with search engines.

graphic  of browser with backlink

Types of Links

If you’re getting confused by all of the different link terminology let’s clear things up here. There are three different types of links.

Internal Links – An internal link would be a link on one of your website pages that links to a different page within your website.

External Links – If you have an external link, also known as an “outbound link,” it will link to another website or website page that is not yours.

Backlinks – Backlinks, also called “inbound links,” are links on another website that link back to your site. If website A makes an external link to website B, website B will have a backlink from website A. 

What Determines Link Equity?

Every type of link on your website weighed for link equity. There are some considerations to keep in mind when evaluating link equity. 

Relevance – If your linking to a page about knitting cat sweaters from an article about proper car maintenance the link isn’t relevant. Google is smart enough to figure that out at this point. Irrelevant links do not add value or build your authority. 

Age Helps  – When credible websites that have built up authority link to your website they pass on more link equity than links from brand-new sites.  

Crawlable – “Spiders” or “Crawlers” are names for programs search engines use to discover the content found online. HTML is the primary language. Make sure your pages and pages you’re linking to are crawler friendly, or they’ll be ignored. If you’re not sure about this, ask your website developer.  

Location – Links that are buried in footers and sidebars aren’t given as much weight as links positioned higher on the page.  The same goes for videos. The higher the video is on the page the more weight it’s given.

How to Get Quality Backlinks

There’s a lot of scammers out there in the web marketing world selling backlinks. The problem is they don’t pass the Link Equity criteria. One of the best and most affordable ways to build your link equity is by using the trust you’ve built with your partners, clients and affiliate organizations. Sometimes, all it takes is to ask a trusted partner or client for a link, and you’ll get it.

High Quality Original Content

Another way to get quality backlinks is providing value. There’s so much noise and poorly written content, that when actual quality original content is produced it rises to the top.  If you’re producing engaging and informative original content consistently you’ll eventually get noticed and become an irresistibly linkable authority.  

The Bigger Picture on Rankings

The reality is Google uses over 200 ranking factors in their algorithm. If you think that’s a lot – you’re right. It’s easy to get lost in the details, and by the time you think you understand it something changes.  Working with a web design firm that stays on top of this stuff is a great way to know you’re doing everything you can to get heard amongst all the noise.

What is Google E-A-T and Why it Matters

Way back in 2013 Google released a 160-page search quality evaluator guidelines paper. The document revealed that good content is among the top three webpage-quality factors. It went on to define high-quality content as content that demonstrates a high level of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T). In August of 2018, Google released an algorithm update, and SEO experts determined that sites with low E-A-T suffered the most from the algorithm update. If you’re looking to optimize your SEO in Omaha or to improve your web marketing, this is an essential read.

Expertise

Google’s search quality guidelines have identified two types of expertise: Formal and Everyday Expertise.

  • Formal: Especially in the medical, financial, and legal industries, a certified professional is considered the most reliable source of expertise. This is because if incorrect information is published in these areas, the chances of putting consumers at risk dramatically increases.
  • Everyday Expertise: The Google guide document states “For some topics, the most expert sources of information are ordinary people sharing their life experiences on personal blogs, forums, reviews, discussions, etc.”

The takeaway here is that you won’t necessarily need someone with credentialed expertise to fulfill the “expertise” factor is you’re working with a professional writer or are one yourself.

Authority

Authority is all about proving to your audience that the content on your website is legit. If your website falls under the “everyday expertise” category showing credentials aren’t as important. You can show authority by adding the author’s job title to their byline or linking to their professional website or full bio.

  • Cite Your Research – If your content creators aren’t “experts” thorough research and proper citation will make up for it. Linked sources is a signal to Google that you’re correctly attributing sources. Make sure your sources are high-quality backlinks. 
  • A Good Reputation – Reviews, and good reviews are critical. Most people rely heavily on reviews when considering using a company’s product or services. The Google guidelines state “Popularity, user engagement, and user reviews can be considered evidence of reputation.” Responding promptly and providing top notch customer service should be a part of your social media content strategy giving your customers plenty of motivation to leave you a positive review.

Trust

Transparency builds trust with your audience. Your website should clearly communicate who you are, how you make money, and that you will do what you say you will do.  If you’re accepting payments on your website users need to feel like payments can be accepted safely and appropriately. Your site should have a proper SSL certificate even if you’re not accepting any form of payment.  Providing helpful content rather than just trying to sell is another way to build trust.

  • Secure & Transparent – Be crystal clear about who you are, what you do, and why you do it. Make sure your site is secure and people know it.
  • Be Helpful – The whole idea behind content marketing is to provide value to your audience. Google is continually refining their algorithm with this in mind. They’re also using real people to determine if websites and web pages are meeting these criteria. Your content should either help or teach your audience something about a topic that is relevant to your business. Just trying to sell without giving value first is a trust buster.

The Big Takeaway for Google E-A-T

If you’re thinking that creating content that satisfies the E-A-T guidelines will take time, you’re right. The Google guidelines state it clearly, “We will consider content to be low quality if it is created without adequate time, effort, expertise, or talent/skill.”

The good news is you don’t need to become a content creator to satisfy Google E-A-T. There are plenty of affordable experts you can outsource who can create valuable user experiences for your customers. And before you know it, Google will recognize and reward you.