Google's Mobile-First Indexing and How it Impacts SEO (Guest Post)

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The following is a guest post by Ivan Serrano. Ivan is an enthusiastic writer who enjoys learning whatever he can about international communications, and hopes to manage his own global business someday. He also enjoys sharing his knowledge of technology and how it can improve business communications on an international level.

Want to make sure that your website is ranking well on Google? What kind of question is that? Of course you do. That being the case, you need to make sure your web design techniques are on par with the way Google currently ranks websites. The fact is that those web design classes you took a few years ago might have given you some valuable foundational skills, but the knowledge you picked up there probably isn’t relevant anymore. That’s because Google is always changing the way it ranks websites in order to account for new trends in technology and user behavior. If you want to stay competitive, you have to keep up with them.

One phrase you may have heard already in recent weeks is mobile-first indexing. If you don’t know what that means yet (or if you’re only coming across it for the first time in this article), then pay close attention to what you’re about to read. Mobile-first indexing refers to Google’s most recent approach to ranking websites. As you may have guessed, this approach involves putting mobile websites ahead of desktop pages.

A Detailed Look at Mobile-First Indexing

To understand mobile-first indexing, it’s vital to first understand the way that Google used to rank websites. Here’s an overview:

  • Google ranks each extant page by crawling it, which means that they use a program to look at the information displayed on the page and determine how relevant it will be to any given keywords typed into the search bar by a user.
  • Google used to use a system called desktop-first indexing, which involved crawling the desktop version of each page first and using that information to determine the rankings for both the mobile and desktop versions of the site in question. Under this system, mobile sites could only provide a small bonus to the rankings.
  • Under mobile-first indexing, the process is more or less reversed. Google now crawls the mobile version of each site first, in order to determine the desktop and mobile rankings for it. It only crawls the desktop version of the site when no mobile version exists.

How Does Mobile-First Indexing Affect SEO?

In light of the above, those of you who work in digital marketing may want to pay closer attention to your mobile websites. The key thing to remember is that mobile-first indexing basically makes your mobile site the primary version of your website. That said, you want to make sure it has all the same information as your desktop page. You also need to make sure that information is arranged and displayed in a way that is convenient for mobile users. Pay attention to the following tips:

Make sure the following is equivalent to your desktop page:

  • Metadata (including social metadata)
  • Structured data
  • XML and links to media sitemaps
  • Search console verification

Make sure the following is updated or optimized for your mobile site:

  • Server capacity (expect a much higher crawl rate on the mobile site)
  • Images and videos (don’t use anything too high-res, as this will take too long to load on a mobile page)
  • Collapse your content and hide it in tabs, since this will be treated the same as visible content on mobile pages.
  • Once you have updated your mobile site, make sure you are using tools such as Google Analytics to obtain feedback you can use to keep improving it. If you are using app indexing on either site, consider implementing Google Analytics into your app through a relevant software development kit.

Mobile-first indexing will not require you to throw out everything you know about web design or SEO and start from the ground up. You’ll simply have to adapt your existing content to account for the changes Google is making. Remember: SEO is an ever-evolving practice, so it pays to stay ahead of the curve.

Better Promotional Offers: A 3-Step Guide

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Specials, discounts, and promotions are a marketer’s best friend. They are used because they work. They drive people to your products and services and increase the likelihood that they purchase.

But just because you have an offer available doesn’t mean the customers will come running. Even if your offer appears to be working, there are ways to make it better.

There is a science to this art – one that has been perfected over the years by many marketers smarter than both you and I.

If you want to create better, more effective promotional offers, here are three steps you can take.

Step 1: Create Urgency

No more forever deals. Forever deals aren’t special. While I think it’s great that I always get free shipping when I order from your website, that fact alone is not going to spur me to action. It may win business from competitors, but it’s not creating any great sense of urgency.

Instead, tie every promotion to a specific time period. When you introduce deadlines to your sales and special offers, you drive more business.

Consumers have a natural fear of missing out. A great offer with a deadline entices them to act now, before it’s too late.

Step 2: Add Variety

We all know the companies that utilize the same offers and sales month after month and year after year. Eventually, these become easy to ignore. And an offer that is easy to ignore is not one that is going to help your business.

To keep customers interested in your brand, use a variety of different offers. This month it might be free shipping. Next month it might be buy one, get one free. Come Christmas, it might be 25% off orders over $100.

While it may be true that some offers work better than others – meaning they bring in more sales – you still run the risk of diminishing returns over time if you continue to run the same offer over and over again.

Step 3: Promote

If you build it, they will come. The famous line from Field of Dreams may have been true for Kevin Costner, but it’s not true for companies today. If you have a special offer meant to boost sales, you need to make sure people know about it.

You can promote your special offers through all the major channels that you use to advertise your business – from traditional avenues like TV, radio, and outdoor, to online channels like social media, search, and display ads. Also consider all the opportunities you have to promote your offers to existing customers – email, phone, direct mail, etc.

When you let people know about your offers, you drive the traffic necessary to achieve success.

In conclusion, the companies that make the most out of special offers are constantly working to improve their effectiveness. By taking the three steps discussed above, you will drive an increase in sales for your business.

How to Use Your Customer's Voice to Create Powerful Content That Converts (Guest Post)

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The following is a guest post be Brooklin Nash. Brooklin writes about the latest tools and small business trends for TrustRadius. When he’s not writing, you can find him reading YA dystopian fiction (with guilty pleasure) and cooking.

Creating content that converts may be easier said than done, but the concept is relatively simple. You are looking for content that connects with your target audience and encourages them to move forward in the purchasing decision.

The Power of Your Customer’s Voice

These days, companies have a powerful tool at their disposal: their customers. When approached in the right way, customers are no longer just customers. They can be brand ambassadors - and their voice often speaks louder than your run of the mill marketing content.

Customers now have a worldwide public forum at their fingertips, in the form of social media and review platforms. 90% of online users rely on customer reviews to make a purchase decision. At the same time, people have learned to trust customer reviews nearly as much as a recommendation from a friend.

It’s clear your customers have an opinion and a voice to be shared. So how can you harness your customer’s voice to create content that converts?

Tip #1: Recognize the Power of User-generated Content

The very first step is to recognize just how powerful user reviews can be. Authentic reviews give a voice to your customers, and your customer’s voice give authenticity to your brand. People receive vast amounts of information online, and your company is likely to stand out if it features authentic reviews over marketing language. Incorporating reviews into content marketing has the added benefit of helping out your SEO.

Tip #2: Identify & Own Review Listings

As you get started using your customer’s voice for content, you should make sure you have all the sources you need. Use a backlink research tool to identify which review platforms your company is listed on, and then take the steps to own those listings. This will give you more to work with and make sure only the best information is out there.

Tip #3: Focus on a Variety of Authentic Reviewers

In building up reviews, you should make an effort to get recieve reviews from a broad range of customers. Avoid cherry picking from one set of customers. This is important for a couple of reasons: first, buyers usually look for reviews from people in similar roles and, second, buyers are usually wary of listings with only positive reviews. It can take some time to build up steam, but don’t lose hope! Authentic reviews from a variety of customers will be much better in the long run than positive reviews from a small set of customers.

Tip #4: Leverage Your Customer’s Voice into Powerful Content

Online review platforms can give you a leg up on your competition, but you should also take the active step of changing customer reviews into content. This can take the form of a landing page that features customer quotes, case studies about how you helped specific clients, or social media posts that engage with your customers. All of this is content that is more likely to convert, primarily because they feature your customer’s voice.

Tip #5: Stay Engaged!

Leveraging your customer’s voice is not a passive activity. It takes quite a bit of work - and will be well worth it! Once reviews start to come in, stay engaged with both customers and your target audience. Respond to reviews - both negative and positive. Thanking a customer for leaving a review will show loyalty, and responding to negative reviews will show engagement.

Social listening tools can also help you see what comments, questions and complaints are arising about your brand.

All in all, authentic content is content that converts. Using your customer’s voice will help your brand become more authentic. So start with these tips today!

How to Hire for an Undefined Role

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Hiring is not easy. But it is a critical part of growing a successful business. Time and again we find that the most productive or the most innovative organizations are the ones with highly competent, diverse teams. At the end of the day, it starts with the people in your company.

And hiring is hard enough when you know exactly who you need. When you have a detailed list of tasks and responsibilities that someone will need to do once they get hired, with a clear title and vision for where and how this person fits into the organization, it makes your job much easier.

But what happens when none of those things is true?

Sometimes you just need to hire someone. You know that there are things that need to get done that aren’t, either because you don’t have enough time or enough know-how. Your team is stretched too thin and you need to add another player to meet your growth targets.

Here are a few things you can do to get started:

1. Review Your Strategic Goals

What are you hoping to accomplish this year? What new initiatives do you have planned? How do you plan to grow the business?

These kinds of questions are the ones you will answer in your strategic plan. If you don’t have a strategic plan, I recommend starting there. You need a roadmap that details how you plan to get from A (where you are today) to B (where you want to be in 1-, 5-, and 10- years).

A careful review of your strategic plan will highlight key areas you need to pursue.

2. Look for Gaps on Your Existing Team

Once you have reviewed your strategic plan, you must review your existing team. Match people up with the plan, highlighting their current skill sets and where they can continue to add value.

In most organizations, this will reveal certain gaps. These gaps are areas where you don’t currently have the right people to do the job.

Perhaps there are skills or sets of experiences that your team is missing. This will clue you in to what a new hire should add.

3. Find Out What Peer Companies are Doing

It’s possible that you are working in uncharted territory. Perhaps you have many different gaps and aren’t sure how to prioritize them.

It can help to take a look at what other companies are doing. Look to peers in the industry, even competitors. Find out who they are hiring, and how they are planning to grow and succeed. Often this will open your eyes to the types of positions needed to achieve your goals.

4. Look for Soft Skills

Whenever the hard skills for a position are not well-defined, you will need to rely on soft skills. You are going to look for someone who fits well within your existing culture, someone who is passionate about the company and its mission.

You also want to find someone who has demonstrated the ability to learn and grow professionally. This person should have strong creative thinking skills, as you may end up relying on them to define their role and think up new ways to add value.

5. Hire and Adapt

Hire the best person available and design the role to fit them rather than the other way around. The exact responsibilities that this person has on their list might change over time, but if you have the right person, everything else should fall into place.

How to Improve the Middle of Your Sales Funnel

How do you talk about your leads? Are all leads the same—a person expresses interest and they’re just a lead, no matter what?

If that’s the beginning and end of your lead qualification process, then you’re probably not collecting enough data and you’re not doing enough to make sure your customers get through the sales funnel with as little trouble—and as much chance of conversion—as possible.

For starters, you as a company have to ask yourself: Who is your ideal customer? Although they’re all different, what characteristics do they share and how can you monitor them for some specific actions? What actions should they be taking to let you know that they’re moving along—and when are you going to lose them (or when will they get stuck in the sales funnel)? This graphic helps you understand more about the sales funnel and what you can do to improve yours.

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Encourage Customer Journeys and Improve the Middle of Your Funnel

Via Salesforce