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Tag: SERP

30
Jun

Solve your mobile woes with responsive web design

Picture this: a friend shares a link on your favorite social media platform. Intrigued (or just bored and otherwise doomed to scroll until your thumb falls off), you click. You wait a brief moment for the page to load…and your heart sinks.

Everything is tiny, zoomed out, illegible.

Determined to read whatever it was your friend felt compelled to share, you pinch to zoom in, pan around, then pinch to zoom back out a little. After 10 seconds or so, you’ve got the text centered on screen and big enough to read. Feeling victorious, you plow on.

A couple paragraphs in, you see the author has linked to something relevant you’d like to read, so you tap that link…or at least you try. But your fat finger misses, and all of the sudden you’re somewhere else entirely.

You hit the back arrow in your mobile browser, but when the page reloads, you’re right back where you started: tiny, zoomed out, illegible. Frustrated, you give up and head back to the aforementioned social media platform, never to return.

 

Static sites makes for unhappy customers

If you think you’re alone in this experience, you’re certainly not. A recent Google study found that “96% of consumers have encountered sites that weren’t designed with mobile in mind” and “48% reported feeling frustrated and annoyed” when this happens.

headdesk

That frustrating and annoying experience is the result of something called “static web design.” It’s the way most websites were designed for years and years, until the mobile phone came along and tore up the web design handbook.

To be more specific, “A static page layout […] uses a preset page size and does not change based on the browser width.”

Static websites are perfectly fine when viewed on most desktop computers, but the problem arises when you try to view those same pages on a tablet, mobile phone, etc.

In an effort to solve this problem, a few enterprising companies began building mobile-specific versions of their sites (think mobile.nytimes.com, for example). Many of these are still around today, and they do a fine job. However, in most cases, this requires two completely separate code bases and content management systems. With this setup, mistakes are easily made and headaches abound.

So, how do we solve this problem?

 

Responsive web design to the rescue!

Enter responsive web design, or RWD for short. It’s the magic pill you didn’t know you needed until now.

What exactly is this miracle cure? Smashing Magazine defines RWD thusly:

“Responsive Web design is the approach that suggests that design and development should respond to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation.”

In layman’s terms, it means that no matter the size of your device (be it a desktop computer, a tablet, a mobile phone or even a smartwatch), the website will look great. Text is big and legible, photos take up the appropriate amount of space, and there’s no pinching to zoom or panning required. This, folks, is web utopia.

responsive web design yes and no

Not only are responsive web design sites easier to use, they’re good for business.

According to that same Google study referenced above, 74% of users visiting a mobile-friendly site said they were “more likely to return to that site in the future” and 67% of users said “when they visit a mobile-friendly site, they’re more likely to buy a site’s product or service.”

Additionally, if you have a site that isn’t mobile-friendly, you could be sending traffic away from your business and into the waiting arms of your competitors.

dr-evil-crying

To quote Google again:

  • 61% of users said that if they didn’t find what they were looking for right away on a mobile site, they’d quickly move on to another site
  • 79% of people who don’t like what they find on one site will go back and search for another site
  • 50% of people said that even if they like a business, they will use them less often if the website isn’t mobile-friendly

 

Google lays down the law

Knowing how deeply frustrating these static sites can be for mobile users, Google has begun penalizing websites that don’t meet its mobile-friendly standards. The search giant announced this change last year, and as of April 21, 2015 is offering priority to mobile-friendly websites when users search on a mobile device.

“A lot of small businesses are going to be really surprised that the number of visitors to their websites has dropped significantly. This is going to affect millions of sites on the web,” Itai Sadan, CEO of website building company Duda, told Business Insider.

Is your current site mobile-friendly? If it wasn’t built (or redesigned) in the past five years or so, I’m guessing not. You can use this tool to find out for certain.

In this new reality, here’s how a mobile-friendly site will appear in Google’s search results:

mobile-friendly

That Mobile-friendly label lets mobile searchers know they will receive a good experience when they load the page, and it also means the page will appear higher in search results.

If you’re a business owner trying to drive traffic to your product, this matters quite a bit.

According to an Advanced Web Ranking study, 71.33% of searchers click a link from the first page of Google’s search results, whereas only 5.59% click links on pages two and three.

Additionally, “the first 5 results account for 67.60% of all the clicks and the results from 6 to 10 account for only 3.73%.” That’s a HUGE gap. You want, nay, you need to be among the top results.

ranking-position-CTR-2

 

How we can help

When you choose the Kestrel Co, you’re guaranteed not only a beautiful, hand-crafted website, but also one that is built from the ground up using responsive web design priciples. No tiny text, no pinching or panning. Everything just works. Desktop, tablet, mobile and beyond.

For your customers, this means a better experience across all devices. For your business, this means happier customers, better search position, more clicks and more revenue.

Coupled with the SEM strategies Warren mentioned last week and the fresh content on the blog Ryan goaded you into starting, you’ll be at the top of Google’s search results in no time. Your customers will thank you, and you can feel better knowing that there’s one less frustrating static site floating around the internet.

thumbs up

23
Jun

Search Engine Marketing Could Save Your Business

Search engine marketing keeps you from going unnoticed like a fallen tree

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” A fascinating question, I’m sure. But you’re running a business; who’s got time for amateur philosophy? Your question is, “If we build a smashing product and nobody finds it, is it still smashing?”

The answer is yes. Absolutely. Good on you… Unfortunately, you may still go out of business.

The problem is, as much as we idealists want to believe quality is its own marketing, that’s only part of the story. Quality is indispensable, to be sure. But sometimes, especially when you’re still building a base of repeat customers or trying to scale your business up, you just need more people to know about you. That’s where marketing comes in.

But you knew that. You’re trying to market yourself. After Ryan’s post on content creation last week, you sketched out a new blog post. You recently hired a kid to keep your social media accounts active. And you have a beautiful new, handcrafted website by Switzer Creative. You’re making smart decisions that should contribute to organic search engine ranking and pay off in the long-term. The rub is you need it to pay off in the short-term. You need traffic to your site now.

Enter SEM. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) stands out as one of the most immediate, manipulable, and measurable ways to drive traffic to your company’s site. What is it? One thought leader defines it this way, “SEM is the process of gaining website traffic by purchasing ads on search engines.” Put another way, give Google money and they will make you show up when customers search for stuff. (To be fair to the other guys, Bing and its partner Yahoo do currently account for a combined 1/3 of all search traffic, but Google holds down virtually all of the rest).

How does search engine marketing work?

Hit your target with search engine marketingSEM can be split into two groups: search and display campaigns. Paid search is built around targeting words and phrases potential customers are searching for online. Since we do web development, Switzer might bid on “web design companies”, “new website”, or even “my website sucks”. Assuming we use broad or phrase match and bid high enough, Adwords would then serve up our ad when someone Googles these phrases or a variation like “st louis web design companies”. Negative keywords allow us to exclude searches like “help me build my new website.” If you’re searching for that, you’re probably not looking for our services – yet.

Display campaigns are a horse of a different color. They differ in format, targeting, and marketing methodology. If you’re interested, comment below and I’ll address it in a future post. We have other pressing questions right now.

Are SEM and SEO the same?

A number of people get confused between SEM and SEO. They are not the same. With SEM, also referred to as “Paid Search” or “Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising”, you pay to show up in the ads sections of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). With SEO, your placement on the SERPs is organic, earned not bought. SEM & SEO do overlap at points, particularly in the areas of keyword research and landing page relevance, but they are distinct specialties with different methods and different goals. As you can see below, the placements on the SERPs are different too.

Google Adwords search engine marketing results on SERP

 

Does anybody click those ads?

Actually, yes. A lot of people do. Particularly if they are actively looking for a product or service. Coincidentally, those are exactly the motivated customers you are looking for. Yahtzee!

What is the cost of SEM?

The cost of your paid search advertising depends on a number of factors and may range from a few dimes per click up to a few dollars or more. The gratifying thing with the pay-per-click model, however, is that you don’t pay unless a customer clicks on your ad and comes to your site. You’re not paying for potential traffic as with a print ad; you’re paying for actual traffic.

SEM also affords considerable control of how much you pay for your clicks. On Google Adwords, for instance, you bid on keywords by setting a max CPC (cost-per-click). When a user Googles a term, Adwords lines up advertisers bidding on that term. The ads are arranged partly by bid, but the perceived quality of your ad and your landing page factor in heavily as well. A lower bid may outrank a higher one if the “quality score” and format of the first is better.

If a user likes your ad and clicks on it, you do not pay your max CPC. You only pay the minimum needed to, given all factors, outrank the bidder below you. For a more elaborate explanation by Google’s Hal Varian, watch the video below.

Of course, in addition to these costs paid to Google Adwords or Bing Ads, there is also the cost of managing your ads – either in management fees to an agency specializing in SEM or in time out of your rather packed schedule. Which leads to the final question…

Can I do my SEM myself?

Absolutely! Of course, that’s coming from a DIY guy who’s considered the feasibility of performing minor operations on myself to save money. Thankfully, reason won out and I’m still alive.

DIY SEM is about as bright as DIY SurgerySo, is SEM a DIY? Like many specialties, the answer is “Sure, kinda, but not really.”The resources are out there. You can teach yourself the basics and get a few campaigns up on Adwords or Bing Ads. The problem is, the learning curve is no bunny hill. You may spend months getting up to speed and still not know the errors you’re making. Noob stories abound of innocent mistakes hemorrhaging hundreds or thousands of dollars before anyone even notices.

In addition, SEM is not a static field. Like most digital specialties, the pace of change is breakneck. Search engines like Google are constantly changing the game and routinely introducing new tools. Staying in the game means exploring, iterating, and innovating.

Does Switzer Creative do SEM?

Yes! In our approach to website design, we become partners with our clients. We feel vested in your success. Since our team’s skillset and background included search engine marketing management, it made sense for us to use those skills to help our partners – driving more traffic to their sweet new sites.

If you have any questions about search engine marketing, chime in below and I’ll try to respond in a timely fashion.

16
Jun

8 Reasons We’re Blogging and You Should Too

For some time I’ve been thinking, are blogs dead? Maybe they’re just dying. Google Reader is gone and we rarely stand around talking about this or that latest blog post. And so, should you should blog for your business? In my attempt to understand search engine optimization (SEO), inbound marketing, and user acquisition, over and over I keep getting hit over the head with the need to have a blog.

Well, we’re tired of resisting. the Kestrel Co. is now the proud owner of a shiny new blog. There are lots of reasons we’ve decided to start, (I’ve outlined eight of them below) but at the end of the day it’s good for business. It’s good for our business, and if it’s good for our business, I think it would be good for yours as well.

The RSS feed model of blog reading is indeed dead, but creating shareable content that builds your social media presence and improves your search engine ranking is alive and well.

So here they are, eight reasons why we’ve started this blog and think you should get one going for your own company.

1) A blog is good for customer relationships.

In a relationship, when communication starts to fade, everything else follows,” said someone at some point in some publication.

It’s true in marriage, friendships, and client relationships. If you’re not talking, things probably aren’t going all that well. When your client has a need for services you provide, the farther you are from their mind, the less likely they are to contact you.

Blogging regularly reminds your current and potential customers that you are around, active in your field, growing your business, and able to service their needs.

2) An active blog increases search result placement.

Google is always crawling and indexing your website. They are looking for a number of things: structured content, responsive design, and content appropriate to the site’s title and keywords. But for our purposes, one of the most critical components they’re hunting for is fresh, well-written content.

There’s honestly only one way to accomplish that: some type of content feed. You can call it an event gallery, social media aggregate feed, or updates. At the end of the day, it’s a blog.

Google will see your new blog content and interpret that as an active site that search users are likely looking for. The result will be better SERP (search engine results placement).

3) Every blog article increases your online exposure.

Prior to today, the only search referrals this site (kestrelco.wpengine.com) could have received were based on the small amount of copy we have on the homepage. As of today, we also now have the possibility of ranking if someone searches “why should I start a blog”.

Next week when we post about Search Engine Marketing, we will have tripled our indexed subject matter and widened our search footprint and online presence by a factor of two or three.

The much-discussed “long tail” of search refers to highly specialized, low-traffic search terms that represent a significant amount of total searches. Translation: lots and lots of people are searching online for lots and lots of random things. You can’t realistically optimize your site for every long tail search term, but you can certainly write blog posts targeting niche keyword phrases that are likely to draw highly qualified prospects.

4) A blog will attract more traffic to your main site.

woody and buzz talking about bloggingIf your website has no blog, your homepage is the main entry-point for site visitors. With a blog, users will come to an individual article on your site. If their interest is piqued, they’ll hit your homepage, explore your services and related information, and hopefully they will contact you and convert to a paying client.

The blog becomes one more entry point for your sales funnel. It’s not magic, but it’s pretty basic. Provide information that people want to consume and you’ve increased your sales potential.

5) Each blog post has long-term marketing potential at minimal cost.

Unlike billboards, radio spots, print marketing, and pay-per-click models, blog posts live on the web forever with little to no on-going costs (monthly hosting costs for your website being the only real cost).

The post only takes a few hours to craft but once it’s published, it will live in the nether world of the interwebs in perpetuity. You can’t beat free marketing!

6) A blog article provides shareable content that points to your site.

If you don’t write anything, there is very little you can do by way of driving your Facebook and Twitter followers to your site. If you have nothing to share, it’s hard to gain new followers and build your audience.

Write blog posts, share them as links on Facebook and Twitter, encourage folks to interact with the posts, and you’ll widen your social media footprint and drive more [potentially convertible] traffic to your website.

7) Consistent posts will position your brand as an industry leader.

According to a Hubspot survey, 60% of businesses who blog acquire more customers than those who choose not to blog. There are hopefully lots of reasons that’s true (as I’ve outlined above), but one of the reasons more customers trust their blogging partners is because they see those partners as industry experts.

You’re blogging, you’re interacting with new ideas, you’re talking about trends and patterns, habits both good and bad. You are an industry expert. Your client followers see that, trust that, and look to you more often when they need an expert in your field.

8) A blog provides a platform to tell your story.

Every company has a story. A blog gives you a place to tell it. Your story is the how and why of who you are. Sharing that with readers shows your authenticity and passion and therefore engenders trust.

Back in the day, the only way to shape your brand voice was through print media. Today, a simple blog post corrects misunderstanding, reveals your personality, and displays your excitement and passion for what you do.

That’s it! Go do it. If you need help, don’t know how to get started, or want us to talk through the marketing potential for your existing site, contact us.
here comes our blog