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4 Steps You Can Take to Start Driving More Traffic to Your Website

The internet is an ever-changing digital landscape of best practices, search engine algorithms, and keywords. It probably feels like determining how to drive more traffic to your website isn’t as easy as it used to be, if it was ever easy at all. Fortunately, we’ve got some simple ways to drive more traffic to your website while doing more than playing by the rules. You’ll be giving your site’s visitors better, more valuable reasons to come back, and you should see conversions because of it.

Be Mobile Friendly!

You’re probably familiar with the word “Mobilegeddon” by now, and you’re probably not impressed. To many, it seemed to roll out not with a bang, but with a deflated whimper that left some scratching their heads. Unfortunately, that’s because a lot of the people that would have been looked at for impact were in the process of becoming or were actually already “mobile friendly.” In search results, this is the key identifier of Google’s algorithm update earlier this year.

If you’re still wondering “why is responsive design important?” then you should take a look at a few statistics: as many as 20% of people will be using your website from a mobile device, and some 60% of searches are made from or start with a mobile device. Couple this with the fact that people use the search options on their smartphones like we used to use the nearly-defunct phone book. And – not to mention the fact that the number of users integrating smartphones into their shopping experience or even outright shopping from their phone is steadily increasing, and you begin to see why creating a responsive website isn’t just a good idea, it’s a vital one.

What this means is that if you want steadily growing traffic, you must be mobile friendly. You will need to focus more of your attention on aspects of your business that are affected by mobile traffic and optimize them. This isn’t just to make it easier for users to browse your site, or just to appease Google. This will also enhance user experience and make them more likely to visit your site again.

By the way – making the update should be easy. Depending on the platform hosting your site, there may already be tools in place to make the switch smoothly.

Stay on Top of the Shifting SEO Landscape

SEO best practices are not static. On one hand, this is because technology and the programming behind it are always being updated and improved upon. How people build websites and use search engines are changing as well. On the other hand, this is also a constantly developing precaution against companies that want to game the system.

Abusing protocol might get a site more traffic for a short while, but invariably, that traffic won’t stick around because the site isn’t actually what users are looking for. And then, of course, Google, Yahoo, or another search engine will adjust their algorithm to downrank the site for its misguided efforts.

Even if you’re using best practices from years ago, that doesn’t mean your SEO techniques will still be effective. That may sound obvious on the surface, of course, especially with the aforementioned emphasis on change. However, it cannot be stressed enough how quickly your SEO strategy may need to be adjusted in response to algorithm changes.

You need to not only make use of SEO best practices to the best of your ability, you need to keep track of its changing requirements as well. Your site may need an SEO facelift in order to actually see more traffic flowing into your site.

What might make your SEO strategy seem more complicated is also the increasing level of nuance in optimization. It isn’t merely about keywords or about having new posts being put up every day. SEO algorithms are beginning to take quality and value into account. That means taking a fresh look at your content, which we’ll discuss in a moment, as well as making judicious use of long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords use three or more words to make a phrase, and are intended to emulate the phrases people will actually use on search engines. This not only diminishes competition for keyword ranking, increasing the odds of your page being found, but it improves the quality and type of user that finds your site. They will be more likely to want what your website has to offer, and thus be more likely to come back.

Content Is a Priority

As we just noted, SEO is much more nuanced than it used to be. This is due, in part, to last year’s Pigeon algorithm update from Google, which largely had to do with affiliate sites and deceptive ads. It also represented a shift in how Google viewed content, specifically with regard to low-quality content (ie., little or no added value), especially when it’s stuffed with keywords. Ergo, your site should regularly produce quality content that adds value to your business. If that sounds obvious, it’s only because you were probably attempting to do so from the beginning.

What you might not know is how to produce quality content, or even what kinds of content you should be producing. Of course, this will be influenced by your industry, but there’s a few basics to stay on top of.

  • Your content should be multi-platform ready. This means that the content you produce increases your search visibility as well as your social media reach. Multi-platform content can be shared and re-shared easily across a spectrum of social media platforms, all while linking back to your site, providing a digital word of mouth.
  • Blogs in particular can help your SEO ranking, especially if posts utilize different but inherently related long-tail keywords. Presented correctly and updated in a timely manner, a blog and social media outlets will also increase the perception of your site as authoritative in your industry.
  • Guest bloggers can improve your ranking and perception as well. While commerce is an inherently competitive endeavor, there’s a point at which thriving on the internet requires a certain level of intra-industry cooperation. This isn’t to say that guest bloggers are an immediate necessity, or that they’re going to be right for your site in particular. Guest blogging should go both ways, so having credible guests lends you authority while you, guest writing for another site’s blog, increases the visibility of your own site and further supports your own credibility.

Social Media Engagement Connects Customers to Your Site

Social media is literally digital word of mouth, but making an impact on social media takes more than just shouting into the void. Turning that impact into site conversions is a step further than that. The key is engagement.

Now, engagement as a term can come off as jargon, but it’s quite literal. Just as sales are more effective inside a store by interacting with a customer, your social media outlets should be engaging, letting you interact with users that will, in turn, follow your social media content back to your site. This can sometimes be as basic as customer service, but it can also be used to draw customers in with contests, pictures, and updates about your industry. Keep in mind that being engaging will also have long term payoffs, bringing in conversions that you wouldn’t have reached without it.

Much more than that, social media analytics can give you clear feedback about what is or isn’t succeeding about your site and your business overall.

In the end, the best ways to drive more traffic to your website aren’t complicated or difficult, but they do require time, effort, and above all, quality. Take these steps and you’re sure to see your traffic swell.

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How to Turn Your Houston Marketing Frown Upside Down!

Are the results of your marketing efforts getting you down? The world of marketing is always in flux, and in Houston it isn’t any different. In this post, we’ll give you four tips to get you to the top of your Houston marketing game in no time flat. Let’s begin!

Ensure Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly

When Mobilegeddon rolled out in April 2015, a lot of businesses weren’t ready for it, especially the small ones. However, it took some time for the effects to really be visible. After six months, there was some solid data to consider, and for the non-mobile-friendly, the numbers weren’t good.

On average, they fell five ranks on search engine results pages (SERPs), which would be painful enough for businesses already ranking well. For businesses that barely made the first page, it’s disastrous. In fact, 77% of mobile searches occur where desktops are likely available, such as home and work.

People prefer to use their mobile devices, and when nearly 70% of clicks go to the top three returns and more than 50% of searches are performed from a mobile device, you can’t afford to not be mobile-friendly. We mean that quite literally — you could be losing thousands of dollars monthly.

How to Do It:

The task of re-designing your site may seem daunting, but ultimately it’s worth your trouble. Google recognizes three different mobile formats: responsive, dynamic (sometimes called adaptive), and mobile-specific redirect sites (e.g., m.YourWebsite.com).

While a separate mobile site seems like the quick and easy path, it isn’t going to be a long term solution. Why? Because more and more devices are coming in a wide variety of sizes. A dynamic design will offer the same content on the same URL, but use different HTML sets based on what meta data it reads from the browser you’re using. It’s effective, but harder to index by Google-bots; it also requires you to spend more time and money individually designing an appropriate number of HTML options.

We strongly recommend the responsive design — it has the ability, within one set of HTML to adjust to any screen or browser size as it’s encountered (i.e., respond to device parameters). That makes it very easy to index, and much cheaper to pay for.

How do you know if you’re mobile-friendly? And if you’re not, how do you fix it? There’s a few aspects you should be looking at.

  • First, use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test and Mobile Usability Tool to see what changes Google says need to be made.
  • Next, check the options provided by your content managing system (e.g., WordPress, Joomla, SquareSpace); Google has tips about some of these as well.
  • Then make sure you don’t use Flash, mismatched fonts, or non-optimized images (i.e., extremely large file size).
  • If you already have a mobile site, ensure all of your redirects go to the proper URL’s or you could inadvertently downrank yourself.

However, in most cases, you’ll probably be coordinating with a web designer to redevelop your site or make any needed changes. However, if you are handling your own website, here’s a few tools to help you on your way:

Ensure Your Team Is Thinking Mobile First

Unfortunately, even when your site is mobile friendly, your marketing creative may not be. Whether you’re the one that handles marketing or if you have a team that develops it, you need to ensure that your marketing is designed with mobile in mind first and foremost. Here’s a few reasons why:

How to Do It:

Marketing that isn’t targeting mobile audiences first is missing out on a larger and larger chunk of your audience. So what does creative need to concern itself with?

First and foremost, how easy is the marketing to absorb on a mobile device? Marketing also needs to be designed to work within a responsive platform and adhere to some of the same guidelines (e.g., image file sizes) that your website does.

Secondly, you need to determine what kind of marketing is going to be most effective for reaching your audience. Banner ads must be effective and native advertising is not only on the rise, it’s successful.

Most importantly, you need to have your marketing in the right place at the right time.

Ensure You’re Effectively Targeting Your Audience

Unfortunately, this seems to remain a difficult thing for marketers. According to one study, more than half of the respondents found it difficult to determine proper target personas. You may think it’s unnecessary, considering Nielsen reports roughly 59% of ad impressions reach their audience.

There’s a key problem there though — it’s measuring ad impressions instead of what’s actually important: conversions. Personalizing calls-to-action will boost conversions by 42%, while personalizing the shopping experience across all marketing and media channels boosts conversions by 40%.

How to Do It:

Reevaluate your audience by examining what your products and services fulfill in terms of customer needs. Use this to focus your segmentation.

Really break down your data, all of your data across all channels, and filter that to determine which segments are reached most effectively, on what channels, for what budget.

Take full advantage of listening tools and targeting software, especially if you can make targeting in real time.

Lastly, you should always validate your targeting and retargeting. It ensures you really are hitting your targeted segment.

Ensure You’re A/B Testing for Effectiveness

The fact is, A/B testing can take time, but that time is offset by the advantages it offers you. This tool helps you sharpen the focus and personalization of your targeting. Why? Because you’re constantly testing variations for success. This will allow you to determine something as simple as whether or not one layout reaches one segment better than another, while it fails with a different segment entirely. Similarly, you can test channels, and how successful one choice is for reaching a targeted segment per channel. Marketing isn’t one size fits all, and there’s only one way to figure out what’s going to work for your needs.

How to Do It:

First, make sure you’re evaluating the right things the right way. Don’t stick to a format because it’s the way your company has always done it. It may be time to overhaul everything, whether it’s your website or your marketing.

If you’re working on your marketing, take advantage of the Google Website Optimizer. In fact, Google AdSense has a great method for A/B testing.

Furthermore, review the offerings from Optimizely and VWO. Be sure you select an A/B testing method that suits your business needs most effectively. Also, review case studies from businesses that are similar to yours, and from businesses that are just as successful.

Create a plan for A/B testing content and marketing, and apply it either immediately or on future projects. The results will help shape your efforts toward higher success.

If you put these four aspects into motion, you should see an uptick in the success of your marketing efforts. Of course, at Cox Media Group Houston, we’ve got the experts and tools you need to take your marketing to the next level. Whether you need a hand putting these steps into place or you’re looking for more advanced advice, we’re ready to help.

Responsive Website

 

What’s Happening If You Still Don’t Have a Responsive Website

Google’s algorithm has once again changed, and it has a direct affect on your business. This time around it is all about responsive websites. The importance of having a responsive site cannot be understated: Google will punish non-responsive sites by pushing down their search result rankings.

In addition, navigation issues are driving potential customers towards those that are following Google’s rules. Understanding what is happening if you do not have a responsive site will help your business make the changes necessary to maintain your organic rankings and win over new clients.

Why You Need a Responsive Site

In April 2015, Google changed its search algorithm, or the process in which Google ranks sites to favor those websites, landing pages, and blogs which were designed to be viewed with a mobile device. The change had massive repercussions: Search Engine Land, predicts that 40% to 50% of search traffic could be affected.

Why did Google change its algorithm? Because half of all searches are now performed on mobile devices. Google will now reward sites that conform to these trends. Failure to create a responsive website can have a negative impact on your online presence. For example, if your site receives 40% of views via mobile devices, having an unresponsive site risks losing that 40% forever.

Improving the Experience

It’s not just Google. If customers do manage to find you, not having a responsive website may drive them away or take your business less seriously. Responsive designs are an adjustment of the coding and layout of your original site, allowing it to adapt to the screen size and navigation of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. This makes navigation easier while enhancing the quality of your images and logos. In addition, a responsive design can help you conquer the 97% mobile shopping cart abandonment plaguing online businesses.

Brad Frost sums it up nicely when he says that sites shouldn’t transition to a responsive design just to be trendy or high-tech. Rather, a responsive site should improve the user experience. Responsive websites acknowledge that searching and viewing is not just done in one static place anymore. It requires websites to have built in flexibility, especially when moving across or interacting with pages. If you are unsure if your mobile website offers that experience, there are many resources available to test and create responsive websites.

Google Loves the Competition

According to Moz, 67.6% of all searches result in users clicking one of the first five links on the first page of results. Sites with lower rankings, even on the first page, see a steep drop off : even #6-10 on page 1 have just a 3.73% chance of being clicked on.

Google could be sending potential clients to your competition’s responsive sites without you even knowing it. For example, e-shopping via a mobile device now accounts for 40% of all purchases; yet 97% of mobile shopping carts are abandoned.

Web Performance Today explains that this is largely because mobile sites are not designed with mobile shopping in mind, and therefore, nearly 50% of users will go to a competitor’s site if it has a better user experience. Not only are your competitor’s sites getting more traffic than yours thanks to Google’s new algorithm; they are also acquiring more business than you.

Fighting Back with Responsive Websites

If you want to your website to stay on top of the game, it is essential to understand the importance of having a responsive site. Google’s algorithm changes mean that businesses lacking a responsive, mobile-adapting site will be penalized. This can result in downgrading your site on search results or driving potential customers to your competition. That’s why it is vital that your website be optimized for all mobile devices.

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Responsive Design: We’ve Made It Simple for You.

So – turns out – Google is going to eventually have its way with Houston businesses who don’t invest in updating their non-mobile-friendly websites.  That’s because we know the majority of consumers are turning to mobile devices for their Google searches.

And how can Google help users get the info they need if businesses aren’t helping Google out by providing decent web experiences?

According to Entrepreneur.com…

“By some estimates, more than 60 percent of all Google searches are now performed on mobile devices, so it makes sense that Google wants to capitalize on this traffic and ensure the best possible experience for its users.”

Yes – it makes perfect sense. So – is your website doing all it can to help Google out?  Take a few minutes to read what we’re talking about. It’ll be worth it.

If You Don’t Have a Responsive Design Website, You Are Losing Business

responsive_design_websiteObserving the trend of increasing mobile usage doesn’t take statistical analysis—it can be observed day to day, in public. Smart Insights lets us know that in 2013 global mobile internet use met and surpassed desktop computer use, and that as of January 2015, 80 percent of internet users own a smartphone, with 47 percent of internet users owning a tablet.

If you’re paying attention to Houston Marketing Matters and other digital marketing sources out there – you know that April 21st marks the commencement of Google’s emergent policy of penalizing businesses without responsive design websites.

There are quantitative consequences for the decisions you make regarding your businesses website and hopefully that decision is to create a site with mobile responsiveness in mind. Here are a few important points for Houston business owners to keep in mind while searching for the best fit for your company.

Responsive Websites Give Your Visitors a Positive Experience

If your visitors are able to get the information they want and need about your business while they are on the go, they will create a positive imagine around your brand within their busy lives. If a user lands on your mobile website and is frustrated or doesn’t see what they are looking for, there’s a 61% chance they will leave immediately and go to another website.

Responsive Design is Easy

Many marketing professionals do not realize that responsive websites are not mobile sites. Mobile sites require separate domains and can be operating system, software, or model-specific. Responsive design websites adapt to any size screen, so users can comfortably access the site from smartphones, tablets, desktop computers, or laptop computers without the use of different domains. Responsive sites also adapt to future devices because it is based on screen size, not device type.

Mobile Usage is Exploding

Over 20% of Google searches are performed on a mobile device. This means that an investment in a web platform will become necessary, but business owners who make strategic choice, favoring sustainable responsive sites will reap greater long-term benefits.

The growth of mobile usage makes web pages highly visible aspects of a business’s public image. Speak with someone about an adaptable responsive design that will efficiently deliver important information and a positive experience for a reasonable investment. Keeping this information in mind will, not only, help you to find the best strategic fit for your company but keep your brand current and, in the end, driving more traffic to your new website.

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Houston Businesses: Is Your Competition Stealing Your Online Traffic?

Fact: If your competition’s website loads quickly, navigates and presents information easily on a mobile device and yours doesn’t, they are stealing your digital audience.

Mobile usage has shown rapid and steady growth over the past few years and is more popular than ever with Houston residents. Mobile advertising and optimization is crucial to marketing in Houston. Your website and content should be optimized for mobile viewing in order to reach your target market, expand brand awareness and keep you from losing digital traffic to your competitors.

Browsing on the Go

Houston’s mobile users want information quickly and simply. They are using the Internet on the go and don’t have time to hunt through your website for what they need. Houston businesses must take on this challenge by creating a responsive website.

A responsive website transitions from one screen size to fit various other screen sizes without users needing to zoom in or out. This makes content easy to read and navigate to increase your clickthroughs and conversions.

Mobile-Friendly Content

Optimizing your content for mobile use is key to improving engagement with your brand rather than your competitor. Use headlines to draw attention to important information and subheadlines for support and key details followed by body content.

Long paragraphs of content are difficult to read especially on a small cell phone screen and mobile readers are too busy too sift through to find the information they need. Break up sections of content for improved mobile viewing by:

  • Keeping your content concise
  • Keeping your call to action clear
  • Using bullet points to make key points easier to read

Opting Out of Optimization?

If your website requires viewers to tap or zoom their cell phone screens to see your content or scroll endlessly to find your call to action, they will be navigating away from your website. They won’t have the information they need and with a bad experience attached to your brand, your competitors will be more likely to gain their business instead—you are losing sales.

Mobile usage is constantly growing and having your content optimized for different screen sizes isn’t something that “cool” or “hip” businesses are doing, it’s something that all businesses need to consider adopting if they haven’t already. Because as we’ve read, if your site isn’t optimized for the mobile users experience your competitors may be.

A Positive Experience

If your website is easy to interact with and your content is easy to comprehend mobile users will connect a positive experience with your brand. This will enhance your brand value to them and increase your clickthroughs and likelihood of valuable lead conversions.

The world is ready for mobile even though you may not be. If your Houston business isn’t optimizing for the growing mobile audience, your competitors will leave you in the dust.

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Responsive Design & Mobile Display Advertising 101

You’ve heard about mobile advertising and know that your website must be mobile optimized, but you still aren’t 100% sure how to take the best advantage of mobile display advertising for your Houston business. Understanding the benefits of an effective mobile advertising plan is crucial and starts with having a responsive design website. So – here are the goods you need to know.

Mobile Display Advertising vs. Regular Display Advertising

Mobile display advertising is a form of advertising on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Regular display advertising can be seen on desktop computers. Examples of mobile display advertising include: apps, mobile image ads, QR codes, mobile searches, SMS (text messages), and local ads.

Responsive Design vs. Mobile Website Design

Smart mobile advertising is only successful if your business has a website that is mobile optimized. Furthermore, having a responsive design website is pertinent to today’s success as a business owner. Mobile design entails creating an entirely different website to accommodate mobile devices. Using the desktop design website is not conducive or practical for mobile use. However, in today’s rapidly evolving, technologically-driven marketing world, having a mobile website and a desktop URL are not sufficient anymore.

Responsive design is becoming the standard in the digital and marketing world. TechTerms states that responsive web design (RWD) “provides a customized viewing experience for different browser platforms. A website created with RWD will display a different interface depending on what device is used to access the site.” This is especially helpful when displaying content on small screens. Responsive web design ensures that the user can receive and read all content, no matter the size of the screen being used.

The Benefits of Mobile Advertising/Responsive Design

1. Cost-$$avings

Mobile display advertising costs are significantly lower than radio, TV, and print ads, helping you to reach more people for less money. You will see a higher return on investment (ROI) using mobile display ads, while maintaining the same level of quality that traditional advertising previously provided.

2. Accessibility 24/7

People don’t stray far from their mobile devices these days, therefore, your Houston business can reach customers at all times of the day. They can read your time-sensitive messages any time and at their convenience. The best part is that businesses don’t have to wait for customers to sit down at their desktop computers, you can reach them where they are. In addition, most people have their devices “on” at all times, which means your mobile display advertising is always “on”.

3. Larger Audiences (and Growing)

More people are accessing the internet using a mobile device, giving you larger access to the general public and to an audience that is constantly growing. A 2013 survey showed that 73.4% of smartphone owners used their devices to access the internet. This number is expected to exceed 90% by 2017. Consequently, you have the opportunity to reach an audience you might not have using traditional display advertising, only accessed via a desktop computer.

4. Relationship Building

People have a deep connection with and dependency upon their mobile devices now more than ever. You can use this to your advantage by creating a responsive ad campaign that connects intimately with customers to meets their expectations. This low-pressure advertising will garner repeat customers for your business, while allowing a casual, friendly relationship.

5. 2014 Mobile Advertising Results and 2015 Predictions

As of January 2014, 58% of adults own a smartphone; 32% own an e-reader; and 42% own a tablet. Needless to say, it would greatly benefit your Houston business to take advantage of mobile display advertising, as the mobile market is expected to generate $400 billion dollars in sales by 2015 compared to $139 billion in 2012.

recent study has revealed that 50.1% of spending on paid search ads and SEO efforts will go towards mobile advertising in 2015. It is predicted that 76.7% of search spend will go to mobile marketing by 2018.

The idea that your ads can go straight to your customers’ phones is not surprising, yet can make a significant difference, almost immediately for your business. The caveat to this success, however, is to make sure you plan and prepare your mobile display advertising plan correctly and efficiently, while understanding the benefits of such marketing choices and responsive design.