Tag Archives: SEO

Why Page Speed is Important to You

23 Feb

We live in an age of technology where everything is getting faster by the minute. One would expect the same of all the websites in existence, but there are still over 10 million websites that are penalized by search engines each year due to bad performance and speed issues.

How does the speed of your website impact you and your business? Speed plays a major role in two aspects of your website: user engagement and search engine optimization.

Just last year, Amazon announced that for every one-second delay on their site, conversions dropped by 7 percent. That means if Amazon has $100k in sales per day, they would see an annual loss of $2.5 million. On the flip side, Wal-Mart reported that for every 100 millisecond increase in page load time, they saw a revenue increase of 1 percent.

E-Commerce sites only make up roughly 12 percent of the market, so while user engagement is a key factor in page speed optimization, all websites are affected by Google’s SEO rankings based on page load times. Back in 2010, Google announced they would be implementing a speed variable into their logarithm, so if your site isn’t optimized for speed and performance, it will in turn hurt your Google ranking. The idea behind this is to provide people using search engines with the best possible sites and the best experience, proving once again, faster is better.

What Defines Page Load Times

Page load times are defined as the time it takes your website to load all the necessary files to display the content to your user. Even the simplest looking websites are ranked poorly if the site assets aren’t optimized for fast performance. While there are dozens of items that impact your site’s performance, usually only a handful cause the most problems and they can be easily fixed:

  • Image Optimization. Sizing images correctly to fit the display they are being used in, rather than using large images and scaling them down.
  • Minify Javascript/CSS. Reducing the code structure by writing cleaner and shorter code for items such as slideshows and hover/rollover effects.
  • Leverage Browser Caching. Setting expiration dates for images and files on your website so the user’s browser doesn’t have to get a new version every time they visit the webpage.
  • G-Zip Compression. Auto-enabling your server to compress files may reduce the page size by up to 70 percent.

There are many other factors that play a role when it comes to page speed and load times on your website. The few listed above are the easiest to adjust to help move your score up. Other factors take a bit more knowledge and time.

Where do I Find my Website’s Metrics?

If you want to know how your website ranks, there are many tools that will help diagnose your page speed metrics. No one diagnostic website will give a clear-cut list of everything wrong. Instead, most will give you suggestions and recommendations about what is slowing your website down and how to address the problems. Google has its own page speed tool, called Page Speed Insights. There are other tools out there, such as GTMetrix that provide a more in-depth and technical set of information. These tools, though beneficial, can be a bit overwhelming if you are not familiar with basic programming languages.

If you are concerned about your website’s page speed and how it’s affecting your rankings, the team at VIA Marketing is here to optimize your site in order to move you up in the rankings. Call or email Julie at VIA to see where to begin.

How to Write Your “About Us” Page

19 Jan

The “About Us” page on a website is one of the most important pages, yet is most neglected and overlooked. This page is crucial for expressing your business’ personality and mission. Your “About Us” page should build trust and provide reassurance for consumers interested in buying from you or investing in your business. This is especially important if they have not had any prior dealings with your firm.

You can set yourself apart from your competition by stating what makes you different. Take the time to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and use that knowledge to start building a personal connection with someone who visits your website. “Spark” and charisma are essential to attracting someone who doesn’t know you, so write in a manner that is conversationally friendly and clear about what you are all about. If you can induce a feeling through a story about your service or product, you will create an emotional attachment between the visitor and your brand.

VIA Marketing About Us page

Important Tips for an Effective “About Us” Page

  1. Tell Your Story – Share the positive impact your product or service has had on others. Was it life-changing or empowering? Humanize your brand with a good feeling. People connect with what they can relate to or what they would like to relate to. The world needs more good news! Share your mission and business ethics, and tell the story of how your business came about. Write with passion as you share your business struggles, growing pains and successes, but don’t make the narrative too wordy. Combine a modest attitude about your accomplishments with showing appreciation and thanks for those who have helped you along the way. Tell us why your company, service or product is different. Why should we buy from you?
  2. Show Your Personality – Be unique with your layout, text and images so they reflect your personality. Remember to stay consistent throughout your website and social media pages when choosing the tone, layout and fonts. Your brand colors should be prominent. Having a strong design aesthetic is important, but without compelling content, you will only hold the visitor’s interest momentarily.There are countless approaches, but think about what works best for your specific story. For example, sharing your business’ journey and milestones can be laid out in several ways to create visual interest. Think of a vertical timeline instead of a horizontal one, or an abstract roadmap with simple blurbs of accomplishments. Simply, keep it visually interesting but clean and easy to read. Remember to use vivid graphics and words that are descriptive. Humans are visual creatures, and pictures can increase the level of feeling and empathizing with your brand.
  3. Humanize Your Business – Stay human and sound less formal. Be straight to the point with powerful, short sentences. Use your unique voice instead of being overly polished and sounding too ‘industry.’ You will seem more credible and trustworthy. Some visual examples include showcasing people behind the company scenes. Along with using employee pictures and fun bios, include personal info such as hobbies, quirky throwbacks, links to their online accomplishments, and social buttons linking to their pages and email. Pictures of your staff in action give a human perspective to your business. At VIA, one of the most clicked-on pages has historically been our staff page. In a service business, people especially want to know who they will be working with.
  4. Video Impact – Tell a story about your business using a short, engaging, one-minute video to create an impact and make the visitor want to know more. Video will increase your Google search ranking and provide a solid introduction. Remember to include an introduction or caption with your video. Videos are also a great way to add dimension. For example, showing a video of how a customer successfully uses your product or gives positive feedback will build trust between the visitor and you.
  5. Testimonials – Using pictures of people along with their name, business or city, and a testimonial about their experience with your business personalizes your brand and provides reliable credentials. Sharing a short quote from employees explaining why they enjoy working for your company is also another type of testimonial. Testimonials can come from different groups including customers, business affiliates such as vendors, or your employees.
  6. It’s All About TRUST – Don’t forget to include what your products or services can do for your customer. Most people are considering you from a “What’s in it for me?” perspective. In the end, it’s always about creating and keeping someone’s trust. The customer needs to know they can count on you and that you will stand with them if something goes wrong.
  7. Expand Your Horizons – Some use their “About Us” page as a landing page to summarize their business. You could expand and organize your content by creating tabs or subpages with categories such as Our Story, Our Process, Our Team, etc. This makes the information more easily digestible for the visitor. More pages improve your SEO because they require more clicks and provide more opportunities for your keyword tags.Another idea is to use a section of the page or another tab to highlight the visitor/customer. Have an “About Us” section and an “About You” section. Case studies are a good way to show how you prioritize customers’ needs. Include details like solid credentials or awards you’ve won. Relating experiences about how you’ve empathized with customers’ challenges and how you’ve helped them will go a long way to secure new business.

Please contact VIA Marketing to create your “About Us” page, or let us rework your page to enhance your business. If you want a fresh tone across your website to convey more personality, we can do that too! Contact Julie or call 219-769-2299.

Research Your Options

Before you build or freshen up your “About Us” page, take a digital trip to research “About Us” pages on other websites. Look over examples of some highly effective pages and learn why they work. Check out websites of businesses you really value, along with competitors’ pages in similar industries.

 

VIA Idea #30: Google is changing the game by replacing organic listings with local listings!

26 Aug

During the past few months, we’ve been tearing our hair out. Why? Some of our recent Search Engine Optimization (SEO) positioning reports are showing that clients serving specific geographic areas with previous page one organic rankings in Google are suddenly nowhere to be found. However, their local listings continue to show on page one. Doing a little digging confirms our suspicions—Google has changed its algorithms (again).

For example, in the not-so-distant past, a search for “dentist” would bring Excel Dental Studio up on the Google Plus Local map and in the organic list. Seeing them on page one twice obviously increases the chances that a searcher will click through to their website.

Let me explain further with an example:

I did an organic search for “dentist” with “Merrillville, Indiana” set as the default search location. I first cleared the search history and didn’t log in, so Google didn’t have any clues as to what I wanted beyond the search word itself. Excel Dental Studio, who by the way owns the domain www.merrillvilledentist.com, pops up as #1 in the Google Plus Local but doesn’t appear at all in the next eight pages. (I stopped looking at that point.)

Note than none of the dental offices called out in Google Plus Local are repeated in the organic listings.

To test this finding, I chose a term that is not included as a category choice in Google Plus Local: “dental crowns.” Therefore, Googling this term brought up directory listings and general sites (not information for local dentists who perform this procedure):

But when I added “Merrillville” to the search, the listings changed dramatically. Since Google doesn’t find any listings in Google Plus Local for this search request, it relies on keywords and content to determine relevancy. This search brought Excel Dental Studio up on page one in positions two, three and four:

It’s clear that making sure your Google Plus Local listing is current and correct is beneficial in several ways:

  • Your site will presumably be given ranking priority
  • Searchers see the number of reviews your business has on Google
  • Your business is pinned on the Google Map on the right side of the results
  • Searchers can hover over your listing and see a snapshot of your Google Plus profile
  • The map moves as users scroll through results

Contact Julie for more information or for assistance in optimizing your Google Plus Local business page for effective SEO.