Webconsuls Blog

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

4 Major SEO Trends to Expect in 2018

seo trends 2018
1. Digital Assistants 

Siri, Alexa, Google… In a matter of years, we’ve become increasingly reliant on our digital assistants to communicate and obtain information. According to Google, 20% of mobile queries are voice searches. Voice technology has completely changed the nature of the search query, and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. 2018 just may be the year of voice search.

The rising popularity and ubiquity of voice search present an interesting challenge when it comes to developing an SEO strategy. Long-tail search terms and language that matches a real, live person’s speech will be integral in building a voice-search-friendly strategy.

2. User Experience 

UX is never not going to be important, and 2018 doesn’t seem to be any different. It’s all about the user, and it’s no surprise that users prefer good UX over bad UX. If you can create an intuitive, responsive experience users enjoy and find useful, Google will reward you for it. Improving UX doesn’t necessarily require a total website overhaul. There are a few quick and easy fixes you can make, including:

• Speed up your site. According to an Akamai study, 40% of users will abandon a web page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Load speed is crucial not just for keeping a user’s attention, but for a good Google ranking too. Things like maximizing your above-the-fold content, optimizing images and reducing the number of plugins can help speed up your website.  


• Improve readability. Comb through your content and make sure font style and size are legible and that content is structured in an easy-to-read way. Think bold subheads, chunky text and bullet points.
 

• Finetune navigation. Your navigation needs to make sense. A site menu that includes fewer levels of pages is more straightforward and easier for everyone to understand. Try combining content from multiple shorter pages into one.


3. Featured Snippets 

The popularity of Google’s featured snippets is making the already cutthroat search ranking real estate market even more competitive. With so many pages competing for the coveted position 0, it’s vital to optimize your page content for snippets. Structuring your content in a Q&A format and incorporating tables, graphs and lists make it easy for Google to pull just the right content for a snippet.

The best way to land a featured snippet can be chalked up to one simple formula:

• Identify a commonly asked, relatively simple question related to your product or service area.

• Provide a clear, succinct answer to the question.

• Don’t just answer the question. Provide additional value and information.

• Make the answer easy to find on the page.


4. Mobile Optimization 

In 2016, internet usage on mobile devices exceeded desktops. We spend the most time using our smartphones and tablets, which is why mobile optimization is a top priority for 2018. Without a website that is responsive across all devices, you risk losing out on a lot of potential business. For e-commerce websites, where online shoppers are already finicky to begin with, mobile optimization is even more critical. Make sure users can navigate your site efficiently.

Bring Your SEO Strategy Up to Speed 

The New Year is the perfect time to give your business’s SEO strategy a competitive edge. Still, it can be tough to keep your strategy current when SEO is continually changing. Webconsuls can help you apply these SEO tactics and get your SEO strategy geared up for 2018.

Webconsuls offers a wide range of web marketing experience, with expertise in web design and development, SEO and pay-per-click. Contact Webconsuls to learn more about our services and how we can create a customized, cost-effective SEO strategy unique to your business.

Monday, October 30, 2017

6 Web Design Trends We're Loving

6 website design trends
As technology continues to become even more integrated into our daily lives, we’ve come to expect more from our online experiences. Web designers are presented with the challenge of developing websites that look and feel interactive and personal; websites that “get” their users.

Having a pulse on what’s going on in the world of web design can help you--and ultimately your business--stay current. Below are six web design trends we’re absolutely loving right now. Keep an eye out for them!

1. Experiential Design 

Web design is gradually becoming more experiential. Designers are paying much more attention to how a user experiences a website instead of creating a website that merely “looks good.”

Good web design is a combination of “information architecture, web development, aesthetic design, marketing strategy, and content.” It’s not just about aesthetics. A website has to work. It has to make sense and do what the user wants it to do.

This new human-centered approach to web design and user experience relies on feedback. Many designers are implementing tools like Optimizely to gather design feedback and gain more insight into how real, live humans are interacting with their website.

2. Darker Color Palettes 

Web design tradition would tell you to keep page elements as simple and minimalistic as possible. The more white space, the better. While that’s still a valid ideology to subscribe to, it’s perfectly OK to stray from the norm. That’s how we get trends in the first place, right?

Many websites have shifted from bright white to darker tones, textures and patterns. Stripes, dashes, dots, grids, gradients—these subtle designs add a touch more visual interest to an otherwise blank page without creating noise or taking away from the overall feel of a website.

3. Better Imagery 

Stock photos. We love to hate them. In fact, there are even entire Tumblrs and Reddit threads dedicated to showcasing truly terrible stock photos. Fortunately, there’s been a pretty steady decline in stock photos being used on websites. Or photos that look like stock photos, rather.

Photography is an art form, so do it justice. Think of it this way: Your website serves a purpose. So does its imagery. The imagery on a website needs to be real, authentic and humanizing.

Incorporate real photos of your business and team. If you absolutely need to use a stock photo, it’s possible to find something that doesn’t scream “stock photo.” Unsplash and Dreamstime are two excellent options that provide bespoke, realistic imagery. 

4. Streamlined Design 

One-page, long-scrolling websites are pretty popular because they mirror the design of social networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that provide an infinite stream of content, and they’re here to stay. At least through 2017.

Many websites are doing away with menus and buttons and adopting the long-scrolling design. Although it might be trendy, it’s not necessary for every business. There are right and wrong ways to do it.

A good one-page website needs to have an intriguing above the fold teaser; the content that appears before you start scrolling. Users will keep scrolling as long as the content is interesting and tells a story. There needs to be a sense of cohesion, even while you’re touching on different aspects of your business; i.e., Our Services → Pricing → Who We Are → Our Customers → Blog.

Text, videos and imagery can help break up the design and add a bit more interest, but the transitions between page elements need to be smooth. It all ties back to experiential design. Choppy transitions that don’t flow create a bad user experience.

5. Bigger & Bolder Fonts 

Fonts are becoming bigger and bolder, and the trend doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. Typography is an easy way to catch a user's attention, especially in the header image. A font that is bold, expressive, colored or textured can be much more compelling than a still image with a simple text overlay.

Gone are the days of a website style guide that uses only sans-serif fonts. Serif fonts are growing increasingly popular in header images and body content, and pairing them with sans-serifs can create more visual interest. It's not uncommon to see large, flourished serifs mixed with simple, understated sans-serifs. It can create contrast in a way that still feels cohesive, not disjointed.

On a long-scrolling website, bold type is an effective way to break up sections without interrupting the flow of the page.

6. Real-Time Conversations

2017 has been pretty major for “conversational commerce,” or #ConvComm. Messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, GroupMe and Slack are crazy popular, so naturally, businesses are trying to find ways to utilize (and monetize) this trend.

Many websites are integrating live chat to facilitate real-time conversations with customers. And why not? If a customer has a question about business hours, a specific service, pricing, inventory, parking, etc., they can quickly type it into the chat and get an immediate response. It’s way faster than calling and being put on hold or starting an email thread. Being accessible is a display of your commitment to your customers. That kind of attention can help you generate new business and keep your current customers coming back.

Revamp Your Business’s Web Presence

Designing a website from scratch or bringing an existing website up to speed is no easy feat. If you aren’t equipped to assume those responsibilities yourself, you need a partner who understands the unique needs of your business. Webconsuls offers web design services that seamlessly combine design trends with SEO best practices for websites that are not only aesthetically-pleasing but convert.

Contact Webconsuls to learn more about how our web design services can help your business.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Local SEO Checklist for New Businesses in Nashville

Nashville businesses SEO checklist

The Nashville region is home to more than 1.8 million residents and 40,000 business, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Over the past 20 years, more businesses are choosing to relocate to Nashville than any other city its size. It’s estimated that 85 people move to Nashville a day!

With such an influx of new business, it’s become even more crucial for businesses to build a local presence to stay competitive. That’s why it’s essential to develop a local SEO strategy. The right SEO strategy can be the difference between running a thriving new business… or one that’s on life-support.

To help give new businesses that competitive edge, we’ve compiled a 7-item SEO checklist for new businesses in Nashville.

1. Update your website.
Scour your website and change any mention of your old address to your new address. Your “Contact Us” page--or wherever your location information lives--needs to include the updated name, address and phone number (NAP) of your location(s).

Check your website’s code for location information and update the Schema markup. Once you’ve made those updates, make sure they’re reflected by running the new Schema markup through Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. 

2. Claim citations and social profiles.
A citation is any complete or partial reference to your business name, address, phone number or website (NAP+W) anywhere online, whether or not it contains a link. You’ll want to create or claim all listings for your business on niche directories and review websites. Each listing represents a citation, which is a pretty important factor used in Google’s ranking algorithm.

BrightLocal has a handy business directory guide that identifies more than 1,000 citation sites organized by niche--everything from construction to chiropractors. Whatever industry you represent, there is a niche directory for you.

Other places where you may want to create or claim listings include:

• Bing

• Facebook

• Foursquare

• Google

• TripAdvisor

• Yelp


Be sure to get rid of duplicate listings too. Duplicate listings suck the life out of the overall strength of your listing, so you’ll want to clean them up. Moz Check Listing makes it easy to detect duplicate listings on a range of platforms. All you have to do is enter your business name and zip code.

As a business owner, it’s easy to dive headfirst into social media without fully understanding the unique nuances of each platform, what content to post, and how to build an engaged following. Save time and money by identifying which social platforms are appropriate for your business and customers.

A good general rule of thumb to follow: have a presence on social networks where you know your customers are. For example, if you have a hair salon and your clientele is mostly women in their 20s and 30s, posting content on Instagram is worth your while. But if you run a dental practice and a sizable portion of your clientele is an older demographic, hunkering down on your Facebook strategy is probably a wiser use of your resources.

Once you’ve identified the best social networks for your business, you’ll want to keep a steady stream of content flowing to those platforms. Designate a point person on your staff to monitor your accounts regularly and share content.

3. Update your Google My Business profile.
If you have a business--whether or not you’ve changed locations--you need to be verified on Google My Business. Customers will be able to access accurate information about your business, including your address, phone number, website and hours.

Plus, once you’re verified on Google My Business, you can edit your information as needed, like if you’ve moved to a different city or have extended holiday hours.

4. Optimize your website for mobile.
Customers are on the go, and they’re looking for businesses like yours on their mobile devices. As such, your website needs to be mobile responsive to ensure the best experience possible when a customer visits your website.

Consider how the really important pages on your website--pages like your contact page or products and services page--appear on mobile. Also, it’s best to avoid things like Flash or PDFs. On some devices, it can be a kiss of death.

5. Reach customers with the right keywords.
Keyword research is essential to any successful SEO strategy. Once you’ve discovered the phrases and terms people are typing into search engines to find businesses like yours, you can optimize your website around them.

Brainstorm a list of keywords that customers would use to find your business and input them into Google’s Keyword Planner for more keyword ideas and search traffic stats. You’ll want to use a set of keywords that at least 100 people are searching for every month, with low to medium competition levels to maximum visibility.

Once you have your keywords, add them to your title tags and meta descriptions.

The title tag is the main text that appears in search results and is one of the most important on-page elements of SEO. It gives users and Google brief insight into what the page is about, and it’s also what appears in the browser tab and saved bookmarks. Here’s how to write a title tag:

• Include the keyword you’re trying to rank for, while accurately describing the page

• Keep it under 55 characters

• Include your brand name whenever possible

• Format it as follows: “[Name of Business] | [Service Type] in [Location],” ex. “Sarah’s Flower Shop | Florist in Nashville”


The meta description is the smaller text below the title tag and URL that gives users and search engines a brief overview of what the page is about. A well-written, intriguing meta description increases the likelihood of a user clicking on the search result.

When you’re writing a meta description, keep it under 156 characters in length. Any longer and the description will end with a dreaded ellipses. This is also an excellent opportunity to incorporate any secondary keywords. Use this SERP preview tool to see how your page will appear in a Google search result.

6. Get more customer reviews.
We’ve covered the importance of claiming your listings. But what do you do with those listings--the ones on review websites--once you’ve got them?

You get customer reviews!

Face it: reviews--good and bad--affect your business. A Zendesk study of 1,046 consumers found that the majority of consumers who read online reviews say they influenced their buying decisions. In fact, this was the case for positive reviews (90%) and negative reviews (86%).

Positive reviews can do a lot of good for a business. The more positive reviews you have, the higher your search ranking. With local search specifically, reviews can influence between 7% and 13% of the ranking. 

Getting more customer reviews is often as easy as asking. There are a few rules to follow, however:

• Be ethical. Ask your customer for an honest review. Asking for a “positive” or “good” review suggests you might be trying to influence them in what to say. And never offer incentives for reviews.


• Ask the right people. Repeat customers, people who have referred others to your business and people who engage with your business on social media are the people you should be asking for reviews. They’re engaged with your business and understand your product or service better than anyone.


• Be genuine. Set up an email automation asking customers for a review after they’ve received your product or service. Schedule the email to hit their inbox while their experience with your business is still top of mind. Thank them for their business and ask them to take a moment to leave a brief, honest review on Google/Yelp/Facebook/etc. It’s really that simple!


Bad reviews will happen, so it’s important to know how to field them. A word to the wise: set up a Google Alert for your business name.

In the event of a negative customer review, it’s best to nip it in the bud--especially if you have the opportunity to publicly respond to it, like on Facebook or Yelp. Read the review objectively, be empathetic, and let the customer know you take their review seriously and plan on resolving the issue, so it doesn’t happen again. Be proactive and change your process.

Once you’ve accumulated honest and positive reviews, you can start using them to your business’s advantage. Sprinkle them throughout your website. A glowing review is perfect to tack onto an email in a nurturing series. You could even create a designated reviews page on your website--an SEO goldmine! Think about how many people will plug “[your business name] reviews” into Google?

7. Refine your local SEO content strategy. 
Content is key to any SEO strategy, but it’s important to get it right. Content should be unique, search-friendly and valuable. You’re better off delivering no content at all than content that’s thin and useless.

Don’t pull content together from other websites similar to your own. If you’re starting completely from scratch or trying to improve existing content, there’s nothing wrong with doing a little research to gather inspiration. Just make sure the finished product contains content unique to your website. 

You may even want to start a blog to build your content library but only do it if you know you can devote the resources necessary to churn out high-quality, valuable content. Fresh content can help you continue to rank for search terms related to your business. But if you know you don’t have the time, money and talent necessary to invest in a full-blown blog, you’re better off making your other pages stronger.

Fine-tune Your Business’s SEO Strategy
Unfortunately, a quality SEO strategy isn’t a “once and done” deal. It’s the kind of thing you need to continually review and refresh so you can stay current and competitive. This can be a pretty time-consuming effort, especially for a small business owner who gets so caught up in day-to-day operations that they can’t consider long-term strategies.

Webconsuls offers a menu of SEO services for businesses in Nashville. As a boutique SEO and organic web marketing company, we’re well-versed in web design and development, search engine optimization, pay-per-click and social media--all ingredients to a successful local SEO strategy. 

Contact Webconsuls to learn more about how we can tailor these services to your business, all while saving you valuable time and money.