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Our Quick Guide for Important SEO Terms

The fundamentals of digital marketing rely upon a strategic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plan. Over the years, SEO has become a broad term for the many functions that you can do to make your website more visible to Google and improve your rank on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Knowing what these functions are and how they contribute to your success will help you quickly determine what you need to do to improve your digital presence.

 

Common Digital Marketing SEO Terms

Some of the terms we use to describe SEO functions have become familiar and self-explanatory, like website traffic, keywords, query, and ranking. Others may need a bit more explanation:

  • Crawling – The process used by search engines to discover your website pages through complex algorithms and other functions. There are many ways that you can improve the crawlability of your website, making it easier for Google or Bing to find you.
  • Intent – This refers to what people are looking for when performing a search. Combinations of words improve their intent, whereas one word may be too ambiguous.
  • Guidelines – A published reference by search engines for the purpose of helping website owners and administrators understand how their content is found and indexed. It also provides helpful tips on improving your search results.
  • Sitemap – A list of URLs typically found in an XML form that makes it easier for crawlers to discover what’s new on your website and provides them with a helpful index.
  • Engagement – How people interact with your content is a significant component of engagement. This goes beyond click-through rates and describes traffic patterns and conversion rates. Your comments section speaks volumes about your engagement with the people that matter.
  • Robots Meta Directives – Specific code written into your pages instruct crawlers how to index your content. The directives include Meta Robots Tags and X-Bots-Tags. In general, the directives tell a crawler whether it should follow your page or not.

 

Google Specific Terms

The following are specific tools and reports from Google that help you measure and improve your search rankings.

  • Search Console – Free tool that allows you to monitor your site traffic and a diagnostic of your site’s health. This is essential for all administrators to understand how to use and how to set up goals.
  • Featured Snippets – The box that appears typically at the top of a SERP, the snippet is a brief description of the page beneath the link.
  • Analytics – Another free tool, analytics is one of the most important tools for understanding how visitors interact with your website. This tool describes your engagement with viewers, where you engage with them the most, how much time they spend on each page, and more.
  • Caffeine – Google has a name for everything. Some are bland, and others are fun, like Caffeine. It’s the name of Google’s web indexing system. Googlebot crawls websites and brings all of that information to Caffeine.
  • My Business Listing – Ever find a business using Google Maps? How about a simple search? Your business should appear at the top of the page and contain the most up-to-date information on location, hours, etc.
  • RankBrain – Another creative name that describes the machine learning component of Google’s core algorithm. Good SEO knows how RankBrain thinks.

 

Keywords and Organic Search

Finally, the following definitions are ones you’ve probably already heard, but it’s good to reacquaint yourself with them, regardless.

  • Keyword Difficulty – This varies from SEO service, but it’s a reasonably accurate description of how difficult it is to outrank other websites. The higher the numerical score, the lower your chances of reaching the top of a SERP.
  • Keyword Explorers – 3rd party tools that are subscription-based and provide an in-depth analysis of your page rankings and the keywords associated with them.
  • Long-Tail Keyword – These are three or more words strung together to increase the chances of matching user intent. Successful content focuses on long-tail keywords to improve relevancy and engagement.
  • Search Volume – Typically, search volume is estimated by keyword explorers through a monthly average. Volume is the number of times a particular keyword is searched for over any given month. Seasonal keywords and others may need to be adjusted to give a better picture.

There are more general optimization concepts that we haven’t covered because they may need some one-on-one guidance, such as organic search and responsive design. We can help you set up and learn more about these and other ways to improve your SERP through a strategic SEO plan. One opportunity to succeed with SEO is to make some little tweaks to your website. Simple updates to your website can improve the user experience and generate valuable, qualified sales leads.

Images and video also improve SEO. Whether it’s to improve SEO or the user experience in general, Pinstripe can create videos, blogs and optimize images for your website. We can also take professional photos and assist you in setting up a studio for recording vlogs. Contact us today to find out how we can help you overcome the challenges associated with SEO.

Simple Website Updates on a Budget

by Michael Premo, Content Specialist

Updates to your website are some of the simplest things you can do to increase traffic and conversion rates. The best updates come from a solid content strategy that improves the user experience.

Getting Started: Spreading the News

Here are three reasons to set up your website so it can quickly broadcast news about your community:

  • Brand Identity – Your brand encompasses more than a logo and tagline. It involves your employees, the services you provide, and how you help your community. All of these are great headlines for any news section, plus they define your brand and what it stands for. Over time, you could become a resource for others. Now that’s brand recognition!
  • Improved Client Experience – Making your clients aware of recent news about your industry helps them understand their own challenges. This improves trust and credibility—two emotions linked to decision making. When your clients trust you, they will turn to you first for answers.
  • Domain Authority – Where do you show up in a Google search? 1st page? 3rd page? Where you land on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page) depends a great deal on your domain authority and what your competition is doing. Moz, a leader in SEO, states, “Domain authority is meant to approximate how competitive a given site is in Google search results.” One of the ways to influence your domain authority is to update the content on your website frequently.

Blogs, Vlogs, & News Tickers

Your blog is the most common area of your website that spreads news about your company. Blogs are necessary for SEO purposes, but vlogs will get more engagement. The right mix of both is important. Just remember to maintain a professional appearance and hire a good editor.

Have you ever thought of a news ticker for your home page? Just like a stock ticker showing real-time trades, it’s a simple addition that displays blurbs about your company and leads to other articles on the same subject.

 

Multimedia: Improve SEO and Brand Identity

Videos, animation, graphics and images make a website look great. People would rather watch a video than read long, text-heavy pages. Studies have shown that people tend to leave those text-heavy pages, so it’s best to break them up with graphics and images that fit the topic. The whole idea behind SEO is to meet each visitor’s expectations, enticing them to stay on the page longer.

Did you know that your multimedia may be working against your SEO efforts? Large files take longer to load, which leads to a terrible SERP ranking. Compressed images and embedded videos on a separate platform create a better user-experience (UX). People don’t have the patience to wait for a video to load or constantly pause while buffering.

 

39% of people will stop engaging with a website if images won’t load or take too long to load

 

Using stock photos is good, but it doesn’t necessarily improve the UX or your search rankings. A reason for this is that other websites often use those same images with the same tags, so you’re left with no distinctive identifiers. Unique images are better for SEO and your overall brand identity. Candid photos are great for a blog, but your home and about page should have professionally composed and edited images. Appearances do matter, and you have less than a second to make visitors feel welcome.

The best opportunity to succeed with SEO is to make some of those little tweaks to your website. If you can’t make them, then it’s time for a complete overhaul of your site. Simple updates to your website can improve the user experience and generate valuable, qualified sales leads. Whether it’s to improve navigation or the overall user experience, Pinstripe can create videos, blogs and optimize images for your website. We can also take professional photos and assist you in setting up a studio for recording vlogs.  Contact us today to find out how we can help you overcome the challenges associated with SEO.

Simple Website Updates: Add a Survey on Your Home Page

One of the simplest updates you can do for your website is add a survey on the home page. It adds a level of flexibility and improves the user experience in many ways.

 

The Value of a Survey

Your website is the most effective advertising tool you can have. It drives more traffic to your business and provides valuable resources for current and potential clients. Any additions or updates that you can do to improve the overall user experience will increase your visibility and credibility.

Did you know that more than 80% of the people that visit your site will base their first impression on the look and feel of it?

Simple changes can make a big impression. One of them is the addition of a survey to your home page. There are several things a survey can do, so it all depends upon what you are trying to achieve.

 

Improve the User Experience

For websites with lots of content, a survey can lead them to an article or page they want to see.

This circumvents any frustration that may arise while navigating your site. Another benefit is that the survey delivers a more personalized service to the user, and personalization improves the overall experience. Together, these build more credibility in your services, because if your website can do this, then they can also imagine that your firm is able to do even more.

How does it work? Surveys make people feel as though they are in control of the browsing experience. This sharply contrasts with pop windows, video advertisements and chat bots.

 

Increase Sales Leads

Potential clients don’t always know what they want, but they do know that they need help. Whether it’s getting more information or having direct contact with the right person in your firm, a survey can give them a sense of being in control. Plus, a survey improves your ability to collect personal information, which generates more qualified leads than a simple contact page. Chat-bots can’t do this, and may lead to more frustration for you and the user.

Surveys can be designed to begin with general questions then drill down to exactly what the user wants to know. They act as a guide for the user, while offering unique benefits for your business:

  • Valuable feedback
  • High response rates
  • Capture personal information
  • Improved user experience

 

Types of Surveys

There are three common types of surveys:

  • Widget – These small, unobtrusive surveys reside in the corner of a page or on multiple pages. When clicked on they open a form, giving users the freedom to provide feedback or find answers.
  • Pop-Up – Typically, this type of survey appears when a particular action occurs—called a triggering event. These surveys can appear anywhere on a site and reside in the background, so may clutter the page if you’re not careful.
  • Collapsible – Like the widget, the collapsible survey resides on a fixed page, but can be minimized if not needed. The user may use the survey after they are done reading a particular article and need more information.

A simple update, such as a survey, to your website can improve the user experience and generate valuable, qualified sales leads. Surveys are great for large websites with lots of information, as well as large firms with a variety of specialties. Whether it’s to improve navigation and overall user experience or help generate sales leads, Pinstripe can build the perfect survey for your website. Contact us today to find out which survey is right for your business and how we can build one for you.

Marketing Maintenance: Update or Redesign Your Website

website-redesign

by Nikki Bromley, Director of Account Management

Have you been putting off updating your website because you’ve been too busy? Now is the perfect time to tackle that project. More people are spending time online and you need to be prepared for this influx of traffic with a refreshed or brand new website.

We’ve all experienced the effects of seasonal slowdowns or periods of lighter business activities. These quieter business days do not have to be unproductive. It’s a great time to review your website to see what updates you can make. You can also revisit a website project you’ve been wanting to tackle.

Updating Your Website

Have a website professional perform an audit. It’s good to have a new set of eyes on your website, especially a professional who knows the hallmarks of good website design. Whatever your industry, a website pro can assess whether or not your website is working toward your business goals. Below are some questions to ask yourself and things to consider when revamping your website design.

Search Engine Optimization

  • Have you completed an SEO audit in the last year? Take a look at the backend of your website and your content.
  • Is your content being updated regularly?
  • Are your headings and content properly assigned?
  • Are you publishing content on other websites or blogs?
  • How are you receiving linkbacks, if any?
  • Do you have any social media accounts or digital marketing campaigns that are feeding traffic to your site? If so, have you assessed them lately? 

Navigation – Menus and Pages

  • Are the menus and pages logical and easy to navigate?
  • Is it simple to get back to the home page?

Have someone else click through your site. Did they end up on pages that they had no idea how they arrived at? Did they find what they were looking for? You could even poll some customers to define the user experience better.

Mobile Responsive

  • Does the design look and feel right on a phone or is it outdated and difficult to navigate? Can it be viewed on an average sized cell phone?
  • Are the calls to action mobile responsive? The call button should automatically dial your designated phone number when someone taps it. The email button should automatically pop up an email to your designated address when someone taps it. These are just a few things that are necessary for proper mobile responsiveness in a website.

Overall Look

  • Simplicity is best. Large, clean photos should illustrate what your business does but not overcrowd the page.
  • Iconography helps users easily find what they are looking for and breaks up large blocks of copy.
  • Headings (H1, H2, H3) should be used appropriately throughout the website. They are incredibly important for search engine optimization (SEO). Not only do headings help define content sections, they make each page easier to view, because information is easier to find.
  • Clean layouts with little fuss are best, especially for professional services websites. Animations, auto-play music, and other “frills” actually take away from the user’s experience. Don’t make the mistake of thinking “more is better.”

Content Assessment – Copy, Videos, Infographics, and Blogs

  • When was the last time you reviewed your website’s content? Is it still relevant to your business, your industry, and current website trends?
  • Has a marketing professional ever reviewed and assessed your content?
  • Do you have videos on your website?
  • Is there too much or too little information on your website?
  • Is the content broken into digestible blocks with clear calls to action?
  • Are you updating your content regularly? Do you have a blog? This also fits into the category of SEO.

Assess Calls to Action

  • Is there a Call to Action on every page? You need to give the visitor every opportunity to take action, whether that’s a phone call, an email, or an online form.
  • Have you tried AB testing different colors or phrasing for your Calls to Action? This is a great way to make sure you are getting the most out of them.
  • Are your Calls to Action clear? Make sure users can easily understand your Calls to Action. Here, again, we want to be simple and to the point – no fancy language or poetics.

If it’s been more than 5 years since you invested in your website, chances are you will need a complete website overhaul. Perhaps you find that you only need or want updates to a few aspects of the website to get it working for you. Whatever your particular needs are, connect with the Pinstripe Marketing website design and development team. We’ll review your website and make recommendations on how to get it to achieve your goals and win more business.

10 Creative Website Trends (With Examples!) for 2019

Many brands, big and small, have been giving their websites a stylistic refresh. These little touches can be simple tweaks to their logo and typography or added design elements that attract more attention, like illustrations and animation. There’s a reason for doing this and it’s quite simple; users are attracted to good design.

It’s All about the User

Users respond better to a well-designed website. We all know this intuitively when we’re searching for something on the internet; we are more likely to stay on a great site for longer and finalize purchases when the site is well-designed. And design trends seem to change every couple years. The list below is our look into the 15 creative website trends for this year. Many of these will be in style for quite some time, just because of their user-friendly ways. So, we encourage you to read about them and see how your site measures up (examples included).

10 Creative Website Trends

  • Organic Shapes

Web pages usually have a grid structure with squares and rectangles that give a sense of stability, but can feel clunky, too. Organic shapes are irregular and asymmetrical, providing depth to make page elements stand out. These elements are drawn from nature itself and develop a visual flow.

  • Retro

Those styles from years past never went away—they went underground. Experimenting with nostalgia finds the juxtaposition between the old and new. For many young people, retro designs can feel new or unique. Retro design elements can make a brand standout.

  • Asymmetrical Layouts

Pages don’t have to be on a grid anymore. It’s easier to make them more asymmetrical and it’s becoming more common to see out there. This pushes the boundaries of design, which helps draw more attention.

  • Illustrations

Companies looking for depth to their design should take a serious look at 3D and iconoclastic illustrations. The creative potential illustration brings can extend a brand outside what their competition is doing.

  • More Video

Integrated video captures the audiences attention quicker than text. It also boosts SEO ratings, because users spend more time on the page. Video is strategic.

  • Overlapping Design Elements

Much like asymmetrical designs, overlapping elements can bring more emphasis to content on the page. It also makes pages look more three dimensional when boxes are layered.

  • Large Navigation

Experimentation with navigation isn’t a new thing. So, websites choosing to push the boundaries with their design should look at making their navigation very large and the focal point of their site.

  • Storytelling

Better writing, such as storytelling, will keep visitors on the page. This is also a strategic move. More companies are looking for an emotional response from their marketing and this is definitely a great way to get it.

  • Serif Fonts

The style, arrangement, or appearance of letters on the page matters. Serif fonts create elegant titles and sophisticated headlines. Some can be retro with a modern twist.

  • Screen-Dominating Text

The text does the talking. It’s a headline they can’t ignore. Much like large navigation, this design makes the message the focal point and it should also entice users to investigate.

This is not an exhaustive list. There are other design choices on the front end that draw users in, and on the back-end there are ways to enhance performance, such as programming and plugins. However, some of these backend adjustments tend to require complete overhauls, depending on your current developer’s method. Some of these are best to add when you are completely redesigning your website, which you should consider doing every 3-6 years.

Our examples above are supposed to spark your imagination, hopefully showing you a few tweaks that may increase traffic and conversions on your website. Let us know which ones are on your wish list.