The Spectrum Group Online Where Visibility and Transparency Connect Fri, 17 Aug 2018 16:00:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 48765153 What is Adaptive Content? Fri, 17 Aug 2018 16:00:01 +0000 iPhone apps pinchResponsive Meets All Channels

We’ve written about the importance of responsive design as a top trend. Now there’s a new content marketing term that brings it all together. Read on to learn about adaptive content and the omnichannel experience.

Omni-Channel Chatter

At the core of the adaptive content, the concept is that you should be “omnichannel.” This refers to how sales interactions occur across multiple devices. Theoretically, a shopping experience should be seamless across screens regardless of their size.

We all know that search is evolving. According to a study by Think With Google, our search behavior is shifting to a multi-screened world.

  • 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information. Common information sought: address, business hours, directions, product availability.
  • 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store location within a day. For those who searched via tablet or computer, that percentage is 34.
  • 4 out of 5 consumers want local ads customized to their city, zip or immediate surroundings.
  • 41% of searches on a smartphone occur in a store.

What is Adaptive Content?

Endless_JourneySince a user is interacting with your brand on many kinds of devices and screen sizes, how they consume your content is obviously affected. Hence the concept of adaptive content. It is a content strategy technique designed to support the sales process across all types of channels.  Here are a few questions to ask when making changes to your content marketing strategy for the omnichannel experience:

1. What’s the business goal? Monitoring how your brand is performing online — via the website (on desktop/laptop, tablet, and smartphone), AdWords campaigns, social media engagement — they should all lead back to your business goals and overall brand performance. While some elements may be difficult to measure, there are many key performance indicators (KPIs) that can tie directly back to market share and sales revenue. Have you connected those dots? If not, that’s the place to start.

2. What content would best support your users? This is where fully-fleshed out personas can help. For example, you can zero in on the types of features, functions, and benefits that support their goals. Imagine these personas with specific needs/goals in mind; now map those journeys out across all types of devices.

3. Can you connect content with business intelligence? Will you know the user’s physical location (e.g., general geographics not IPs), which stage of the buying cycle (info gathering versus interest in a product purchase), or traffic source (e.g., direct URL versus AdWords)? Answers to these questions will help you create content modeling — matching the right content to the right experience.

Be Everywhere

Is creating adaptive content and building an omnichannel experience part of your online marketing vocabulary?

How can we help?

Want to freshen upyour WordPress website? Looking to add functionality but having trouble wrangling your plugins?

We are The Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.

Contact Us Now »

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When It’s Time to Hire a Webmaster Thu, 16 Aug 2018 16:00:56 +0000 On-The-Level: When It's Time to Hire a WebmasterKeeping Your Website In Line & Online

Most businesses today need a website but the question you might be asking yourself is “Do I need to hire a webmaster?” It depends on the type of website you’re running, your skill level, and the amount of time you can devote to your online empire. Most business owners who aren’t IT or marketing professionals will find that it takes a great deal of time to keep up-to-date with website formatting trends, software, and fixing bugs in the programming.

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How to Know You Need to Hire Someone

There are site owners whose whole business is their website. Many of these entrepreneurs build their own websites and tend their eCommerce platforms. You’d think they’d never need to hire a webmaster. The truth is that it’s a balance. When the job of maintaining the site takes up more time than earning profits or it takes diverts your attention from successfully running your business, hire a webmaster.

What A Webmaster Can Do For You

  • WordPress-Stickers-EverywhereKeep Website Maintained. Your webmaster will update all software, monitor plugins, and verify functionality on all aspects of your site, including eCommerce.
  • Optimize Speed. Your webmaster runs checks on your download speed and makes sure your visitors can access information with limited lag time. Curious to see how speedy your pages load? Check out this free Google Page Speed tool and review both your desktop and mobile scores.
  • Fix Glitches. This is one of the most advantageous aspects of hiring a webmaster, they can competently fix any glitches or problems with your site efficiently.

Webmasters perform other duties, though some may charge additionally for skills such as analyzing your website performance and furnishing analytics reports to keep you up to informed, providing insights on visibility, and offering other website or digital marketing consulting services. As your business grows the tasks become too much for a single employee or owner. Is delegating the responsibility to an expert a better use of your time?

How to Hire a Webmaster

Hiring a webmaster can be a scary prospect. You’re sharing the controls of your online presence to another person. It’s important to find the right partner to work within this venture. If you’re having the site built by your new webmaster, make sure that you’ve ironed out the details of who will what and when in advance. You should create an agreement so that the site and content remain in your ownership. Note: we believe you should retain 100% ownership of all your accounts and data. Never relinquish complete control; rather, you’re allowing access to a webmaster to perform tasks on your behalf.

Many webmasters work in a freelance capacity or you can choose to hire a company that specializes in web design and offers ongoing maintenance services. In either scenario, you want to thoroughly vet the person who will be running your website. Check their portfolio and ask how their services have improved their client’s website performance. A professional webmaster will be able to give you concrete examples of the value of their work. Make sure you do your due diligence and request references. Your online presence represents a major portion of your business branding and marketing, but that doesn’t mean it should take up more time than the actual running of your business.

Has your business grown to the point of hiring a webmaster? What were your telltale signs?

How can we help?

Want help with maintaining your WordPress website? Got a website glitch that needs attention?

We are The Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.

Contact Us Now »

photo credit – top: David Goehring

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Don’t Mess with WordPress Core Code Wed, 15 Aug 2018 16:00:30 +0000 Source Code Security Plugin: Don't Mess with WordPress Core CodeTemptations of Open Source Software

When you have a website built with WordPress, it’s tempting to mess with the WordPress core code when you need to customize functionality. It seems like the easiest, most straightforward way to end up with the exact behavior you want. But we don’t think you should, and here’s why:

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Dangerous Changes

Sometimes the safest distance between two points isn’t a straight line. Similarly, diving into the WordPress core code isn’t the safest way to customize its functionality. Make changes and you risk the following:

  • New security vulnerabilities. Future WordPress updates won’t fix any security holes introduced by your changes. Worse, because no one else has your changes, no one else has your vulnerability. If a hacker probes your site and finds it, you’re on your own to discover and cope with any hacking attempt.
  • Difficulty in deploying future upgrades. If you make your own changes to the WordPress core code, you’ll lose those changes if you upgrade your site to a newer version of WordPress. When the core code changes, the changes you made might not work anymore, so you might need to redevelop your hack; it might not work at all and you might lose your change for good.
  • You may break something else. Unless you’re very familiar with the code, it’s hard to be certain that the changes you make won’t break another part of WordPress. You need to do complete testing before deploying your changes to make sure everything else still works.

Alternatives to Modifying WordPress Core Code

How To Get a Job With Open SourceThose reasons don’t mean you shouldn’t make changes to WordPress; they just mean you should find an alternative to modifying the WordPress core code. Fortunately, you don’t have to look far to find ways to do this.

Plug-ins are the standard approach to making user extensions to WordPress functionality. If the functionality you are adding is valuable, creating it as a plug-in lets you share it with other WordPress users easily.

Another alternative is to create a patch to the core instead of modifying the core code directly. You can even reach out to WordPress and if your change is valuable, it can be integrated into the official WordPress codebase.

Contributing to Core Code

There are rare scenarios where changes have to be made in WordPress core because the changes just can’t work as a plugin or a patch. If there’s no other way to implement the fix you need and you clearly understand the implications (e.g., unable to install software updates and upgrades) and you have sufficient personnel or resources, then maybe it’s the right business decision. However, I’ve found that most SMBs don’t usually fall into this category.

If you’ve got the coding chops to consider modifying WordPress core code, then I highly recommend becoming part of the community. Ask other coders on how they’ve solved the same or similar challenges. The forums and committees provide a wealth of information just for the asking.  Who knows… your idea could become a component of the next software release.

Is there a functionality you couldn’t add to your WordPress website with a plugin?

How can we help?

Want to freshen upyour WordPress website? Looking to add functionality but having trouble wrangling your plugins?

We are The Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.

Contact Us Now »

photo credit – top: Christiaan Colen
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Signs of a Grey Hat SEO Agency Tue, 14 Aug 2018 16:00:20 +0000 Short-Cut-Road, the path of a Grey Hat SEO agency

Guaranteeing Trouble

Fast progress or professed guarantees on your search rankings could mean that you’re working with a Grey Hat SEO agency. And though you may be seeing a big boost to your search visibility right now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s sustainable. Or that you won’t get into serious trouble. Grey Hattters use techniques that are discouraged (and often penalized) by major search engines. Google and Bing actively seek out websites using these tactics in order to demote them in organic search. Here are a few signs you may be working with such an agency.

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Telltale Signs

  • Scaffolding-incompleteYou’re seeing a significant increase in traffic but not in sales. Grey Hat SEO companies don’t just trick search engines — they also tend to mislead their clients.  One tactic that they often use revolves around creating links by using “Private Blog Networks”. This is often referred to as link farming and is frowned upon by Google, so could open you up to the risk of a Google Penalty.

    Grey Hats may be able to produce traffic, but this doesn’t necessarily correlate with revenue or activity that’s useful for your business. With a White Hat SEO company, you’re focusing on conversion rates and other metrics that are important to your business. For example, there’s a trend called referral spam; it skews your website’s analytics and needs to be addressed. Otherwise, you may think your website is doing great when in fact the traffic is bogus.

  • They’re producing filler or lackluster content. Grey Hatters often focus on guest blogs, spun content, repetitive content and similar tactics. Essentially web content is created simply to fool search engine bots rather than attracting people who are genuinely interested in your product or service. This will ultimately work against you, as it won’t build your website’s authority or brand awareness. A legitimate SEO company will focus on long-lasting content that has value for your current and prospective customers.
  • The agency doesn’t mention they are using techniques contrary to search engine quality guidelines. We’ve found that many Grey Hat SEO firms don’t educate clients on what they do and how they adhere (or not) to webmaster quality guidelines. A legitimate agency will make sure to draw the line between what’s allowed and the impact of each technique used. Here’s what Google says about SEO services: “While SEOs can provide clients with valuable services, some unethical SEOs have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to manipulate search engine results in unfair ways. Practices that violate our guidelines may result in a negative adjustment of your site’s presence in Google or even the removal of your site from our index. ” It doesn’t get any clearer than that.
  • spooky-legoYour Grey Hat SEO agency makes extreme promises regarding performance. Creating a comprehensive SEO campaign takes work. There are two main ingredients for organic search: content and links. It’s impossible to guarantee extreme increases in performance as there are many variables (e.g., competitive landscape). White Hat SEO is slow and steady. It’s less risky and should be viewed as a long-term marketing strategy.
  • You’re experiencing roller-coaster results in organic search. One month your website traffic has a fabulous spike in Analytics. Then, it begins to dwindle and eventually becomes a trickle. Nothing has changed. Your Grey Hat agency continues to work on your site. What’s the likely culprit? An algorithm update was released, specifically designed to foil a Grey Hat SEO technique. FYI – Google releases hundreds of changes to their search software every year. And your website has just paid the price.

Is Working With a Grey Hat SEO Agency Worth the Risk?

I’ve seen too many websites suffer from unethical SEO practices. Often business owners or marketers don’t realize they have been working with a Grey Hat SEO agency. It’s so much easier to repair the damage before catastrophe strikes — such as a manual penalty from Google.  If you’re responsible for a website or managing a digital marketing agency, I highly recommend that you read Google’s quality guidelines carefully. Then ask questions. Not sure what to ask? Here are at least seven that should make your list.

Did you know that when a website is penalized, the owner is responsible… not their agency?

How can we help?

Want to take advantage of evergreen and effective SEO strategies? Looking to learn tried and true optimization techniques?

We are The Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.

Contact Us Now »

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Link Analysis Best Practices Thu, 09 Aug 2018 16:00:57 +0000 Journey-to-Midway-Island

Penguin Savvy Linking

If you’re reading this article, you are probably aware of how powerful — and dangerous — links can be to SEO. Google’s expend a lot of effort making sure a website’s links are routinely analyzed. Meaning if websites didn’t adhere to inbound link quality guidelines, they suffered in organic search. Not sure if your link profile is helping or hurting you? A link analysis is an excellent place to start. I’ll share my best tips on what should be included in a link analysis project.

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Tangible Benefits

Google continues to reward websites that focus on quality links and provide helpful content. Conversely, they are penalizing websites with thin content (pages with little or low-value content) and irrelevant/poor quality links.

Understanding and managing your link profile enables you to:

  • Components-280x186Find poor quality links, remove them so they stop hurting your business.
  • Keep a clean link profile which is a major signal to search engines that you are worthy of higher visibility in organic search.
  • Identify potential businesses/domains to cultivate more links that drive qualified sales leads.
  • Compare your link profile to competitors so you can do better in search and get more business.

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Link Analysis Components

  1. A Comprehensive List of Links.  For example, we use 4-5 professional-grade link tools in addition to the information available in Google’s Search Console to aggregate a list as no one source is complete. We then organize a spreadsheet with key pieces of information (e.g., if the link is toxic or helpful).
  2. Competitive Comparison. SEO is a competitive sport. A link analysis will help determine how your website stacks up against your competitors. It will also give you ideas on how to identify opportunities and build new quality inbound links from credible and authoritative websites that boost your website’s authority.
  3. An Executive Summary with Recommendations. Receiving a spreadsheet with a bunch of links and appended data isn’t very useful. Interpretation of the information is key. As I analyze a profile, I cull out insights and make recommendations on how to manage a link profile moving forward (e.g., what needs to be cleaned up and how to keep it clean).
  4. A Disavow File. If you have links hurting your website, you should absolutely receive a disavow file to upload into Search Console.  By doing so, you alert Google that you are actively managing your website’s link profile.

Paying the Penalty

A link analysis is the first step in preventing a potential Google manual penalty. Recovering from a penalty is long and arduous. You want to avoid that journey at all costs.

What do you think of our link building tips? Do you think we’ve found the missing link? Or do we need to evolve our thinking?

How can we help?

Launching a website and need help with design? Or, are you tweaking your landing pages to improve sales conversion?

We are the spectrum group online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.

Contact Us Now »

photo credit – top: kris krüg
photo credit – body: Bretislav Stasa

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Repurposing Content Dos & Don’ts Thu, 09 Aug 2018 16:00:30 +0000 Content_cloud

Making Old Content New Again for SEO

Creating and posting regular content is one way of building an SEO presence for your company. But creating new content is not the only way to help improve your SEO ranking. Another way is repurposing content in a way that doesn’t risk duplicate content penalties and content fatigue.

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How long is the shelf life of an average blog post? A week? a month? If you’re talking about SEO, like we often do, things change regularly. Something you wrote last month might not be relevant now. So, what happens to the old stuff? It sits on your blog gathering virtual dust, not getting clicks or links. Well, not anymore…

Just Give it a Fresh Coat of Paint

  1. Refresh dated content –  The idea that old content should be consigned to the trash is pretty common place. But actually, with some work, old content can be recycled into something useful again. Some topics are evergreen and don’t require a full rewrite to refresh its relevancy. For example, an article on AdWords Ad creation best prrepurposing content from the trash canactices from August 2016 will be different to August 2015, especially since Google have launched extended ad texts. However, much of the advice given will still be relevant, even if technical details, like ad text length, have changed. This kind of material is the perfect candidate for an update. The old post may have generated inbound links (read: Google love). By modifying the post and republishing, you don’t lose those votes of confidences from other websites.
  2. Promote evergreen content – Some content you create will not have an expiration date. If you’ve written something on a topic that is still relevant, then why not promote it again. Share the content on social media, or via email. Don’t be dishonest and pretend it’s new. Just make sure that it’s still factually correct, the hyperlinks still work, and then get tweeting. Be careful to leave enough time from when you first publish the content, to when you start promoting it again. We would recommend not plugging an old post again unless it’s been a year since first publishing.
  3. Convert old content into something different –  Similar to the first point, when you create a piece of content don’t be afraid to repurpose it. If you spent time and money creating a whitepaper, or video, then why not turn it into a series of blog posts or an infographic? Changing the format the content is presented in can make it appeal to a different type of customer, or even into a different place in your marketing funnel, as well as giving it an update.

The Don’ts of Repurposing Content

Now that we’ve shown you ways that repurposing content works, let’s talk about what you need to avoid.

First, you don’t want to have the same piece of content (or something that’s substantially the same) republished on your website or blog. Google defines duplicate content as “substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely matches other content or are appreciably similar.” This is why you don’t want to publish a blog post and then post it as a LinkedIn article.

Second, don’t ignore any feedback you received on the old content. Feedback can be comments, forum discussions or other ways your audience has voiced their opinion. Refreshing the post and addressing negative or constructive criticism demonstrates you’re listening. Now you have the chance to add supporting evidence or change your mind.

Third, when repurposing content, choose your strongest posts or pages rather than those pieces which landed with a thud. The only caveat is material vitally important to your business. Giving it a refresh may help it get better traction. Remember, it’s the web. Nothing is set in stone.

Recycling Goes in the Green Trash Can

Have you done anything interesting with your old content? We’d love to hear your ideas for repurposing content.

How can we help?

Are you building content to help your SEO? Do you have ideas for repurposing content?

We are Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.

Contact Us Now »

Photo credit – Top: Duan Double
Photo credit – Bottom: Pixabay

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More Than Meets the Eye: Create An Infographic Wed, 08 Aug 2018 16:00:36 +0000

Breaking Up the Text

We’ve all heard not to judge a book by its cover and, while that’s great for people and pets, it doesn’t necessarily apply to choosing a wedding dress or even a dozen eggs. I’m pretty sure that the outside of a greenish-black egg will give you impressions of what is inside. The same goes for driving views to your website. A flat, text-heavy page is about as inviting as a toaster instruction manual. Despite how much you know, people will resist reading it without a visual break, so why not try to make your content more visually pleasing with an infographic.

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Many websites find success through subscriptions to generic photo sites like iStockPhoto, ShutterStock, or Getty Images. While those services cost money and are populated by professional photographers, you can also find free pictures through Creative Commons where thousands of people are willing to let you use their images with simple attribution (be sure you read the individual user permissions for a photo).

Putting the Info in Infographic

However, if you really want to add some splash and pizzazz to your site, consider using an infographic. As long as the information you want to share has an audience, you can attract more views by putting it into a catchy or colorful graphic.infographic

Again, this method ranges in price. You can find eager graphic design students who would love to turn your bullet points into a clever visual for $200. You get something nice and they get a piece to add to their portfolio. Power companies like Visually also provide flat rates for graphics starting at just under $2,000.

Regardless of the cost, using the Visually site can help you to get some ideas of what is interesting in your particular field. Say you write a family blog and you are going to post something about healthy snacks. This Grub on the Go graphic shows you how simple it is to make information visually attractive.

Remember the idea of an infographic is to convey information. The best infographics make it easier to explain information in a visual way. Typically they seem to work well with data-heavy topics that may be a little ‘dry’ if presented in text alone.

Graphic Content

So, if you’re looking to spice up your content, why not try an infographic. Making things visual will help keep your readers interested and keep your creative juices flowing.

How can we help?

What do your links and content say about your site’s SEO? What does your data say in Search Console?

We are Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.

Contact Us Now »

Photo credit – Top: Pixabay
Photo credit – Bottom: Pixabay

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How to Build the Perfect Landing Pages Tue, 07 Aug 2018 16:00:25 +0000 landingpage

Driving Conversions

Running social media campaigns or PPC ads is a good way of bringing people to your site. Having effective landing pages is a critical part of achieving success or wasting money. Getting prospects to a page is the first step. Getting them to convert is the next. We’ve tested hundreds of landing pages and we’ve found there are nine factors that can spell success.

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Top 10 Best Practices for Landing Pages

The following is meant to be a quick guide for creating an effective landing page. It’s a high-level view; in future articles, I’ll examine each in depth. Let’s look at what drives conversions:

  1. Have a clean design – The design of your landing page should be streamlined. Make it clear where the user should start reading and what they should do next. Keeping the page uncluttered and simplistic will make it easier for them to determine what their next action should be.
  2. Remember what your user wants – You’ve created an expectation with your ad. The ad generated interest and your prospect is looking for more information. Your goal, of course, is to get them to convert… enter information via a form, call you, visit another page, etc. Use language that focuses on their needs, not your benefits. Here’s an example: you offer a premium mobile app for food tracking. Unlike most of your competitors, you offer a free, no-strings-attached 14-day trial where no credit card information is required. Rather than say “we offer a free 14-day trial” try “You can try our premium mobile app for free. No credit card is required and there are no strings attached. Get started now!” As you craft the landing page copy, think like your customer. What’s most important? Then put that info at the top before the fold.
  3. Use Tools to Track – To assume is to make an “ASS of ME and U”. You probably know your customers well and can make some conclusions about how they’ll react to your landing pages, but you should back these ideas up with data. Using tools like Hotjar will help you look at user behaviour and enable you to draw conclusions based on data. Not assumptions.
  4. Keep the copy simple – Don’t try and wow anyone with how intelligent or technical you are with jargon. Like the design, keeping things as streamlined as possible is important. You want to create an urgency, but do this with straightforward language. You don’t want to confuse a user and have them quit because they struggled to understand what you were saying. Use of headings and bullets will also make it easier for your visitor to scan the page.landing pages
  5. Ask for as little information as you can on forms – Work out what information you really need from your users. An email and name are probably the minimums you should ask for. For every additional field on a form, it creates more hurdles for your audience. Unnecessary required fields reduce the number of people who submit it. Of course, you’ll need to work out the balance between quality and quantity of leads. This is a perfect opportunity for A/B testing.
  6. Have a strong and prominent CTA – Remember to create a compelling call to action. Don’t just assume that because someone has arrived on your landing page, they’re going to convert. If they’ve come from PPC or social ads, they might not fully understand why they’re there. Use your CTA to pull them in.
  7. Don’t forget visuals – Keeping the page simple is important, but don’t totally neglect the visual aspects of your landing page. Adding images, or photos can help break up a page and make it look more attractive. There are ways to display reviews or customer testimonials so they visually pop on a page.
  8. Optimize for mobile – In 2016 we probably don’t need to say too much about this. But, if you’re not optimized for mobile, you’re going to have a hard time.
  9. Remove navigation/ Or don’t? – This is a contentious point. If you’re using your landing pages for Google AdWords, or other PPC campaigns, removing navigation links can seriously damage your landing pages quality. However, having links that distract a user from your CTA is not conducive to conversions. Our advice: if you’re doing AdWords keep the navigation as it’s a best practice. Prospects may want more information before taking the next step. If you delete the navigation, now the visitor has to actively hunt around which is very frustrating.
  10. Test, Measure & Re-Test – I touched upon A/B testing in #4. If you have a winning landing page that’s got great conversion numbers, make it better by doing controlled A/B Tests. We like to create A/B testing plans to determine what landing page components are working well. For example, you can test:
    1. Headlines & subheads
    2. CTA buttons – the text as well as the color
    3. Landing Page Copy and bullets
    4. Visuals – placement, photos vs. graphics
    5. Testimonials – placement, excerpts

As we discussed earlier, use tools to track how your users are using your new landing page. Use all the data you have to make improvements where you can.

How are you landing pages performing? Can they use a little tweak? Do you think you need more conversions?

How can we help?

How are your landing pages performing? Could you do with more conversions?

We are Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.

Contact Us Now »

Photo credit – Top: Joe the Goat Farmer
Photo credit – Bottom: Pixelbay

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Questions for Persona Research Fri, 03 Aug 2018 16:00:17 +0000 Personas Luminosas: Illuminating buying behavior with persona researchFinding Your Target Audience’s Hot Buttons

Buyer personas have many uses. Writing content that resonates is an easy one that comes to mind. Reallocating your AdWords budget is another. But more importantly than all of that it helps you focus your business on getting the RIGHT type of customer.

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If you want to get the best buyer personas then you need to be speaking to your current customers for insights into how and why they take the decisions they take. But, if you’re interviewing actual customers, then you want a concise list of questions for your persona research. Here’s our list of must-ask questions, especially for B2B products and services, that you can build upon.

Basic Demographic Information

As you embark on persona research, these questions need to make your list. The answers will help you create a foundation to build upon. Typically you conduct live interviews with customers rather than via a survey or online form. While one-on-one conversations take longer, it adds a level of flexibility that can uncover some market research “AHAs.” The Buyer Persona Institute suggests having a structured form to keep yourself on track. Plus, they recommend spending at least 30 minutes in the interview.

  • What’s your age? Or if that’s a little too nosy, create age ranges. The goal here is to determine which generation (Millennial, Gen X, Young Baby Boomer, etc) they are in.
  • Male or Female? Pretty self-explanatory. However, posing this question could really put your interviewee off.
  • Are you married, single, divorced? Do you have children; how old are they? While on the surface this question may seem irrelevant, some buying decisions may require discussion with someone else in the household. It really depends upon your product or service and the buying cycle. And don’t forget that children can have a major impact on their parents’ spending habits.
  • What level of education did you complete? For B2B products/services, I’d follow this up with queries about what they studied and what school(s) did they attend. Your persona research may uncover some surprises that can affect the tone and language of your marketing materials.

Persona Research Related Career, Job Title & Role

  • What was your career path to your current role? Sometimes there’s a traditional and linear progression in a person’s career. Or, the individual may have landed into an opportunity and grown with the company. Either way, asking this question will help find language that resonates with the person.
  • What’s your current title? What are the areas of primary responsibility? Job descriptions can vary widely between companies. Your persona research is about breaking through assumptions and gathering specifics.
  • What metrics are used to measure your performance? If your service can do more with less and make them look good in the process… success! Find out what really is really important to your customer.
  • Please describe your typical day. Is your ideal customer an over-scheduled professional who commutes 1.5 hours a day by train? Or do they work remotely and only go into the office a couple days a month? The answers may significantly impact how your buyers interact with your brand.
  • What gets in your way of success? This question is meant to dig into benefits and features, identifying ones that have the most interest and/or impact.

Preferences for Consuming Information

  • Buy-and-SellWhat tools do you use every day? This question is meant to uncover the applications and products used frequently. Are they on social media for work? If so, which ones? For example, your audience may use a forum specific to their function and rarely check in to their LinkedIn account. Understanding how a buying segment works and their preferred tools enable you to narrow your focus on tactics that break through the clutter.
  • Where do you go to learn new information? This is probably one of my favorite persona research questions. It provides insight into the media your buyers prefer to read. Your B2B buyer may avoid websites and blog articles, thinking they are too salesy (not an uncommon opinion of scientists and some engineers). They may prefer a more old-school approach like in-person networking or professional organization’s newsletter.

The Buying Process

  • When interacting with a vendor, what do you want/expect from them? The answers will help you craft (or revamp) your lead nurturing efforts. Is calling once a week too frequent or not enough? There may be significant generational differences in how your buyers view the sales process. People tend to buy from those they like. Your persona research will help you figure out the right balance between persistence and irritation, between information overload and just-in-time data.
  • When buying a product or service, what review sites do you research? Google reviews may be more important than Yelp. Or vice versa. Or neither.
  • Describe a recent purchase that you made. While the purchase itself may not relate to your business, it will give you a window into their decision-making process and preferences.

If you’re building buyer personas for your cusomers, what other persona research questions would you add to my list?

How can we help?

Want help with creating buyer personas? Looking to interview clients for testimonials and case studies?

We are The Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.

Contact Us Now »

photo credit – top: Andres F. Ramirez
photo credit – body: Matt Jiggins

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What is Schema and How Does it Improve Your SEO Thu, 02 Aug 2018 16:00:27 +0000 schema is a seo roadmap image shows a map

A Map for Your Search Engine

Schema wants to become the skeleton that holds up SEO. Schema is a psychological term used to describe a kind of rapid profiling that the takes place in the brain in order to understand something. For example, if you’re about to walk out of the office and some people walk in with wet coats and umbrellas, your brain immediately thinks that it’s raining.

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You don’t think explicitly about the rain, or run through other various scenarios, you jump straight to the most likely conclusion. Your brain fills gaps with what it expects to see. Similarly, schema on websites provides context and an easy way for search engines to better understand and index the Web’s content.

The Schema used in SEO has the same purpose. The idea is that you’re putting out some easy to read directions that tell the search engine exactly where it needs to go to get information about your page. Instead of it needing to crawl every single line of code to try and establish context, you are pointing it to what it needs to know.

This enables the search engine to more rapidly read your website and verify if it contains the information that it’s looking for. The idea behind is to create a standardized language for website code, that makes it easier for web developers to do their jobs. A kind of Esperanto for the internet.

Schema Your Way to the Top

If you have done any coding or played with WordPress, you will be familiar with HTML tags like <h1>. This tag, if either side of a word, indicates that the word inside it is a header, and should be read first by the search engine. But it does not give any context about what the heading means.

For example:

<h1> New Bows in Stock <h1>

This heading could be talking pretty pink bows to hold back a girl’s hair, or it could be talking about a hunting bow for next year’s deer season. All the search engine knows is that it is the most important thing on the page. Schema helps to solve this problem by adding context to the words, speeding up the time it takes the search engine to read your page. Much like alt text explains an image.SEO magnifying glass

Using the example above your HTML would look like this:

<h1>New Bows in Stock</h1>
<span>Look at this seasons girl’s hair ties</span>
<span>Pink Girl’s Hair Accessories</span>
<a href=””>Website</a>

Adding extra information improves the quality of information the search engine can provide to users and decreases the number of irrelevant visits or clicks your website gets, but it is still difficult for the search engine to work out exactly what you mean as it has to read all of this information and then categorize it itself.

If you use schema you would highlight your text like this:

<div itemscope itemtype =””>
<h1 itemprop=”name“>Look at this seasons girl’s hair ties</h1>
<span>Director: <span itemprop=”color“>Pink Girls Hair Accessories</span>
<a href=””</a>
See <a itemprop=”sameAs” href=””>wikipedia entry</a> for more details.

Here you have told the search engine that the page is talking about a product, the product’s name, and color and linked to a page defining the product. This background information makes the page a lot more reader friendly for the search engine, speeding up the process dramatically. By linking it to the wiki page for hair accessories, the search engine automatically knows it does not  need to show your page to someone searching for hunting tools.

A Note on AMP

AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, is another type of schema, designed to improve mobile performance. Google has recently been pushing AMP along with Schema as AMP is a way of increasing mobile search speed. While AMP may soon be out of date (based on recent comments from Google) its a sign that frameworks like Schema are here to stay. You just need to make sure you’re picking the right one.

What’s A Schema?

Now you have some information on what Schema is, and why it’s going to help your page rank higher, you need to know how to do it. Stay tuned to find out more as we publish more information about implementing Schema. Can’t wait? Then check out the site and work through their instructions.

How can we help?

What do your links and content say about your site’s SEO? What does your data say in Search Console?

We are Spectrum Group Online, and we offer strategic and tactical consulting so you can monetize your online presence. Call us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your website’s user experience and translate that into sales.

Contact Us Now »

Photo credit – Top: SEO
Photo credit – Bottom: Joe TGF

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