How To Build a Website for Your Painting Business + 5 Alternatives

A professional website is an essential element for every business’s brand strategy. Apart from being an authoritative platform on which the company communicates its brand, it also helps considerably with engagement and conveying your services.

Having a website makes it very easy for people to find you and discover what you do. It also makes you stand out as a professional in your field.

Then, there’s marketing. Through website analytics, a business owner can quickly tell the demographics of those who show interest. On-page and off-page SEO also goes a long way in building online visibility and search engine ranking.

But how do you actually build a website? And what are other options if you can’t afford one?

Before we get started.. We have 7 simple steps that will help you get your business in front of the right customers, downloadable as a free guide.

The Painter Marketing Broad Brush Effect

Get a FREE download of our 7 simple steps that will bring in more painting customers than you can handle in 2021 and beyond.

Ready to roll?

How Do I Build A Website For My Painting Business?

There are various ways to go about building your painting business website. And frankly, anyone can create a website these days with a good Internet connection. Here are your options:

Template-based website builders

These require no design or development skills at all and are exceptionally popular when it comes to building a website on a low budget. Some of the best website builders out there include:

Do keep in mind that you will still need to pay for things like a domain name, business email, hosting, and customized themes. There’s also photography to take into account, or the purchase of stock images. You will additionally need to put in some time and effort to learn the platform of your choice. WordPress, in particular, is the trickiest but also the best when it comes to ranking on the search engines.

Seek out a freelance web designer/developer

It is not a secret that you can hire freelancers online these days for a fraction of the price you would pay your local creative agency. This again applies to those on a small budget who are also short on time and other resources.

Some of the most popular freelance outsourcing sites include:

While this is an affordable option, finding the right freelancer will take some time and effort. To streamline the process, make sure you create an ad with specific details about what you want, so that the freelancer can bid on it knowing all the specs of the job. 

Don’t hire someone simply because they’re cheap; check out their profile and portfolio first and have a look at what projects they are currently working on (you would want to avoid anyone already working on 27 other projects!).

Before you decide to hire, hop on a video call with your candidates to verify that they are not scammers or fake profiles — unfortunately, this does tend to happen when there is no supervision or control over who creates a profile.

Hire an agency

Agencies will be your best option when it comes to creating a professional-looking, fully functional website. 

They won’t limit your options with template designs and quick fixes, and they usually consist of specialists, in which case you may be able to get a full package of web design, marketing, and branding services by a team of real experts who know what they’re doing.

But do be aware, these professional services come at a higher cost due to the quality they offer, and a website alone could cost you anywhere from $500 to $10,000!

As a small business that requires an uncomplicated website with only a few pages, consider putting aside $1000-$3000. If you’re serious about your painting business, you will not hesitate at making such an important investment.

At IFTS we work with our clients to make customized solutions for your website development and marketing needs.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you are considering creating a professional website for your painting business.

5 Alternatives to Building a Painting Business Website

Are you hoping to avoid the whole website-building hassle altogether? If you are, you can still build your online brand and presence. It’s only the platform that will be different.

A website is not the only tool that a business can utilize to create an online presence. There are various alternatives you can look at which are much less pricey, too.  Below are some of the most commonly sought after alternatives for painting businesses:

1. Google My Business

A Google My Business page is an all-in-one listing management tool. This tool displays your business information and your business’s location will also appear on Google Maps

You can also take advantage of other tools, like Reviews and Insights. You can even create a DIY site if you like and promote events and special offers. It will boost your visibility on the search engine results page when a relevant query is placed. 

A GMB page is responsive, mobile-friendly, and can be optimized for SEO.

Need help creating or optimizing your Google My Business profile? Check out our Introduction to Google My Business for tips on how to set up your profile correctly and accurately.

2. Online Local Business Directories

Yes, you can pay for a listing on your local online business directories such as Yellow Pages and Foursquare.

These online directories allow you to optimize your listing for SEO and showcase as much information about the business as you can. You can also just list the basics – name and contact information of the business and services and working hours, and you’re good to go.

3. Review Sites Listings

Review sites such as HomeAdvisor, Yelp, and Angie’s List are well-optimized for search results. Hence, a listing on these sites will allow you to take advantage of their undeniably impressive business-boosting functions.

The best part of registering your business with review sites is that clients tend to trust any review they read on them! And if you’re low on reviews, you can always invite your current customers to these platforms and have them give their two cents.

Want to know how to win over customers with your online reputation? Here, we discuss proactive tactics for online reputation management to get more clients.

4. Facebook Business Page

Facebook has over two billion active users. It is one of the few platforms that are continuously improving their B2B offerings and helping new businesses promote themselves. 

With a Facebook business page, you can create an ecommerce store, accept payments, book appointments, share content through posts, create promotions, announce events, set up ad campaigns, and do pretty much anything you need to attract and retain customers. 

You can also use Facebook for SEO purposes or targeted advertising. The possibilities are endless!

5. Online Marketplaces

Online marketplaces perform well on the search engines, and a listing on them can significantly boost your presence and sales.

They are also a great starting point for small niche businesses, as you can position your business in front of your target audience without the need to resort to advertising.

For home services business, your go-to marketplaces should be Handy, ProReferral, and Serviz.

Regardless of the options you choose, you must maintain a professional online presence at all times. 

Be sure to craft an online marketing strategy and implement, review, and improve your online marketing efforts constantly.

Click the button below to download our free guide, The Painter Marketing Broad Brush Effect. This guide will walk you through 7 simple steps to bring in more painting customers than you can handle in 2021 and beyond.

The Painter Marketing Broad Brush Effect

Position your business to get in front of the right customers with 7 easy steps

If you need help creating a website for your painting business, or figuring out a marketing strategy that drives results, feel free to ask us any questions! Give IFTS a call at 412.715.6266 for a free consultation.

How To Market Your Painting Business – 8 Benefits of Local Marketing for Painters

In today’s world, technology is a small business’s best friend. It has made it exceptionally easier to reach out to target customers, set different variables when marketing, and ensure that those customers stay up to date about what you are offering. 

As a painting business, it is essential that all of your customers, especially those in the same local area as your business, know about you and are able to find you should they need your services. This is called local marketing.

With local marketing, a painting business can advertise specifically to the targeted location where the business operates. 

Businesses of all sizes, including large firms and corporations, utilize local marketing to grow their sales and customer base. Even the little guys are killing it, and so can you! But how exactly can you benefit from it?

In this article we are going to cover 8 benefits of local marketing for painting businesses and why you should start implementing these strategies today.

Before we get started.. We have 7 simple steps that will help you get your business in front of the right customers, downloadable as a free guide.

The Painter Marketing Broad Brush Effect

Get a FREE download of our 7 simple steps that will bring in more painting customers than you can handle in 2021 and beyond.

Ready to roll?

Benefits of Local Marketing for Painting Businesses

Painting businesses that implement local marketing strategies can attest to the growth that comes with it. Here are some of the benefits that you cannot afford to miss out on:

1. Highly Targeted

Your painting business may be located in New Jersey, but how do you get the locals to even notice you, let alone schedule an estimate? Thankfully, local marketing allows you to specify the demographics and location of your potential customers. 

It also allows you to target customers based on their interests, and even filter through the timewasters. Local marketing is the best way to get in front of those local customers who are really hungry for your services and are willing to make a purchase. And all this can be done while you’re on a low budget.

2. Low Cost

Forget what you thought you knew about marketing and advertising 20 years ago. Local marketing these days is known for its low-cost strategies, thanks to the web. Traditional forms of advertising can still be a bit costly, reserved mostly for larger companies with an in-house advertising department who can afford the expenses; but you’re not Home Depot, are you?

When it comes to local online marketing, marketing strategies are significantly low-cost and customizable, even for the smallest of businesses. 

3. Local Search

With local marketing, you are positioned right in front of your future customer — a local who is either actively searching for your painting services or has a significant interest in them.

You will appear in the search engines based on local queries (“professional painter near me”, “New Jersey painting company”), and rank the highest if you go about it strategically and have the know-how of ranking factors and things like SEO.

Local search is on a constant rise, with the words “local” and “near me” being searched 350 times more than they were 10 years ago. You’d be crazy not to take advantage of this!

4. Lasting Business Relations

Customer loyalty is one of the cornerstones of a successful painting business. In the world of digital, we like to replace the term with “community”. 

Building local online communities is not only easy, cost-free and accessible, but it also results in lasting business relations. You don’t need to be Coca-Cola or Apple or have your own in-house PR department to build good, long-lasting customer relations. All you need to do is choose a platform and start building a community around your business. You can do this by sharing information, photos and other content related to your painting services, and by keeping in touch with your customers through direct messages and comments.

Besides the free consumer information, your business can advertise bonuses, discounts, or new products. This way, you can retain customers even after a sale, and nurture repeat client relationships that will last.

5. Branding and Brand Control

Branding might sound a bit too technical for most people but with local marketing, small businesses can dominate and establish themselves as industry experts if they can position and brand themselves effectively. You can always contact us at IFTS if you want to learn more about branding rather than figure out and do the legwork all by yourself.

As an industry expert who is well-branded, you will draw in more customers without having to do much work — your branding does the work for you. Customers will know your brand when they see it, and learn to trust and identify it. 

You can then reap the benefits of your branding efforts by easily keeping track of clients’ opinions of your services and rectifying dissatisfactions before they get out of control. Armed with clients’ preferences and consistency, you can retain your relevance in the market and, in turn, convert more locals into paying clients. It’s all about branding, baby.

6. Scaling Your Business

Have you ever watched a YouTube video on DIY painting by an average Joe who owns a small local painting business on the other side of the country, yet has a slew of worldwide followers? That’s what scaling your business may look like in the digital world.

Because you are on a globally-accessible tool called the Internet, your small local business may grow beyond its regional status into possibly national and international levels. 

As the business scales, the established local communities will help you maintain your relevance locally as you garner attention from others beyond your local area. While this may not result in actual service sales, boosting your following will, more often than not, boost your digital visibility, ranking, positive reviews, Likes, and referrals — regardless of where your web-based supporters are located.

7. Accessible Booking

Another benefit of local marketing is making use of online booking tools. If you have a local Google My Business or Facebook page, for example, you can add your phone number, email, or even make use of the scheduling button to make booking accessible to your potential customers as soon as they visit the page.  

80% of home services queries lead to a phone call after search, but that’s if you make it easy for them to call you.

8. Keeping Track of Marketing Efforts

Online local marketing is one of the easiest ways to keep track of the performance of your ads and marketing efforts. 

As a business, you can access low-cost and sometimes free statistics. You can get and analyze information such as website hits, engagement on posts, and even sales for free from the available inbuilt platform statistics. If you feel fancy, you can pay for marketing automation tools that also keep detailed business statistics.

Any kind of painting business stands to grow tremendously from implementing a well-thought-out local marketing strategy. 

Don’t forget, we have a FREE guide that you can download for instant access to 7 simple steps that will bring in more painting customers than you can handle in 2021 and beyond.

The Painter Marketing Broad Brush Effect

Position your business to get in front of the right customers with 7 easy steps

If you’d like us to do some or all of the work for you, contact IFTS for a free consultation and let’s talk about your business specifically.

Facebook Ads vs. Google Ads – Is One Platform Better to Advertise on Than the Other?

A common question for many business owners when it comes to online advertising is  where is my budget better spent?

Google, with over 85% of the search market share, is undoubtedly known as the most popular search engine on the internet as Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world. Both Google and Facebook are valuable places to advertise your business, but for different reasons depending on a few factors.

We all know that both time and money are limited, so where should you start with paid advertising to get the best bang for your buck?

No matter if you’re an expert in pay-per-click advertising (PPC) or if you’re just getting started, this article will help you understand the key differences between Google Ads and Facebook Ads and which is the best fit for you.

What is the Main Difference Between Facebook Ads and Google Ads?

Before we look at the factors that make each of these advertising platforms their own, let’s take a look at the main difference between Facebook ads and Google ads.

Google ads = paid search

As Google is the world’s largest, most popular search engine, it is also the largest PPC advertising platform.

Google ads is a paid search platform working on a pay-per-click model where ads show up in search results above organic results giving immense opportunity to advertisers. 

Pay-per-click means exactly what it says – you do not pay until someone clicks on your ad.

Paid search primarily focuses on targeting specific keywords that advertisers bid on in hopes that their ads will be displayed on SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) when specific words and phrases (keywords) are searched by Google users.

Every time a user clicks on a Google ad, the advertiser is charged a certain amount of money. 

Facebook ads = paid social

A great example of advertising on social networks, also known as “paid social”, is Facebook ads.

With more than 2 billion active monthly users, Facebook has become a highly competitive element across many businesses’ digital advertising strategies.

You may think that advertising on Facebook is similar to advertising on Google as advertisers use both platforms to promote their business online… but this is where the two become very different.

Unlike paid search advertising, where businesses can be found with keywords, paid social helps connect users to businesses based on their interests and behaviors online. 

A common strategy used with facebook ads is retargeting. Facebook retargeting ads are one of the platform’s prime advertising features where these ads allow you to reach out to users who are already familiar with your brand. We’ll touch back on this advantage later in the article.

When Should You Use One Advertising Platform Over The Other?

Now that we’ve covered the primary difference between Google ads and Facebook ads, let’s take a look into the features of advertising on each platform and how they can be used effectively.

Targeting users 

Google ads target users based on specific keywords pertaining to their search queries. By doing keyword research, you can find out exactly what users are searching for to target them accordingly.

Targeting through Facebook ads allows you to target users based on how they interact online. You can focus on demographics, interests, previous behaviors and more.

Although Facebook users don’t use the platform to search for products as they would with Google, with the many different targeting options available, you still have the opportunity to get yourself in front of your audience.

As we mentioned earlier in this article, Facebook retargeting allows you to reconnect with users who have previously interacted with your business in some way. 

This could include users who have:

  • Interacted with your Instagram or Facebook page
  • Shared their email with you
  • Watched your videos (or a portion of them)
  • Interacted with your app
  • Viewed or taken actions on your website

As of late 2020, retargeting on Facebook has changed. With the Apple 14.3 IOS update, Apple will now require people to opt-in to having their data tracked…instead of requiring them to opt-out, which had been the standard. This update will affect your retargeting efforts if you do not take action.

For more information on this update and ways to mitigate the damage to your Facebook ads caused by the IOS 14.3 change, check out our article on How to Avoid Losing All of Your Retargeting Traffic.

Giving users what they want, where they want it

Since Google users see ads based on the keywords they search, it is more likely that they will click on an ad in Google since it is something that they intentionally searched for. 

It is likely that those who are served ads while searching on Google are further along in the buyer journey, making them that much closer to purchasing.

When advertising on Facebook, you are most likely putting your product or service in front of an audience who has never heard of you before. You are reaching customers where they already are – social media. 

Since social media users use the platform to “hangout” and socialize as opposed to using Google to look for answers, they might not be as far along in the buyer journey as they did not intentionally seek out your product/service.

When this occurs, you have to hope that you are offering the right ad at the right time, hoping that they move along in the buying process.

What is the goal of the ad?

Obviously the goal of every ad is to sell a product or service. But based on what the audience is seeking, these goals change ever so slightly.

The main goal of Facebook ads is to promote awareness of your company, product or service. Advertising to people based on their interests over time will lead to reaching more goals (website visits, new clients, and even purchases!) as users become more familiar with you.

When you advertise on Google, you are advertising with a goal to sell immediately since you are targeting specific keywords. 

We know that when users search with specific keywords, they know what they’re looking for and they are more likely to purchase upon finding the product that they want. This is where you are able to make it easy for them to find exactly what they are looking for.

So… Facebook Ads or Google Ads? Is One Platform Really Better Than the Other?

In reality, one of these platforms isn’t necessarily better then the other because both platforms perform differently from one another, bringing unique benefits to the table.

Benefits of using Google:

  • Target ready-to-purchase users
  • Choose from a variety of ad formats
  • Analyze your ads with Google Analytics

Benefits of using Facebook:

  • Expansive audience (over 2.4 billion users!)
  • Granular targeting based on demographics
  • Visually appealing, fun ads

These two platforms should be seen as complementary to one another rather than being viewed in an adversarial way.

You will ultimately find the most success with advertising on both platforms as you will not only show up for popular keywords that users search for on Google, but you will also target users by their interests and behaviors through your ads on facebook.

Why not create the largest possible audience by advertising on both platforms to reach a multitude of new potential customers?

Not sure where to begin with advertising your business? Let us help you. Send me (Stacey Ivol) an email at si@iftsdesign.com or give IFTS, Inc. a call 412.715.6266 for a FREE consultation.

How To Create The Perfect Landing Page For Your Painting Company

Are you spending money on digital ads and not getting the leads you want? 

This could be due to the web page that you are sending people who clicked on your ad to. This page is called a “Landing Page”.

Creating a well-designed landing page for your painting company can be the answer to getting more leads. In this article, we are going to cover the basics on what a landing page is, and we’ll provide tips on how to optimize each section to increase conversions.

What Is A Landing Page?

A landing page is a standalone web page that is created specifically for advertising campaigns to send people to. This is literally where your visitors will “land” when they click on a digital ad.

The purpose of a landing page is to have one focused page where you tell your visitors why they should hire you for a specific job and how to start the process. You just want them to take one specific action.

How Does A Landing Page Convert Visitors?

While homepages are still very important website elements, they are usually not specific to one particular task.  They are also designed to give your site visitors multiple avenues to explore your business. 

With a landing page, you are able to control how visitors arrive on your site and direct them to do one thing.  If they click on an ad for interior painting, they should see specific information about painting services.  If they click on an ad for handyman services, they should see specific information about handyman services.  This makes a landing page the very best place to send them when you want to convert higher percentages of visitors into leads. 

With that said, here are 7 tips for creating the perfect landing page for your painting business that will help increase conversions:

1. Stick to One Call-To-Action (or CTA for short)

Your CTA is simply the action that you want your visitors to take. You will want to give this main action high priority on the page. The CTA should be the first thing that catches their eye when “landing” on your page.

Pro Tip: Most CTAs are a unique-colored button that reoccurs throughout your landing page.  The wording for each button should be EXACTLY THE SAME.

When a visitor clicks on your ad and arrives at your landing page, you want to make their decision as easy as possible – don’t give them a number of actions to take. Keep the objective as simple and as clear as possible.

Whether your landing page objective is for visitors to give you a call, schedule a free consultation, or sign up for a newsletter, make it consistent across the board. Only focus on one action for them to take. The more choices they have, the harder it will be for them to make a decision.

Include your CTA at the end of each text block to guide them and tell your visitor what to do. You don’t want to leave them hanging wondering what’s next.

2. Match The Message of Your Landing Page to the Ad

Consistency is key here. If a visitor clicks on your ad, clearly something about it caught their attention. They click because it either fulfills a need of theirs or it found them at the right time. Regardless, they clicked because in that moment, they felt that it was worth their time!

This is called “Ad Congruity”.  

Pro Tip: If your ad congruity is on point, Google actually lowers the cost per click when you run ads.

If your ad talks about a free consultation for exterior painting services, and your landing page talks about cabinet painting, you will not meet the visitor’s expectations. In this scenario, you are more likely to lose visitors than convert them because your landing page does not specifically align with your ad.

3. Offer and Emphasize Value

Every visitor to your landing page is most likely considering your company to take on their painting project. They are going to assess whether or not they believe you can provide value to them. Here is where you are going to focus on the client, not your firm. 

In order to secure a conversion, you’ll need to offer something of value to your site visitors. 

You only have a short amount of time to convince your site visitors that they have found what they have been looking for. Use this time wisely to reel them in with the benefits they will receive by working with you and be sure to focus on what’s in it for them. Emphasize how you will handle their project from start to finish.

If you want them to hire you as their painting crew, you need to show that you are worth the investment.

Pro Tip: Spin your language to talk about your customer. Minimize the amount of times you say “we” and instead, use “you” or “your”.

4. The Length of the Landing Page Matters

The length of your landing page depends on your end goal. Do you want your visitors to fill out a contact form? Do you want them to call you? Or do you just want to educate them? 

For example, you may need more content if you are asking a visitor to call you, as opposed to downloading a brochure about your painting process. It takes a lot more effort to pick up the phone and schedule an estimate than it does to submit an email address for more information. Therefore, you will need to provide more information that will convince them your company is the perfect fit.

5. Add A Video to Your Landing Page

A study shows that having a relevant video on your landing page can help increase conversions by 86%.

Now, slapping any old video on your landing page isn’t going to be a shortcut to success. While incorporating video can be a total power move, it could also distract visitors from your CTA. This video needs to complement the rest of your landing page, tying everything together. Keep it short and to the point without making it the primary focal point of your landing page. 

The best place for a video is partially above the fold of the page. Here, it will not distract from your CTA and value proposition, but it shows that you have even more value to offer as your visitor scrolls through your page.

6. Feature Supporting Proof

The best social proof will come from your clients. Include testimonials and quotes from real clients that talk about their experience with your company. When you talk about yourself, it’s usually seen as marketing fluff, but when someone else says it, it’s more powerful.

Did you know that 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from friends or family? Having these reviews visible on your landing page will provide the validation that potential painting clients are looking for.

Pro Tip: Be sure to use reviews from 3rd party, reputable sites like Google or Facebook. These look much better than just having a client give you text to use on the website.

7. Optimize Your Form For Conversions

The number of fields required can make or break conversion rates. It is imperative that you collect as much information as possible so you are able to follow up with a potential client, however, if you ask for too much information, this will reflect poorly on those conversions. 

We recommend using the following fields: 

  • Name
  • Email
  • Phone number
  • Message (describe project) 

Giving the option to leave a message allows the visitor to explain their project, creating a bridge between new clients and the person that will be leading their project. This will give you the opportunity to get a step ahead and learn what they are looking for before you schedule an estimate.

Landing pages are the way to go when it comes to converting as many visitors as possible into clients from online ad campaigns…and now you know all you need to know to get started! 

But…how’s your website’s homepage?  Is it optimized to convert visitors? We have a free 47-point homepage quick guide for painting companies that you can download and begin using today!  Visit our guide’s landing page to get started (see how well a landing page works?).

Still not sure where to begin? Let us help you. Send me (Stacey Ivol) an email at si@iftsdesign.com or give IFTS, Inc. a call 412.715.6266 for a FREE consultation.

How To Create The Perfect Landing Page For Your Law Firm

Are you spending money on digital ads and not getting the leads you want? 

This could be due to the web page that you are sending people who clicked on your ad to.  This page is called a “Landing Page”.

Creating a well-designed landing page for your law firm can be the answer to getting more leads. In this article, we are going to cover the basics on what a landing page is, and we’ll provide tips on how to optimize each section to increase conversions.

What Is A Landing Page?

A landing page is a standalone web page that is created specifically for advertising campaigns to send people to. This is literally where your visitors will “land” when they click on a digital ad.

The purpose of a landing page is to have one focused page where you tell your visitors why they should hire you for a specific job and how to start the process. You just want them to take one specific action.

How Does A Landing Page Convert Visitors?

While homepages are still very important website elements, they are usually not specific to one particular task.  They are also designed to give your site visitors multiple avenues to explore your business. 

With a landing page, you are able to control how visitors arrive on your site and direct them to do one thing.  If they click on an ad for Divorce Law, they should see specific information about divorce cases.  If they click on an ad for personal injury, they should see specific information about personal injury.  This makes a landing page the very best place to send them when you want to convert higher percentages of visitors into leads. 

With that said, here are 7 tips for creating the perfect law firm landing page that will help increase conversions:

1. Stick to One Call-To-Action (or CTA for short)

Your CTA is simply the action that you want your visitors to take. You will want to give this main action high priority on the page. The CTA should be the first thing that catches their eye when “landing” on your page.

Pro Tip: Most CTAs are a unique-colored button that reoccurs throughout your landing page.  The wording for each button should be EXACTLY THE SAME.

When a visitor clicks on your ad and arrives at your landing page, you want to make their decision as easy as possible – don’t give them a number of actions to take. Keep the objective as simple and as clear as possible.

Whether your landing page objective is for visitors to call your office, schedule a free consultation, or sign up for a newsletter, make it consistent across the board. Only focus on one action for them to take. The more choices they have, the harder it will be for them to make a decision.

Include your CTA at the end of each text block to guide them and tell your visitor what to do. You don’t want to leave them hanging wondering what’s next.

2. Match The Message of Your Landing Page to the Ad

Consistency is key here. If a visitor clicks on your ad, clearly something about it caught their attention. They click because it either fulfills a need of theirs or it found them at the right time. Regardless, they clicked because in that moment, they felt that it was worth their time!

This is called “Ad Congruity”.  

Pro Tip: If your ad congruity is on point, Google actually lowers the cost per click when you run ads.

If your ad talks about a free consultation for a personal injury case, and your landing page talks about divorce, you will not meet the visitor’s expectations. In this scenario, you are more likely to lose visitors than convert them because your landing page does not specifically align with your ad.

3. Offer and Emphasize Value

Every visitor to your landing page is most likely considering your firm to handle their case. They are going to assess whether or not they believe you can provide value to them. Here is where you are going to focus on the client, not your firm. 

In order to secure a conversion, you’ll need to offer something of value to your site visitors. 

You only have a short amount of time to convince your site visitors that they have found what they have been looking for. Use this time wisely to reel them in with the benefits they will receive by working with you and be sure to focus on what’s in it for them. Emphasize how you will address the specific needs of their legal issue.

If you want them to hire you as their attorney, you need to show that you are worth the investment.

Pro Tip: Spin your language to talk about your customer. Minimize the amount of times you say “we” and instead, use “you” or “your”.

4. The Length of the Landing Page Matters

The length of your landing page depends on your end goal. Do you want your visitors to fill out a contact form? Do you want them to call your office? Or do you just want to educate them? 

For example, you may need more content if you are asking a visitor to call you, as opposed to downloading an ebook about bankruptcy law. It takes a lot more effort to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment than it does to submit an email address for more information. Therefore, you will need to provide more information that will convince them your firm is the perfect fit.

5. Add A Video to Your Landing Page

A study shows that having a relevant video on your landing page can help increase conversions by 86%.

Now, slapping any old video on your landing page isn’t going to be a shortcut to success. While incorporating video can be a total power move, it could also distract visitors from your CTA. This video needs to complement the rest of your landing page, tying everything together. Keep it short and to the point without making it the primary focal point of your landing page. 

Pro Tip: Want to know how to create an awesome video and content to go with it?  Check out Law Firm Marketing Year’s “Content Planner for Attorneys”.  Use code “attorney2021” to get $20 off!

The best place for a video is partially above the fold of the page. Here, it will not distract from your CTA and value proposition, but it shows that you have even more value to offer as your visitor scrolls through your page.

6. Feature Supporting Proof

The best social proof will come from your clients. Include testimonials and quotes from real clients that talk about their experience working with your firm. When you talk about yourself, it’s usually seen as marketing fluff, but when someone else says it, it’s more powerful.

Did you know that 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from friends or family? Having these reviews visible on your landing page will provide the validation that potential law clients are looking for given that 65% of people found attorney reviews to be extremely or moderately influential in their decision.

Pro Tip: Be sure to use reviews from 3rd party, reputable sites like Google, Facebook or FindLaw.  These look much better than just having a client give you text to use on the website.

Another way to brag a little bit to your visitors is by advertising other impressive metrics or features that can include case results, firm credentials or awards.

If you decide to incorporate firm features, don’t over do it. You don’t want to over-saturate your landing page with features as they should be seen as complementary to the benefits that were discussed above. When deciding on the benefits and features that you want to put on your landing page, make sure there is a strong correlation and consistency between them.

7. Optimize Your Form For Conversions

The number of fields required can make or break conversion rates. It is imperative that you collect as much information as possible so you are able to follow up with a potential client, however, if you ask for too much information, this will reflect poorly on those conversions. 

On the other hand, if your form is too simple, only including name, email and phone number, this may come off as a simple information grab. 

We recommend using the following fields: 

  • Name
  • Email
  • Phone number
  • Message 

Giving the option to leave a message allows the visitor to discuss their situation and creates a bridge between new clients and their attorney.

Landing pages are the way to go when it comes to converting as many visitors as possible into clients from online ad campaigns…and now you know all you need to know to get started! 

But…how’s your website’s homepage?  Is it optimized to convert visitors? We have a free 47-point homepage quick guide for law firms that you can download and begin using today!  Visit our guide’s landing page to get started (see how well a landing page works?).

Still not sure where to begin? Let us help you. Send me (Stacey Ivol) an email at si@iftsdesign.com or give IFTS, Inc. a call 412.715.6266 for a FREE consultation.

Are You Prepared For the Apple 14.3 iOS Update – How To Avoid Losing All of Your Retargeting Traffic

Are you prepared for the Apple iOS update that could drastically affect any Facebook advertising you may be doing?

Late last year, Apple announced that they would be implementing new privacy updates to iOS 14.3. One new feature is that users will now be able to see how each app uses their data.  The most significant change is that Apple will now require people to opt-in to having their data tracked…instead of requiring them to opt-out, which had been the standard.

The message that will pop-up is below:

Facebook has been trying to fight Apple on this by stating that it will hurt small businesses.  They took out newspaper ads, ran Facebook ads against it, and explored other options, but the rollout has already started.  In fact, some people started receiving this pop-up in late December 2020.

What Happens When People Opt Out Of Being Tracked?

What does opting out mean for your Facebook ads?

You will not be able to track online conversions from users on mobile devices like you used to, and your retargeting audiences will change or will be missing iOS users.

One positive thing to note – when people interact with your ads in the Facebook app, that behavior is still able to be tracked.  So, you can still see the stats for your videos, reactions, comments etc.

However, once a person clicks on an ad and is taken to another site, the Facebook Pixel will not be able to identify that person.  This means that you can’t track if they convert and you cannot retarget them.

What Happens When People Opt In To Being Tracked?

Currently, Facebook is estimating that about 10 – 15 percent of people will opt-in to being tracked.  

If a person has opted-in to being tracked, there are some changes to that ability as well according to Facebook:

  • You will only be able to track conversions that happen within 7 days after clicking your ad (instead of the standard 28 days)
  • All tracking and statistics may be delayed up to 3 days
  • Personalized ads on audience networks will be very difficult to serve and this functionality may be discontinued

Here is a quick summary of what this means for your Facebook Ads:

  1. You will no longer be able to retarget iOS website visitors
  2. You will not be able to exclude your current customers from seeing your ads using the “Audiences” feature
  3. Your conversion tracking numbers will no longer be accurate

The question on everyone’s mind is “What can we do to limit the impact of this change?

How To Tell If This Change Will Affect Your Facebook Campaigns

If you want to see how this change will affect you, you can see how many people are clicking on your ad or viewing your video broken down by device.  Facebook has a view setting for you to check out.

Open your ads manager and click on “Breakdown” > “By Delivery” > “Impression Device”.  This view will show you the results of your campaign, broken down by device.  

In the example below, you can see that iPhones and iPads account for 50% of our video thruplays.

If your campaigns are targeting a large percentage of iOS users and you use retargeting, you’ll definitely need to take mitigating steps to account for this update.

How To Mitigate The Damage To Your Facebook Ads Caused By The iOS 14.3 Change

Facebook has outlined 2 quick steps to take right away to manage these changes.

Step 1 – Verify Your Domain Through Facebook

In order to track ANYTHING on your website with the Facebook Pixel, you need to go through the verification process.  This will require access to your DNS records.

Open your Facebook Manager and go to “Business Settings”.  Select the “Domains” option inside of “Brand Safety” on the menu, then click the blue “Add” button.

Enter your domain name and follow the instructions to verify your domain through adding a TXT entry to your DNS records.

Step 2 – Make Sure You Only Use 8 Tracking Events Going Forward

A tracking event on Facebook allows you to track the actions that people take on your site.  For instance, you can keep tabs on how many people purchase a specific product.

Some examples of tracking events are:

  • PageViews
  • Leads
  • Purchases

And more.

To see how many events you are currently tracking, go to your “Events Manager” inside your Facebook Manager.  

If you have 8 or less, you are fine to keep your tracking strategy the same.  If you have 9 or more, you will need to choose the 8 that are the most important to you.  Make sure that you have them in priority order.

How to Overcome the Main Issues That Result From Limited Tracking From the Facebook App

What are the alternative ways to create retargeting audiences?

  • Collect email addresses first in your funnel.  Then, use these email addresses to create a custom audience in Facebook by uploading a csv file.
  • Create a retargeting audience by using an informational video that would be very helpful to your target audience as an ad.  Then, retarget the people that watched more than 50% of the video.
  • Set up custom conversions through the Facebook API to allow you to collect the numbers that you need.  There may be a manual step within this process, but it will allow you to collect the information to make informed decisions about your advertising budget.

In conclusion, iOS 14.3 has started to go live and will affect your Facebook retargeting efforts if you don’t take any action at all.  Tracking your visitors and your conversions will not be an option from anyone using an Apple mobile device.

Be sure to verify your domain name and check if you are below 8 tracking events.  Then, start implementing alternative plans to create audiences of your ideal client.

Need help creating a plan to account for these changes or do you want help putting it all into action?  Give IFTS a call at 412.715.6266 or email me (si@iftdesign.com) to ask about our small business special for the iOS 14.3 change!

Is Your Business Ready for 2021 – 8 Simple Steps to Take to Make 2021 Your Best Year Yet

Is Your Business Ready for 2021 - 8 Simple Steps to Take to Make 2021 Your Best Year Yet

Are you a small business owner ready to say “Bye Felicia” to 2020?

I think that we all are!

However, if there was one thing that 2020 taught us, it was that your online presence is now more important than ever…and this doesn’t just mean your website.  Your online presence consists of many pieces, like your website, your Google My Business Profile, your social media spaces and so much more.

Want 2021 to be your best year yet?  In this article, we are going to cover 8 simple steps that you can take in January (2 per week) to help your business get ahead of the game!

Week One will cover choosing the best keywords for your business and improving your onsite SEO.

Week Two will take you through everything that you need to do in order to improve your Google My Business profile and start getting leads through Google Local Search.

Week Three covers EVERYTHING that you need to do to create content for the whole year and how to save time and money while doing it.

Finally, Week Four forces you to up your video game and start using the second largest search engine in the world.

Are you ready?  Let’s get started!

Week One – Up Your Onsite SEO Game and Be Found More Easily In the Search Results

STEP 1 – Figure Out What Keywords Are Best For You

Is your website working for you as well as it should be?  Are people finding your business online?  If not, your search engine optimization, or SEO, may be to blame.

To improve your SEO, the first step is to create a list of popular keywords or phrases that you want to rank for.  To create this list, I recommend a combination of brainstorming, asking your current clients what they typed in to find you and an online keyword research tool called SEMrush.  You can use the free version to find the information that you need.

Take thirty minutes and brainstorm the keywords that you think your ideal clients would type into Google or Bing.  When this is done, send an email to a few of your best clients and ask what they would type in to find you.  It’s always great to get into their minds.

As an example, one of our clients is a personal injury firm in Greensburg, PA.  Their brainstorming list included the following:

  • Personal injury law firm in Greensburg PA
  • Personal injury attorneys Westmoreland County
  • Greensburg Personal Injury Attorneys
  • Personal Injury Attorneys

However, when they asked a few of their clients what they typed in Google to find them, they received a slightly different list:

  • Personal injury lawyer
  • Personal injury lawyer near me
  • Personal injury lawyer Greensburg
  • Greensburg lawyer personal injury

They found out that while they were calling themselves attorneys on their website, more of their clients were typing in lawyer!  They also discovered that none of their clients even thought to use the county that they were located in.

Want to know what keywords you are currently ranking for as well?  Be sure to add them to your list!  IFTS can send you a free report with that information.  Enter your information below.  You should receive your report within 10-15 minutes.

Once you have your list, you are ready to use SEMrush!  This tool will help you figure out what the most popular phrases are on your list.

First, sign up for your free account here: https://www.semrush.com/signup/?src=header

Then, after you have created your account and are signed in, you are ready to start using this tool.  Enter the first keyword phrase from your list into the search bar.

In this example, we will use the phrase “Personal injury lawyer Greensburg”.  The following results are returned to us:

This tells us that the number of times that this phrase is searched monthly on Google in the United States is 30 times (the VOLUME).  The keyword difficulty (or how hard it is to rank organically for this phrase) is 54%.  Anything under 60% is normally a great keyword to rank for quickly.

The other important results to look at are the “Keyword Variations” and the “Related Keywords”.  The keyword variations will show you common variations on your searched phrase.  The related keywords list shows you phrases similar to the one that you searched.  This is a great way to find phrases that you may not have thought about.

Repeat this process with all of your keywords from your list.  If the “Related Keywords” list has any good suggestions, add them to your list as well.  We recommend creating a spreadsheet that looks like the one below:

Once you have the data for your whole list, go through and highlight the keywords that are searched often and have a lower keyword difficulty.  These will be perfect keywords to target across your online presence.

Keep this list for the rest of the steps in this process.  It is the basis of everything else!

STEP 2 – Incorporate Popular Keywords and Locations into Your Page Titles and Headers

Now that you have your list of popular keyword phrases, you will need to use them in your website.  You will want to choose one or two keyword phrases to be the main focus for each page of your website.

The first important place to use keywords is your page title. The page title is the text in the browser tab.  It is also the text that shows as the title in the Google search results.

A good rule of thumb for a page title is to use the following convention:

“Keyword 1 – keyword 2 | Name_of_Company Location_of_Company”

So, for our example, a good homepage title for our law firm may be “Personal Injury Lawyers – Accident Attorneys | Law Firm Name Greensburg, PA”.  This lets Google know exactly what your page is about and who your company is.

Create new page titles for each page of your website.  In WordPress, you can do this using the Yoast plugin.  If your website is in SquareSpace, you can change this in the general page settings.  If you have a website developer, just let them know the text that you want to use.

After you have changed your page titles, you will want to be sure that each page of your website has one <h1> header on it and that it contains one of your important keywords in it.  This header is the most important and it is another sign to Google that tells them what your page is about.

 

Week Two – Quickly Improve Your Google Local Presence

STEP 3 – Perfect Your Google My Business Profile

If your business depends on people finding you locally, your Google My Business profile is a great advertisement.  If you have not claimed your business profile yet, go through that process described here by Google: https://support.google.com/business/answer/2911778?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en

Once your profile is claimed, there are 11 things to complete to make sure that your profile is optimized.  We have listed them below in an easy to use checklist:

For more in depth information on filling out your profile, check out this article: https://blog.iftsdesign.com/introducing-google-my-business/

STEP 4 – Get More Reviews (and Answer Them)

When Google is deciding whose business to show in the Google Local area (also known as the map pack or 3 pack), they look at a multitude of factors.  One main factor is the proximity of the person to your business location.  Unfortunately, you can’t do anything to affect this.  Another factor that Google will look at is the number of reviews and your overall rating, which is where you can shine!

Google’s number one priority is to be helpful to their end user (the searcher).  So, they want to show people the best option for their query.  It is up to you to prove that you are that option!

Create a system for requesting reviews from your satisfied clients.  If you have one-time clients, ask them for a review via email or text at the end of their purchase cycle.  This also gives you an opportunity to have one last touch point.

If you have clients that have a renewal cycle, ask them for a review at the end of that process.  This is a nice way to end the renewal and get you credit for doing a great job!

A common objection that we hear is that people don’t know what to say.  Make it easy on your clients! Send them an email with a direct link to leave a review on Google as well as a suggested list of questions to answer for the review.  This also allows you to “sneak” keywords into your questions…and hopefully, they will repeat those keywords in their answers!

The most important thing to remember about reviews – when you receive a review, reply to it!

This works in a positive manner for your business in multiple ways.  First of all, the person that left the review feels appreciated because you took the time to thank them.  Prospects who are looking at your profile will see that you read/reply reviews and care about your clients.  Finally, it helps with your local SEO because you and your clients are using keywords and phrases in the review and reply.

Need help getting more reviews?  Check out our article on “10 Proven Ways to Get More Online Reviews for Your Business.”

Week Three – Make Posting to Social Media A Breeze

It’s hard to have a consistent social media presence without a plan and the right tools to do it!  Week 3 is where this is addressed.  You should be able to spend less than 4 hours per month to create and post all of your content!

STEP 5 – Sign up for a OneUpApp Account

There are multiple social media scheduling apps available.  The one that we recommend is OneUpApp.  One of the main reasons is because it connects and posts to LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and most importantly, Google My Business.

Google has said that starting in 2021, they will be looking to see who is utilizing their GMB profile updates.  These updates will start to be shown on Google Maps.  So, if you have recent, consistent updates, your profile is sure to stand out!

To sign up for an account, go here: https://www.oneupapp.io/register

There is a small cost associated with OneUpApp, but because it connects to all of the profiles that you need, it’s worth it!  Most free scheduling apps do not connect to Google My Business.

Take a few minutes and connect your social media profiles to finish the account set up. You will now be able to schedule posts to all of your social media accounts at one time!  This will save you a huge amount of time and make your business look professional while doing so.

STEP 6 – Create a Schedule for the First Half of the Year (and repeat for the second half) 

Now that your social media scheduler is set up, you need to create some content to post.  To create this content, start with another list.

Write down every question that you receive from your clients on a regular basis.  Most companies can come up with at least 10 or 20.  Make sure to include questions, even if you think that the answer is obvious because it may not be obvious to your client.

Aim for 24 questions, which allows you to address one question every week for 6 months.

Why questions, you may ask?  As we mentioned before, Google wants to be as helpful as possible for their end users.  They want to answer their questions, which is what your content will be doing.

Can’t think of 24 questions?  Again, we will turn to SEMrush and your keyword list!

Let’s use the term “Personal Injury Attorneys” as an example.  The results for the term are below:

Look at the section titled “Questions”.  This gives you frequently searched phrases that pertain to your keyword phrase.  So, one question that an attorney should put on their list is:

“Is it worth hiring a personal injury attorney?”

Once you have your list of 24 questions, put them in an order that makes sense.  Typically, I suggest putting them into main categories if possible and addressing one main category per month.

As an example, let’s say that the personal injury firm mainly handles cases that revolve around auto accidents, medical device defects, trucking accidents and workplace injuries.  These would be great main categories and each one could have 6 questions associated with it.

Assign a week to each question in your list.

There are 2 ways to create the actual content itself.  The one that you pick depends on your personality.

Option 1 – Write down the answer to the question.  Then, once you have your answer written, record yourself reading the answer as a video.

Option 2 – Record yourself answering the question in video format.  Try to keep your answers within 60 seconds.  Then, use a free transcription service like otter.ai to create the text.

Once you have the text, post it to your blog and schedule it to release the Monday of the week that it is assigned.  Make sure that the page title contains the main keyword in the question.  Be sure that your <h1> is the question itself.

Next, edit the video if you want.  There are multiple video editing software apps out there that make editing a breeze.  

Upload the finished product to YouTube and schedule it to release the Tuesday of the week that it is assigned.  Again, be sure to make the title of the video the question itself.  The description should have the question repeated in it plus a small summary of the answer.  Bonus points if you have incorporated keywords into your answer!

Now, here is a posting schedule to get a week’s worth of content from one question:

Monday: Post the link to your blog

Tuesday: Post the link to the YouTube video

Wednesday: Pull out one helpful sentence from the text and create a quick “quote” post.  This can be done using the free version of Canva in less than 2 minutes.

Thursday: Post an additional fact that goes along with the question.  You can do this with plain text or you can create another “quote” post. 

Friday: Post a link to the video from the week before with the label “In case you missed it” (Obviously, this cannot be done the first week, but it works for every other week)

You get bonus points for using hashtags!

Once you know what you want to post, sign into OneUpApp and schedule the posts.  To learn how to schedule posts, check out their video here: https://www.oneupapp.io

I’d recommend scheduling at least one month at a time.  This way, you can take a small amount of time from your day and get all of your social media for the month done in less than 2 hours!

Once you get through the first 6 months, you can just repeat your content. The average life of an online post is less than one month, so don’t worry about people seeing repeats.  I promise, they will not remember.

Week Four – Take Advantage of Offsite SEO Opportunities

 

STEP 7 – Optimize (and Create if Needed) Your YouTube Channel

If you don’t already have a YouTube channel, you are missing out on a traffic opportunity.  YouTube is the second most popular search engine and it’s owned by Google!

Create your YouTube channel for your business if it doesn’t exist already.  Need help with this task?  Follow these instructions from YouTube: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/1646861?hl=en

Once you have signed in, you can start optimizing your company’s channel!  Try using the following tricks:

  1. If you can, use a keyword in your channel’s name.  This can help your channel show up for organic searches.  For example, an easy way to do this for a law firm would be to name the channel “[COMPANY NAME] – Your Personal Injury Law Firm in Greensburg, PA”.
  2. Make sure to completely fill out the “About Us” section.  Be sure to include relevant keywords.
  3. Include a link back to your website.  If people want to learn more about your company, make it easy for them to do so.  It also helps with your SEO rankings.
  4. Fill out your channel keyword tags.  This tells the search engines what your channel is about and who you are.
  5. Create a “trailer” video for your channel, if one does not already exist.  Typically, this should be a 30-60 video that introduces you, your business and lets people know what they should expect to learn about in your videos.  
  6. People typically decide whether to watch a video within the first 15 seconds, so make that time count!  Try to grab your audience’s attention with a big motion, a relevant prop or a question that makes them say “I want to learn more about that!”  Bonus points if you can include a major keyword phrase in this time as well.
  7. Do you have videos that would group well together?  Create a playlist with them and send your viewers on a journey through your material.  Try to create at least 2 playlists.

STEP 8 – Check Out Your Current Backlinks (and Create a Plan to Get More)

A backlink is a link from another website to your own site.  Most businesses will have backlinks from a multitude of places, such as:

  • Local chamber of commerce
  • BBB
  • Social Media Profiles
  • Local News Story
  • Company that you collaborated with
  • etc

One major factor that Google looks at when it comes to deciding who shows up first in search results is the number of backlinks that a page has.  Now, when the Google algorithm was first invented, it would only look at the volume of links.  This paved the way for link farms and other dishonest means of creating backlinks.  However, this is no longer the case.

Google now looks at the number of links that you have along with the authority score of those sites.  Authority score is basically a measure of trustworthiness.  So, more links is not necessarily a good thing.  They have to be links from a reputable source.

To see the backlinks that you currently have, go back to SEMrush.  Enter your domain name into the search.

The results will show you the number of backlinks that you have as well as the number of referring domains.  The referring domains are the websites that contain links to your website.

In the example below, you can see that there are 498 backlinks from 35 domains.

If you click on the backlink number, it will show you some of the links and referring domains.  With a paid plan, you can actually see all of the links and the referring domains.

Now that you have your baseline, you are ready to start building links.

One way to build links is to make sure that you are in all of the top local business directories.  IFTS offers a list of the top 25 places to get a free business citation here: https://blog.iftsdesign.com/local-citation-pdf/

Another way to build links is to look at your competitors.  Make a list of your top ten competitors and enter their domains into SEMrush.  How many backlinks do they have?  You should have a goal to have more backlinks than them.

You can also look to see who is linking to them by clicking on their backlink number.  Check out the referring domains.  Go down the list and look at each backlink.  Is it a niche directory that you hadn’t heard of?  Submit your listing there.  Is it a local business group?  Enter your name as well.  Is it an organization that accepts articles from people in your area?  Send them a link to yours!

Backlink building is tough and requires you to stay on top of the task.  Choose a ten minute time period each week and start working on this.  Aim to gain 1-3 new backlinks per month.

Congratulations!  You Made It Through All 8 Tasks!

This is just the beginning, but by jumpstarting January 2021, you’ll be setting yourself and your business up for success in the new year.

Have any questions or need help with any of the tasks listed above?  Send me (Stacey Ivol) an email at si@iftsdesign.com or give IFTS, Inc. a call 412.715.6266 for a FREE consultation.




Is Your Business’s Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) Consistent Across the Web?

Think about the many places your business’s contact information is displayed on the internet. Is the name, address, and phone number consistent with spelling and capitalization everywhere? 

Now that it’s on your mind – It’s a great time to double check on this information if you are looking to improve your search ranking and drive local traffic to your site.

Using this guide, we will cover:

  • What is NAP?
  • How to optimize your NAP across the web
  • How NAP consistently impacts SEO
  • What is the difference between a citation and a directory?
    • Free download: Top 25 local citation sites

What is NAP?

NAP stands for name, address, phone number; referring to the business name, address and phone number that you use on all sites that you appear. Local SEO depends on your NAP being consistent across the web. This means that your business name, address, and phone number are listed and spelled the same exact way everywhere they are found on the internet. 

From your own website to each of your social media profiles, directory listings, other websites, and even business cards, this information needs to be EXACTLY THE SAME across the board.

NAP consistency is a foundational local SEO strategy, but many people may see this as a daunting task. If your citations across the web are inconsistent, or if you don’t have any at all, this is the first place you should start.

How consistent does NAP need to be?

Search engines focus heavily on details. Consistent listings will include your basic information, but they need to have the same spelling, formatting, and punctuation.

When checking the consistency of NAP, keep these points in mind:

The company’s full name

  • Make sure that you use the full name of your business (no abbreviations) and that the capitalization remains consistent. Example: “Big Shot Berry’s House of Wings” in one citation should not be represented as “BSB house of wings” in another.

The address

  • Is the address correct in all places that it appears? Are there any abbreviations? For example, if the address is 1234 Star Street, make sure that you stay consistent with using either “Street” or “St.”

The phone number

  • Is the business’s phone number correct in each place that it appears? When it comes to the phone number being consistent, make note of the punctuation used. For example, your phone number may be shown as (123) 456-7890 in one spot and 123.456.7890 in another spot. Choose one option and make it the same across the board. Consistency matters even down to the parentheses. 

QUICK TIP: Don’t forget about your business cards! Although this will not factor into your SEO strategy, the consistency still matters! You want to be sure that these have the correct information on them if they are being handed out.

How NAP consistency impacts SEO

Consistency with NAP is crucial for any business that wants to rank highly in local search results. This will allow search engines to understand a little more about your business, what you do, and how users can find your information on the internet to reach you.

In a way, search engines and users think alike. Inconsistency causes confusion on both ends. Businesses listed as multiple names, with different addresses and inconsistent phone numbers is bound to leave everyone feeling a bit confused, not to mention, lessen your ranking.

Conflicting information will lead search engines to be uncertain about what your business is or where it is located. They will not lead their users to a listing that they are not confident about.

The same goes for leads – they will also turn to other businesses who have consistent information because they will have more confidence in that listing and feel that they can trust that business.

If you want to rank higher and show up in search results for keywords that are relevant to your business, checking over your company’s NAP consistency needs to be your starting point.

What is the difference between a citation and a directory?

Citations are references that include information about your company’s name, address, and phone number on local directories, review sites and business listings. Any time a business is mentioned on the internet and contact information is shown is considered a local citation.

Something to keep in mind: every directory listing is a citation, but not every citation is a directory listing.

Do citations have to link back to your site to be relevant?

Citations don’t necessarily have to link back to your site to send positive signals to the search engines about your business. By having consistent data across your business listings, this is a signal in itself to Google that your business is authentic.

What if I don’t have citations? Where should I start?

Google My Business  

If you have not yet claimed or created a Google my business profile, let this be your first step. We have an entire guide on creating a Google my business profile that will help walk you through setting this up. Being present on Google my business will link your business to a local audience and ultimately provide the best SEO benefits of any directory.

Facebook

Today, Facebook is an important part of local marketing strategies. Some leads may not bother to check out your business on Google but will still see what you have to offer on social media. Creating a Facebook page is a great way to open more opportunities for your business.

Apple Maps Connect

On every Apple device, Apple Maps is the default map app. This is similar to Google My Business, but specific to Apple. When you search locally on an iPhone or iPad, you will be connected to businesses via Apple Maps.

These are the top 3 directory sources, but we have created a list of the Top 25 Local Citation Sites!  Download and use it to build a presence on highly ranked local citation sites and directories. This list of the top 25 local citation sites will help you build a solid foundation for your local SEO strategy.

Go here and claim your copy today: https://blog.iftsdesign.com/local-citation-pdf/

How to do Keyword Research to Improve Your SEO

Keyword research is the core of digital marketing. This SEO strategy should be performed regularly in order to stay in touch with your audience as they grow and evolve. 

The goal of YOUR research is to find out what words or phrases your target audience is searching for, so you know what it will take to rank on search engines for those specific terms.

If you don’t know what keywords you should be targeting for your business – how are you going to optimize your website and create content to best serve your client?

In this guide, we will cover:

  • What are keywords?
  • What is keyword research and why is it important?
  • How to conduct keyword research using SEMrush
  • How to use that keyword research to get more clients (with some BONUS TIPS)

What is a keyword?

Keywords, also known as search terms or search queries, are the words and phrases that searchers use to perform a search in a search engine (like Google or Bing). Keywords are extremely important in an SEO strategy and should be the backbone of any written content you release on the web.

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is an SEO strategy that is used to find specific terms that users enter into search engines to find products, services, and information.  More importantly, keyword research helps you figure out how people find you. Using this knowledge, you’ll know exactly what to write about on your website and blog for your target audience. 

In order to get traffic from Google, performing keyword research to understand the words and phrases used by searchers is essential. Google uses this information to determine what content is relevant to a search term, and how that page should rank in search.

Proper keyword research will help you:

  • Understand your audience
  • Reach your audience
  • Find new hot topics to cover
  • Improve ad campaigns
  • Build brand awareness

Why is keyword research important?

Do you ever wish that you could read the mind of your perfect client? With a little bit of keyword research, you CAN jump into their mind to figure out the exact words and phrases they are using to search for results that relate to your business. 

Who wants to waste time creating content on topics that aren’t being searched for? 

Keyword research can help you answer the following questions:

  • How difficult is it to rank for this keyword?
  • How much traffic will I receive if I rank for this keyword?
  • What keywords are my competitors ranking for?

How to do keyword research

Keyword research consists of collecting relevant variations of all keywords that relate to your website, products, services, etc.

We are going to walk you through researching keywords using SEMrush. This is an amazing tool that is used to improve online visibility and discover marketing insights.

Step 1: Build your keyword list

Let’s build a list of keywords for ABC painting company. To begin, we will start by searching for a general keyword relating to this business. In the image above, you can see that we searched for “professional painter” in the keyword overview section of SEMrush. 

Keyword overview gives you a quick analysis of your keywords.  You can see a summary of metrics for each keyword such as number of results on a search engine results page, monthly search volume, average cost per click in Google Ads, paid search competition, and more.

You can create your master keyword list using the keyword magic tool. Starting with our seed keyword, professional painter, we are now able to see lists of keyword variations and related keywords. 

You don’t have to stop here; continue to search for other seed keywords if you would like to keep growing your list. When researching keywords, be sure to also search for location specific keywords. For example, “professional painter pittsburgh” or “Pittsburgh painting company”.

The photo above shows the list of keyword variations for “professional painter”. Although the results show thousands of keywords, this does not mean that they will all be relevant for you. After your initial list has been built, it will need to be trimmed down to just the terms that are truly relevant to the site you are researching.

Step 2: Analyzing your keyword list

Having a list of thousands of keywords is all good and well but how do you know which ones are the best to use? SEO keyword metrics can be used to narrow your master list down and find the best of the best.

Export the data from SEMrush and make note of the columns boxed in red – these are the categories that you want to look at. These are the keyword metrics that will help you narrow your list and find the best keywords to use.

Search Volume

Search volume shows you the number of monthly searches for a particular keyword over the previous 12 months.

Keyword difficulty (KD%)

The keyword difficulty index (from 1 to 100%) shows you how difficult it would be to outrank your competitors in the Google organic top 20 for a given keyword. The higher the percentage, the harder it will be to achieve high rankings for each targeted keyword.

Cost per click (CPC $)

Average price in USD that advertisers pay when a user clicks on an ad triggered by a given keyword.

Competitive density (Com.)

The level of competition between advertisers bidding on a given keyword within their PPC campaigns. Competitive Density is shown on a scale from 0 to 1.00 with 1.00 being the most difficult to rank for.

Now that you have formed a list using what you think that people search for, it’s time to confirm your suspicions by researching your competitors.

Competitor-based keyword research

Competitor keyword research uses seed websites instead of seed keywords to begin searching. This approach can be used in conjunction with traditional keyword research.

Discover organic competitors

Using organic search, you are able to find who Google believes your competitors are.  You can also see what keywords they are ranking for. 

Even if you think you know who your competitors are, it is still a good idea to check it out with this tool.  One important note, if you don’t see any of the competitors that you expect on this list, there is a good chance that your website is not optimized for the right keywords.

Navigate to the organic search tab on the left side menu and enter your domain in the search bar. Click on the competitors tab to reveal the table of domains that you are in competition with.

Here is a list of your competitors that can be used as your seed domains. They are sorted by competition level showing how close of a competitor they are to the one that was entered in the search bar. This metric is based on the total number of keywords of each competitor and the number of common keywords between the competitors.

How to get your competitors keywords

Under the positions report of the Organic research for the seed domain, you can find all of the keywords that a domain is ranked for.

Each keyword that a domain ranks for is shown in this list and is accompanied by a link to that corresponding landing page along with metrics to help further your research. So, for each of your competitors, type their URL into the search bar under “organic research” and you will have access to all of the keywords they are ranking for.

Between using a seed keyword and your competitors’ keywords, this method should help you create a list of keywords relevant to your business.  

What Should I Do With a Keyword List?

Taking the time to create this list can help your business in multiple ways, but the ultimate goal is always to get more clients.

So how do you use this list?

Write Relevant Blogs for Your Clients

You can use the list to write blogs or articles about the things that your target market are searching for.  SEMrush will also give you FAQs about the keywords your search.  Pick a few of these questions that are focused on a keyword and answer them.

BONUS TIP – You can also turn that blog into a script for a video that you can post on YouTube.

Improve Your Onsite SEO

You can use the list to improve the onsite SEO of your website.  Make sure that common keywords and phrases are found in your website headers, page titles and more.

BONUS TIP – Include keywords when you are naming images.  This is one trick that people do not typically take advantage of.

Improve the SEO of Your Social Media Profiles

Use the list that you create to craft the perfect message in your social media profiles.  By using words and phrases that they are using frequently, they will feel like you are talking to them and that you understand them.

Create Google Ads that Perform Well

Keyword research is critical when it comes to creating Google Ads and not spending a fortune.  Be sure to figure out what people are searching for when it comes to your business so you don’t waste your time and budget by showing ads to people searching the wrong thing.

Questions about keywords?  Need help doing with your keyword research?  Contact IFTS today and ask about our keyword research package!  We do the keyword research for you and set you up with a content plan for the next 365 days!

On-page SEO Techniques that will Help Boost your Search Ranking

On-page SEO specifically focuses on web page and content optimization. The factors associated with this all have to do with the elements of your own website, which you can change and improve over time.

The 2 main factors to look at when you want to optimize your on-page SEO are: 

  1. CONTENT on your site
  2. HTML SOURCE CODE of a page

The goal of on-page SEO is to make it easier for both search engines and users to:

  • Understand what is being presented on a web page
  • Relate that page to a particular search query (or keyword phrase)
  • Find that page useful and worthy of ranking in a top position on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page)

Ready to improve your search ranking? In this blog post, we will review five on-page SEO factors and explain techniques for optimizing those specific areas.

How to Optimize Your Page’s Title Tag

What is it?

The most important of all tags on your page is the title tag. The title tag outlines what the page is about; it is the clickable headline users see on the search engine results pages, and also the words that appear at the top of each tab in your browser.

arrow pointing to title tag on SERP

Why is it important?

You are helping your website rank better just by having heading tags on your web pages. Having heading tags alone won’t do the trick to get you to the #1 position. By having heading tags optimized specifically to the content on that page will work in conjunction with the other optimizable elements of your site

Techniques to optimize your heading tags

Adding keywords to your heading tags is a great technique to use when trying to outrank your competition. Be sure to only use keywords that are relevant to the content within the page.

Another suggestion is to add keywords that are synonyms of the main keyword in lesser headings.  So, if the main keyword phrase that you are targeting is “Finding a Pittsburgh Attorney”, a good synonym phrase to use in an h2 or h3 header would be “Working with Lawyers in Western PA” or something similar.

How to Optimize your Image Names & ALT Tags

What is the image name and alt tag?

Image optimization is often overlooked when it comes to SEO. For search engines to understand your photos, they too need to be optimized. 

Image name is simply just the name of the image file. For example, the original name of an image of a woman at a fitness center may be “img74635.jpg.” This can be renamed with a more descriptive title such as “woman-running-on-treadmill-at-planet-fitness.jpg.” Using hyphens when naming your images makes it easier for search engines to individually read each word.

Alt tags or alternative text are not only used to help search engines accurately index your images, but they can be used to help provide context for visually impaired users too.  This can aid in your page’s ADA compliance. Alt tags can include more detail than the image name, but it is best to keep it between 10-15 words.

To create an alt tag, you add an “alt” description to the image’s html code.  For example, the html code for an image may look like this:

<img src=”~/images/2020-Library-In-Pittsburgh.png”/>

When you add an alt tag, it will look like this:

<img src=”~/images/2020-Library-In-Pittsburgh-PA.png” alt=”Visit our downtown library in Pittsburgh, PA”/>

To create an alt tag in WordPress, you need to click on your “Media Library” and select an image.  This will open the image properties on the right-hand side of your screen.  In the example below, we show the image properties for a lapping compound called “LINDE-A”.

Media library in wordpress

To add your alt text, click into the “Alternative Text” box and add a description that would benefit a person if they could not see your image.  This also gives you a chance to use a keyword phrase for your SEO.  

To finish on our example, we have now added an easy to understand description that would benefit anyone that could not see the image, but also uses the keyword phrase “lapping compound”:

wordpress media library showing alternative text example

Why are they important?

Choosing the right name for your image is extremely important for your page’s SEO. When using images on your website, make sure to include your most important keyword in the image name or ALT tag. This is such a great way to help search engines better index your images and they can even appear when users search for images with that certain keyword.

Techniques to optimize your image names and alt tags

Describe the images as specifically as possible while using relative keywords. The more specific you can be, the better chance you have of that image ranking highly. Keep in mind that it won’t be beneficial to use the same keyword for every image on your page. Write unique text that is specific to the contents of each individual image.

How to Optimize Internal Links

What are internal links?

A great way to help search engines learn a lot more about your site is by building internal links to other content on your website. An internal link is a link from one page to another page on the same domain.

a link from one page to another page on the same domain
The content in one blog post links to another blog post on the same domain.

Why are they important?

Internal linking allows users to easily navigate a website and help spread ranking power. Search engines use these links to navigate your website which is important because they will not find a page if there are no links to it. 

They also help describe to the search engine bots how your site is organized.  If you think of your website as a spider web, these are the inner strings that connect related topics.

Techniques to optimize your internal linking

Make sure that all of the most important pages on your site are linked. Search engines heavily rely on sitemaps and internal links to discover web pages.  Another good rule of thumb is to include breadcrumbs on your site.

example of breadcrumbs on IFTS website

Set up an internal linking strategy and determine a structure for your website. Imagine your site as a pyramid with your homepage on top, sections or categories in the middle and individual posts and pages on the bottom. Having the ability to reach each page on your site within 3 clicks of the homepage is considered a good internal linking practice.

Want to Keep learning about SEO?  Check out these other helpful resources