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.

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/

Why Should Online Reputation Matter to a Small Business?

Small businesses (especially those with local brick and mortar locations) seem to underestimate the importance of having a positive online reputation.  Without national or international customers, you may ask – “What’s the big deal?”

The big deal is that 82% of searches done online are followed up with an in-store visit!

It is very clear that local consumers are utilizing the internet to research businesses close to them.  The real question is, “What is the internet telling them about you?”

Any business that is not taking this seriously risks losing business…to your neighbors that position themselves online well (even if their product isn’t better than yours)! 

Just How Important Is It to Create a Positive Web Presence?

When looking for great service or a great price, local consumers turn to their phones and tablets.  With just a few clicks, they are able to peruse Google, Bing, social media, other review websites and forums for businesses that have exactly what they are looking for.  

Your company may have an amazing product at an unbeatable price with the world’s best customer service, but if your online presence does not reflect this and you have negative social signals, you will have a very hard time convincing new customers to trust you…and pay for your product.

Many people are using word of mouth on social media, online reviews and company content to make informed buying decisions.  In fact, more than 90% of people trust online reviews as much or more than a recommendation from a friend or colleague!

Two important questions to ask yourself when it comes to your online presence are:

  • When your ideal client searches for your product (or service) near your location, do you show in the search results or the maps results?  
  • If so, does he or she see a professional online face to the world with glowing reviews?  

If you answered “No” to either of the previous questions, the chances are that you just lost a great customer.

What are the Benefits of Online Reputation Management?

You need to have a positive web presence for the survival of your business.  It can help:

  • Establish your credibility with positive testimonials
  • Give you an edge over your competition
  • Build trust with current and future clients

Position your company as the first and best choice for your ideal clients.  When they are researching, you need to be the obvious decision.

A well-positioned online reputation is also your best sales person, working for you 24/7/365, especially to those people in your community searching for your specific offering.

Finally, having good reputation management can help you rank higher organically in search engine results, which will expose your business to more customers.  Good reviews that mention where you are, what you do and your company name will help tell Google a bit more about your offerings.

How Can a Small Business Build a Positive Online Reputation?

Your website, print advertisements and social media posts are not the only things that make up your web presence.  It is a much wider net than most realize.  Your online reputation does include those things, but it also is made up of reviews from various review sites, comments on your website or blog, “complaint forum” threads, “Top 10” lists that your company may have made, photos tagged with you or your business and much more.  Anywhere that you (or your business) is mentioned, tagged, linked to online – that is all part of your online presence.

Managing all of this seems like it could be akin to “herding cats”, but there are a few impactful steps that you can concentrate on to start.  This will help ensure the future success of your company.

Step 1 – Monitor Your Online Reputation

The first step to taking control of your online reputation is to monitor it daily.  You can handle this yourself or you can outsource this activity, but it is very important that someone is watching.

You need to make sure that you know exactly what your ideal client is looking at online about you.  If you find any negative information, be sure to remedy that quickly.  With so many products and services available to today’s consumer, there is no reason for him or her to trust you (or buy from you) if there is negative information readily available about your business.

Step 2 – Acquire Positive Reviews and Mitigate Negative Reviews

Online reviews are one of the major factors when it comes to your online reputation.  Remember, 90%+ of people trust online reviews as much as or more than a friend or colleague.  This is why there are more important than any content that you could create.

How many times have you seen a company with multiple one-star reviews and decide to buy from them anyway?  I would bet on a very small amount.

Be sure to create an automated system for monitoring, soliciting and responding to reviews that you receive.

If you happen to receive a negative review, it is imperative that you respond to it quickly and with a level head.  Remember, your response is for your future clients and not the person that left the bad review.  Be sure to apologize that they had a negative experience and offer to talk about their issue offline.  This way, people can learn something positive about your company (that you care about your customers) from a negative review.

Step 3 – Get on Social Media

Where do your clients hang out online?  Are they on Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? LinkedIn?

Do a little research and find out where they are most likely to be active.  Then, concentrate on those social networks and build your profile to be attractive to your ideal client.  Be sure to completely fill in the profile and include photos and videos to keep it engaging.

By keeping your social media simple, it will help you avoid overwhelm and really concentrate on activities that will give you the best ROI.  Create a schedule for posting regularly and use a tool that helps you automate the process.  This allows you to use social media for your business, but cut the time that it takes in half.

Leveraging Your Online Reputation

You’ve worked hard on your business over the years to build up your name!  Don’t jeopardize that fact by neglecting to build and monitor a positive online presence.

Overwhelmed or unsure where to start?  Contact IFTS to learn more about our online reputation management program and steps you can take to better position your business.

7 Facts You Need To Know About SEO

When it comes to SEO, there are many factors that determine the way your website is indexed and ranked by the search engines. That in mind, it’s obvious that by focusing on the right SEO techniques, you can maximize your marketing efforts and grow your business into a success.

But other than improving your visibility on the search engines, what else does SEO offer? 

Here are 7 facts you should know about SEO and why it’s so important for businesses when trying to take their brand to the next level.

1. Most traffic on websites comes from organic search

Organic search is currently the main source of traffic for websites. While you can direct targeted traffic to your website through paid ads or a social media marketing campaign, being visible on the search engines is always going to work in your favor. With organic search engine optimization (as opposed to pay-per-click ads) people will more easily find your website on search engines while they are looking for a product or service you provide. Making it more likely that they will convert from visitor to customer. No one searches for a product or service that they don’t want, so they’re already in the mood to buy. You just have to stand out among the competition. Additionally, when you rank on the front page of a search engine, you are showing potential consumers the legitimacy of your products or services because of your high ranking.

2. SEO is the best long term strategy to market your business

Results don’t happen overnight – organic search engine optimization takes time, patience, and consistency. While PPC or retargeting campaigns are great ways to reach your audience and sell more of your products, keep in mind that your ads will stop showing up the very moment you stop paying for them. With search engine optimization, that doesn’t happen. If your website is well optimized using the best SEO practices, it should continue to show up on search engines for months or even years to come. 

3. Good SEO is NOT expensive

Contrary to what many think, SEO is relatively cheap, considering the payoff. If you were reluctant to spend money to optimize your website for search, think of SEO as an investment. The sooner you invest in good SEO implementation, the sooner you’ll gain more visibility on Google and grow your brand for the long haul. 

4. SEO best practices are constantly changing

Did you know that ‘pausing’ an SEO campaign for too long can have a negative effect? While it’s true that SEO is a long term strategy to rank your business, what’s also true is that the search world is always changing. Google alone is known to make often algorithm changes. This means that, if you fall behind, getting back on track may be quite the challenge. 

5. SEO and User Experience are related

Few people realize that today, user experience is a big part of ranking well on search engines. Google already knows what a positive user experience looks like on a website and how to spot a negative one. The better your website is structured, the more likely it will gain more visibility. 

Google and other search engines take hundreds of factors into account when determining which pages rank highly in search engine results pages (SERPs). With that being said, today, elements of user experience have been rolled into SEO best practices. How easy is your site to navigate? Do you have quality content that makes visitors want to stay and engage? Is your site secure, fast and mobile-friendly?

Think of the partnership of SEO and user experience this way: SEO targets search engines and user experience targets your website’s visitors. Both share a common goal of giving users the best experience.

Some common website elements that impact both SEO and user experience are:

-headings

-easy navigation and site structure

-site speed

-mobile experience

6. Great rankings influence conversions

Customers today do a lot of research before buying something – whether it’s a product or a service. This is a big advantage! Not only does good SEO help you rank well in Google, but it allows you to send a positive message about your offer. Using this SEO best practice to outrank your competition will definitely have a positive effect on your conversions.

7. If you’re not on Page 1, you’re losing business

Obviously, if you’re not #1, someone else is! And that means you’re losing business… If you need assistance in improving your SEO, contact us at IFTS and we will help get you on the road to page number 1!

How To Get More Clients Using Facebook

The best social media platform by far that all small business owners should be on is Facebook. With over 2.6 billion monthly users, this social network absolutely dominates the online space. According to a study done by Pew Research Center, 74% of Facebook users visit the site every day, which is more than any other social network. Finding success with using Facebook to market your business isn’t hard, but it does take some time to figure out how to best utilize the platform to engage with your customers and drive more leads.

Running your own business can be very stressful on it’s own, but finding ways to get new clients and keep them coming in can be one of the greatest challenges. In this post, we will be sharing a few strategies that will help you get more clients through Facebook.

1. Create a Facebook page for your small business

It’s totally free to create a Facebook page for your business and it only takes a few minutes! Complete these 3 easy steps so you can begin to reel in leads and make sales!

2. What should I post on my business Facebook page?

Now that you have your page set up, what should you post about? Don’t be afraid to switch up your strategy and share different versions of written and visual content such as:

  • Tips and tricks
  • Blog posts you have written or from other relevant websites
  • Engage with other facebook pages and share their posts
  • Ask questions to engage in conversation
  • Share photos or videos that your audience would benefit from
  • People love to see what happens behind the scenes! Show them “a day in the life” or what it looks like when packing orders if that suits your business!

3. When should I post on my Facebook page?

Timing your posts depends on your audience and when they spend their time engaging on social media sites. You can post as many times a day as you want, but make sure to be consistent with posting at least one thing every day. The best way to figure out what the best time to post for your business is to test different times with similar content. Consistency with testing is going to accurately measure results so be sure to use the same or very similar content when it comes to testing so that your results are not skewed. If you want more information on specific times to post that may work for you, check out our Best Time to Post on Social Media blog. Here, we go into more detail on experimenting with your social channels to find the perfect time to engage with your audience and how to get started on the right foot!

4. I don’t have much time to post on Facebook!

I know what you’re thinking; posting on Facebook one to three times a day can sound overwhelming.. Especially if Facebook is not the only social platform you are active on! This is where a social media management tool comes in handy to take care of posting for you. With a tool like Hootsuite or Sprout Social to name a few, you can schedule all of your posts in advance, saving you time to spend on other areas of your business. Check out our previous post where we go into detail about the top 3 social media management tools to help manage all of your pages and profiles in one place!

5. Use Facebook Ads!!

Facebook offers paid placement ads on their website and mobile apps where your content, special offers, website and posts can get in front of customers with a few clicks. What’s even better is you can target your ads to a very specific demographic. Now you may be wondering how much it costs to run facebook ads. The answer to this question depends on your budget and your goals but you can allocate as little or as much as you want per day. Although Facebook ads can reach a mass group of users, don’t put your entire marketing budget behind Facebook ads. Test with a small budget and scale up from there as you find out what works best for your business.

6. Actively participate in Facebook groups

Join facebook groups where you feel that your ideal client might be present. For example, if you are a graphic designer, you might want to join groups that include bloggers or small business owners as these are people who could benefit from your services. Now, you don’t want to come off as spammy or self promoting right off the bat, so what you can do is just be outrageously helpful when people ask questions in the group. Group members will take note of your expertise and hopefully check out your profile that should be linked to your business’s Facebook page. This technique does require some time and effort, but is one of the best ways to get leads from Facebook.

These strategies will help you to increase your engagement on facebook and generate leads that will hopefully turn into loyal customers!

How To Define Your Target Audience

Marketing isn’t just the practice of placing ads, rather it’s a method of attracting new business. You have to know exactly who you want to target with your marketing – your target audience will not simply be “everyone”. Your task in defining your target group is to identify and understand your particular niche so you can dominate it. 

The better you understand your target market, the easier you’ll be able to target them with relevant content that will stand out. 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through a few steps that will help you to understand who is already interacting with your business (and competitors) and use that information to develop a clear target group.

What is a target market?

A target market is a specific, defined segment of consumers that a company plans to serve with its products or services. These are the people who are most likely to purchase your products or services and have common characteristics such as demographics and behaviors. Identifying your target market is an essential step in the development of products, services, and the marketing efforts used to promote them.

Market segmentation is the process of dividing a market of potential customers into groups, or segments, based on these different characteristics. The segments created are composed of consumers who will respond similarly to marketing strategies and who share traits such as similar interests, needs, or locations.

There are 4 types of market segmentation:

  1. Geographic segmentation –  involves grouping potential customers by country, state, region, city or even neighborhood.
  2. Demographic segmentation – divides a market through variables such as age, gender, education level, family size, occupation, income, and more.
  3. Psychographic segmentation– focuses on the intrinsic traits your target customer possesses. Psychographic traits can range from values, personalities, interests, attitudes, lifestyles, and opinions.
  4. Behavioral segmentation– focuses on specific reactions and the way customers go through their decision making and buying processes. Attitudes towards your brand, the way they use it, and their knowledge base are all examples of behavioral segmentation.

Marketers can use segmentation to prioritize their target audiences. If segmentation shows that some consumers would be more likely to buy a product than others, marketers can better allocate their attention and resources. The purpose of segmentation is that you are able to introduce a more tailored message that will be received successfully. 

What is a target audience?

A “target audience” is more narrow than a “target market”. It refers specifically to the group of consumers targeted by marketing messaging. A target audience is a group of people that has significant potential to respond positively to a brand message. Your target audience may or may not be the end users of your product, but they are the people you plan to direct your marketing to. 

To communicate effectively with your target audience, you need to understand who they are and what their true needs and desires are. 

How to define your target audience

  1. Know the value of your product/service

When identifying your target audience, it is important to determine the features of your product or service. What needs does your product or service fulfill for a potential customer? How does your product or service differ from others in your industry? Is your product more affordable? Is it more effective? These are some things that need to be taken into account before figuring out who will be on the receiving end of your marketing efforts. Think about those who may be interested and who might benefit from your product or service. These are the people that will make up your target audience.

  1. Get to know your existing audience

When trying to figure out who wants to buy from you, a great first step is to identify who is already using your products or services.

How old are they? Where do they live? What do they do for work? What social networks do they use? Do they scroll through their feeds on a mobile device or the computer? These are all questions that you need to be able to answer about your current customers, and once you understand their characteristics, you can go after more people who fit the same mold.

One way to start is by gathering whatever information you have about your existing customers. Some data points that you may want to consider are:

  • Age: This is one area that doesn’t need to be too specific. Whether your average customer is 23 or 27, it won’t really make that much of a difference. Rather knowing which decade of life your customers are in, or their generation can be much more useful.
  • Stage of life: are your customers college students? Parents of young children or teens? Retirees?
  • Interests: what do your customers like to do? What other businesses do they interact with?
  • Location and time zone: Where in the world do your existing customers live? If you’re based in the PST time zone and have followers in the EST and GMT time zones you might find posting at 8 a.m. PST works best because it hits the workday in both other regions. Understanding where your customers are located geographically is so important when deciding what time you should post to ensure best visibility. 
  • Spending patterns: How much money do your current customers have to spend? How do they approach purchases in your price category?
  1. Check in on Your Competition

Now that you have a better idea of who is already interacting with your business, it’s time to dig a little deeper and see who’s engaging with your competitors. 

Looking into who is interacting with your competition can answer some key questions: are you and your competitors both going after the same market segments? Who are they currently targeting? Are they reaching segments you hadn’t thought to consider? 

You won’t be able to get detailed research about the people interacting with your competitors, but you’ll be able to get a general sense of approach they’re taking and whether that is allowing them to create engagement online.

Define your target market and revise as needed. You shouldn’t think of your target market as set in stone. As you learn more about your customers, how you define your target market will most likely change. So, work to understand who your business serves, and why they should care. 

As your business grows, your target audience may change, and finding this specific group of people should be a continual effort.