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Lily Martis

Total posts: 18
Last post: September 15, 2020

How to Optimize Your Website for Voice Search

How to Optimize Your Website for Voice Search

By Lily Martis on  September 15, 2020

Most of us have heard about and have likely used voice search at some point in our lives, whether it’s to set an alarm, play music, or send a text. As voice recognition technology becomes more accurate and semantic, though, users are beginning to realize the benefits of using voice commands for search. In fact, Google says 20 percent of its mobile queries are voice searches. Below, we explored the rise of the voice search trend and how businesses can best optimize their websites for voice search.

Why Is Voice Search Becoming So Popular?

In our digital world of instant gratification, typing questions can be more strenuous and time-consuming than saying it out loud. A PwC survey found that 71 percent of respondents would rather use a voice assistant to search for something than physically typing their queries.

Some of the main reasons people use voice search, according to SEMrush, include:

  • It is quicker than going on a website or using an app.
  • I can use it while driving or at other times when I can’t interact with my handset.
  • It is more fun than other search methods
  • It is easier than going to a website or app.
  • It is a more accurate way of searching.
  • I don’t like typing on my mobile phone.

What is Voice Search Used For?

Voice search has expanded well beyond asking silly questions or inquiring about the weather. In fact, there are many business benefits to optimizing for voice search. According to a Google survey, people who own voice-activated devices welcome brands as part of the experience. Some of the primary reasons people use voice search is to learn:

  • Information about deals, sales, and promotions
  • Personalized tips and information to make my life easier
  • Information about upcoming events or activities
  • Options to find business information (e.g., store location, hours)
  • Access to customer service or support

Tips for Voice Search Optimization

With the increase of voice assistants, optimizing for voice search will be a critical component to your SEO success. Here are six voice search optimization tactics to consider in your brand’s strategy.

1. Optimize for Long-Tail Keywords

Voice queries tend to be longer and more conversational than the short phrases a user might type into a search bar. The same characteristics should be applied when optimizing for voice search. This is where you’ll want to leverage long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are queries that tend to be very specific and tend to be less competitive than shorter keywords, which can help improve your chances of ranking in the voice search results pages.

Optimizing for long-tail keywords is not only good for voice search, but also for traditional SEO, too. As we saw with Google’s introduction of natural language processing, for example, search engines are only get smarter, and brands can benefit from using natural language on the web. It’s best practice to always write for humans—not bots.

2. Answer Relevant Questions

Think about the way you speak to Siri or Alexa. Do you simply shout, “dog food” and hope for the best? No, you likely phrase your query as a question, such as “Siri, where can I buy dog food?” Or, “Alexa, what is the best dog food brand?”

More often than not, voice queries tend to be in question format, typically beginning with who, when, where, how, or why. For voice search optimization, you’ll want to consider user intent and include answers to common questions throughout the customer journey in your content. For example:

  • Awareness: What is the best dog food brand?
  • Interest: Does [dog food brand] make dog food for puppies?
  • Evaluation: Do dogs like [dog food brand 1] or [dog food brand 2] better?
  • Purchase: Where can I buy [dog food brand]?
  • Customer support: How much [dog food brand] food should I feed my pup?
  • Loyalty: Does [dog food brand] offer coupons for dog food?

To understand the questions you should be answering, you can use a free tool called Answer the Public, which will return a list of common questions around your target keyword.

3. Keep It Short and to the Point

You’ll often find that long-winded answers aren’t the norm for voice assistants, as they tend to keep responses short and concise. Studies from Backlinko show that the average voice search result is only 29 words in length, while SEMrush found most voice search answers to be around 41 words.

This is important to keep in mind as you optimize your content. Write in short, clear sentences, and use filler words like the, to, for, a, and an. Additionally, using lists to break your content into small fragments is another voice search best practice that can also help with your SEO rankings.

4. Add Schema Markup

As part of any SEO strategy, it’s important to make sure your pages are easy for Google to crawl. Creating a sitemap and submitting it to Google Search Console is a great place to start. Taken a step further, using structured data (schema) markup can help search engines and voice assistants better understand your content.

Schema markup creates metadata for your content that adds another layer of information for Google to understand what it is about without being visible to front-end users. Keep in mind, schema markup doesn’t affect your rankings directly, but can certainly help give you a leg up in voice search by explaining the relevance of your content for specific search queries, such as products, places, events, and reviews. Here’s a full list of all the things you can mark up with Schema.

5. Implement Local SEO Tactics

An Internet Trends Report found that 22 percent of people use voice search for finding local information. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise considering voice search is commonly used on mobile devices when people tend to be on-the-go. In fact, “near me” searches have grown more than 130 percent year over year, according to Google.

To optimize for voice search, local businesses should have an updated Google My Business profile with the name, business hours, street address, phone number, and any other relevant information to increase traffic coming from voice. Beyond Google My Business, additional ways you can optimize for local search include creating location-specific pages on your website and adding your region to metadata.

6. Improve Page Speed

As previously mentioned, the primary reason people use voice search is to find answers to their questions as quickly as possible. The same philosophy applies to voice search results. When you ask Google Assistant or Siri a question, you don’t want to wait around for the device to respond. According to Backlinko, page speed can play a major role in voice search optimization, with the average voice search result page loading in 4.6 seconds.

From compressing images to minifying and bundling code and markup, there are many different tactics you can apply to improve your site speed and performance. Implementing these tactics will not only help optimize your site for voice search, but for traditional SEO as well.

Need some help implementing these best practices? When you work with Aztek, our comprehensive SEO services include developing a tailored strategy to help you gain exposure and generate business results on desktops, voice search, and wherever else your audience engages with your brand. Contact us today to start a conversation.

A Primer on Site Speed and Performance

A Primer on Site Speed and Performance

By Lily Martis on  August 4, 2020

Website speed is an important factor when considering the design, functionality, performance, and search engine optimization (SEO) implications of a website. Especially in today’s world of instant gratification, it’s never been more crucial to achieve a fast page load time or risk turning away visitors before they even have a chance to see your content. However, it’s not uncommon to lose sight of page speed during a website’s development when large images, videos, nifty features, and overall functionality drive most decisions at its expense.

Below, we outlined several key reasons why website speed is important to consider when redesigning a website, as well as how to identify and resolve any issues that may be holding your site back.

Why is Page Speed Important?

Page speed directly impacts SEO and user experience. Of Google’s 200+ ranking factors in its mobile-first index, page speed is a major factor to take into consideration. Google understands that page speed goes hand in hand with user experience and thus gives preferential treatment to websites that load quickly.

The faster a page loads, the lower the bounce rate, and the more likely a user is to interact with it. Research from Google indicates a direct correlation with page speed and bounce rates:

  • When page load time increases from 1 second to 3 seconds, bounce rates increase 32 percent.
  • When page load time increases from 1 second to 5 seconds, bounce rates increase by 90 percent.
  • When page load time takes up to 10 seconds, bounce rates increase by 123 percent.

Another often overlooked aspect when evaluating page speed is wireless and cellular network connections. While websites are typically tested on fast Ethernet connects, that’s not always the case for every user accessing your site. Especially with more people using mobile devices rather than desktops to browse the web, some may be accessing your site from a spotty connection that won’t do you page load time any favors.

Measure Website Speed and Performance

How fast should your website load? Five seconds? Four? Three? Two? Google recommends that sites should load in under three seconds. While that’s not always possible, it’s a good benchmark to keep in mind as you evaluate your speed, set a performance budget, and optimize your site.

So, how does your website stack up in terms of speed and performance? There are several free tools you can use to measure your website speed and performance:

  • Google Page Speed Insights: Go directly to the source and see how Google rates your website in terms of speed. Not only will this tool evaluate the performance of your website on desktop and mobile devices, but also provide suggestions on how to improve your speed and rating.
  • Think With Google Test My Site: Another tool from Google, this feature allows you to focus on your mobile website speed.
  • Pingdom: This full-page testing tool loads complete HTML pages including all objects and mimics the way a page is loaded in a web browser.
  • WebPageTest: This tool is easy to use and delivers a very accurate measure of what a real user experiences on your site since it uses a real web browser to access the content on a website.

Troubleshoot Common Issues That Impact Site Load Speed

Once you have a grasp on the speed at which your website loads, you can then begin to identify and remedy some of the major issues that are impacting its performance. Some common site speed issues may include:

Images

High-resolution images are one of the biggest offenders when it comes to slowing down a website. An easy solution to this problem is simply to ensure you are compressing and optimizing images when uploading them to your website. There are plenty of free tools available to compress images, such as Optimizilla and TinyPNG. Additionally, lazy loading, which defers the loading of an image until a user scrolls down the page and the image becomes visible, is another solution that can improve site speed.

Fonts

There are many different fonts to choose from that go well beyond Arial and Times New Roman when designing a website. With so many typeface options, it can be easy to get carried away and select so many different fonts that your page speed suffers. Remember, even if you only use one font, every weight and variation (regular, bold, italic, etc.) counts against your website’s overall performance. Try to keep the number of fonts and variations you’re using to a minimum.

HTTP Requests

Excessive plugins, features, code, and markup can add tons of weight to a page. Each time your webpage needs to load one of those assets (a stylesheet, a piece of JavaScript, a plugin, etc.), it has to ask a server to get it, and it can only ask for one thing at a time. The average website has about 75 file requests, which can significantly slow down a site. When your page has a long list of requests, it can take a while for users to see everything on your page.

For fewer file requests, you can work with a developer to minify your HTML, CSS, and/or JavaScript code and markup in your web pages and script files. Bundling multiple CSS and/or JavaScript files into a single file is another technique that can reduce the number of HTTP requests and further improve your site speed performance.

Inadequate Bandwidth

Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred between a server and a browser in a certain amount of time. While driving lots of traffic to a website is certainly good for business, it does mean that more bandwidth will be needed to cater to the increased demand or your page load time may suffer.

While your hosting plan typically dictates how much bandwidth your website has, a Content Delivery Network (CDN) can help ease the amount of data you’re using. A CDN essentially caches a version of your website at various locations, or exchange points, around the world. By having a connection at a number of different locations, a CDN is able to reduce the amount of data an origin server provides, resulting in a quicker page load time for users.

Shared Server Limitations

Just as high website traffic can lead to bandwidth issues when websites are hosted on shared plans, it can often lead to problems with page load speed. For example, if your site is hosted on an old, under-powered shared machine with lots of other sites all competing for the server’s resources, it can significantly slow down your load time. If that’s the case, you’ll likely need to upgrade your hosting but expect to pay more for premium.

The speed of your website matters to your users and translates to real money for both you and them. Need help improving your website performance? Aztek’s team of web designers and developers has extensive experience designing and building fast loading websites on Umbraco, WordPress, and more. Talk to us today to see what we can do for you.

SEO Isn’t Dead, It’s Just Changing

SEO Isn’t Dead, It’s Just Changing

By Lily Martis on  July 7, 2020

Remember when marketers said email was dead? (Spoiler alert, it’s not.) You’ll see plenty of articles and blog posts suggesting the same impending outcome for search engine optimization (SEO). Between algorithm updates and an emphasis on digital ads, SEO has been questioned for years. In reality, SEO is not dead, nor is it dying – it’s simply changing.

SEO can be a powerful and cost-effective way to build brand awareness, drive more traffic to a website, and increase conversions. Consider these recent statistics:

  • 70 percent of the links search users click on are organic. (Source)
  • 57 percent of marketers said that SEO generates more leads than any other marketing initiative. (Source)
  • 40 percent of revenue is captured by organic traffic. (Source)

For those who still need more convincing, here are two main reasons why SEO is still a relevant and useful digital marketing tactic today.

Even though PPC advertising is effective, organic SEO is still important.

There is no doubt that pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is, indeed, a powerful tactic to target search users and quickly drive traffic. However, just because brands are increasing their digital ad budgets, doesn’t mean SEO has become any less significant.

An effective digital marketing strategy typically involves a combination of both PPC and SEO tactics working together. So even though brands are upping their ad spend, SEO is still a crucial, albeit long-term, strategy to include in any digital marketing plan.

SEO is not dead, but some tactics are.

Since Google was first introduced in 1998, facets of SEO have become outdated as search engines have grown smarter and algorithms have been updated. As such, certain tactics that were once effective in boosting ranks have now become detrimental to a website’s search exposure. Here are some examples of outdated SEO tactics to leave behind:

Buying backlinks

Acquiring backlinks (when another website, particularly one with a high domain authority, links to your website) can be a great tactic to boost your site’s authority and search exposure. Essentially, when another website links to yours, it’s like their way of signaling to Google that they give your content their stamp of approval.

However, acquiring certain backlinks can backfire if you’re not careful. Specifically, paying for backlinks from link sellers is a clear violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines. It’s not too hard for Google to identify a link buyer when looking at a site’s inbound links or a link seller when looking at their outbound links. Should you get caught, not only can you face a penalty like a reduction in page rank, but Google may even choose not to index your site altogether. If you want to acquire backlinks, the best way to do so is to create quality content that’s worth promoting.

Keyword stuffing

Back when search engines were only capable of interpreting simple signals like keyword density, many marketers would jam as many keywords as possible onto a page to make it seem more relevant to that particular topic. However, constantly repeating the same keyword over and over again doesn’t work anymore.

As search engines continue to get smarter, it’s become increasingly important for copywriters to write for humans, not search engines. This may sound like common sense, but a high keyword density or trying to fit a particular keyword into every single sentence comes across as unnatural and unfriendly to the user experience.

Keywords should read naturally in your copy and only be used sparingly. Through Google’s latent semantic indexing (LSI) feature, the search engine can detect synonyms and related keywords to your primary keyword. So, while you might use your primary keyword in the title tag or H1 tag, you should aim to incorporate other relevant keywords organically within the context of your content to help boost your exposure.

Prioritizing content quantity over quality

You’ve surely heard the saying, “content is king,” and while that is true, it’s important to remember that you can have too much of a good thing. Search engines favor websites that continually produce fresh content, but that’s just one piece of the puzzle. Just because you are constantly churning out content doesn’t mean that it’s going to boost your rankings.

Similar to keyword stuffing, redundant and overlapping content that focuses on the same topic or keyword is one way to cannibalize your rankings. Meanwhile, shallow content that doesn’t provide useful information or a unique and creative perspective may not even rank at all.

Writing quality content takes time. Often this means writing long-form content that thoroughly answers a user’s questions or provides all the relevant information related to a topic. Studies show that the more in-depth your content is, the more likely it is to incorporate and rank for relevant keywords, acquire backlinks from reputable sites, be shared on social media, build brand awareness, the list goes on. So, while you may only have the bandwidth to write one, long-form piece of content a week, as opposed to one low-value piece of content a day, the return on investment will be greater by ensuring quality over quantity.

SEO best practices that are alive and well today

Search engine algorithms will continue to change every day, so it’s important to always be monitoring your website performance and tweaking your strategies accordingly. In the meantime, you’ll want to focus on several key SEO tactics that are still relevant and useful today:

  • Ensure your website is able to be indexed and crawled by search engines.
  • Ensure all pages have proper title tags and meta descriptions.
  • Focus on writing high-quality content that is highly relevant to specific search queries.
  • Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate.
  • Build high-quality external links back to your site.

Need some help implementing these best practices? When you work with Aztek, our SEO services include developing a tailored strategy to help you gain search engine exposure and generate business results. Our goal is to keep our clients up-to-date on all of the tactics we’re using to improve search engine results. We’ll educate you on the best ways to improve SEO and how we’re using these techniques to improve traffic and convert more visitors on your website. Contact us today to start a conversation.

What is Digital Marketing and Why Do I Need It?

What is Digital Marketing and Why Do I Need It?

By Lily Martis on  May 6, 2020

Creating a product or providing a service that solves a problem for customers is a great first step to running a successful business. Now, you need a marketing strategy that will keep them coming back while bringing in new customers. In the digital age, businesses can’t afford to ignore the power of a strong online presence.

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is an essential component of helping brands generate leads, sales, and awareness. A comprehensive digital marketing plan can help your business drive more qualified search traffic to your site but also make sure that once visitors get there, they are more likely to convert into a lead. And, in the likely case that someone is interested but not yet ready to buy, a proper strategy can keep your business top of mind until the purchase decision is made.

What’s Included in Digital Marketing Services?

In order for your digital marketing efforts to be successful, you have to understand your customers. Ask them questions, talk to them, and find out how they are interacting with your business and what their pain points are. From there, you can begin to outline how your online efforts will support or align with your overall business goals.

There are a number of digital marketing tactics that can be used to drive growth within your organization. Included under the umbrella of digital marketing are a combination of analytics, search engine optimization (SEO), content, social media, digital advertising, and email marketing. Each of these aspects of your digital marketing strategy is crucial to getting your company and products in front of your core audience.

Web Analytics

Tracking digital marketing metrics, such as the click-thru rate of an email marketing campaign or the number of forms submissions on your website, can help you understand your audience’s behaviors. These metrics can also help you measure the effectiveness of your efforts. As a result, these analytics can lead to smarter digital marketing and business decisions that will impact your growth.

SEO

With over 200 ranking factors on Google, your audience needs to be able to find your business, products, and services online. SEO is the combination of on-site, off-site, and technical best practices that help your website show up in search engines.

Content

Prospects often find businesses when they’re researching a product or service, and customers become loyal advocates when they resonate with a brand's message. Creating content like product pages, blog posts, guides, and videos that are informative and useful to your audience is another digital marketing tactic that can help increase awareness, sales, and retention.

Social Media

Customers are increasingly interacting with brands via social media. Establishing a presence on relevant platforms and engaging with your audience can help get your message in front of social media users who match the demographics and interests you want to target.

Digital Advertising

Digital advertising on search engines, social media platforms, and display networks can help expand your reach and drive new leads to your website. By bidding on commonly searched keywords and targeting the demographics and interests of your ideal customer, digital advertising can dramatically boost your lead generation and brand awareness efforts.

Email Marketing

Email marketing helps your brand stay in front of prospects and customers, so you can focus on nurturing the right leads, converting leads into customers, and retaining existing customers. The data derived from these campaigns can also be leveraged to provide more personalized recommendations to keep your customers engaged throughout their journey without being spammy.

Why Digital Marketing is Key to Business Growth and Success

Ultimately, the number of people you can reach and how often they interact with you will directly impact the success of your business. Digital marketing is the path to get them there and keep them coming back to you versus your competitors.

If you’ve been hesitant to invest in digital marketing, it’s important to consider how people are conducting business today:

As Google's Marketing and Media Strategy states, "Technology, insights, and creative are the pillars of every campaign. And bringing those three elements together delivers powerful results." Without these pieces, you may be missing out on prime opportunities to reach new customers or you may not have the data needed to make sound business decisions.

By investing in digital marketing services, you’ll benefit from increased consumer insight, more targeted, personalized messaging, and greater brand awareness, all of which can help drive growth within your organization.

How a Digital Marketing Agency Can Help

It can often be challenging for an organization to maintain all of these different online channels while receiving the highest return from their digital marketing investment. A digital marketing agency can help provide the expertise and attention needed to build and optimize your online presence amid ever-changing algorithms and consumer behaviors.

Aztek is a Cleveland-based digital marketing agency with over 20 years of experience driving quality leads, sales, and awareness for hundreds of organizations throughout the Midwest. Our team is made up of experts in every area of focus related to digital marketing, including SEO, content, digital advertising, social media, email marketing, and web analytics. Contact us today to start a conversation about how we can help.

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Email Marketing Best Practices During COVID-19

Email Marketing Best Practices During COVID-19

By Lily Martis on  April 13, 2020

During a crisis, email can be a useful means for communicating with current and prospective customers. It’s usage throughout the Coronavirus pandemic has become so common, in fact, that the New York Times says that “businesses have flooded everyone on their email lists with Coronavirus updates, tips on stayed healthy and words of encouragement―much to people’s dismay.”

Of course, it’s important to keep your audience informed during a crisis, but this recent onslaught of inbox updates has raised some questions about the impact, efficacy, and necessity of these emails. To help your business with the appropriate next steps, we’ve compiled a list of email marketing best practices to consider throughout the coronavirus pandemic and future crises.

Act Quickly

Amid the chaos of the developing coronavirus pandemic, email may be the last thing on your mind. Nevertheless, your audience will be expecting to hear from you, especially if they rely on your products or services. Waiting too long to respond can cause your customers stress and frustration when they don’t know what to expect from your business during this time. Try to get an email out to your customers and prospects as quickly as possible.

Be Considerate and Empathetic

It’s important to be sensitive and aware of the impact this pandemic has on the world and your audience. Even if your brand voice is normally fun, upbeat, or silly, you’ll want to take a serious approach in your emails during a crisis.

You’ll also want to consider the reasons as to why you’re sending the email to begin with. Your audience is likely savvy enough to pick up on emails that are sent just for the sole purpose of sending an email. For example, don’t send an email simply to express solidarity. “Yes, we're all in this together,” Inc magazine says, “but it comes off as opportunistic if you're obviously trying to use the national crisis to build rapport, in the hope that you'll be remembered fondly once the crisis is over.

Communicate the Actions You’re Taking

Every business―essential and nonessential―is impacted by the coronavirus in some way. It’s crucial to communicate to your customers, prospects, and community what’s changed.

Consider addressing the following questions in your email marketing communication:

  • Have your hours of operation changed?
  • Has the coronavirus affected your abilities to deliver your products or services and how so?
  • What measures are you taking to keep your workplace clean?
  • What measures are you taking to keep your customers and staff safe?
  • Will you continue to pay or provide benefits to your workers?
  • How can customers get in contact with you?
  • Where can customers find the latest updates about how you’re handling the crisis?

Don’t Take Advantage of the Situation

Nothing can harm your brand reputation quite like the inclination that you’re taking advantage of the current situation. If your business offers an essential product or service, such as materials to make ventilators or work-from-home capabilities, don’t use this time to capitalize on the current market by marking up prices. In addition, businesses should avoid sending any emails that contain a sales pitch or asking customers for a payment.

With mass layoffs occurring across the country and the number of COVID-19 cases growing every day, businesses that put helping others before profit will connect with their audience on a deeper level. If your business has the ability to truly help your audience during a crisis, consider:

  • Setting up a relief fund to help those affected by the crisis.
  • Creating educational content that will help your audience navigate the crisis.
  • Offer discounts or giveaways.

Review Your Current Email Campaigns

In addition to communicating your COVID-19 response to your customers, now is also a good time to review any automated email marketing campaigns you currently have running. Email campaigns that might have been perfectly fine to send before may be irrelevant or insensitive to your customers now. You don’t want a mishap like Spirit Airlines, who emailed customers with the subject line, “Never A Better Time To Fly,” while public health and government officials are urging people to stay at home.

It’s important to show that your brand isn’t blind to the current global crisis. Review your current email campaigns to ensure they are relevant to your customer’s needs amid COVID-19 and consider pausing or revising or any campaigns that are no longer “business as usual.”

Adjust Communications as Needed

It’s important to stay abreast as the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop and new government orders are enacted in different states. Stay in touch with your audience throughout the crisis, and keep them updated as you adjust your policies accordingly.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused plenty of unexpected challenges for businesses and determining the best response through email can be more time-consuming than expected. Need a hand? Aztek is here to help businesses navigate through COVID-19. Contact us today to learn more.

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SEO Considerations During the Coronavirus Pandemic

SEO Considerations During the Coronavirus Pandemic

By Lily Martis on  March 31, 2020

You’ve invested in building a fast, responsive website, optimizing your meta titles and descriptions, obtaining valuable backlinks, and creating quality content that drives organic traffic. But now, amid a global crisis, there is a lot of uncertainty around the potential impacts of COVID-19. To help businesses and marketers alike understand how the coronavirus pandemic may affect their online presence, we’ve put together some guidance on maintaining an effective SEO strategy while we all weather the storm.

How COVID-19 is Affecting Search Traffic

With the rapidly developing Coronavirus outbreak on everybody’s minds, it’s no surprise that the pandemic is dominating much of today’s search traffic. This has many business owners and marketing managers wondering how COVID-19 is impacting SEO metrics, and it affects every industry differently. However, when it comes to SEO, there are three key points to keep in mind:

Search reflects human behavior.

With social distancing measures like shelter-in-place orders and government-mandated closings in effect across the country, human behavior has dramatically changed.

As a result, Search Engine Journal reports that e-commerce sites that sell essential products like hand sanitizer and toilet paper, for example, are seeing massive increases in search traffic, as new search queries like “toilet paper near me” and “hand sanitizer near me” are created. Even search traffic for nonessentials, such as office items for employees who are now working from home and workout equipment for those who no longer have access to a gym, has begun to surge.

This is no different than how seasonality can affect your search traffic throughout the year. Just as you might see an uptick in search volume for swimwear during the summer and a decrease in sweaters, the trends in search will change along with human behaviors.

Your competitors are equally affected.

As search volume fluctuates across many industries, it’s important to understand that your business isn’t solely affected. While search traffic for your products or services might have decreased, it’s also decreased for your competitors as well. Likewise, if search traffic has increased within your industry, your competitors are likely reaping the same rewards.

SEO is a long-term strategy.

Unlike paid search, the results of your SEO efforts aren’t always quickly realized. According to Maile Ohye, formerly of Google, it takes SEO companies four months to a year to see the results of their efforts. It’s important to keep in mind that SEO is a long-term strategy, and what you do now can help set your website up for future success in the search results.

SEO Tactics to Start Working on Right Now

SEO is constantly evolving, so it’s important to continue to optimize your website―even during the coronavirus pandemic―or you may risk falling behind in the search results. Here are five SEO tactics you can apply now.

Update your Google My Business page

The coronavirus is affecting the way many companies are able to conduct business. While you are already likely keeping your customers up to date via email and/or social media, remember to also update your Google My Business profile for local customers.

Whether you are operating on special hours or taking certain precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, be sure to update your hours and business description, share Google Posts with updates and special offers, and verify that your contact information is correct.

Conduct an SEO audit

When was the last time you audited your website? Use this time to evaluate your current SEO strategy. Consider conducting an SEO audit to identify and evaluate:

  • Technical issues, such as missing meta descriptions or H1 tags
  • Accessibility for the visually or hearing impaired
  • Pages with low traffic or low click-thru rates
  • Website responsiveness for mobile devices
  • Site speed and page load time
  • Directory listings to ensure contact information is correct
  • Keyword analysis to uncover gaps in content

Understanding your search performance will help you form an action plan for SEO moving forward.

Clean up your website

Whether it’s the fact that it’s spring or that many of us are cooped up inside, spring cleaning seems to be top of mind. Along with auditing your website, consider some of the following:

  • Tidy up your XML sitemap to make it easier for search engines to crawl your website. Consider removing noindex pages, redirected URLs, or pages with duplicate or thin content.
  • Fix broken links. Ahrefs offers a free broken link checker to identify dead links.
  • Enhance your user experience by focusing on accessibility, site speed, navigation, and user intent. A few tactics to consider include adding image alt text, compressing large media files, condensing blog tags and categories, and writing relevant meta descriptions.
  • Spruce up low-performing pages by fleshing them out with more content and optimizing for relevant keywords and phrases.

Build up your content backlog

Creating fresh content can be a time-consuming, yet integral part of any SEO strategy that can sometimes fall by the wayside. Consider conducting interviews (over the phone or via video conferencing, of course) with your sales and customer support teams to hone your content strategy by identifying topics that answer the questions most commonly asked by your customers. This will set you up to draft well-written, highly optimized blog posts to build up your content backlog and bolster your content marketing efforts.

Link building

Acquiring backlinks from high-authority domains like .org and .edu sites as well as reputable news publications, blogs, and directories is another SEO tactic that often gets put on the back burner. Use this time to research opportunities, such as a listing or a guest blog post, where your company, products, or services could be featured. Then, implement an outreach plan to build valuable links back to your site.

Aztek understands the questions and concerns that many businesses are experiencing during this time of economic uncertainty, especially as it pertains to sales and marketing. Whether it’s simply providing guidance or implementing tactics like the ones described above, we’re here to help in whatever way we can. Contact us today for more information.

 

Long-Form vs Short-Form Content: Which is the Best Content Length for SEO?

Long-Form vs Short-Form Content: Which is the Best Content Length for SEO?

By Lily Martis on  January 8, 2020

Writing great content takes time. Between generating ideas for content, researching topics, writing, and optimizing for search engines, there are many factors that influence a great piece of content.

Orbit Media found that it can take the average writer as long as six or more hours to complete a typical blog post. According to Authority Marketing, it takes Buffer Marketing Vice President Kevin Lee just shy of three hours to knock out an average post, whereas ProBlogger Jon Morrow can spend two hours just on the headline alone. So, before you commit to writing a 2,000-word article, ask yourself: Is it worth it?

Well-written, highly optimized content can work wonders in terms of search engine optimization (SEO) and driving website traffic. But can the same results can be accomplished in fewer words? Below, we explore whether long-form or short-form content is better for SEO.

Short-Form Content Marketing

Short-form content, typically 700 words or fewer, tends to be easier to digest, compared to long-form content that’s typically 1,500 words or more. With the average human having an attention span of 8 seconds, short-form content tends to be more visually digestible and can help get concise ideas across quickly.

There also tends to be more immediacy with short-form content. Short-form content can help get your readers to where they need to go quicker, whether it’s downloading a whitepaper, filling out a contact form, or moving on to the next piece of content.

Short-form content can be an excellent choice for simple topics or questions that require a concise answer, content that may be part of a series, or content for a more experienced audience that doesn’t require a thorough background and explanation of basic principles.

Long-Form Content Marketing

In examining 1 million Google search results, Backlinko found that the “optimal” content length is 1,890 words. What does “optimal” mean? Content closest to 1,890 words on average had the highest position in Google search results. In other words, content that ranked #1 in Google average 1,890 words.

Correlation Not Causation

Alright, so write content that is 1,890 words and you’ll rank #1 in Google, right? Not so fast. Don’t mistake this data as higher word count causes better rankings. This is an example of correlation, not causation. Higher total word counts tend to correlate with better rankings. Here’s why:

  • Longer content can often do a better job of thoroughly answering the user’s query or providing all of the relevant information related to a topic.
  • The more content you write, the more keyword opportunities you may have to boost your search engine exposure.

But did you know that word count isn’t one of the 200 known factors in Google’s algorithm? As we’ve stated above, a high word content won’t automatically produce higher rankings. Here are some factors where long-term content can present more opportunities for SEO.

Authority

Authority is a factor within Google’s algorithm that analyzes content to determine if it’s high quality and reliable. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a 500-word blog post, especially if it’s a short topic or doesn’t require much research. However, long-form content like in-depth guides, whitepapers, and case studies can give your content marketing efforts the ability to showcase your expertise and deep knowledge on a subject.

Link Building

Along with authority, link building can help build authority and boost your rankings. Link building is great for off-site optimization, as it’s focused on building links from authoritative and relevant sites. This will help drive traffic back to your website, and more importantly, show search engines that your website is reputable.

Long-from content tends to be more useful and comprehensive, so it usually provides more value and attracts more backlinks. According to HubSpot, there is a strong correlation between the length of content and the number of quality backlinks.

HubSpot long-term content helps linkbuilding.

Keywords

The longer the content, the more opportunities there also are to use and optimize for relevant keywords. Keywords are words and phrases that users enter into search engines. Long-from content, as a result, can provide a greater likelihood of providing a more in-depth answer or research that users are searching for. HubSpot shows that word count can sometimes correlate with organic traffic.

Long-form content correlates to greater organic traffic. (HubSpot)

Conversions

Long-form content also presents a great opportunity to nurture your audience. Being that long-form content is perceived as trustworthy and authoritative, it can tend to lead to more conversions (e.g., downloading a whitepaper, filing out a form, calling your business, etc.). According to an A/B-testing study by Basecamp, long-form content on a website’s homepage increased sales conversions by 37.5 percent.

Social Media Engagement

While tweets may be confined to 280 characters, long-form content that is shared on social media tends to be more engaging than short-form content. According to HubSpot, the longer the content, the more likely it is to be shared on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Long-form content tends to receive more engagement on these platforms as well.

Word count correlates to social shares. (HubSpot)

What is the Best Length for Your Copy?

The answer, like most things, is it depends. Ultimately, there is no hard-and-fast rule for content length. This can make it challenging to know if you’ve written too much or too little. Before writing, ask yourself:

How Much Do My Customers Know?

Think about your target audience. Do your readers need to be educated about basic concepts? Or, are they already fairly knowledgeable on the subject matter at hand? Long-form content allows for more information to be shared with your audience and can be more useful to an uneducated audience, as it is typically perceived as more authoritative and trustworthy.

How Engaged is Your Audience?

Anther point to consider is the level of interest your readers have in the topic at hand. Look at the pre-existing content on your website to identify which content receives the most traffic, pageviews, and conversions. Use this data to determine whether your audience prefers long-form or short-form content. Additionally, you can look at your site analytics to see how long the average visitor spends on your site.

What Resources Do You Have for Content Production?

Writing high quality, highly optimized content can be challenging for marketers who likely already have their plates full. Ideating topics, researching, writing, editing, and publishing content all takes time, and it can be difficult to stay on track with your editorial calendar.

Need a hand? Aztek is a full-service digital marketing agency that takes a content-first approach to educate audiences, engage customers, and drive better lead acquisition. Our content marketing team will work with you to establish the right tone and voice for your brand through blog posts, web page content, landing pages, case studies, guides, whitepapers, newsletters, and more. Contact us today to get started.

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How Long Does Digital Marketing Take to “Work”?

How Long Does Digital Marketing Take to “Work”?

By Lily Martis on  December 3, 2019

In a rush to see results? When it comes to digital marketing, many are. “How long will it take to rise in the search rankings?” “How long until I’ve doubled my website traffic?

Just put together a digital marketing strategy and the leads will roll in, right? Not quite. Digital marketing is not a “quick fix.” It’s not a one-and-done effort and results don’t happen overnight. Search engine optimization (SEO), brand awareness, and conversion optimization are investments in the long-term health of your brand’s online presence.

Any time estimate or prediction will vary based on industry, history of your site, and your competition. You should be skeptical of any “expert” that puts a date on results, as there are many factors that are simply outside of a marketer’s hands

Also keep in mind that digital marketing can’t cover up flaws or problems within your company or business model. But if you have a good product or service, you should expect to see a solid long-term return on investment. How long will that take?

How Long Does SEO Take to See Results?

There is no magic switch to drive more traffic from search engines. Optimization for local, small, and mid-sized businesses takes time, patience, and hard work. According to Maile Ohye, formerly of Google, it takes SEO companies four months to a year to see the results of what they are doing.

To ensure you’re giving yourself the best chances at improving search engine exposure, you can try to apply these SEO tactics:

  • Ensure your website is able to be indexed and crawled by search engines
  • Ensure all pages have proper title tags and meta descriptions
  • Focus on writing high-quality content that is highly relevant to specific search queries
  • Ensure that your website is mobile friendly and the user experience is smooth
  • Build high-quality external links back to your site

How Long Does Content Marketing Take to See Results?

Content marketing is another longer-term tactic in the world of digital marketing and is critical to helping you boost your SEO efforts. Between products/services pages and blog posts, HubSpot found that websites with 100 to 200 pages will generate 2.5 times as many leads as those with 50 pages or fewer.

However, it can be time consuming to write all that content. Between ideating topics to actually writing the content and reviewing it, Orbit Media found that it can take the average writer as long as six or more hours to complete a typical post. Thus, your timeline for seeing content marketing ROI will be gradual and pick up over time.

How Long Does Digital Advertising Take to See Results?

Compared with other tactics, digital advertising is where you’ll tend to see faster results. Once you have a Google Ads account or a Facebook Ads account set up, you can be running paid advertising in no time. Keep in mind that creating ad content, identifying and refining target audience, and performing A/B testing to find out what works will take time.

Budget can also be a factor here. The more money you are willing to invest in digital advertising, the quicker you will likely begin to see a return on investment. While not typical, we’ve seen some businesses generate conversions (e.g. call, click, form, download, etc.) within as little as a day of running their campaign.

Generally, running a digital ad campaign for a few months is recommended. This allows you to gain ad frequency with your audience, meaning they’ll see your ad multiple times, increase the possible influence it has on the viewer. A longer time period also gives you a better data set with which to make decisions. After a month, or even a few months, you’ll have a good sense of which creative performs better and which channels and keywords are performing well.

Because so many of the major ad platforms (think Google, Facebook, etc.) use advanced algorithms to optimize ad rotation and allow advertisers to focus on a goal (i.e. traffic, conversions, etc.), these networks need the data to support their algorithm. That takes time. If you’ve run a campaign for a week and haven’t generated any “conversions” (however you define that), the advertising network won’t yet know how to optimize your campaign for future conversions.

Ready to See Digital Marketing ROI?

While you can’t always plan hard-and-fast deadlines for your digital marketing goals, you can start implementing the tactics like the ones listed above to generate more traffic, conversions, and leads for your business. Need a hand? Aztek’s team of experts can recommend and implement the digital marketing solutions to maximize your investment. Let's start a conversation today.

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How Often Should You Audit and Update Blog Content?

How Often Should You Audit and Update Blog Content?

By Lily Martis on  October 15, 2019

Blogging has become a digital marketing trend that many organizations apply for search engine optimization (SEO), thought leadership, and social sharing. There’s no denying the value blog content can bring in terms of educating audiences, building your brand, engaging customers, and generating quality leads.

However, it’s often a forward-facing strategy focused on “what can we add” and “what can we publish next” and rarely on “what can we improve” or “what no longer serves us.” According to the Content Marketing Institute, 80 percent of marketing content goes unused by sales teams, either because it’s irrelevant or hard to find. It’s important to take the time to look back and assess the existing content that lives on your blog, much of which may be out-of-date, under-performing, or irrelevant to your business goals and objectives.

Like a health check-up, conducting regular blog content audits can improve the long-term performance of your website as well as your overall content strategy. Understand the value a content audit can bring and a few best practices for updating your blog.

What is a Content Audit?

A content audit is a qualitative assessment of all the content on your website. It assesses the strengths and weaknesses of your content in relation to your key performance indicators (KPIs). When performed correctly, a content audit will help you understand:

  • Which content is performing best?
  • Which content has overstayed its welcome?
  • Where to focus your future efforts?

Why Audit Your Blog Content?

If your blog isn’t being read or the traffic generated isn’t being converted into qualified leads, then you may need to consider conducting a blog content audit. Here are a couple of advantages of auditing your blog.

Make Content Easier to Find

Google updates its algorithm about nine times a day. By not following SEO best practices related to keyword research, metadata, and link building, to name a few, your content won’t perform as well as it should in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

So, even though you may have written a useful and authoritative blog post that supports both your audience’s and business’s goals, it may be hard for your clients and salespeople to find. By conducting regular audits, you can ensure your content meets the everchanging requirements needed to connect with your audience at key points in your sales funnel.

Avoid Content Cannibalization

You can, in fact, have too much of a good thing. As in, too much of the same content can hurt your website’s performance. Content cannibalization is defined as the “derogatory strategy of targeting the same keyword across several web pages.” This becomes challenging, then, for the search engine crawlers to rank the best page as per relevance since it would have other pages for your website to consider.

So, for example, if you have three blog posts that are written about the same topic, instead of boosting your ranking, they’ll be fighting each other for the better ranking, resulting in a lower ranking for those posts. By conducting a content audit, you can identify which blog posts are cannibalizing your site due to repeat keywords and topics.

Gain a Big Picture View of Your Content

If you don’t know what blog content you have and how it’s performing, you can’t improve. Conducting a content audit can give you a big-picture perspective of the current state of your content and help identify several opportunities for improvement.

When it comes to your content strategy, an audit will tell you 1) what topics perform best and 2) which topics aren’t gaining exposure. You can then use any gaps in content as well as your audience’s preferences to plan out your editorial calendar moving forward.

A content audit will also tell you where you need to improve within your existing blog. Do you need to optimize a blog post for greater visibility? Is there a strong blog post you should be promoting on your other marketing channels like social media and email to attract more leads? Understanding how you can update and leverage your existing content will help your blog to be more focused and valuable to your business.

How to Conduct a Blog Content Audit

It’s important not to rush into a content audit without first taking the time to understand who your audience is and what your goals are. Not having a clear value proposition or defined buyer persona can render your auditing efforts moot. Before you begin auditing your blog, you’ll need to define your target audience and determine your content KPIs.

Understand Your Target Audience

Create personas to identify who your target audience is. Are you writing for high-level executives or technical workers? Millennial consumers or retiring Boomers? Understanding who your audience is will ensure that the topics you write about as well as your voice and tone resonate with your target audience.

Determine Your Content KPIs

Your key performance indicators (KPIs) should align with your content goals and strategy. Identify the purpose of your blog posts as well as the reason you’re conducting an audit in the first place. Some KPIs you might consider including:

  • Improve organic search performance.
  • Determine which content topics resonate best with your audience.
  • Identify gaps in your blog content.

Audit Your Blog Content

Once you have a solid understanding of your target audience and KPIs, you should be ready to review your content. Follow this four-step process to conduct a blog content audit:

  1. Take inventory of your blog content.
  2. Analyze performance metrics.
  3. Review the blog content.
  4. Identify next steps (keep, delete, update, combine).

How Often to Update Your Blog?

Wash, rinse, repeat. Conducting a blog content audit isn’t a one-time process. It should be a regular practice that should also extend to both your website content and any other marketing channels you use. According to SEMRush, most content marketers recommend auditing content once or twice a year.

Don’t Have Time to Conduct a Content Audit?

Conducting a content audit can be a time-consuming task. Between reading and analyzing every post and depending on how much blog content already exists on your website, your schedule could be booked for weeks on end. Not to mention, when content marketers are reviewing their own blog posts, they may feel an emotional attachment to certain blog content that won’t allow them to delete an outdated or irrelevant post or mark an OK post as “update.”

Whether you’re pressed for time or could you an objective pair of eyes, Aztek offers blog content audit services to improve the content and SEO of your blog. We’ll audit your existing blog content to make recommendations on which blogs should be kept, deleted, updated, or combined and provide actionable guidance for moving forward. Contact us today to see how we can help!

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An Introduction to Umbraco

An Introduction to Umbraco

By Lily Martis on  July 19, 2019

So, you've decided you want to update or redesign your website. As you shop around for a content management system (CMS), you want to make sure to choose one that's easy to update, well-designed, flexible, and offers an unbeatable user experience. Let us save you some soul searching and introduce you to a friendly CMS. Meet Umbraco.

What is Umbraco?

Let's start with the basics. Umbraco is an open source (free) .NET content management system that offers great flexibility and extensive capabilities. More than 500,000 websites are built with Umbraco, ranging from international brands like Heinz and Vogue to small businesses like Timco Rubber and NOPEC.

How Does Umbraco work?

When you log into Umbraco, there's almost nothing the average user can't do. Umbraco offers greater functionality and user experience when it comes to building and designing pages and creating content. When building or redesigning a website, designers and developers can define the building blocks of your website on the back end to ensure it has the right look and feel of your company without having to fiddle around with HTML.

From there, you can build forms and add, edit, and delete pages as you grow your business and hone your online strategy.

Why Choose Umbraco?

Umbraco is often compared to WordPress, as they both allow you to create, edit, delete, and schedule content. They also have similar features like user roles, multilingual capabilities, mobile preview, and version history/rollback. But we believe Umbraco is better. Here's why.

Security and integration features

Umbraco uses Microsoft's .NET framework, making it one of the most secure and powerful platforms available. Because of this, Umbraco integrates extremely well with third party systems, like your CRM or ERP. Umbraco also offers a wide range of admin access roles to easily manage and control what your users' can and can't do.

Customization

Because Umbraco is open source, there are hundreds of plugins available, making it a highly customizable CMS. With Umbraco, you'll get access to more than 300 free plugin extensions ready to download and use. Similar to the app store on your smartphone, these extensions have all been verified and can be easily installed by a developer with just a single click.

SEO

Umbraco sites typically don't take as much time to load as WordPress sites, as they're more lightweight. Since many WordPress sites rely on a slew of plugins to function properly, it can slow down the site considerably. As a result, Umbraco pages can perform better in search engines, as there's less plugins for the browser to load.

Short learning curve

Once your site is developed, your copywriters, content managers, and marketers need to be able to easily publish, edit, and delete content.

Umbraco's page builder allows you to create complex page layouts without any HTML coding or WYSIWYG page editors by selecting from a list of "building block" components. From there, you just add words, pictures, videos, forms, you name it. Umbraco even automatically generates all the right image sizes, so you won't have to crop or size images in Photoshop.

When you go to publish, you can preview the content on different devices and even schedule it to go live on a set date and time. If you choose to move, rename, or delete a page, creating a 301 redirect is a simple and easy task.

Get Started With Umbraco

Here at Aztek, we're big fans of Umbraco. As a registered Umbraco partner, our web design and development team uses Umbraco for all kinds of projects. We've even developed a starter kit to make sure we can give our clients access to all the innovative features we've built, which means you'll get more features and value out of your new CMS with us. Thanks to Umbraco, we’re able to offer more custom functionality, a better user experience, and a faster turnaround time for our clients.

Whether you're redesigning your website like St. Vincent, starting from scratch like Matrix Trade Institute, or trying to build your own thermocouple, talk to us today to see how we can improve your online presence with Umbraco. We'd be happy to give you a demo and answer any other questions you may have.