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Lily Martis

Total posts: 9
Last post: July 19, 2019

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.

What is included in SEO Services?

What is included in SEO Services?

By Lily Martis on  June 24, 2019

Of course, you want drive as much traffic to your site as possible from search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. That’s why many turn to digital marketing agencies that specialize in search engine optimization, or SEO services.

It can be confusing and even a bit mysterious as to what “SEO services” means, what’s included, and how it can be measured. To put it simply, the goal of SEO is to maximize the number of quality visitors to your site (or specific pages on your site) by ensuring that your site (or page) appears as high as possible in search engine result pages (SERPs) for a particular set of keywords. Here are five key areas SEO services includes:

Technical SEO

When building a website, it's important to consider not just content and design, but also the technical "behind the scenes" details that can greatly impact your site in search. Technical SEO involves several elements that search engines consider when ranking a website, including:

  • Page speed.
  • Broken links (internally and externally).
  • Crawl errors.
  • Mobile-friendliness.
  • Sitemap accessibility.

When it comes down to it, you need a firm that understands how to optimize a website behind the scenes and explain how each factor can impact a site’s ability to drive search traffic.

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is focused on user experience and optimizing page content for relevant keywords. Writing excellent website content means marrying compelling and relevant content for the user with rich keywords that are going to be found by search engines.

The process of optimizing on-page SEO involves:

  • Researching relevant keywords that have strong search volume.
  • Ensuring the on-page content satisfies the user’s search query and intent.
  • Building internal links from page to page to create strong connections between content.
  • Balancing internal links with relevant and reputable outbound links.
  • Ensuring content on a page is organized well and structured correctly for search engines.

Off-Site Optimization

Off-site optimization is primarily focused on building links from authoritative and relevant sites. Link building has two primary benefits: driving traffic back to your website and more importantly, showing search engines that your website is reputable. Links from other authoritative sites (especially .edu, .org, or .gov sites) is like a stamp of approval from those sites that your content is valuable.

Link building can include several different tactics, including attaining listings in directories, publishing content on other sites, answering questions on social or Q&A forums, and more.

The link building process includes:

  • Researching valuable opportunities for link building outreach.
  • Prioritizing opportunities based on time, effort, and expected return value.
  • Strategizing outreach (such as email, submissions, forum discussion, etc.).
  • Tracking new inbound links generated.

Local SEO

Local SEO ties into many of the above SEO tactics and is especially important for local or regional businesses as well as for businesses with brick-and-mortar locations.

Local SEO aims at getting search exposure for your business in the locations you serve. For example, a local dentist may want to show up in search results in the geographic area that they serve. This stretches beyond simple search results, as it has become more important to rank well in maps results.

Tactics for local SEO include:

  • Ensuring your organization has listings in most of the prominent locations (especially Google).
  • Ensuring that your listings are consistent across all channels and sites.
  • Optimizing your site and content using specific local keywords, like city or state names, where applicable.
  • Link building with relevant local directories, business organizations, and groups.

SEO Monitoring

How long does it take to see results from SEO? Unfortunately, there is no perfect answer to that question. Some SEO strategies turn results within a few months, if not a few weeks. For others, especially in competitive industries, results can take several months, if not longer.

As your SEO firm works on boosting your search engine visibility, it’s important to keep an eye on the right SEO performance metrics. At Aztek, we provide monthly reporting to show the progress being made and how it’s impacting your business. Remember, ranking higher is great, but if it’s not driving additional business success, there may be other issues at hand.

Need SEO Services?

There are more than 200 factors that affect search engine rankings. Not to mention, Google updates its algorithm almost nine times a day. When you work with Aztek, our SEO services include developing a strategy to help you gain search engine exposure and generate business results. Our goal is to keep our clients up-to-date on all 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.

Want to improve SEO? Contact us today to see how we can provide SEO services for your organization.

Native Apps vs. Progressive Web Apps: Choosing the Right Mobile App for Your Business

Native Apps vs. Progressive Web Apps: Choosing the Right Mobile App for Your Business

By Lily Martis on  June 11, 2019

In a world of constant connectivity, it's no secret that we're addicted to our smartphones. There's even a good chance you're reading this blog post on some type of mobile device. In fact, research has shown a faster-than-expected shift of web usage from desktop to mobile in recent years, with 80 percent of mobile time spent on apps. Businesses looking for ways to create a mobile presence have a couple options beyond responsive web design: native apps and progressive web apps.

What is a Native App?

Look at the home screen of your mobile devices. A native app is a software program that is coded for use on a particular platform or device. Users have to download it from an app store, and it lives on the home screen of a mobile device.

What is a Progressive Web App?

A progressive web app (PWA) is essentially a cross between a responsive website and a mobile app. They are mobile sites built with modern JavaScript that work like a native app. They can be added to a mobile device's home screen with an icon and offer a full-screen experience, but at its core, a progressive web app is still just a website opened in a browser.

Differences Between Progressive Web Apps and Native Apps

So, which mobile app is better for your business? Well, that depends. Both applications have their strengths and weaknesses. Here are the main differences between progressive web apps and native apps.

Installation

Installing a native app is a bit more administrative than installing a progressive web app. Native apps are found and installed through app stores like Google App or Apple's iOS App Store. Once installed, the app will appear on the mobile device's home screen with an icon and text label. Pretty simple, but the number of steps to load the app store, find the app, click install, accept permissions, and finally download the app can cost businesses to lose about 60 percent of its potential users.

Progressive web apps, on the other hand, run right from within the user's browser. Users are able to find the app by searching for it in a mobile browser, as they would a website, which is why some users might not even know they're using a progressive web app. However, once the user does understand that it's a progressive web app, rather than having to download it, they simply have to save it to their home screen. Some, however, may struggle with figuring out to do that. While the latest Android versions prompt users to install a progressive web app with a pop-up banner, iOS users will have to manually press "Share" and "Add to Home Screen," with no visual indicator that it's an app.

Cross-Platform Availability

Android or iOS? For progressive web apps, it doesn't matter. Being that progressive web apps are responsive, it's up to the user's browser to correctly display the app within the screen's parameters. With a progressive web app, only one app needs to be developed and users can easily engage with the app on any device or browser. For native apps, developers have to design the app specifically for either iOS or Android users to ensure a seamless experience on each device.

Search

Similar to how search engine optimization (SEO) helps a website get more visibility, similar tactics can also be applied to mobile apps. Progressive web apps work just like any other website, so similar SEO strategies like optimizing on-page content and meta data for commonly searched-for keywords will help your app move up in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Native apps can also show up in search like a progressive web app. In addition to SEO, native apps also must be optimized for app stores. App store optimization (ASO) involves optimizing titles and descriptions for keywords used in the app store. High customer ratings are also a major factor in ASO.

Push Notifications

Push notifications are great ways for businesses to drive user engagement. They're also a great way to encourage users to rate your app for ASO. Reports show that push notifications can get up to 40 percent click-through-rates, compared to the 2-5 percent click-through-rates for email.

Because native apps are coded for specific platforms, push notifications can be sent either by building the functionality within the app itself or by using a third party service like Google Firebase, PushBots, or OneSignal. Progressive web apps can also send push notifications on Android mobile devices; however, the capability is not available on iOS.

Security

Security and privacy are top priorities when it comes to mobile apps. Companies need their mobile apps to be secure and protect user data. International brands also need to be GDPR compliant.

Progressive web apps that have an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate applied are served over HTTPS, which prevents hackers from accessing and modifying any information transferred, making them as secure as any website.

In comparison, native apps can provide greater security. Security features like multi-factor authentications (think face recognition, fingerprint scanning, and logins and passwords) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) certificates (an updated, more secure version of SSL) can be built into the app to protect user data and prevent malicious attacks. For an added layer of trust, native apps also need to be authorized by either Apple or Google in order to be published in app stores.

Monetization

For many businesses, the goal of a mobile app is to generate revenue. Native apps can be great money-makers, as payment processing can be integrated within the app store, making in-app payments or subscription fees viable options. Progressive web apps, though, are typically harder to monetize. While a payment system can be integrated with the app, these may vary across devices.

Device Features

A perk of mobile apps is its ability to connect with other apps on a device. Native apps can sync with the camera, GPS, alarm, calendar, fingerprint scanners, and more. Unlike browser windows, native apps only request the permission to access these other apps once. Progressive web apps typically come with more restrictions. Some connections, like with social media, can be made through application programming interfaces (APIs), but users still won't have the ability to sync their app to their mobile device in the seamless way a native app does.

Choose an App

While both types of mobile apps have their pros and cons, deciding between the two depends on your goals.

Choose a progressive web app if...

  • You have access to a web developer.
  • You want desktop users to access the app as well.
  • You don't want to go through the hassle of getting your app approved.
  • You don't want to develop and maintain two separate native apps.

Choose a native app if...

  • You have an existing user base.
  • You want to monetize the app.
  • You need to take advantage of device-specific hardware and features (i.e. background sync or push notifications.)
  • You want the credibility from an app store.
  • You need a secure app.

Need a mobile app or struggling to decide which is right for your business? Aztek's team of web developers are happy to help. We have experience creating native apps and progressive web apps for businesses of all industries and uses. Contact us today to see how we can help grow your business on mobile.

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5 Different Types of Headlines to Attract Leads

5 Different Types of Headlines to Attract Leads

By Lily Martis on  May 17, 2019

When it comes to making headlines, most companies try their best to keep their good name out of the news. However, from a digital marketing standpoint, your headlines need to stick out, so people choose to go to your website over your competitors.

According to Copyblogger, eight out of 10 people will read a headline, but only two out of 10 will read what follows. Any old headline isn't going to cut it for a blog post, guest article, email campaign, or any other type of content. An effective headline will have the four U’s:

  • Urgent: Gives a reason to act now.
  • Unique: Says something in a new or different way.
  • Ultra-Specific: Tells exactly what they’ll find in the content.
  • Useful: Appeals to reader’s needs.

Of course, this can be a difficult writing task when you're trying to balance intrigue with the inclusion of keywords that can help your business rank high in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Fortunately, there are different types of headlines that can help you marry sizzle factor and search value. Let’s use a normal headline like “Types of Headlines to Attract Leads” as an example to see how it can be reformatted in different ways.

Question Headlines

Customer questions are a goldmine for generating blog topics and other content ideas. Your target audience has questions that relate to your business. You have answers. Use these FAQs as the basis for thorough, well-written articles that position you as an expert.

Not only are these questions great for inspiring ideas for content, they can also serve as an effective headline. First, a good question can attract an intrigued reader. People are inquisitive creatures, so a well-phrased question can drive your audience to read an article to find out the answer. Second, the right query can be a quality keyword. Users will frequently type out entire questions in search engines instead of short keyword phrases, turning that question into a valuable keyword of its own.

While a question may have some search volume, there can be issues with using them as a headline. Question headlines, typically those starting with “Do” that end in a "yes" or "no" answer can lead users to ignoring them because they think they already know the answer to the question. "Why,” “how,” and “what” questions are good because they don't obviously answer a question and allow you to position yourself as an expert. Also, avoid using a question headline if you don't actually have an answer to the question. No reader wants to feel like they got suckered into a clickbait a post with no real conclusion or insight.

Example Headline: What Types of Headlines Attract Leads?

Number Headlines

Lists provide readers with an easy reading experience that doesn't have to skimp on quality content. As The New York Times wrote, a well-made listicle with good insights "spatially organizes the information; and it promises a story that’s finite, whose length has been quantified upfront." The number headline, then, serves as a promise for quality content, albeit one that uses our brain's natural preferences as a trigger for action. A Conductor study even found that people prefer headlines with numbers to those without.

What number should you use in your headline? Yes, it’s been proven that readers prefer certain numbers over others. The magic numbers you should aim for are three, five, or really any odd number. Instruction specialist Abreena Tompkins found that grouping information in groups of three or five can help people absorb information better. Just keep in mind that there is a limit—her research also showed that readers struggle to process more than nine items in a row.

It's important to note that while lists are useful, you can't—and shouldn't—convert every piece of content into a list. Some stories are best suited for an in-depth, long-form reading experience. There's no need to rework Moby Dick into "7 Reasons Why Ahab Just Had to Kill That Whale." The headline is a key way to entice readers, but the article itself needs to be worthwhile for readers to take any sort of action.

Example Headline: 5 Types of Headlines to Attract Leads (Look familiar?)

How To Headlines

You don't always have to get cute with your headline writing. A good "how to" headline offers a straightforward way to tell your audience exactly what your post is about and entice the readers who are looking to learn how to do something specific. In fact, you can assemble your very own "how to" headline using this formula:

Headline = "How to" + Verb + Thing + Benefit

Example Headline: How to Write Headlines to Attract Leads

Best Headlines

We’re not saying this is the best type of headline, but it is a good headline that can attract visitors. Your customers and readers want the best. Do they want to know the different types of headlines to attract leads or the best types of headlines to attract leads? When faced with a decision on which headline to click on, the “best” is simply more compelling.

Not only is this type of headline more compelling, it’s also how people naturally search. People often begin searches with “best way to…” or “best type of…” This type of headline is a great way to plug in keywords and improve SEO.

Headline Example: Best Types of Headlines to Attract Leads

Two-Part Headlines

Do you ever feel like you have two ideas for a headline, but wish you could combine into one mega headline? The two-part, or double whammy headline marries two headlines that could stand alone but are more powerful together. It’s like milk and cookies. Cookies are great on their own but are even better with milk.

To construct a two-part headline, you can use a colon, question mark, parentheses, em dash, or other types of punctuation to bridge the headlines together. This type of headline is great for plugging in keywords and making dull topics sound more exciting.

Example Headline: Writing Headlines: How to Attract Leads

Good Headlines Need Great Content

Regardless of what type of headline you choose for your content, it's important to remember that you're making a promise to your readers with every title you write. Misleading or inaccurate headlines will just result in readers leaving your site as soon as they realize you won't address their needs.

In the end, you need your content to be as good as your headlines. If you can entice readers with a good headline and keep them engaged from beginning to end, you’ll increase your chances of generating and converting leads.

Need help developing a strategic game plan or creating quality content for your site? Aztek’s content marketing team can help. Our content strategists, writers, and editors have the experience to leverage copy to attract visitors and generate leads. Contact us today to learn more about our digital marketing services and how we can help you grow your business online.

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How to Create an Editorial Calendar for Your Blog

How to Create an Editorial Calendar for Your Blog

By Lily Martis on  May 7, 2019

For many organizations, a blog is a great way to deliver fresh, topical, and relevant content to an audience. A successful blog keeps users coming back (or subscribing) to see what you have to say next. The trick, however, is finding the time to plan and write content on an ongoing basis.

It can not only be challenging to find the time to write the content itself, but also to identify what to write about. Oftentimes, this can lead to gaps in content being published, or even complete silence from a blog for months on end.

That’s where an editorial calendar can help keep you on a regular schedule. An editorial calendar is an organized list of topics, publish dates, and other pertinent information that will save you time (and keep you away for the horrors of writer’s block) when it actually comes time to write.

It’s better to plan ahead and think through how each post will help support your business goals, rather than write in a panicked state while a deadline looms in the near future. Follow these three steps to create an editorial calendar for your blog.

1. Identify Goals

Before you even start brainstorming ideas, remember why you have a blog in the first place. While every organization’s goals will vary, your blog should aim to:

  • Establish your organization as a thought leader in your industry.
  • Drive traffic to your website by answering prospect/customer questions.
  • Engage your audience or the community through content.
  • Share company, product, or service news.
  • Improve their site’s overall search engine optimization.

For most companies, the primary goal of the blog is likely to support lead generation and sales. When considering blog topics, look for ways to monetize your content. Ask yourself:
Does this content attract prospects that would be interested in my product/service?

  • Can I identify a call-to-action to lead a prospect to the next step in the sales cycle?
  • Does this content give a prospect the information they need, without “giving away the farm?”

Always come back to the goals you have for your blog. If you’re attempting to provide educational content for your audience, sharing information about the most recent company picnic might not be a good fit.

2. Brainstorm Blog Topics

Put on your thinking cap because now it’s time to brainstorm editorial topics. It’s always good to think of more topics than you’ll need in case a post doesn’t work out.

Frequently asked questions

What does your audience want to know more about? Make a list of the top questions your prospects and customers frequently ask. Your customer service, sales team, and other customer-facing employees should be able to provide you with some ideas here.

You can also find out specifically what people are looking for and asking using webmaster tools. Look up search queries and look for the terms “who,” “what,” “why,” and “how” to see exactly what questions your customers ask. You should also include these keywords to your posts. Answer the Public is a great, (mostly) free tool (just ignore the bearded man in glasses yelling at you) that shows you the top questions asked on the web regarding a particular keyword or phrase.

High volume content

Leverage web analytics like Google Analytics to find topics that interest your audience most. Look at what existing content is getting the most traffic and where people are spending the most time on your site. If your site has a search tool, pull the list of keyword or search terms they use. This data can help you discover missing or hard-to-find content topics on your site that your visitors find valuable.

Borrowed ideas

You may not always like your competitors, but you can use them for inspiration. Do some competitive analysis by trolling your rivals’ blogs for potential topic ideas. Media kits for industry publications can also be a treasure trove for good editorial topics.

3. Build Your Content Calendar

Now, it’s time to put it all together. But first, you’ll have to work out some technical details. You’ll need to determine:

  • How many blog posts do you want to publish a week, month, or year?
  • Who will be writing the blog posts?
  • How much time will this person/these people need to be able to dedicate to blogging?
  • Who will be editing or reviewing the content?
  • Who has the final approval?

Keep a spreadsheet of all your topics and keywords developed in your research process. Designate columns to help you keep track of who’s writing what, where the content is in the editorial process, and who that piece is targeted to reaching-a new lead, qualified prospect or customer.

These three guidelines should help you create an editorial calendar for your blog. Now, you just need to stick to it!

If you’re ready to develop a more strategic plan and goal for your website, or need assistance producing enough content for your blog, get in touch with us. Our team of content strategists, writers, proofreaders, and editors can help you attract visitors, build your audience, and convert leads.

Why Isn't My Website Working?

Why Isn't My Website Working?

By Lily Martis on  April 29, 2019

First, let’s take a deep breath. For whatever reason, your website is down or isn’t working the way it's supposed to. Before you sound the alarm and declare a national emergency, let’s triage this issue. Your website problem might not be as bad as you think.

Is your website down?

The website you wish to access just might be down right now. To find out, visit Down For Everyone Or Just Me and enter the problematic website URL. If the site tells you that “It’s not just you,” then, well, it's not just you.

This typically means one of two things. One, there could be an Internet outage that everyone’s experiencing. These types of outages are common and tend to make headlines. Remember that time we all almost died when Facebook and Instagram were down for two hours? This is similar, and can be just as painful, but just know that eventually we’ll all make it through just fine.

Additionally, it could also mean there’s a maintenance issue with your content delivery network (CDN). To put it simply, a CDN is a network of servers that are distributed across the globe for faster content delivery, which allows someone in Ohio and someone elsewhere the ability to both see your content, like a logo or image. Again, the only thing you can do in this type of situation is wait it out.

Is it a CMS issue?

When changes are made on a website—a new image, word, etc.,―those changes sometimes won’t be immediately reflected on your screen. You go back in and check to make sure you saved the changes in the CMS, and behold, the changes are there! If you can see the changes in the back end, then why aren’t they showing up on the front end of your website?

If you're having an issue seeing changes to your website in the browser window, try conducting a hard refresh. If you have a PC computer, press both Ctrl and F5 on your keyboard. On a Mac, hold down the Command and Shift key and then press R.

You could also try clearing your cache. A web or browser "cache" is where your program and website assets are stored, and your browser's history may simply be preventing your new website content from showing up on your computer. On Google Chrome, you can clear your cache by going to your browser history, clicking on "clear browsing data," and clearing your browsing history, download history, cookies and other site data, and cached images and files.

Or maybe you have no idea how or why changes have been made to your website. Are you wondering where that image went, or who published this blog? Before you point your finger or go on a hacker witch hunt, check in with your own team first. Chances are, this could be a classic case of internal miscommunication. You’d be surprised at how fast you can get to the bottom of these issues by sending a quick email or message around the office.

Is it a network issue?

Are you receiving some sort of "blocked" message when you try to access your website? There may be an Internet issue, network security setting, or firewall that's preventing you from accessing your own website. Your IT department can unblock a URL in the network’s security settings as well as help with an internal Intranet issue.

Is it a DNS issue?

Your IT department should be able to troubleshoot any DNS issues. A DNS, or domain name server, translates websites domain names to IP addresses. DNS issues occur when the web address is outdated or there’s an issue with the server. Typical fixes for this kind of website problem is by clearing the DNS cache, disable extra connections, and resetting your router.

Is there an SSL/TLS mismatch?

You know how Google is cracking down on security lately? Well, not only do you need to make sure you have an SSL/TSL certificate for your website, you also need to make sure it’s configured properly. SSL/TSL mismatches, also referred to as "handshake errors", will return an error message and means that your browser won’t serve the site. The company that hosts your website can help you in troubleshooting this issue.

Is it a third-party issue?

An API, or application program interface, is the language that lets a third-party product or service, like Google Maps, talk to your website. However, these API integrations sometimes change, causing applications like social media feeds, weather updates, and Google Maps not to show up on your website. While a little heads up when these changes occur would be nice, you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for one. For this website issue, you’ll likely need a web developer’s help to fix the broken code.

If you’re experiencing any problems with your website, feel free to reach out. Aztek's team of web developers is happy to help!

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How Content Marketing Helps SEO

How Content Marketing Helps SEO

By Lily Martis on  March 25, 2019

What’s the point of creating content if no one reads it? Content is meant to be read. However, many businesses struggle to actually get people to read their content. Sure, current customers who actively engage with your website may see your content, but in order to grow your business, you’ll need to reach prospective customers.

Content marketing is a great way to connect with consumers and drive action, but your content has to be found first. When SEO best practices are applied to a content marketing strategy, you’ll be able to gain more exposure in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and drive more qualified traffic to your site. Here are a few ways content marketing and SEO can work together.

Find Themes and Keywords

Keywords (or more specifically, groups of keywords) are the bread and butter of creating content for SEO. Keywords can tell you a lot of things, from search volume (what people search for the most) to keyword difficulty (how much of that content already exists that you’ll be competing with). Search engines consider keywords and phrases found in website copy, blog posts, articles, etc. to connect users with the right content.

Before you begin creating content, research and find relevant topics, themes, and keyword groups to incorporate into the copy. There are many different SEO tools you can use to find popular search terms, such as SEMrush, Moz, KeySearch, and more.

While it might seem like a good idea to use as many keywords as possible, “keyword stuffing” is bad form. Search engines can not only tell, but so can humans—you know, the ones who actually have to read your content. Keyword research should be directional. It should give you an idea of volume and competition, and more importantly, the types of information a user is looking for related to a specific topic or theme. It’s important to find balance between SEO and content, so that it’s both search engine- and people-friendly.

Quality Over Quantity

When it comes to SEO, content marketing isn’t about quantity—it’s about quality. Believe it or not, too much redundant, overlapping, or shallow content can cannibalize your search ranking. Fresh, unique, and creative content ranks higher than low-value and repetitive content.

Because search engines value fresh content, it’s important to have a consistent cadence of content. There isn’t a finish line when it comes to content marketing. It’s something you consistently have to maintain in order to stay relevant in an ever-changing digital landscape.

A content calendar can help you produce a steady flow of content. This schedule of content will lay out what you’re going to write and when you’re going to publish. Some brands publish every day, others every week or every month. Many use this content to fuel social channels, emails, and corporate communications. Remember, it’s about quality over quantity, and you can always re-purpose content to fit your different audiences and marketing needs.

Build Links

Search engines are all about demonstrating expertise and authority, which is why link building can help increase your search exposure. These backlinks, or inbound links, are hyperlinks to your site from another website. This begs the question: How can you get other sites to link to your content? By creating content worth linking to. The more authority you write with and the more unique your content is, the more likely your content will be used as a source by other content creators.

Additionally, you’ll want to look for opportunities to add internal and external links to your own content. Connecting your content with trusted, high-domain authority sites like .edu, .org, or .gov can really help increase your content’s credibility and search exposure. You’ll also want to link to internal pages on your site, so your readers will be more likely to spend time on your site, engage with other content, and easily find the information they’re looking for. From an SEO perspective, internal links can demonstrate to search engines a relationship between one piece of content and another.

Optimize the User Experience

SEO is about more than just writing blocks of text. Technical optimization, such as robots.txt, meta tags, alt text, and a solid sitemap can be just as important. Ultimately, search engines care about the user experience, whether they are searching, selecting, or reading your content.

Collaborate with your web design and development team to generate effective robots.txt files. This will ensure search engines can properly crawl and index your site to find your content.

Take a look at your sitemap, too. Is your content easy to find? Orphaned pages, or pages that aren’t linked to anywhere on your website, are bad for SEO because search engines can see that there is no clear path to the content for the user.

Alt text for images allows visually impaired users with screen readers to be able to understand what your images shows. It also helps search engines understand the context of an image. Writing good image alt descriptions and plugging in keywords can positively impact your search engine rankings.

Meta tags act like CliffsNotes for search engines by summarizing the main points of your content, which is why you’ll want to use good keywords. The title tag, which is typically limited to about 50-60 characters, is the text you’ll see at the top of your browser. It’s also the title of the search result that a user will see in a search engine. The meta description is a snippet of up to about 120-158 characters (or 920 pixels) that shows up in search results just beneath the page title. It’s important to ensure that these are relevant to the topic and keywords you’re targeting, but also compelling enough for a user to want to click on the search result.

Header tags within the content can help the user by breaking the content up into sections and making it more digestible. Search engines also look at header tags to gain additional context on the content itself.

Work with a Content Marketing Agency

Content marketing serves as the foundation for educating audiences, engaging visitors, and driving better business results. That’s why Aztek takes a content-first approach to web design and digital marketing. As a Cleveland-based agency, we’ll work with you to strategize, write, edit, promote, and distribute all types of content marketing customized to your needs. Even if you decide to keep content marketing in-house, we have helped clients with proofreading, editing, and optimizing content for search.

In addition to content marketing and SEO, Aztek provides comprehensive digital marketing services, including marketing automation, paid digital advertising, social media, and web analytics.

Contact us today to see how we can help your organization optimize your content for search.

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Is it Better to Hire In-House or Outsource Digital Marketing?

Is it Better to Hire In-House or Outsource Digital Marketing?

By Lily Martis on  January 30, 2019

Who handles digital marketing at your company? At most companies, just one person, sometimes even the owner, is solely responsible for digital marketing at their company, yet many CEOs say finding new customers, driving sales and building brand awareness are top concerns.

As the market becomes increasingly over-populated, it’s never been more challenging for businesses of all sizes and in all industries to stand out and gain a competitive advantage. That’s why savvy business owners are opening up to the idea of digital marketing as an effective way to generate new business for their organization, with most companies planning to up their digital marketing spend this year.

Regardless of if you’re building from the ground up or looking for new ways to grow, there’s no question your business needs an expert to handle digital marketing. It’s just a matter of whether you should hire in-house or outsource digital marketing. Let’s explore your options.

In-House vs. Agency

To gain more visibility and generate more quality leads, business owners need to decide whether it’s to their advantage to outsource digital marketing to an agency or keep everything in-house. Below, we compared in-house costs, technology and skillsets to a digital marketing agency.

How much does it cost to hire a marketing agency vs. in-house?

Hiring an in-house team for your digital marketing efforts is a timely and costly process, so you’ll want to make sure it’s the right move for your company. After all, the average cost-per-hire sits at about $4,000, not including salaries, benefits and taxes. On average, in-house marketing associates and managers are paid between $63,230 up to $132,230 annually—and that’s just for one person. Hiring multiple team members can really add up. While you might pay the same price over a year of working with a digital marketing agency, you’ll also be paying for an entire team of experts, rather than one or two people.

Keep in mind that it takes an average of 42 days to hire a quality member for your team—and you’ll surely pay the price if you fail to find the right fit. In fact, the average cost of a bad hire is nearly $17,000. Most companies can’t afford that kind of setback, especially when you’ll have to repeat the hiring process and invest even more time and money.

With agencies, on the other hand, you’ll avoid costs like recruiting fees, onboarding and training costs and expenses due to bad hires. Since agencies have already gone through the employee screening process and training period, your marketing efforts will be handled by qualified digital marketing pros who come “game-day ready.”

Essentially, you’ll pay less to work with more experienced professionals whose skillsets are more relevant to your specific needs. Depending on the scope of your digital marketing needs, monthly retainer contracts for agencies can range from four to five figures.

What kind of marketing tools will you need?

Simply hiring an in-house marketer often isn’t enough. You’ll need to arm them with the right tools to succeed. When it comes to digital marketing, you’ll find there’s a tool for everything. There are digital marketing tools for scheduling social media, analyzing website experience, reporting analytics, the list goes on. The cost for your organization to use these tools can quickly add up to thousands per year. That’s not even factoring in the time and cost to train your employees on how to use them.

With an agency, you’ll have access to the digital marketing tools you need. In most cases, the cost is already covered when hiring a digital marketing agency. Not to mention, the experts on an agency team come well-versed in how to use the tools. They’ll know how to leverage the tools to get the most bang for your buck with paid media, how to be more productive using marketing automation, which keywords will get you a higher search ranking, etc. It’s like Christmas Day for marketing.

Do you want a generalist or a specialist?

When you hire just one in-house employee, the scope of the job description will likely hit on all points within the digital marketing spectrum. This person will need to be a generalist, or a jack-of-all-trades, having a hand in content creation, a leg in marketing automation, a social media wizard, a website expert, etc. Not only are these “unicorn” employees hard to find, but for the in-house employee, it can be overwhelming trying to manage all the digital marketing functions of an organization. What often happens is that certain areas fall by the wayside and keeping up with industry trends goes right out the door.

As a key decision-maker in your company, you understand the power of delegation and that it can be better to divvy up tasks to different people rather than stick one person with all the responsibility. That’s what it’s like when you work with a digital marketing agency. Agencies are comprised of specialists in every facet of digital marketing. They’ll be experts whose sole purpose is to drive traffic via social media, others who will be dedicated to optimizing your website for search, you get the point. When you work with an agency, your organization will be able to delegate these tasks across an entire digital marketing team of experts. With vast experience in their given departments, these specialists will be up-to-date on everything from search engine algorithm changes to advancements in technology.

Hire a Digital Marketing Agency

When you build a business, you don’t want one person that “kind of” knows how to do everything. As they say, “jack-of-all-trades, master of none.” You want specialists who are experts at sales, finance, IT, operations, etc.

That’s why Aztek’s team is made up of experts in every area of focus related to digital marketing, including SEO (search engine optimization), PPC (pay per click), marketing automation, social media, web analytics, and content. As a Cleveland-based digital marketing agency, we have over 20 years of experience driving quality leads, sales, and awareness for hundreds of organizations throughout the Midwest. Even if you decide to hire in-house, we have helped clients provide strategic digital marketing direction and will work in conjunction with your in-house marketing team.

In addition to our digital marketing services, Aztek also provides web design and development to deliver well-designed and easy to use websites and applications to go along with your digital marketing efforts.

Contact us today to see how we can help your organization drive sales and build brand awareness through our digital marketing services.

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2019 Digital Trends to Watch in Web Design, Development & Digital Marketing

2019 Digital Trends to Watch in Web Design, Development & Digital Marketing

By Lily Martis on  November 14, 2018

What’s your New Year’s Resolution? Exercise more? Lose weight? You’ve come to the right place…sort of. What we mean is we can help you exercise more efficient digital marketing strategies and lose excess weight that’s slowing your website down. The best part is that you don’t necessarily have to wait for the ball to drop to get rolling.

Consider this your digital marketing primer to help you increase brand awareness, generate quality leads, increase revenue and better define your audience in 2019. As you’ll notice, we started to observe some of the trends in the list below this year, and we believe they will snowball into 2019 as top digital marketing trends.

It’s time to E-A-T

Google updates its algorithm about 1-2 times a day, with two “major” algorithm updates rolling out in 2018. The biggest updates occurred in March and, more recently, in August. To increase your search engine performance in 2019, you’ll need to EAT, or demonstrate Expertise, Authority and Trust.

Assert yourself as an expert in your field by making your content useful. Creating “About” and “Author” pages on your site are great starting points to establish your organization as a primary source and your writers as experts. This goes along with demonstrating authority, which you can achieve by listing your certifications and awards. Testimonials from third party sites, such as Yelp and Google Reviews, can also help to boost your credibility.

Trust can be established by making sure your site is secure, which is especially important since Google gives preference to sites with SSL certification. These secure sites are marked by the “S” in HTTPS at the start of a URL and means that communication between your browser and the website is encrypted, so information can’t be stolen. You want users to feel safe visiting your site, and as of July 2018, sites that use HTTP are labeled by Google Chrome as “not secure.” As a result, this could redirect traffic away from your site. Data from Chrome shows that more than 70 percent of its users visit HTTPS-enabled websites, so migrating to HTTPS will help increase traffic and boost search rankings.

Additionally, there’s a need for speed when it comes to mobile-first indexing, and Google wants your page load times to be fast. For optimal results, we recommend your page loading in under three seconds for the best user experience. To lower your bounce rates and increase average time spent on your page, check out Google Page Speed Insights.

Along with these core updates, you still want to focus on creating high-quality content. While it’s easy to get carried away optimizing for search, it’s still important to remember that you are creating content for humans first—not for search engines. Sorry not sorry, Google.

Search is expanding

Search no longer happens in a search box alone, so as you optimize your site for Google’s search results pages, there are other factors you’ll need to consider in 2019. Google has optimized its search pages to include answer boxes, maps, shopping, images, video and reviews to keep visitors on the search page, so users don’t need to click out of search results to find information. It’s not just Google, either. It’s also voice search like Alexa and Siri that are designed to simplify the search process. No longer is search a journey, but rather a destination.

Leverage the content on your site by using the to add structured data to your site pages.

Not only is the search experience different, but so is the way we search. Instead of typing one or two keywords into the search bar, consumers are now more likely to phrase their search as a question. These longer searches are more niche, which gives your organization the opportunity to produce content that answers both current and prospective customers’ questions better than any other page. A great (and free!) tool to use is Answer the Public, which allows you to view top questions people are asking on Google.

Don’t be afraid of big data

GDPR, which stands for General Data Protection Regulation, is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for individuals and the exportation of personal data. Under GDPR, people must opt-in, consent and have access to their data and the data must be securely stored. These laws give consumers greater transparency and control over their personal data, and written policies and privacy statements on your site will make it more trustworthy.

If your business operates or collects data in the EU, then you must ensure that your site is GDPR compliant, but regardless, it’s still a good idea to implement similar protections now. While such strict laws have yet to be implemented across the U.S., some states like California and Vermont have already passed data protection laws, with more states sure to follow suit in 2019.

With so much data available, you’ll want to find ways to tap into it. Collecting and leveraging first-party data can help increase your revenue by being able to target a clearly defined audience through pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Just make sure you understand the restrictions on data segmentation on major platforms (like Facebook) first.

AI and machine learning are here to stay

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are no longer just trends, but ways that businesses of all sizes and budgets are optimizing digital marketing efforts. Currently, 51 percent of businesses have implemented machine learning, and the other 49 percent are starting to look into the technology, as it can help create more personalized digital experiences for customers.

Already, we’re seeing machine learning being used on common platforms like Google Ads and Facebook as well as through programmatic advertising. Currently, more than four of every five digital display ad dollars in the U.S. are served through programmatic ads, with nearly $69 billion in digital display ad spending projected to transact programmatically in 2020.

AI chatbots—estimated to power 85 percent of all customer service interactions by 2020—can be another way to connect and better serve your customers and create more personalized digital experiences.

Finally, the use of data analytics and AI is driving huge results in predictive lead generation and scoring. Every day, we generate the equivalent of all the data that existed up to 2003, and as more data is accumulated in your system, prediction quality will only increase, thus improving sales and generating more revenue for your organization.

Go live in video marketing

Video is certainly not a new concept in digital marketing—more than 80 percent of internet traffic will be video by 2020—but there are some new ways you can leverage video that will optimize your strategy in 2019. To put it simply: Make it digestible.

Consider video length—and the shorter, the better where social media is concerned. Rather than one long video—FYI, even 30 seconds is too long—you’d be better off cutting up the video into more digestible “snacks” that last no longer than 10 seconds.

Add closed captioning to your videos in social media to not only allow viewers the ability to watch without sound, but also to make the video content more searchable. Facebook found that captioned video ads were watched an average of 12 percent longer than ads without captions.

In 2019, you’ll also see more augmented /virtual reality (AR/VR) implemented into digital marketing strategies—and for good reason. AR/VR further work to create personalized customer experiences and will continue to impact digital marketing strategies in 2019. It’s estimated that the augmented and virtual reality markets will surpass $298 billion by 2023. Businesses, such as Ikea’s use of AR to let customers preview how furniture looks in their homes or Rooomy’s use of VR to stage houses for real estate companies, provide some great examples of the different ways to leverage this technology.

Fall into the social media trap

Social media is a great way to connect with audiences, as most users log into their accounts at least once (if not more) per day. On Instagram alone, 80 percent of people follow at least one business account, and 60 percent say it’s how they discover new products.

In 2019, your strategy may pivot from redirecting users from social media to your site to better leveraging your social media posts to start conversations on social platforms themselves. That’s because instead of linking outward, social media platforms have been increasingly working to keep content and users on their networks. So rather than publishing a blog post on your website and sharing the link on social media, you might publish the content directly on Facebook or LinkedIn instead.

Additionally, to get real business results across your social networks, you’ll want to think about using some new formats of social advertising, such as in-app lead generation through Facebook Messenger and LinkedIn InMail.

Keep track of your analytics

Data will still reign king in 2019, so it’s vital to start the year with a solid analytics foundation. Fortunately, tools like Google Analytics and have made it easier than ever to track user behavior, interactions, conversions and ROI.

Implement closed-loop reporting to close the gap between your marketing data and sales data, so you can determine what is driving the most business for your organization. And now that Google Data Studio has come out of beta, you’ll be able to better visualize your data in 2019.

Check out the new Google Analytics Cross Device feature to better track user activity across mobile, tablet and desktop for a more comprehensive understanding of the customer journey. Not to mention, Google Tag Manager makes it easier to add and update tags, including conversion tracking and site analytics.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment in 2019. Identify opportunities to improve your website and put them to the test. Google Optimize is a great tool that offers A/B testing to help you hone your web design and digital marketing strategy. Throw some new strategies (like the ones listed above) at the wall and see what sticks!

Our New Year’s resolution is to continue to design and develop websites and create digital marketing strategies that optimize for search and generate revenue for our clients. We hope yours is to include and improve on the trends we’ve listed above. While most resolutions don’t last much past the first month, we look forward to revisiting this list at the end of 2019 to see the progress that has been made to the ever-changing world of digital.

Ready to get started? Check out all of the digital marketing services Aztek has to offer.

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