Should I Use a Website Builder?

Most businesses need much more power and flexibility than your typical website builder, but that doesn’t mean that the answer to “Should I use a website builder?” is always a resounding “No.”

Website builders are do-it-yourself interfaces for quickly assembling professional-looking websites without the need to know HTML, CSS, JavaScript, or any other coding language. Some of the most popular today are Wix, SiteBuilder, Weebly, and Fiverr. Website builder reviews are mixed because of their wildly varying applications, and finding the best website builder is often a process of trial and error.

example of website builder capability from wix homepage

An example of a website under construction from the Wix homepage

For ventures that are just getting on their feet, website builders are invaluable introductory tools. But for businesses that are ready to grow and generate revenue, there is no substitute for the power of today’s advanced content management systems (CMS). One of the most widely used CMSs today is WordPress, a favorite in the marketing industry and only a step below scratch web design.

It’s truly a question of individual needs. Start answering the question by asking yourself the following.

Are you (or is your company):

  • A startup?
  • A non-ecommerce business?
  • Establishing your first online presence?
  • Inexperienced in web design or marketing?
  • Medium-sized or greater?
  • An ecommerce business?
  • Looking to grow and generate revenue?
  • Seeking mobile customers in addition to desktop customers?


If you said yes to any of these questions, thenleverage colored circle with yes

use a website builder!

If you said yes to any of these questions, then

leverage colored circle with no

don’t use a website builder!


For startups – Our always-online consumer society needs a home base for your product or service, and website builders will get you up and running fast so you can start distributing marketing materials and get customers to your website.


For service-based businesses – Having a place for customers to make contact and get further information online is an instant boost to your lead catalog – provided you can bring the customers to your site.


For those new to web design and marketing – You’ve got to start somewhere, and website builders offer the luxury of ultra-fast web design alongside zero-effort marketing tools.

For medium and larger businesses – Website builders don’t have the customization, flexibility, and tracking capabilities that allow businesses to learn where growth opportunities exist and how to continually improve their business models.


For ecommerce businesses – You’ll need to be able to customize your ecommerce platform and track your sales and shipments carefully, something that even the most powerful builders can’t do yet.


For content marketers – Content management systems allow nearly infinite variation in how you handle, integrate, and distribute your content, and they support more types of content, as well.


What If I Don’t Have the Resources to Run a Content Management System?

It’s possible that your company has particular staffing needs that stretch your budget or is simply in a stage of growth that doesn’t allow for the flexibility of full-on marketing. When the resources aren’t available to take on a content management system, many companies add marketing responsibility to the job description of a staff member and open up a website builder.

While it’s not a mistake to do so, you’ll only be holding your growth back if you do. When the time comes to switch to a full-on CMS, you’ll have to shift resources to a marketing team or transition an employee or two to rebuild your website so that it’s up to today’s SEO and user experience standards.

A more forward-thinking option is to train your management to understand and operate a content management system so they can share ideas and collaborate. It doesn’t take long to learn the ins-and-outs of a CMS, and the small time investment will save you massive amounts of time and effort later.

professional male green shirt purple tie

Alternatively, you can hire a digital marketing team to take on the work for you. A quality agency will work with you and your budget to establish a plan of action and will openly communicate to ensure that your business goals and visions are met. Digital marketing professionals are deeply well versed in content management, and most of them know a good deal of HTML and CSS to help you customize the look and feel of your website content.

As a bonus, a digital marketing team often costs less than hiring just one full-time marketing employee. You don’t have to train content specialists and they are experienced in various fields and industries.

Be Careful with Website Builders

Again, it’s not that builders are negative, necessarily. Just keep in mind that if you plan to grow, you will eventually have to move away from the user-friendliness of building tools and start customizing your online presence to match your product or service. The transition can be precipitous, so plan ahead!

Our digital marketing experts at Leverage Marketing use advanced CMSs to deliver customized, branded content, web design, and user-friendly layouts. Let us manage your website for you!

6 Online Branding Strategies Your New Business Can Use Now

When you’ve been busy getting your business off the ground, marketing may not be your biggest priority. However, it’s never too early to start branding your business, and the sooner you adopt online branding strategies, the better.

Branding your business online will help you connect with your potential customers in the digital spaces where they spend time. A good branding strategy should give your audience a strong sense of what your company is all about and why they should choose you over a similar competitor. A well-developed brand will stick with consumers. Even if they’re not ready to buy from you right now, they’ll remember you when they need your products or services.

Let’s look at some of the online branding strategies you can start implementing now, even if your budget and resources are limited.

Expand Your About Us Page

Take a look at the About Us page on your website. Does it read like a laundry list of basic facts (e.g., founder’s name, year launched, location)? Is it a short paragraph that you told yourself would serve as a placeholder until you came up with something better? If so, it’s time to invest more energy in the content on this page.

The About page is your chance to introduce customers to your brand and show them what you stand for. This page needs to answer the questions:

Why does this business exist?

What does this business do better than anybody else?

Not everyone who lands on your site will visit your About page, but those who do will gain a better sense of what drives and defines your brand. And the act of developing content for your About page will help you and your team come up with the language that best describes your business, which you’ll continue to use in both offline and online branding strategies.

Document Your Buyer Personas

buyer persona icons for online branding strategiesBefore you can get rolling with your website branding strategies, you need to understand who you’re trying to reach. 74 percent of online consumers say they get frustrated when a website’s content is irrelevant to them, so it’s important to tailor your brand content to the right buyers.

You may already have an idea about the kind of person who will love your product or service, but do you have documented buyer personas? A buyer persona is a representation of your target audience based on market research and historical data. If you’re a new business, you may not have a lot of customer data to base your personas on. That’s okay: you can start with broad personas and add details as you learn more about your audience. For example, a company that sells beard grooming products might identify two primary audiences:

  1. Men with beards
  2. Women buying gifts for their bearded partners

As their business takes off, the beard care company can begin collecting demographic information from sources like Google Analytics, customer surveys, and interviews.

Once you learn more about (and document) your target buyers’ interests, pain points, and buying process, you’ll be better prepared to connect with them through your brand messaging.

Create a Brand Style Guide

No matter what branding strategies you use in your online marketing, your brand voice and visual style need to be consistent. Consistency helps your audience quickly recognize and identify with your brand, while inconsistency can confuse your audience and cause them to see your business as unprofessional. Your new business should take the time to create a brand style guide that includes:

  • Your brand’s mission/goals
  • Your brand story (e., the reason you exist)
  • Adjectives to describe the brand, as well as adjectives to describe what the brand is not
  • A description of your audience (e., your buyer personas)
  • Notes about language to avoid
  • Your brand color palette
  • Your brand typography (e., the fonts you’ll use)
  • Approved versions of your logo and descriptions of when to use each one
  • Best practices for visual content

Is that a lot of detail? Yes, but it’s worth it. Having a brand style guide that you can share with your employees and freelancers will keep everyone aligned with your brand voice. And that kind of consistency pays off: you’re three to four times more likely to enjoy brand visibility when you consistently present your brand, leading to an average revenue increase of 23 percent.

Develop a Customer Reward Plan

customer reward conceptBranding your business online isn’t just about attracting new customers—it’s about building brand loyalty.

One great way to improve your customer retention is to reward customers for every purchase. For example, you could:

  • include a personalized thank-you note whenever you ship an online purchase
  • send customers a discount code after they buy something or subscribe to your newsletter
  • let customers earn store credit every time they make a purchase.

Adopting a reward plan will help you become known as a company that truly cares about its customers. Additionally, if your company offers a type of reward plan that none of your competitors have, you can use it as a unique selling proposition. For example, the shoe company TOMS markets the fact that they donate a pair of shoes to a child in need every time a customer makes a purchase.

Encourage and Share User-Generated Content

One of the main goals of branding is to engage with potential customers so that they’ll choose to buy from your business. And one of the beauties of online branding is that you can directly connect with your audience on the digital platforms where they’re already spending their time.

Once you start building an audience online, encourage your followers to share brand content on your website and social media. User-generated content, which can be anything from product reviews to unboxing videos, builds your brand’s authenticity and provides social proof. When potential customers see real people using and enjoying your product, their confidence in your brand will increase.

So, how do you get your online followers to create and share content with your brand? Give them an incentive. For example, you could run a photo contest with a gift card prize or pledge to donate $1 to a charity every time followers post an Instagram photo using your branded hashtag.

Build an Influencer Network

influencer network concept of online branding strategiesA discussion of online branding strategies wouldn’t be complete without mentioning influencer marketing. Influencer marketing involves working with someone who has a dedicated base of online followers so that their followers can get to know your brand. This might include writing a branded guest post on an influencer’s blog, having an influencer share a photo of your product on Instagram, or teaming up with an influencer to host a webinar, just to name a few examples.

As a new business, you might not feel like you have the clout to work with an influential blogger or social media personality, but influencer marketing campaigns can work for companies of all sizes, as long as you’re willing to invest some time and effort.

The first step you’ll need to take is to identify online influencers who closely align with your brand and your customers’ interests. You can do this manually by performing Google searches for blogs that are relevant to your industry, or you can streamline the process by using an influencer database tool like Buzzsumo or Upfluence.

Once you’ve identified influencers you’d like to partner with, you’ll need to take the time to build a professional relationship. Subscribe to the influencer’s newsletter, comment on their blog, share their content on social media, and familiarize yourself with their brand. Influencers will be much more open to working with your brand if you’ve done your research and shown an interest in their content than if you abruptly ask them for a favor.

Need help implementing any of the online branding strategies above? The Leverage Marketing team specializes in building brands through digital channels, and we’d love to hear from you. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for your brand.

Why User Experience Is Vital to Your SEO Strategy

Gone are the days when website owners can simply stuff targeted keywords into their website, write catchy, keyword optimized title and meta tags, and then expect to rank on the first page of Google. Our team at Leverage Marketing has proven time and again that SEO works best when a holistic strategy is used – user experience, site speed, content, and site crawlability all play an enormous role.

User experience (UX) and SEO depend heavily on one another to achieve a desired outcome: better organic rankings and higher conversions. Let’s explore how user experience and SEO are inseparable from one another.   

First, understand that Google’s SEO algorithm is always changing. Only focusing on SEO rules as a strategy is simply not enough.

Many of you might be thinking, “But if I just write lots of quality content, get a ton of backlinks, and use the right keywords, then my SEO should be great. A good UX is just a bonus for the user, right?” This is the wrong way to look at the importance of UX as it relates to SEO.

It’s true that by only focusing on Google’s algorithm, you can still drive traffic to your site. However, by not focusing on providing the best possible user experience to your desktop and mobile site visitors, you are limiting the effectiveness of your website.

Think of it this way: understanding your customer is much more important than understanding Google’s algorithm (which is constantly changing). 20,000 website visits per month mean nothing if those visits aren’t contributing to your conversions, revenue, or other site goals.

The Relationship Between SEO and UX

If you look at both SEO and UX, you will see that they are actually very similar in their goal: to make it easier for users to find what they want and be satisfied with what they find. Today, we have many indications that Google cares about user experience and accounts for factors like time on page and bounce rate. What is important to Google must also be important to you if you want to rank competitively.

For starters, we already have numerous page elements that influence both SEO and UX. Let’s take a quick look at a few examples:


<h1> Headers are used by search engines to determine what a particular page is about, but they are also used by visitors to do the same. Furthermore, <h2> and <h3> tags are used by both site visitors and search engines to scan the page and determine the subtopics.

Great Content

Quality content results in users sticking around for longer on the page as well as potentially clicking deeper in the site. This is excellent for the SEO and also shows that the site is providing a strong UX.

Easy Navigation & Site Structure

website navigation conceptA solid navigation and logical site structure allows Google’s bots to easily crawl a website and determine what it is about and which keywords it is targeting. A website that has an organized, intuitive structure and navigation also provides a more pleasant user experience. Visitors are more likely to stay for longer on the website, to convert, and to possibly later link to or share a valuable piece of content.

Some other examples of where SEO and UX meet on your site include:

Beyond the previously mentioned common page elements that affect both UX and SEO, we also know that Google can currently understand other aspects of a website’s UX, such as page layout.

Recently, Google’s Pierre Far shared a post on Google+ telling publishers to make sure that they expose Javascript and CSS files to Google. Apparently, Google is able to use this knowledge to value links differently based on where they are placed on the page. Links that are placed in areas where the user can easily benefit from them will be given more SEO value.

The Future of UX and SEO

As Google becomes better at mimicking human behavior, UX is becoming more relevant in its search engine rankings. Its importance is only going to increase as we move into the future of search marketing.

Beyond this type of measurement of content quality, at this point in time, little is known for certain about the other UX aspects that Google might use as ranking factors both now and in the near future. According to Eric Enge at Stone Temple Consulting, the following are a few likely possibilities:

future of UX and SEO conceptThey could look at user engagement data.

“Search Engines may look at something more specific than just ‘bounce rate’ as a ranking factor.” Enge believes that Google could possibly look even more closely at how users behave once on a website.

They can do other types of on-page content analyses.

“For example, they can try to evaluate whether or not your page provides complete experiences: i.e., if they send 100 users to your page, what percentage of those will be satisfied?”

Think of the relationship of SEO and UX like this: UX targets your website’s visitors and SEO targets search engines. Both share a common goal of giving users the best possible experience. They are (and will remain) inseparable as we move further into the future of search marketing. Embrace them both!

The Big Picture for SEO

We know that a winning recipe in search marketing is not just SEO, but a great user experience combined with an excellent SEO strategy.

Will Reynolds, the director of digital strategy at SEER Interactive, agrees.

“The biggest way UX impacts SEO is simple. I think most of us can agree that Google is trying to understand user behavior and interaction with content. They might not have that completely figured out TODAY, but we know where that puck is going.”

At the end of the day, having a high SEO ranking and getting a user to your website is only part of the equation. You must be equally as interested in making sure that your website is providing solutions and solving user problems. A high quality user experience helps in making this a reality.

Leverage Marketing’s SEO and web design teams are ready to help you improve your site’s user experience. Contact Leverage today to learn more about our services.

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Unicorn Marketing and Your Business

If you work in the digital marketing industry, unicorn marketing has been an it-phrase for the last few months. Popularized by Larry Kim and his Content Marketing Moneyball webinar, a content unicorn is a key piece of content that’s been:

  • successfully shared
  • engaged with
  • ranks high on Google
  • meets important metrics like high CTR, ROI, and conversion

Unicorn content marketing is about throwing away everything you think you know about content marketing and dealing with the data. Instead of attempting to meet arbitrary quality guidelines, the theory of unicorn marketing posits that your best performing content is your quality content and that you should reuse it and repurpose it.

With a successful unicorn marketing strategy, you and your content team can take advantage of high-performing content, learn how to spot a unicorn, and think long-term about your content strategy. Utilizing unicorn marketing services can lead to viral articles that drive traffic to your site, have high click-through rates, and ultimately drive leads.


What is Unicorn Content?

Unicorn content is that blog post, webinar, video, or another piece of content everyone is talking about. It’s a piece of content that performs in the top 1-3% of your site and usually delivers most of your traffic. Unicorns are not only traffic drivers; they’re the best-performing content pieces in many ways. They usually have higher social engagement, clickthrough rates (CTR), and conversion rates than your donkeys (the rest of your content). The top 10% of your content will, on average, have a That’s why finding and cultivating your unicorns is so important.

In content marketing, we’ve tried to define quality content by many unrelated metrics: length, spelling and grammar, readability scores, expertise, and even more obtuse values. But unicorns are quality content. Quantity begets quality. You’ll find your unicorns in a hill of donkeys by producing hundreds of pieces of content and finding what works well. There aren’t boxes to check off to create quality content, and most of your blogs and videos won’t perform well. It’s all about finding your unicorn content and capitalizing on it.

What Do You Once You’ve Found a Unicorn?

Once you’ve found unicorn content, it’s time to use it. When you find high-quality, top-performing content on your site, you’ll “want to sound the unicorn alarm,” as Larry Kim says. Promote the content through your social media channels, and repurpose it into different forms, such infographics, videos, and SlideShare decks. If it’s something temporary, like a Webinar or Facebook Live video, you can always use it again for a different audience. While it’s not possible to predict what will succeed, you can reuse what does perform well in a new context to increase its chance of exploding.

One common trait found in unicorn content is the use of stories that evoke emotion. Use happiness, surprise, affirmation, and fear to craft your unicorn content marketing. With a consistent publishing strategy, careful data analysis, and valuable information for your readers, you can produce more unicorns.

unicorn marketing

What Does This Mean for My Content Strategy?

Overall, content marketing goals for your business should remain the same. Even while using a unicorn content marketing strategy, consistency is key. Keep writing, learn from your metrics, and invest in your high-performing content. Look at your data after several months and find what’s working—use your statistics. It’s not always possible to predict what will be popular, just try to create the spark that will help any piece of content succeed, whether it turns out to be a donkey or a unicorn.

Are you having trouble writing high-performing content that maximizes ROI? Leverage Marketing’s content team knows how to turn a herd of donkeys into a blessing of unicorns. Contact us today to start your journey to better content.  

Debunking Myths About Writing and Blogging for SEO

“Blogging” sometimes earns an eye roll from business owners. This is probably at least partially because a lot of business blogs have a reputation for being:

  • Woefully neglected
  • Run by a cadre of proofreading-averse interns
  • Run by someone who has read about the importance of blogging for your business, but who doesn’t know quite how to execute for maximum effect

The reason that a lot of company blogs are unloved often has something to do with the fact that businesses don’t have the time or knowledge to execute a great blog strategy, and without a great strategy, blogging doesn’t always demonstrate a lot of value. However, it doesn’t have to be like that.

Blogging is just as much about building your site’s SEO value as it is about engaging your customers. Blogging and SEO are a match that is meant to be, and neither is quite as good without the other involved. If you’re pursuing some SEO tactics on your site but not blogging, you’re missing a huge opportunity to expand your SEO work, and if you’re blogging without an eye to SEO, you’re not getting all the value out of your blog that you could be.

With all this confusion about how blogging and SEO are actually related, a lot of myths about blogging for SEO have begun floating around in business’s collective consciousness—hence the spread of intern-run company blogs. Don’t fall prey to these myths: get the full scoop on how blogging does actually help SEO.

Myth #1: Blogging for SEO reasons is a waste of resources – search engines don’t care about my business’s blog.

Contrary to what you may think, search engines care a lot about what you’re blogging about or if you’re not even blogging at all.

Search engines are a lot like your customers—they’re more likely to trust information from sources that look authoritative. Think about it; if you were shopping for something, would you rather buy a product from a site with no product description, or would you rather shop at the well-organized site with lots of helpful information?

Search engines would rather serve up a site that’s full of useful info for searchers. This is a simplified explanation of a concept known as “authority”, and it’s one reason why blogging is important to the long-term prosperity of your site. Blogging is a straightforward method of building up your site’s stock of useful info, which helps make your site look like an industry authority, no matter what your industry is.

Blogging also helps SEO by building up the amount of information on your site that other sites could link to. This is one of the ways that search engines determine which sites should rank highest in search results. If there are lots of different relevant and trustworthy links pointing back to your site, Google is going to see you as an authority and will grant you higher rankings in the results pages because of it.

creative blog conceptMyth #2: Blogging is only for companies with “fun” offerings – nobody’s going to read our blog, ever.

People have questions about pretty much everything, even boring stuff. I don’t get really excited about filing my taxes, but I still have questions about it that I turn to Google to answer—which a lot of big companies know, and why they spend time and money writing blog content that targets confused taxpayers like me who are looking for answers. I can almost guarantee that your product or service isn’t more boring than taxes, and even if it is, that probably just means there are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding it.

This is where blogging, SEO, and content marketing all need to work together to achieve results. Even if you answer tons of relevant questions and impart lots of relevant info in your blog, your content is still going to be hard for people to find without a great SEO-focused keyword and content promotion plan. That’s a big and multi-faceted topic that doesn’t quite fit into this post, but we write a lot about this kind of stuff on our blog.  We can also just do all this hard work for you, because we know you have plenty of other things to do besides trying to learn how to write the perfect blog post for a business.

Myth #3: Blogging isn’t necessary if you’re doing other SEO stuff.

Run your business however you want, but if you focus solely on product and service pages, you’re missing the benefits of an SEO-focused blogging effort. Why? Well, like trying to scratch an itch on the middle of your back, there are just some search queries you can’t target with your top-level site content.

For example, pretend you have a website for your llama rescue ranch. Obviously, your homepage, “About Us” page, and other key pages on your site will target search queries such as “llama ranch” and “llama rescue”. But think about a long question query like “what do llamas eat”.  This search query gets 500+ searches a month, not a lot of other sites are trying really hard to rank highly for it, and it’s relevant to your industry. You can’t really target that query on your homepage without sounding awkward, but you shouldn’t just give up on those 500 searchers a month that could be learning about your ranch, either. Why not write a blog post for your business that targets this query?

Sure, maybe those searchers aren’t actually looking to visit a llama rescue ranch today—but maybe they’re really into learning about llamas, and they didn’t even know your llama rescue ranch existed until they read your blog post. That’s a future visitor you just ensnared with the power of blogging for SEO.

Myth #4: We should use every single blog post to directly promote our offerings.

Promotional blogging for SE) mythThis is a myth best busted by putting yourself into a non-digital scenario. Say you want to buy a car but have very little idea what you’re looking for, which model or features you want, or even what your budget is. You’re just kind of scoping out the market—you’re not even sure you’re going to get a new car. Then you head to a used car dealership to just walk around and look at the selection of cars for a bit, and the salesman pops out and says, “I CAN SELL YOU THIS CAR FOR $5,000 LESS IF YOU BUY THIS CAR RIGHT NOW, NO QUESTIONS ASKED!”

That’s essentially what you’re doing to potential customers when you try to make every blog post into a big promotional sales pitch. It’s a version of a bait-and-switch technique, in that you’re working to draw in a reader who is likely just seeking information or tips, and then you try to close a sale with someone who isn’t even close to ready to buy. By doing this, you’re practically asking visitors to bounce from your site.

Let the main product or service pages on your site be the sales pitches. If you want to use your blogging for long-term SEO impact, spend your time more wisely by giving readers answers and information and a call to action that will either keep them on your site, or will stick your brand name in their mind or in their browser’s bookmarks bar. That way, when they’re actually ready to buy something, they’ll know and trust your site, and they’ll come to you first.

Myth #5: Blogs don’t ever convert readers into customers.

There’s a nugget of truth to this SEO blogging myth: blogs aren’t good at converting customers right on the spot. If you are expecting your blog to immediately turn casual readers into paying customers, you are going to be disappointed, no matter how good your call to action is.

Most people aren’t going to enter your site for the first time through a blog post and slide right into the checkout process or lead form fill, and it’s a little unfair to expect them to. Think about it – how many times have YOU done that? We’re willing to bet it’s not many.

We get it: you want to pursue marketing activities that deliver immediate ROI and boost results sooner rather than later. But blogging for SEO benefit is a long game—and there are a LOT of perks to running a long game. While a reader may not make a purchase or submit your full form after reading one blog post, think about what DOES happen when someone hops onto your site for the first time via a blog post.

  1. They see your brand name.
  2. They get a sense of what your site offers, and associate your brand name with that offering.
  3. They may feel some level of affinity for your brand for answering their question, providing them with information, or offering a solution to their problem.
  4. They could sign up for your newsletter, download your eBook, or perform another action that allows you to keep their contact information and convert them down the line.
  5. They could share the post with other people, extending your reach and repeating the cycle.

Advertising agencies are literally paid thousands of dollars just to get companies’ brand names in the consumer’s mind. A good SEO-driven blogging strategy accomplishes this, and you don’t have to pay for an ad on a billboard or stick your logo on the rear end of a bus. Sure, following a bunch of SEO blogging tips and strategies is going to take some of your time and resources, but the reason why blogging is important for your business is because it is a sustainable method of building your site’s authority and bringing in first-time visitors. Show me a bus sticker that does that.

Still not convinced blogging for SEO is worth your time? We get that you don’t want to put money into something that doesn’t give back. That’s why our team has become experts at squeezing every drop of SEO value out of your blog. Get in touch with the Leverage Marketing team today and let us do the lifting with your blog for a while.