Posts about web design, site structure, coding, etc.

Link Roundup: Balancing User Experience and SEO

There are a lot of articles out there that feature phrases like “UX vs. SEO”, as if user experience and search engine optimization are Batman and Superman, engaging in an epic battle to determine who should have greater influence over web design. In reality, UX and SEO strategies are both incredibly important to incorporate when designing a website. If you don’t believe me, take it from the 12 articles featured below.

New to SEO and/or Web Design? Start Here

What Everyone Ought to Know about User Experience Design

What makes for a good user experience? There are a lot of factors involved, including visual design and layout, page load speed, tone of content, and calls-to-action. These are all factors that indirectly matter to SEO, too, because when users have a positive experience on your site, you’ll get more traffic, shares, and links, which leads to higher search rankings. You can learn more about the benefits of a great user experience– and some brands that are nailing it– in this article.

The Anatomy of an Optimized Web Page [Infographic]

Visual learners should check out this infographic, which nicely breaks down all the major SEO and design elements that go into a well-optimized web page.

How Site Usability and User Experience Affect SEO

Think site usability and user experience are the same thing? The author of this article argues that there’s an important difference– site usability is about ease-of-use, while UX is about how a user feels– but that both can indirectly impact SEO. Check out the full article to get tips on how to improve your website’s UX and general usability.

Be Sure to Balance SEO and User Experience in Your Web Page Design

SEO and user experience don’t have to be at odds in a web design project. However, there are certain UX-related trends that can negatively affect search engines’ abilities to crawl a website. This post goes over some of the things to avoid– and some of the things you can do to create a site that provides a great user experience without sacrificing SEO value.

Let’s Dig a Little Deeper

The Crucial Connection between SEO and User Experience

Google frequently updates their search algorithm to “think” more like a human web user. Put another way, Google’s goal is to identify user intent in order to serve the most relevant/helpful web pages at the top of the search results page. This means that user experience is now intertwined with SEO, and SEO specialists need to think beyond keywords.

User Behavior Data as a Ranking Signal

No, search engines can’t understand human emotions, but they can use behavioral data (such as click-through-rate, navigational paths, and dwell time) to get a pretty good sense of a user’s experience with a website. This article examines the ways major search engines look at these different signals, and how it affects your search engine rankings.

Four Benefits of Aligning SEO and UX When Building Your Website

This post discusses why it pays to have web designers and SEO specialists team up. One major advantage is that SEO specialists can provide concrete search data to help designers make informed UX-related decisions. To read about some of the other benefits, check out the full post.

5 Experts Explain Why Sweet UX is Vital for Search Marketing

Still not convinced that UX and SEO go hand-in-hand? Maybe several search marketing thought leaders, including Moz’s Rand Fishkin and SEO 2.0’s Tad Chef, can change your mind. As an added bonus, this post includes links to additional educational resources recommended by the experts.

Tips for a Better User Experience and SEO Strategy

10 Tips That Can Drastically Improve Your Website’s User Experience

It’s easy to see how many of the tips in this guide– including using well-written headlines and catching your 404 errors– tie in nicely to SEO best practices.

Optimize Your Images and Make Them SEO Rockstars in 4 Steps

Images can be an important UX factor to consider (after all, most people prefer viewing a web page with eye-catching images and small chunks of text rather than a solid wall of words). Search engine bots can’t crawl images the same way they crawl text– but there are steps you can take to ensure you’re getting SEO benefits from the pictures on your site.

Site Design & Migration Tips to Avoid SEO & UX Disasters

This is a must-read for anyone who is considering overhauling and migrating their company’s website. It offers some great tips about how SEO and UX team members can work together to head off potentially costly mistakes in the early stages of development.

How to Rank Better with User Experience Marketing

This is a pretty long read, but it’s worth it–who doesn’t want to know the key to providing a delightful user experience and ranking higher in the search engine results. The article does a particularly good job at explaining how businesses can increase their web page shares–and in turn increase their rankings– by providing visitors with a fun, useful, or educational experience.

Takeaways

If there’s a through line in all the link roundup posts above, it’s this: when you design web pages that successfully educate, entertain, or help site visitors, you’ll see search engine ranking benefits. Because search engine algorithms are designed to serve the best possible results based on user search intent, UX and SEO are now closely connected.

If you’re planning a site update and need help implementing UX and SEO strategies, contact Leverage Marketing. We’d love to help you delight your site visitors and rank higher in the search engine results pages.

4 Ways to Track Conversions When Your URL Does Not Change

If you perform Internet marketing functions for enough clients, you’re bound to run across this problem at one point or another.  What do you do when you are trying to track a goal or conversion but the URL does not change after action is taken?  This happens most often when people submit lead forms–you hit “Submit” and the form posts but the entire page does not refresh.  Far too many people just end up giving up, and then, are unable to track their campaign performance.  Others will set that form page as a goal / conversion so anyone who sees the lead form counts as a win whether they complete the form or not. There has to be a better way, right?  Well there is, or actually, there are.  Below are several ways to track these conversions along with examples.  I’ll do my best to break this down for the novice developer but some basic HTML / Javascript skills are required.


Call to action text in case your image doesn't load.

For Analytics-based tracking, these tips are for Universal Analytics and calls to analytics.js.  If your implementation still calls ga.js, we will provide links to Google’s Developer resources for legacy implementations (though you should strongly consider upgrading your implementation to analytics.js)

1. Analytics Event Tracking

Event Tracking is a fairly powerful and very underutilized function in Google Analytics that allows you to track things like button clicks, video plays, or file downloads.  Event tracking makes a call to ga.js in order to notate non-pageview items on your website.  The results will show up in the “Events” reports under the “Content” section of Google Analytics.  You can also define an event as a goal.  For our purposes, we want to track people who press the “Submit” button on the lead form.

In this example, we only need to focus on the “Submit” button in the code.  Below is a generic example of such a button.

<input type=”button” id=”subbtn” value=”Submit;” />

To add event tracking to this button, we’ll need a minimum of 3 basic elements:

  • Call the ga() function to send an event
  • An event category (a grouping that you determine for the event, i.e. “lead forms”)
  • An event action (what the user is doing to trigger the event, i.e. “submit”)

Labels (additional information you want to provide about the event) and values (similar to a goal value) can also be added but are not required.  We’ll omit them for simplicity.

After adding that information, here is how our new code should look:

<input type=”button” id=”subbtn” value=”Submit” onClick=”ga(‘send’, ‘event’, ‘Form’, ‘Submit’);” />

Click here to visit the Google Developer resources for ga.js implementations.

Please note that this is not a perfect solution.  If a user clicks the “Submit” button more than once, the event may be duplicated.  Also, if somebody does not fill out the form in its entirety and receives an error upon submitting, it will still track as an event even if they do not go back and complete the form.  If you have some sort of form validation in place, you can modify the code to only run if the submission was successful but that will vary by the type of form you’re using.

2. Analytics On-Click Virtual Pageviews

The _trackPageview function is another call to ga.js that allows you to artificially generate a pageview when an actual pageview does not take place.  This is quite useful for many of the same reasons as Event Tracking, and has the added benefit of showing up as a pageview in your content reports.  For example, if you have an AJAX shopping cart, you can use this function to tell which step of the checkout a user abandons.  This is also common if you have PDFs on your site for sales info, forms, restaurant menus, etc. Virtual pageviews can also be turned into goals, just like a standard pageview goal.

For this tracking function, let’s assume your checkout is all on one page but requires users to click “continue” to reach separate sections.  Below is the existing code example:

<button type=”button” id=”continueCheckout” onclick=”billing.save()”></button>

(user clicks that button, and then, the following div loads)

<div id=”checkout-step-payment”>

With virtual pageviews, we only need to create the call to ga() function to send a pageview and provide the naming convention for the virtual URL.  There are numerous ways to call these actions but we’ll use an onclick event to do so here.  Below is the modified example:

<button type=”button” id=”continueCheckout” onclick=”billing.save(); javascript: ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’, ‘/checkout/payment/’);“></button>

Click here to visit the Google Developer resources for ga.js implementations.

In this example, the semi-colon at the end of the existing onclick event is important so the browser knows to look for additional items when the button is clicked.

3. Conversion Code in a div that Loads after Submission.

In many forms, the user is greeted with a “thank you” message that appears on the page upon hitting submit but the URL does not change.  Generally, this type of response is called by PHP and the specifics of it can vary by the type of form you’re using.  However, if your site is developed in PHP, there’s a good chance your form page will have a section like the one below:

<?php if ( $success ) echo “<p>Thanks for sending your message! We’ll get back to you shortly.</p>” ?>

This is your opportunity to add your AdWords / AdCenter tracking code.  Simply paste the code you get from the PPC channel into the response message and it will appear after a user successfully submits your form.  Even though this is pretty straightforward, I have an example below (please substitute with your own PPC conversion code or this won’t work).

<?php if ( $success ) echo “<p>Thanks for sending your message! We’ll get back to you shortly.  <!– Google Code for Conversion Page –>

<script type=”text/javascript”>

/* <![CDATA[ */

var google_conversion_id = XXXXXXXXX;

var google_conversion_language = “en”;

var google_conversion_format = “3”;

var google_conversion_color = “ffffff”;

var google_conversion_label = “XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX”;

var google_conversion_value = 0.00;

var google_conversion_currency = “USD”;

var google_remarketing_only = false;

/* ]]> */

</script>

<script type=”text/javascript” src=”//www.googleadservices.com/pagead/conversion.js”>

</script>

<noscript>

<div style=”display:inline;”>

<img height=”1″ width=”1″ style=”border-style:none;” alt=”” src=”//www.googleadservices.com/pagead/conversion/XXXXXXXXX/?value=0.00&amp;currency_code=USD&amp;label=XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0″/>

</div>

</noscript>

</p>” ?>


Call to action text in case your image doesn't load.

4. On-Click Conversions with Call Tracking

This fairly new feature of AdWords allows you to track click-to-call actions on your website as conversions.  This is great for mobile traffic or desktop users that have Skype (or a similar VOIP solution) installed.  AdWords will also report conversions for visitors who manually dial the phone number displayed on the web page.  When you create a new conversion in AdWords, you’ll now see an option to track Phone Calls.

The conversion code is below, and has a few key differences from a standard conversion.

<script type=”text/javascript”>

(function(a,e,c,f,g,b,d){var h={ak:”XXXXXXXXX”,cl:”XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX”};a[c]=a[c]||function(){(a[c].q=a[c].q||[]).push(arguments)};a[f]||(a[f]=h.ak);b=e.createElement(g);b.async=1;b.src=”//www.gstatic.com/wcm/loader.js”;d=e.getElementsByTagName(g)[0];d.parentNode.insertBefore(b,d);a._googWcmGet=function(b,d,e){a[c](2,b,h,d,null,new Date,e)}})(window,document,”_googWcmImpl”,”_googWcmAk”,”script”);

</script>

For one, it’s all javascript.  Due to the nature of this conversion type, there is no way a script-free pixel can fire so users must have javascript enabled.

Beyond that, you need to have some extra code to make this conversion type work.  The code above goes on any page with your phone number listed.  To activate the conversion, you need to add a second piece of code to call the _googWcmGet() function and replace your phone number with a Google forwarding number when someone visits your site through an AdWords ad.  There are a few different options for implementing this piece, but the most straightforward is to create a “number” class and place your number in appropriate spans.  Here is an example:

<body onload=”_googWcmGet(‘number’,’555-555-1234’)”>

<span class=”number”>555-555-1234</span>

</body>

Now every time an AdWords visitor calls you from your site, a conversion will be triggered in AdWords. You can also define conversions based on the length of the call. It’s quite simple to implement and very valuable for companies that receive a lot of phone leads.

10 Digital Marketing Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

Setting lofty self-improvement goals is a time-honored New Year’s tradition, as is breaking those resolutions partway through the year. While it might sound cynical to talk about broken resolutions when we’re only midway through January, it’s worth bringing the subject up so that we can all start thinking about how not to be in the 64% of people who fail to keep their resolutions for more than six months. If you’re setting digital marketing goals for 2016, it’s a good idea to make them tangible and specific. By setting smaller, manageable goals, you’ll be able to steadily work towards your larger goals without becoming overwhelmed. Help your marketing department get past the talking phase of goal-setting for 2016. Here are 10 actionable suggestions for digital marketing resolutions. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

1. Add social share buttons.

This resolution is for all the businesses that regularly post great original content on their site but fail to promote it. Your content may be amazing, but it’s not likely to attract much traffic unless you promote it. There are lots of strategies for promoting your content—Buffer has a list of 11 you can try—but one incredibly easy way to start is to add social share buttons to your blog. You can do this by using an app like ShareThis, which will give you a snippet of code to embed on your site so that visitors see buttons that allow them to share the content they like on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks with one click.

2. Add calls-to-action and contact buttons.

In addition to adding social share buttons, try adding calls-to-action and contact buttons to relevant service pages and at the end of your most successful blog post. This makes it easy for site visitors to go to the next step of their research or purchasing process with minimal navigation around your site. If you regularly communicate with clients or customers over the phone, add a click-to-call button so that visitors who are looking at your site on their smartphone can call you instantly by pressing a phone icon.

3. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly.

In May of last year, Google rolled out their ominously nicknamed ‘Mobilegeddon’ update, which was designed to give a search engine rankings boost to sites that looked good and functioned well on all device types (desktop, tablet, smartphone, etc.). If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you may be ranking lower on search engine results pages than competitors who have optimized your site for mobile. Not sure if your site is mobile-friendly? Try Google’s handy test. If your site isn’t up to date, it’s time to have a web designer make some changes.

4. Survey your new clients.

Resolve to make digital marketing decisions that are based on data, and start by surveying your clients or customers to get valuable feedback. Consider asking about how they found you, what they like about your process, and what part of your process they think needs improvement. Keep the survey short so that clients/customers know it will take very little time and energy to fill it out.

5. Join a LinkedIn group.

Joining a LinkedIn group relevant to your industry can help you expand your network and increase your authority, which is especially valuable if you’re a content marketer. You can start a discussion with members of your group to get ideas for new content, ask for feedback on an article you’re currently working on, and keep up with the industry news that other members are sharing, just to give you a few ideas. To get started, go to LinkedIn’s Group Directory and search for terms related to your industry or target audience. Once you’ve found at least one group that you like, set a goal to stay relatively active in discussions throughout the year (otherwise, you won’t get much out of the group).

6. Do a quick GA analysis.

If you’re still putting off going into Google Analytics to see how your site is performing, the time to stop is now. Anyone who has anything to do with a company’s online performance can benefit from taking a look at Google Analytics every now and then. Whether you’re a copywriter, designer, web developer, social media specialist, or a manager, owner or junior level employee

At the very least, go into the Behavior section of reporting and Check out the pages with the most pageviews, highest bounce rate and pages with the highest average time on page. This will give you an idea of which pages are performing the best and worst overall and then you can go about analyzing them and try to make the worst pages perform more like the high performing pages.

7. Audit your site’s page load speed.

Did you know around 25% of users leave a website if it takes more than 4 seconds to load? That number only gets lower as time goes on. Google provides a free page load speed tool for web developers to check the load speed of their company’s web pages. Use this free tool to check your website to see if there are any major improvements to be made. The Page Speed Insights tool will also let you know how your site performs on mobile, and it will tell you what changes to make to improve the overall speed of your website. Read more in our blog about improving your page load speed.

8. Audit your online listings.

Review your company location, name, address, hours, etc. online. Make a list of all the places your company’s basic information is listed such as Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Yelp and others. Be sure to do a search for your company and make sure that someone else hasn’t incorrectly posted your information. Make changes as needed. There’s nothing more frustrating for a customer or prospect trying to find you than calling a wrong number or showing up at the wrong location.

9. Check your site’s meta data.

Use a quick SEO tool like SEO Spider to pull up all the pages on your website and do a quick review of the title and meta description tags on all the pages. Ideally, your title tags shouldn’t be longer than 60 characters and your descriptions should be under 170 characters. Make sure the tags are giving the right message to your audience and to search engines. In other words, make sure appropriate keywords are included. If you have the time, look at your H1 tags as well.

10. Update your search ads.

Review and update any ads you may have running from last year. Make sure they are still relevant and linking to an appropriate landing page or web page. Nothing makes people bounce faster than landing on an irrelevant web page or clicking on an offer that has expired.

 

If you have a team to help you, these 10 resolutions can be taken care of in just a couple of days. If the overall state of your website and online presence aren’t so great, these could take a lot longer, but it is well worth the time to go through all of these and make sure your site and your company are ready for the year. Acting as the online marketing team for many of our clients, we go through at least these basic housekeeping points to get our partners started going in the right direction and to start the year off right, so should you.

 

Co-authored by Madeline Jacobson & Natalie Parra-Novosad

SlideShare: The State of Mobile Ecommerce

Here at Leverage Marketing, we’ve been thinking about mobile-friendly design a lot– especially since the holiday shopping season is approaching. According to Google, 40% of last year’s holiday shopping took place online, and of the people who shopped online, 53% used smartphones or tablets. If you’re an online retailer, you need to be ready to meet consumers on the devices they’re using to research products, compare prices, and buy.

Want to know more about how mobile trends are shaping the holiday shopping season? We’ve put together a SlideShare presentation with some revealing statistics about mobile trends, from the number of people who own smartphones to the amount of time the average consumer spends doing research on their mobile device. Check it out below:

 

Mobile Ecommerce Link Roundup

As of 2014, approximately 64% of US adults owned a smartphone. As mobile devices become more and more affordable and integral to everyday life, that percentage is only going to increase. If you’re an online retailer, you’d better be ready to meet customers on the portable, internet-enabled devices where they spend so much of their time. Make sure you’re caught up with the latest trends and best practices for mobile optimization by checking out the link roundup below.

Best Practices

How to Keep Your Site Fast for Mobile-Friendly

Moz published this post back in April, just in time for Google’s mobile-friendly update (aka ‘Mobilegeddon’). This update was designed to rank sites that work well on mobile devices higher than sites that don’t. While most sites haven’t been as negatively impacted as originally predicted, it’s still worth keeping the tips in this post in mind. After all, if your site is too slow to load, your potential customers will quickly go somewhere else.

5 Tools to Test If Your Website is Mobile-Friendly

These tools will help you determine if your site meets Google’s standards for mobile-friendly, loads quickly, looks good on different types of mobile devices, and is free of web markup code errors. Some of these tools are a paid service, but others are completely free.

3 Types of Mobile Marketing Messages Marketers Must Know [VIDEO]

Have 60 seconds to spare? Want to learn the basics of reaching out to customers through their mobile devices? This one-minute Marketo video offers straightforward explanations of SMS/MMS, push notifications, and in-app messaging. There’s also an accompanying blog post that elaborates on each mobile message type in case you forgot your headphones and can’t watch the video.

10 of the Finest Mobile Ecommerce Sites

The best way to figure out how to optimize your site for mobile may be to look at other sites that have really nailed their mobile design. Check out the 10 ecommerce sites listed here and take notes.

The Efficient Mobile Marketing Formula for Unleashing Your Full Potential

This post covers a lot of ground, from how to think of mobile users vs. desktop users to how to design a landing page for mobile. I think the advice for crafting mobile ads is particularly useful—web users are usually in a different state of mind when searching on their mobile device than when they’re on their computer (usually they’re looking for more immediate services), and your ads should reflect this.

Watch Out for Challenges and Pitfalls

Mobile-Friendly Isn’t Enough for Local Businesses: 3 Pitfalls to Avoid

Optimizing your site for mobile is a start, but you can’t just coast from there. This post reminds us to think about the core pages web users will need to access on the go, look at trends in the mobile overview report in Google Analytics, and make sure that all elements on your site are responsive using Chrome’s mobile emulator tool.

7 Mobile UX Fails That Are Killing Your Ecommerce Site

This first fairly obvious fail described here is not optimizing your site for mobile, but the article gets more detailed from there. It points out that you’re going to create a frustrating user experience if your site doesn’t cater to touchscreens, has complex navigation, and requires users to fill out lengthy forms.

3 Common Mistakes Mobile App Marketers Make and How to Fix Them

Not all brands need a mobile app (usually a mobile-friendly site will do), but if you are intent on making an app, pay attention to these tips from MarketingProfs.

Measuring Mobile Effectiveness Still Challenges Marketers

According to eMarketer, one third of worldwide marketers don’t know how to collect and integrate data from mobile with other digital channels, and close to two thirds of marketers don’t know how to effectively track and analyze mobile app data. This post is an important reminder that you need to come up with a plan for measuring mobile, especially if that’s where a significant number of conversions are coming from.

Responsive Design, Adaptive Design, and Beyond

Why You Don’t Need to Choose Responsive Design (But Should)

Not entirely sure what responsive design is all about? This article serves as a great primer. It discusses why Google recommends responsive design and how this type of mobile optimization can benefit your website, and it also looks at some situations in which responsive design might not actually be the best choice for your business.

Responsive is the McDonald’s Cheeseburger of Mobile SEO

With a title as intriguing as this, you can’t help but read on to find out why the author thinks responsive design is the fast food of the mobile SEO world. Amidst the burger metaphors, there’s some good information about the pros and cons of responsive design, as well as the potential benefits of adaptive design and separate URLs for some businesses.

Is Responsive Design a Ranking Factor?

We know that responsive design is the mobile configuration that Google recommends, but does it actually affect how your site ranks in the search engine results pages? This post looks at recent studies and indirect SEO ranking factors that may point towards an answer.

Mobile Trends

4 Brands Whose Creative Approaches to Mobile Marketing Are Getting Big Results

The four brands discussed in this post took different approaches to improving their mobile marketing, but the common thread between all of them is their attention to serving mobile users’ needs in the moment rather than being an unwanted disruption.

Three Easy Tips for Hyper-Personal Push Notifications

Push notifications are mobile messages that are triggered by a customer’s actions, and they can either be incredibly useful or kind of annoying. Avoid going the annoying route by following the actionable advice in this post.

The Big Deal about a Little Mobile ‘Buy’ Button

If you’re a mobile retailer who runs product listing ads, you’ll want to read about the relatively new buy buttons on Google, which will allow users to click a ‘Buy’ link for certain eligible products and quickly make a purchase based on payment info that they’ve already stored with Google.

How Mobile Tech and Social Media Are Merging to Change the Shopping Experience

Let’s face it: no matter how great your ecommerce site is, your target customers are probably spending more time on social media. Why not let them shop your site without ever leaving their social media app of choice? Shopping through social apps isn’t the norm yet, but this Entrepreneur post covers some of the emerging trends that are pushing ecommerce in that direction.

Mobile Behavior

Beyond Responsive Design: How to Optimize Your Website for Mobile Users

Get tips on how to optimize your emails for mobile, capitalize on location-based micro-moments, and think about the cross-device experience in this Hubspot post.

90% of Retail Shoppers Use Smartphones in Stores

While this link roundup is focused on ecommerce, I thought this post might be useful for anyone who has both an online business and a brick-and-mortar store. It’s important to remember that you can get a lot of value out of mobile marketing even when potential customers are already in the door.

Mobile to Be Big Sales Driver for Holiday Shopping 2015

This headline shouldn’t come as a big surprise, but it’s worth looking a little closer at the way mobile is reshaping holiday shopping trends in this interview with Branding Brand CEO Chris Mason.

Understanding Smartphones as an Influencing Device

The majority of online transactions still take place on desktop devices (for now), but this article points out that smartphone activity often drives those conversions. A customer may start their research on a mobile device but wait until they’re in front of a computer to make a purchase, and retailers need to remember to assign value to the devices that move customers down the conversion path.

Know of any other great articles on mobile marketing, or just want to talk more about how to optimize your site for mobile? Comment below or contact Leverage Marketing directly.

10 Best WordPress Plugins for SEO

You’re certainly not alone if you’re using WordPress to power your website: as of 2014, 74.6 million sites were using this CMS platform. WordPress is a popular choice in part because it’s relatively intuitive for non-developers. Unfortunately, just having a WordPress site doesn’t mean that your pages are automatically optimized for search engines. The good news is that there are many WordPress plugins that will help you improve your on-page SEO and organic search engine rankings. These plugins can make your life easier by letting you make changes to your website without having to manually change a large amount of code, but if you’re not already fairly familiar with WordPress, it can be overwhelming to wade through the 29,000+ available plugins to find the ones that are going to be best for your site.

Many of our clients at Leverage Marketing have WordPress-supported sites, so I talked to our SEO team to get their recommendations for some of the best WordPress plugins. Here are ten that they’ve found particularly useful.

WordPress SEO by Yoast

Cost: The basic version is free, and Yoast SEO Premium starts at $69 for one site. Premium comes with several extra features, including tutorial videos, a 301 redirect manager, and Google Webmaster Tools integration.

With over one million active installs, Yoast SEO is easily one of the most popular plugins for WordPress. It’s an SEO management tool that’s pretty easy to figure out even if you don’t have a background in online marketing. With Yoast, you’re able to add title tags, meta descriptions, and sitemap.xml (which helps search engines like Google crawl your site) to all your web pages and blog posts. Yoast will even let you know how well you’re doing: after you enter meta information, they’ll tell you whether your SEO value is good, okay, poor, or bad, and they’ll offer tips to improve your on-page SEO if it’s not looking so great. You can also see a search snippet preview so that you know what your page will look like in the Google search results.

Optimizely

Optimizely

Cost: The Starter Plan is free. You’ll need to request a quote for the Enterprise Plan.

A/B testing your headlines is a valuable SEO strategy; by pitting headlines against each other and seeing which gets more clicks, you can choose the more successful headline and drive more traffic to your site. If you run these tests manually, you’ll need some coding know-how, but Optimizely has a plugin that helps you do A/B tests on any WordPress-powered site, no developer experience necessary.  There are several different plans at different price points, but all plans let you run unlimited experiments. Some of the more expensive plans include extra features such as visitor segmentation, geo-targeting, cross-browser testing, and multivariate testing.

Simple 301 Redirects

Cost: Free

If you’ve recently migrated your website to WordPress and changed your URLs, you’ll need to make sure that people who have previously visited or bookmarked your original site are redirected to the new one. You’ll also need search engines to figure out that your old URL has changed so that the new URL can be properly indexed, preserving the SEO value of your old site. The Simple 301 Redirects plugin lets you do this seamlessly just by entering your old and new URLs. The basic version of this plugin is effective for most smaller sites that don’t require a lot of redirects, but larger sites should use the Bulk Uploader add-on.

Redirection

Cost: Free

Like Simple 301 Redirects, Redirection is a WordPress plugin designed to set up (you guessed it) 301 redirects. However, it also does a good job of tracking how many people who try to visit your site are getting 404 errors (those ominous messages that say a webpage was not found). This can help you find problem areas on your site and redirect users who are getting 404 errors.

Akismet

Akismet 2

Cost: The basic plan is free, and the Enterprise plan is $50 a month. The Enterprise version can be used on unlimited sites and comes with 100,000 monthly checks.

Allowing comments on your blog posts is a great way to encourage reader engagement, but your credibility will take a hit if most of your comments are spam. Because manually deleting a large quantity of spam comments can be labor-intensive, many WordPress users let the Akismet plugin do the work for them. Akismet automatically checks comments and filters out ones that look like spam, helping you maintain your credibility, save disk space, and keep your site running fast. You can also review the comments that were caught or cleared and see the number of approved comments for each user. Newer versions of WordPress already have Akismet built into them, so you may not even need to download the plugin.

ShareThis

ShareThis

Cost: Free

Social sharing is a small but significant SEO ranking factor, and a high amount of social engagement can drive more traffic to your site. To get more people to promote your content, you need to make it as easy for them to share as possible. ShareThis lets you create small and large social sharing buttons for 120 social media channels. That’s probably way more buttons than you’ll ever need, but it’s nice to know you can easily add buttons for all the most popular networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, plus some niche networks that might appeal to your target audience, such as Tumblr and Reddit. Additionally, you can get analytics reports from ShareThis and use a feature called CopyNShare to track when a visitor copies your page URL.

BackupBuddy

Cost: The basic Blogger package is $80 per year. It backs up two sites and includes 1GB storage space.

If you’ve ever experienced the pain of losing something you put a lot of time into because your website got hacked or your server crashed, you’ll want to add the BackupBuddy plugin. Even if you haven’t experienced this pain, you should still add BackupBuddy so that you never have to worry about losing anything on your site. BackupBuddy is quick to set up, and you can schedule backups to an offsite storage destination as often as you want so you don’t have to remember to do it manually.

Sucuri

Cost: The Basic plan is $199.99 a year, and the Pro plan is $299.99 a year. The Pro plan is PCI and SSL compliant, which is especially important to online businesses that store credit card information.

Sucuri is a website security plugin that includes features such as remote malware scanning, security blacklist monitoring, and website integrity monitoring (essentially making sure there’s not any weird behavior that might be an attempted hack). If the plugin detects something suspicious, they’ll notify you immediately via your preferred communication channel. They also provide fast customer support if you do have any security issues that need resolving.

WP Smush

WP Smush Pro

Cost: The basic version is free, but photo file sizes are limited to 1MB. Smush Pro starts at $19 per month and can compress images up to 32MB.

What happened the last time you tried to go to a webpage that was loading at an excruciatingly slow rate because of a large image file? If you’re as impatient as me (and the average internet user), you probably bounced from the page. And chances are, that’s what’s happening on your own website if images are slowing down your page load time. In addition to losing traffic, you may also be hurting your SEO value, since site speed is a factor in rankings. Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice your visual content to reduce your load time—you can just add the WP Smush plugin. This image optimization tool lets you condense images as you upload them or ‘bulk smush’ images that are already slowing down your site. As mentioned in the cost section, the free version of the plugin should be sufficient if most of your photo files are under 1MB. If you have a lot of large photo files, you may find it worthwhile to pay $19 a month for Smush Pro’s 60% average compression rate on image files as large as 32MB.

Jetpack

Jetpack

Cost: Free

Jetpack was created by Automaticc, the same company that created WordPress, and it’s not so much an individual plugin as it is a bundle of useful plugins. With its dozens of features, there are probably some tools that you won’t really need (not everyone needs to be able to post mathematical expressions on their blog, for example). However, there are some features that will appeal to a wide range of website owners, such as the Aksimet-backed contact forms, concise analytics with no additional load on the server, the option to create email subscriptions for blog posts and blog comments, and alerts as soon as downtime is detected. If you’re looking for a lot of features that you can control from one space, Jetpack is a good choice.

Have any questions about the plugins described above, or need help improving your site’s SEO? Contact us!

7 Ways To Conquer Summer Hospitality Marketing Online

School’s out, leisure travel’s up. If you work in the hospitality industry, summer is probably your busiest season. But are you getting as many visitors as you could from your online marketing efforts? If your online marketing went into hibernation this winter and failed to get a fresh start this spring, it’s especially important to make some changes now.

Here are 7 actionable tips to help travelers find your site when they’re booking their summer trip.

Update your website content to reflect the season.

As a hospitality business, failing to keep your website updated is kind of like leaving your Christmas lights up year round… only worse. Not only does an infrequently updated website look bad, it’s also likely to rank lower in the search engine results pages (SERPs) than sites that regularly add new, original content—and that means visitors are less likely to discover you organically.

Of course, SEO value isn’t the only good reason to add fresh summer content to your site. Chances are, visitors who land on your site are already contemplating a summer getaway, and having visual and written content that aligns with their wants will help convince them to book. Try adding bright outdoor photos taken on or around your property, and consider writing summer guides letting visitors know what there is to do in your area this time of year.

Make sure your site is optimized for mobile.

According to a recent update from Google, mobile searches have outpaced desktop searches in the US and 9 other countries. On top of that, sites that are mobile-friendly (i.e. are easy to read and navigate no matter what size screen they’re on) rank higher in the SERPs than those that are not optimized for mobile.

Even if they convert on a desktop computer, many of your prospective guests will begin their summer travel research on a phone or tablet, so you need to make sure your site utilizes responsive design and looks good on all screen sizes.

Pay attention to the window between booking and traveling.

Many hotels and vacation rental companies are discovering that the window between when a guest books a room and when they arrive has narrowed considerably in the last several years. To figure out when your PPC ads for summer travel will be most effective, you need to figure out the average window for your business. For example, if the 4th of July week is typically your busiest time of year, and you determine that your guests book 30 days out on average, you should start running PPC ads for this holiday weekend in early June.

So how do you find your business’s booking window? Look at historical data from recent summers, as well as emerging trends in your booking system. You should also pay attention to when competitors are increasing their PPC spend.

Spruce up your local SEO.

Location matters, online and off. When most vacation-goers start planning a trip, they search for some combination of a place name and a venue, such as “Las Vegas hotels” or “best restaurants Atlanta”, so you need to make sure your business is ranking for relevant local searches. Here are a few things you should be doing for local SEO to increase the return on your summer hospitality marketing campaigns:

  • Claim your business listing on as many relevant places as you can, including Google, Bing, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and UrbanSpoon (for restaurants)
  • Make sure your Google+ business page is completely filled in
  • Make sure your name, address, and phone number are structured as data on your site so that search engines can easily categorize them
  • Research keywords that have a relatively high volume of traffic but low competition from other area businesses (e.g. “Austin hotels” is a very broad search, while “Austin hotels near South Congress” is a more specific search that will likely have less competition)
  • Try to get your business listed in well-ranked niche and local directories

Target staycationers.

Don’t forget about local web users who aren’t traveling far but still want to take a mini-vacation. According to a 2015 Skift survey, 62% of Americans don’t plan to take a big summer vacation this year because they are too busy or can’t afford it, but 33% of Americans say they will still take short trips on the weekend.

Consider crafting PPC ads that are specifically targeted to people within your city or state. Use your site and social media to promote a special discount rate or package deal for locals. Add content to your blog that gives readers tips on how to be a tourist in their own city. There are great hospitality marketing opportunities for businesses even when travelers are sticking closer to home.

Use retargeting ads with compelling incentives.

Taking a summer vacation is a big decision, and most people don’t commit after just one short perusal of a hotel or vacation rental company’s website. Keep in mind that people who visit your site are likely in the research phase, and be ready to remind them about your accommodations as they move closer to the decision-making phase.

You can stay top of mind by retargeting ads to people who have visited your site without converting—just make sure the ads give them a good reason to choose you. For example, for people who looked at your ‘Rooms’ page, you might create an ad offering a one-week only discount on a standard room.

Invite summer visitors back again.

The end of this vacation season doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship with your summer guests. Encourage guests to follow you on social media or subscribe to your email newsletter (try offering an incentive, like a special discount for subscribers), and keep sharing engaging content about your facilities and region that will make them want to come back again next year.

It’s impossible to fit a complete guide to online seasonal hospitality marketing into one blog post. Want to learn more? Share your question or comment below, or contact us to start a conversation.

Take the Leverage Digital Marketing Quiz!

Find out if you’re a marketing grandmaster, a novice, or somewhere in between. Take our digital marketing quiz now and see how much you kick ass! (or not…)

 

Get the bragging rights you deserve and challenge your coworkers to beat your score!

Powered by Typeform

NFL Prospect & Future Film Maker Nate Boyer Launches NateBoyer.com

AUSTIN, TEXAS, April 29, 2015 — Leverage Marketing announces the launch of UT football player and Green Beret Nate Boyer’s new website: nateboyer.com. Nate Boyer has an extraordinary story that is now consolidated in one place online. It all began with an ordinary American life and an intrinsic, incessant internal drive that takes Nate around the world as first a volunteer to Darfur, then as a Green Beret to Iraq and Afghanistan, and finally brings him back home to become a rising football star at the age of 34. Furthermore, he’s currently learning to make movies with Peter Berg at the Film 44 production company in L.A. while he trains for NFL try-outs.

According to this 34-year-old long snapper, there’s nothing extraordinary about Nate himself. He believes anything can be accomplished through dedication and hard work, and he wants others to realize the same, which is why he takes on speaking engagements to inspire people, especially young people and veterans, to do anything they put their minds to. “Don’t let imaginary barriers stop you,” says Nate.

This is also why Nate wants to be in the film industry and play for the NFL. “It’s not all about me,” he says. “There’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve made a difference in someone’s life in my opinion, and the film industry has so much power and influence over people. It affects the way they think and takes them outside themselves to see other problems and other points of view.” He also hopes that if he does make the NFL, it will inspire veterans to see that if they work hard, which they’re already used to doing, they can do whatever they want. Nate’s an active advocate for veterans through 22 Kill, an organization that raises awareness about veteran suicide.

Nateboyer.com is a place where fans, media and even movie producers can now find all of Nate’s pictures, videos, interviews, articles and more all in one place. It’s where people can go to get in touch with Nate, keep up with the latest news, and take part in his message. Nate will also be adding some of his own blog posts to the site.

Bob Kehoe, Leverage CEO and former college football player himself says, “From that first meeting at Darrel K. Royal stadium, I knew Nate was someone special, and after getting to know him, my opinion hasn’t changed. This is a story that needs to be told. I’m proud that my company is able to be involved in the next chapter of his life by creating his online presence at nateboyer.com. We are all excited to see where Nate takes his many talents next.”

About Leverage Marketing

Leverage Marketing is an Austin-based digital marketing firm that strives to help companies and organizations reach their business goals through integrated, strategic digital marketing campaigns that produce measurable results. Leverage marketing specializes in all aspects of online marketing from paid and organic search to content creation and design.

Press contact: Matt Hooks
press@nateboyer.com
Page 3 of 612345...»