cca-6year-winner
 

How Local Small Businesses Can Compete Against the Rise of On-Demand Services

Small-business-Success

This digital age has welcomed a world of online retailers and on-demand services who are ever ready to ship you what you need, when you need it or stream what you want, when you want it. Mobile services are also on the rise with pet groomers, pop up shops and even dentists willing to travel to your home or business to deliver their goods.  

As such, it’s right for small businesses to be worried about the rise of on-demand services. Remember Blockbuster? Gone are the days of going to the video rental chain and perusing titles to choose what you’re going to spend the weekend watching. Netflix made it easier and more convenient. Then came Crave, Hulu, Amazon Video…

So how as a small business do you compete against this onslaught of online services and stores? How do you differentiate yourself so that your storefront is consistently welcoming clients and customers and closing sales?

Here are three ways to compete against on-demand services and stand apart from your digital competition:

Be Human

There is nothing more infuriating to me than calling a customer service line to be greeted with an automated message that reads options I can select by pressing 1 to 9. Or even worse, the automated message that says back in a robot voice what it thought I said and then asks me to confirm with a yes or no? I want a human! That’s why I’ve called customer service.  

Read more: How Local Small Businesses Can Compete Against the Rise of On-Demand Services

Get in On Google Posts & Get in Front of Your Customers

google-posts-2017

Google Posts are a new feature available to small businesses who have a Google MyBusiness account. This feature allows businesses to publish their events, products and services directly to Google Search and Maps, giving interested customers a “one-click path to make a reservation, sign up for a newsletter, learn more about latest offers, or even buy a specific product from your website.” The best part is – it’s totally free!

Small businesses operating with a limited budget have much to gain from this free advertising method, allowing them to get in front of customers and showcase their services and offerings when searched for online. Posts appear on both Google search and map results and users have the opportunity to add a call-to-action button, whether it’s a “Learn More,” “Reserve,” “Sign Up,” “Buy,” or “Get Offer” – now button.

Read more: Get in On Google Posts & Get in Front of Your Customers

How to Up Your Local SEO Game in 2017

local-seo-in-2017

During a recent web design meeting, our client succinctly summed up the importance of local SEO and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in general with the phrase “…instead of in ‘God we Trust’, it’s more like in Google we trust now.” Now no one is saying Google is the new God but there is something to be said for wanting to appease the search engine giant and get on its good side. When search results are produced after we’ve plugged in a query – we trust that the results provided are credible and legit.

For businesses who want to rank higher up in search results, SEO is key to working your way up the organic search result pages. Particularly focusing on Local SEO is beneficial for small and mid-sized businesses who want to attract new leads and clients via the web.

By targeting customers using local SEO, you are attracting clientele that is more likely to convert into paying customers because they’re close by. If someone is within a few blocks of your business when they perform a search and your location fails to show up in results, well there’s a huge opportunity that’s been missed and is often a result of poor local SEO. 

So, let’s get down to business and help you up your local SEO game asap:

Optimize Your Website for Local Search

Local SEO is all about targeting potential clients within proximity of your business in real-time. That means, if I’m walking down the street and need to grab some quick flowers when I type in “florist near me” – YOUR floral shop should appear. You want your business to rank in search results such that when a potential customer is within the vicinity of your business, you show up in results. In order to optimize your website for local search results you want to:   

  • Ensure your business NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) information is correct and consistent across all places where it appears on the web. Lack of consistency confuses Google as they don’t know which information is correct and thus, which to list…which brings us to…
  • Create and complete your Google MyBusiness page and verify your website. This process allows you to get listed on Google Maps and requires a verification process where Google sends a postcard to your physical business address with a verification code you must enter to secure your online business profile.
  • Include a Google Map to your contact page so users can easily find you and further optimize your local SEO efforts. Again, getting listed on Google Maps begins with verifying your business on MyBusiness with Google.
  • Ensure phone numbers are clickable via mobile so users can easily call if they have questions regarding your location, services or products on the go.
Read more: How to Up Your Local SEO Game in 2017

Creating the Perfect Logo – Logo Design Rules

Logo-Design-Rules

Logo design is an art and a science. That’s why graphic designers exist – were it easy to simplify and emblemize a company –  they'd be out of work and we wouldn't offer logo design and branding services.

Your company’s logo can impact customer brand perception and the overall attitude formed towards your business. A logo is what helps distinguish a brand from its competitors, so it’s important that the image stands apart from the rest. A logo is a brand’s visual keystone using graphic design to create a corporate identity or brand identity which ideally becomes memorable and associated with the company it signifies.

Thus, when creating a logo or having a logo designed, you’ll want to remember these key logo design principles and general rules for creating the perfect logo:

Make It Unique

While they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, in the case of logos this does not apply AT ALL. Though inspiration can be drawn from existing logos that you think are awesome, asking a designer to replicate another logo but put a spin on it - is a terrible idea.

You want your logo to be entirely your own, absolutely original so that it stands apart and is identified with your brand and your brand only. The last thing you want is for your logo to be mistaken for another company’s logo. Your logo needs to be unique enough so that the only company that is recalled in the mind’s eye of your logo viewers is you and your brand alone.  

Read more: Creating the Perfect Logo – Logo Design Rules

Best Practice UI Web Design Tips for 2017

user-interface-website-design-best-practices

When thinking about a new website design, user interface (UI) design isn’t typically the first thing business owners, entrepreneurs or marketing teams think of. Some do but most are enamoured with what the new site is going to look like rather than its functionality. But let’s be real, when you are on a website and it isn’t working properly well, what the heck? And as pretty as the site may be, if it doesn’t operate the way you expect it to, you could care less about what the site looks like.

And there you have it – user interface design is essential when thinking about a new website design or a web redesign. Your users expect a seamless experience and that begins with thinking about how they’re going to use the site i.e. the user interface. Keeping this in mind, here are a few best practice tips for your website’s UI design:

Universal Usability

With the proliferation of devices that exist today and the many options to choose from between tablets, desktops and all the different types of smartphones out there, it is clear that one size does not fit all.

As such when you are designing a new website, you need to keep all screen sizes in mind. Don’t discount the very much still relevant importance of your desktop design either. Even though people are accessing websites predominately from smartphones, desktop usage is still prevalent. 

The key is to create adaptive user interfaces that will give your audience a great experience regardless of which type of device they use and whatever orientation (landscape or portrait mode) they choose to view your website in.

Read more: Best Practice UI Web Design Tips for 2017

6 Tips for Tweaking Your Title Tags to Increase Website Traffic & Rankings

Title-Tag-Tips

When it comes to the web and search results, your title tag is everything for capturing the attention of your potential clients. Title tags are still extremely important for SEO (search engine optimization) and by tweaking your titles you can increase website traffic and in turn your rankings. When you increase your click-through rate, we mean the number of people who see you in search results and actually click through to your website and spend time on it – this, in turn, increases your rankings, moving you up in search results. So here are just a few ways for you to get your titles in tip-top shape to get more eyes on your website and move you up the ranks: 

Use Numbers

Numbers have a way of standing out. Especially when a search engine results page is littered with various titles that use only words, titles that contain numbers capture our attention. Whether it’s a list of 10 reasons why… or a title that says that 70% of people do this…our brains respond and gravitate towards these articles because they look different.

In the same way that a lime stands out amongst a group full of lemons, by using numbers in your title tags you can draw attention to your article by switching things up with some digits.

Dates are Your Friend

Using dates in title tags is a wonderful way to distinguish that the article web visitors will be reading is relevant and contains timely information. As an example, for a web visitor perusing testimonials of a business or a product, they may search for “<insert product/business> reviews in 2017” to filter out older reviews and results because they want to hear about your most recent service or product quality.

In the same way, by leveraging dates you can indicate to those searching the web, that your article/web page and the information contained therein has information that is up-to-date. For certain keyword queries this technique can be super effective, for example 5 best patios in Calgary to visit in May 2017.  

Read more: 6 Tips for Tweaking Your Title Tags to Increase Website Traffic & Rankings

Best Practice Tips for Mobile Web Design

mobile-web-design-best-practices

We are connected to our phones. If we’ve forgotten our devices at home or in the car, a feeling of panic arises for many because well, our phones are like a lifeline to the world these days. As such, the emphasis on creating great mobile web experiences is increasingly important for business owners who want to reach their potential clients or customers online.

A great mobile experience is all about easy and intuitive usability. Mobile users are generally goal-oriented, driven to find information about a thing or make a purchase ASAP. As such, we must create awesome experiences that are easy to navigate and don’t stifle users. Here are a few best practice tips to incorporate when creating a mobile web design:

Keep Menus Short & Simple

Create distinct menu categories that make it easy for mobile web visitors to navigate through and to the information your website offers. On a phone it is harder to scroll through a long list of options. Think about tightening up your menu structure so that users can easily find what it is they’re looking for without having to scroll, scroll down an extensive list.  

Make it Easy to Go Home

Just as it is best practice in desktop design to make your logo (usually located in the left-hand corner of the web page header) a place where users can click on to return to the home screen, so does this expectation apply in mobile web design. Users should be able to easily go back to the home screen without having to do any kind of trickery to get there.  When things don’t work as expected, it usually results in irritated visitors that are more likely to leave your website.

Read more: Best Practice Tips for Mobile Web Design

The State of Google’s SEO Ranking Factors in 2017

SEO-factors-for-2017

It’s crazy to think that Google has only been around since 1998. For those of us that remember the days where you’d have to rifle through heavy encyclopedias to find information, the time seems at once so long ago and yet not so long ago. Nearly 2 decades since its inception, the search engine giant and its algorithm now greatly dictate how we use the web, what we find on the web and how we build websites in an effort to rank higher up in Google’s search results.

With each passing year, each passing day really, Google’s algorithm evolves. As they continuously find ways to fine tune their program to build a better search experience for all, the SEO industry is kept on its toes and web developers scramble to get the inside scoop. For business website owners keeping up to date with Google’s SEO ranking factors is a must, if they want to remain relevant and move their way up the search results pages.

SEO techniques that were once kosher may now be irrelevant. In fact, what once was ok may now belong to black hat SEO tactics that if Google detects will result in penalization. Realizing that people tried to con their system by stuffing content full of key words, buying links, duplicating existing content and so forth, caused the search engine to just get smarter.

Read more: The State of Google’s SEO Ranking Factors in 2017

5 Types of Content to Drive Website Traffic & Amplify Your SEO Efforts

content-to-drive-website-traffic-and-boost-SEO

The internet thrives on content. It’s the very thing that attracts customers to your website, keeps them on your page enthralled in reading and when it’s great – it prompts your website fans to share it through their social media channels, email your URL to a friend or pass the info along in a conversation. Great content draws more eyes to your website, driving traffic and brand awareness, which is what every website owner wants.

Not only are you helping to inform and educate your readers by crafting good content that is specific to your industry or niche, when you generate content on a consistent basis, you are also boosting your website’s SEO efforts. The more web pages you have, the more information and presence you’ll have on the web for Google’s search bots to read through and index in their results. This means the more likely your website will show up in the SERPs (search engine results pages) when users are looking for the info you’ve written.

But what to write? Well, first things first – whatever form your content takes on it should be original, well-researched and relevant to your target audience. You want to create content that addresses the questions and concerns your ideal customers would go to the internet to find.  Think about the things that you often get questioned about regarding your industry or service and use that intel to create topics that address these often-heard concerns. Chances are other people are looking for the same info and these people can be your potential customers.

Read more: 5 Types of Content to Drive Website Traffic & Amplify Your SEO Efforts

Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2017

 SEO-mistakes-to-avoid3

Business owners, bloggers, and anyone who wants to drive traffic to their website has probably spent time perusing the web for tips on how to optimize their website for search results. Search Engine Optimization a.k.a. SEO is a fast-changing field with the search engines themselves updating their algorithms without warning. What was once effective may no longer be relevant. That’s why staying up-to-date on what works and what doesn’t is of the utmost importance for those who want to see a return on their SEO efforts. Here’s the scoop on the current SEO state of affairs and some common mistakes you’ll want to avoid:

Optimizing Your Content Around a Single Keyword

SEO has evolved immensely over the years and correspondingly, search engines have done the same. Gone are the days of optimizing content around a single keyword or flooding your content with keywords in an effort to get the search engine’s attention. Actually, if you go that route search engines will take notice, however it won’t aid your SEO efforts. In fact, they’ll consider your keyword-heavy content spam and penalize you accordingly.

Read more: Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid in 2017