4 Ways To Improve Your Local Business Website

4 Ways To Improve Your Local Business Website

BUSINESS

4 Ways To Improve Your Local Business Website

Victoria Islas, Founder & Digital Marketing

09 September 2018

Is your business website set up to create a great online experience for your visitors? Today we are going to share 4 ways you can improve your local business website! Watch our 5 min. YouTube video below.

 

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How to use Instagram for your local business

How to use Instagram for your local business

DIGITAL MARKETING
How to use Instagram for your local business
Victoria Islas, Founder & Digital Marketing
10 February 2018
We love Instagram! Instagram is a great platform to use as a small local business BUT we also have seen businesses fail to use it to the best of its potential. It’s not your fault! Today I am going to discuss who would benefit the best from this app, why I’d even recommend it to you and finally how to best use the app for your business. So that is the who, why and how. Let’s get started.

Setting up your Social Media Profiles

First off, let’s discuss social media in general. Let’s say you are a flower shop and you don’t know where to start with social media but you have heard how important it is to set it up for online marketing purposes. I am here to tell you that it is very important especially in these modern days to set your social media platforms up. Your competitors are online and you should be too. These platforms will allow you to get out there and be seen. You need to tell the story, you need to show who you are, and you need to show that you care about your community and your people (customers and employees). And let’s hope you are genuine about it too! I am not here to tell you to pretend to care because if you don’t care that can be seen a mile away, even through social media.

Not every platform is for you

The second thing I want to discuss is how NOT every platform will be for you. I don’t want you to set up every single social media profile out there. That is going to be hard to manage and your market or personas are NOT on every social media app out there. The two that I always recommend you set up, to begin with, is Facebook and Instagram (if your business will allow it and your photos are worthy enough). This is more easily manageable and they are the two most popular with a variety of people within them.

So let’s continue with the flower shop example, and now let’s give it a name just to make this more realistic, Maria’s Flower Shop. There! Okay so let me tell you why Instagram would work for Maria’s Flower Shop, Flowers are beautiful to look at in person, now imagine those flowers on the most VISUAL social media app on the planet. Get it? Instagram is all about visual photography. People go on there to see photos and if you can create some amazing content, you will kick ass on Instagram.

Now, this leads me to discuss how you can pretty much waste your time on Instagram as well. If you aren’t creating worthy enough content on a weekly basis than this app is not for you. I want you to look at profiles that inspire you on Instagram. Most likely they have a lot of followers and amazing content. There is a reason for that! If you can’t deliver, hire someone to help you or don’t do it at all. The worse thing I hate to see is a business setting up an Instagram account and seeing ONE really uninspiring photo on your account from ages ago.

Who should be using Instagram
IF you think you can create amazing content for your Instagram then Instagram is the platform for you. You can be a flower shop or an auto mechanic for all I care, you just have to blow away non-followers and keep your followers engaged. It’s all about engagement and interaction. But you must have the drive to do this, be disciplined and consistent to stay on top of your social media strategy. It’s not for those that are lazy or that “don’t have time”. Again, hire someone if you really don’t have time. Social media is FREE and social media management isn’t as expensive as you think it would be.

Social Media Branding
Okay, so I never said that creating amazing content for Instagram was easy and I am not here to tell you that. Everyone that I have seen that is successful with social media sit down and think about their strategy, plan it out and execute! Social media branding is another subject you must consider when thinking about Instagram or Facebook or any other social media platform you plan to use for your local business. What is branding? The brand will keep you cohesive throughout all the platforms and it’s like a visual cue for your people. They will recognize your content or posts a mile away. That’s what you want to create. You want them to know it’s you and you want to look fucking awesome online. Your online presence is as important as your local experience and both are considered branding. Match everything up, let it be cohesive no matter where people go to find you. Create an amazing experience both online and offline. Now, this small paragraph is not meant to tell you all there is about branding, I am only making it simple for you to understand as a local business. You must think of these things too if you want to thrive as a business. I have seen way too many awesome businesses close down because they didn’t work on their online marketing and branding. We’re all online! Remember that. Don’t lose sight of that.

Why should you be on Instagram?
Well, there isn’t one specific reason WHY you should be on Instagram but I am going to give you my honest opinion. Why not? If it makes your business thrive and grow, wouldn’t you opt in for it? And did I mention it’s FREE? I think I did. Also, I want you to go look up your competitors. Are they on Instagram? Most likely if they are, they are way ahead of you (even if they suck at it). But what if they aren’t?! Then you can beat them to it and start creating an amazing following online which will help increase your leads and sales as a business. But honestly, I think the best part of being on social media is being able to get to know your people and being able to somehow communicate with them! I know I am starting to sound really competitive, in reality, I am not as competitive as you think I am but it’s reality! If you aren’t doing what you’re supposed to be doing online, someone else will. Period. And then you are left behind and probably not doing as much as you should be doing for your business.

The Instagram platform will allow people to get to know your business, your story, your products and services and best of all gives you a place to communicate with your people and your community. But for god’s sake inspire them too! Give them something truly awesome to look at, to share and to be felt. SAY NO to an ugly image with no caption.

How to kick ass on Instagram
Now that I got all of those important details out of the way, I think we can now start to discuss how you can truly kick ass on Instagram. It won’t be easy but I have faith that as a small business you can do a magnificence job at it, no matter who you are or what skill level you have.

Get Creative
Learn to get a little more creative with your ideas. It’s fine to want to take a photo of your flowers but what if you can stage it a bit to make it look more appealing? Getting creative isn’t as hard as you think and I even recommend you go out on Instagram and take a look around to get inspired! Check out this photo as an example by @instagram:

Always use your own content
Don’t use someone else photos. For example: google images or stock images. This is not going to tell people your story. It’s going to tell someone else story or worse of all, NO STORY at all. Always use your own content. That means, always use the photos you took. Images that you find online are being used by everyone else, this is not going to help you and it will make you look like everyone else. Create your own content, please! If not you will just be a clone and your posts won’t be as engaging.

Utilize all the formats available on the Instagram App
Did you know you can do more than just post one photo as a part of your feed? You can now select up to 10 images, tile your images and even use the Boomerang, a free app that allows you to share really interesting mini videos (hint: an awesome way to get creative).

Master taking photos with your iPhone or DSLR
I recommend you master taking photos. Okay, you don’t have to be a “master” but I would recommend you follow some basic photography skills. Linda and Skillshare are great places to learn how to take photos better. In the end, Instagram is about photos so learning a little more about taking some really good ones will help you stand out from the crowd. I will create another post soon with some tips on how to accomplish this but for now, consider it and check out the websites I mentioned above.

Tagging and Mentions
Make sure you use the tag and mentions with every post that allows you to.
Keep in mind that tagging only works with photos, not videos. But if you have a great photo and someone is in it, tag em!
Another awesome thing to do is to give mentions. Mentioning someone happens within the caption area and all you have to do is this: @username. So you put the @ symbol and then the username of the Instagram user.
So why tag and mention? It’s a great way to connect people with your brand and business and is also an awesome networking tactic at a business level.

Use Stories and Live Video
I don’t see businesses using these Instagram features enough! Did you know that there is a “stories” and “live video” feature you can use? Yes, there is! And these will make you stand out because not everyone is doing it. I dare you to! And I dare you to think of an awesome way of using these features.
Stories are sorta like SnapChat but for Instagram and Live Video is sorta like Facebook Live. If you haven’t used any of those apps or features now would be a good time to start learning more about it if it interests you at all.
Here are some great articles to read besides mine on using these specific features that I know will help you on your Instagram journey:

How to use Instagram Stories like a pro
https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/1/15889750/instagram-stories-how-to-tips-features-tricks
How to Use Instagram Live
https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-use-instagram-live/

I hope you found this blog article useful enough to get you started on Instagram. Remember our team is here to help you out when things get tough. We understand Social Media and understand you as the business owner. Sometimes as much as we would like to jump on social media, we really don’t have time when we are busy running our business every day. But overall we hope to see you kicking ass online especially on Instagram! Social media is sure to amp up your business.

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Setting up your website for Voice Search such as Google, Siri and Alexa

Setting up your website for Voice Search such as Google, Siri and Alexa

DIGITAL MARKETING
Setting up your website for Voice Search such as Google, Siri and Alexa
Victoria Islas, Founder & Digital Marketing
10 February 2018
If you don’t already know, SEO or Search Engine Optimization is not an exception when it comes to your website and of course is the major player when it comes to setting up your website for voice search platforms such as Google, Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. And this is just the beginning of voice search so it’s totally important and worth keeping your brain updated with this trend that keeps growing BUT most importantly to keep your website up to date to voice search. Keep in mind, as you are reading this blog, that no matter what platform you are using most people are using Google as their primary search engine.
People use voice to search for a few reasons such as:

• It makes it easier to get the information they are looking for online (no more typing) – they simply talk into the phone or device and magically an answer gets returned.

• They can do more than search (although everything starts with a search). Now they can do things such as order products, order yummy local delivery food, book appointments, turn on lights and so on.

How people search through voice and how you can get them to search for you

So how can we optimize or set up our website for these voice devices that are now taking over the world!? You need an SEO strategy targeted for voice search and you need to start integrating voice with your current SEO action plan. Research has shown that people search differently when it comes to voice search.

For example, when they speak into a phone the search queries (what they say) are much longer and conversational. So! Figuring out how people talk or ask questions with voice search is important but also really easy to test out for yourself. How do you talk to your voice search device? Go for it! Ask a question right now. What happened? What were your results?

Most likely you started your voice search with a why, who, what, where and when! Wow, I think I just got teleported back to English class.

When people search through voice it sounds like this:

Google, where is the nearest donut shop to me? Or Siri, Where can I find someone who can fix my refrigerator? Or maybe, Alexa, Where do hamsters come from? (This last one was a real example of what my friend searched for after reading about how we only see hamsters in pet shops and was wondering where wild hamsters came from) and lastly, When will my wife Lady Gaga be performing in Phoenix?

Is this voice search stuff making sense now? I really hope so! Okay, stay with me because I still need to give you more information. You with me? Okay, good. Moving on.

Most likely you started your voice search with a why, who, what, where and when! Wow, I think I just got teleported back to English class.

How to figure out how people are searching for you

 

How do we know how people are searching for our business through voice search? Well, we got to dig deep and research guys. No one said this shit was easy, it never is! But keep in mind that Google is always looking for the most relevant websites for their users so making sure you are relevant as fuck is absolutely important or else google will not use your website content, period. If you aren’t useful to its users, you are a ghost online!

Let’s ask the question, are you relevant to your market? Are you answering what your people/personas are searching for? If you are not, you better start the quick start process I am about to share and give away to you because I want you to rock online.

Voice search research quick start steps

In order to find out what your market is looking for, we must research online. We can start off my making assumptions but at some point, we are going to need real data. So where can we find real data?

1. Use Social Media – go online where your market is. What are your people most engaged by? What are they saying? What are they asking? What are the problems they are trying to solve?
2. Use a free tool called Answer the Public – This is a great tool that allows you to enter a keyword and returns to you the questions that people are actually asking online. So, for example, I enter the keyword “pizza” and here is the screenshot of what it returned to me:

3. Use a paid tool that allows you to get real data – free tools work but they won’t give you it all. You need to at least pay for one tool that can help.

So here is a list of paid tools you can use for your Voice Search Research:

 

After the research is over, it’s time to set up your website for voice search.

First off, the research stage is never over. You will have to research on a monthly basis if you truly want people to find you through voice search and google. But the good news is that I an going to now show you awesome ways to set up your website with the research you gathered. The best way to implement voice search SEO on your website:

  • Stop procrastinating or not making time for what matters, LIKE YOUR BLOG PAGE- start your blog web page and stay consistent. You aren’t a writer? Great hire one! And use the research data to write about topics your market is searching for.

 

  • Use Yoast SEO on your WordPress website to use the keyword data you acquired from your research on your websites page titles, meta descriptions, and meta keywords. Don’t have WordPress? Switch to the dark side, I recommend it if you are going to be doing SEO for your local business. If not, you will have to hire someone to do it for you.

 

 

  • Make sure your website has all your basic information correct such as business name, address/location and so on. For example, if you are a local restaurant did you provide the menu and specials? And as always, just make sure that the web page content itself is answering what people are searching for. Rewrite and update your web page content if you have to!

Bonus: Make sure you have a google my business listing (Google +) set up with all your current business info and always link it to your website. To and from. And also, the info you do put in the google listing or any other listing must match the info found on your website.

Extra Bonus: Depending on the type of business you are, never forget all other places to list your business such as Yelp, Facebook, and free or paid listings that are popular in your industry. I am always learning about new ones.  

 

I hope that you found this voice search article informative! And that I answered some or hopefully all of your questions in an easy to understand format. I try my best to not be super geeky (technical) when I write.

So what will you be doing today in regards to setting up your website for voice search? Do you have any other useful tips you can share with the local businesses in your area? Did I forget something? Comment below, I’d love to hear them.

Sources:

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What is Inbound Marketing and can it really help your local business?

What is Inbound Marketing and can it really help your local business?

DIGITAL MARKETING
What is Inbound Marketing and can it really help your local business?
Victoria Islas, Founder & Digital Marketing
5 February 2018

Don Draper is dead

When you think about marketing or advertising I know you can probably imagine a group of creatives sitting around a long desk discussing evil schemes on how to sell your product or service to people. Well, that used to make sense, back in the Don Draper (Mad Men from AMC) times. Although we still do sit around, now a days we don’t do marketing or advertisement that way, actually that type of traditional marketing is pretty old school and it doesn’t work as well as before. 

 

A simple explanation of Inbound Marketing and why it works better than traditional marketing

So you are here because you want to know what Inbound Marketing is, why it’s better and I am going to make it simple for you to understand. Really it’s a modern approach to marketing, specifically online that helps increase traffic, leads and ultimately converts leads into loyal customers by providing marketing that is not disruptive but rather marketing that people will truly love. But just because it’s simple to understand doesn’t mean it’s easy to do and it will take a lot of your brain, consistency and dedication to make it all work for your local business. Are you ready for Inbound Marketing?

 

Can Inbound Marketing really help your business or is it fluff?

Inbound Marketing is as real as the eyes you are using to read this article and I truly believe it can change the game for your local business. The only way to truly use Inbound Marketing is by FIRST understanding the methodology which is Attract, Convert, Close and Delight. By implementing this marketing methodology you are on your way to getting customers or clients to come to you rather than the other way around!

The only way to truly use Inbound Marketing is by FIRST understanding the methodology which is Attract, Convert, Close and Delight.

Before getting started realize and keep in mind that Inbound Marketing is all about creating relevant content that people find useful.

 

Here is a great statistic by Hubspot:

Inbound Creates More Leads – 54% more leads are generated by inbound than outbound marketing.

 

The attract phase is where we turn strangers into visitors through blogging, SEO, relevant content and by utilizing social media. All these tools will allow you to attract the right people to your website.

The convert phase is where visitors turn into leads. You do this by creating more amazingly relevant assets, call-to-actions, landing pages with forms.

The close phase is where you turn that lead into a loyal customer and you do that by sending them inbound style emails. This is also where you get into your CRM and provide your sales team (or yourself) the details (not assumptions) to reach out to your potential lead.

The delight phase is where your loyal customer continue to have an awesome relationship with your business and you do that by keeping them engaged, staying relevant even after the purchase. Just delight the heck out of them!

 

Here is a 5-Minute Overview of “What is Inbound Marketing” created by Hubspot that i know you will find useful as well:

So now that you know a little more about Inbound Marketing and its Methodology – we want to continue this series of blog posts! In the next blog post we will be talking about the “buyers journey and its three stages”. Stay tuned.

 

So tell me, will you be implementing Inbound Marketing?  Can you see it working for your local business? Leave a comment below!

Resources:

https://www.hubspot.com/inbound-marketing

https://www.slideshare.net/HubSpot/what-is-inbound-marketing-29665969

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The Good and Bad of Building Your Own Website

The Good and Bad of Building Your Own Website

The Good and Bad of Building Your Own Website

1/14/2018 | By Victoria Islas @ Creative Two

The common website story of the new business in town

 

You just started your dream business and you feel super pumped. You’re getting your business plan together and marketing plan too. And as your building your marketing plan you come across the idea of starting your website. The problem is you aren’t a pro but you still think you can handle building your own website. So what do you do? You turn to Google of course! Then you search for “website design builder” because at this point you don’t have the budget to pay a freelance website designer/ developer by the hour and you definitely don’t have the budget for an agency. The first website builders that pop up are Squarespace, WIX and even GoDaddy. Decisions, decisions.

 

The good of building your own website

 

I hope you could relate to the story. I definitely don’t like making assumptions so I used the many stories of our own clients and what they went through. But if you are on the same page keep reading, If you didn’t relate keep reading because, in the end, you are here because you are debating whether or not you should build your own website and that still relates to you.

 

So why should you build your own website? Well, there are many awesome reasons to take this route.

  • It helps keep cost down when you first starting your business. Who wouldn’t want to save a few extra dollars?
  • Most of the website builders are easy-to-use, have tons of templates to get you started and have great customer service (but beware, not all are equal).
  • It helps you get an inside look at how websites are built and its requirements to go live. Is it a win-win right? You are learning as you build.
  • You get educated on website terminology that can come in handy later (when you’re ready to upgrade your website and hire a professional). Learning how to speak geek is always good!
  • You learn about graphic and website design as you go as well. No matter what, you’re going to have to take graphics and manipulate them to fit your website template.
  • You’ll also learn about website copy writing and how important it is (hopefully).
  • You have 100% control of your own website and you can build it exactly how you imagined in your head.
  • You can get your website done on your own time schedule.

 

The Good – In Summary

In summary, building your own website is cost-effective for startup businesses, it’s easy and you’ll have tons of website template options to choose from, the experience will be very educational overall and you’ll have total control in several aspects of the website project.

 

The Bad of Building Your Own Website

 

Unless you’re a renaissance man (or woman) sometimes we need to sacrifice some of our control to let someone help us. This isn’t a bad thing at all! Tim Ferris, the author of the 4-Hour Week, is a great example of this lifestyle – outsourcing, or getting others to do what you just don’t have the time to do or isn’t really your forte can be a really great thing for your business, especially at the beginning stages. Getting into this mindset can actually help grow your business. Trust me on this one too, releasing a little of the stress will also help you on a personal level.

 

So why should you allow a website designer or website agency to build your website? And what is the bad part of trying to build your own website? Well let’s get to that now:

  • You most likely will lack meeting your website vision and goals. Getting a website done by a professional might not be cost-effective at first but if you team up with the right person or team it will be the best investment you will make in the long run. Saving a few extra dollars to invest can actually bring ROI after your professional website launches because a professional will know what strategies to use, what copy writing will sell and which design will work to meet your business vision and goals. Your vision might be great but a professional can make it even better!
  • Building your own website can take hours and hours because you are going to have to learn about website strategy, website design, website development (in some cases), graphic design website copy writing and so much more. It will leave you launching your website late, or even worse, never.
  • Website control is a thing of the past. Website designers and agencies can now give you the same control over your website as a website builder with CMS systems (Content Management Systems).
  • Remember how I said you’d spend hours having to learn about website design and all that other stuff? Well, you’d also have to spend time updating your website every month and upgrading your website every year to keep up with the internet and trends. Websites need to be updated and upgraded constantly so this too, will take a lot of your time. An agency can take care of this for you and reduce the amount of time you would have spent with a website builder. Ask them about their maintenance plans; they most likely will have one included with the service.
  • Not enough Features! Last but not least, depending on what company you use, drag and drop website builders might sound great at first but when you call in to ask about a feature you might find out that they don’t have it or they charge extra fees for the feature you are looking for. And that’s not it! Sometimes you might even find yourself having to implement it yourself and well if you don’t know how you might even end up spending money hiring a professional to do it anyways. Why not start your website with the features, to begin with?
  • You’ll end up looking like everyone else if you don’t customize the website template you choose within the website builder. Part of building a business includes spending the time to brand yourself and if you end up using the same template as everyone else, you won’t be unique and you won’t stand out from your competitors. It’s like going to a business party and you and your competitor are using the same exact t-shirt or tie. Yikes.

 

The Bad – In Summary

In summary, building your own website will take a lot of the time you should be spending to run your business, building your own website might not be the wisest choice if you are looking for ROI, you’re going to have to update your website on a monthly basis on your own and even upgrading it every year to keep up with the internet changes and trends, the drag and drop website builders that are easy to use won’t have all the features you are envisioning for your website which will leave you feeling off and finally using website templates won’t allow you to completely brand your business if you don’t customize them and you’re going to end up looking the same.

 

Do you want to add to our good and bad list? Comment below! We would love to hear from you.

Facebook will penalize your unfriendly mobile website

Facebook will penalize your unfriendly mobile website

Facebook just got serious about mobile websites. Did you know they will no longer take your ugly mobile experience? It seems that the more we advance forward, the more important user experience is with mobile and tablet websites. 

 

Why Facebook cares

Just like Google, Facebook is really taking into consideration their users. They care about you and me and what we have to say. One thing that has been reported to Facebook over and over again by its users is that they hate “clicking on links within the news feed that lead to very slow mobile websites”. So isn’t that speed then? Yes! Speed, believe it or not, is considered part of a users experience when they visit your website. If it’s slow, i will have a “poor user experience” on your website. Make sense?

 

What does this all mean?

If your website has a poor experience within mobile or tablet devices Facebook will take this into account for its news feed section. They are going to work hard on only providing the best sources for their users. So if you are not on track and taking this seriously you will fall behind as a business or organization IF you are heavily using Facebook for your promotional / online marketing efforts.

 

What we can expect now

Over the next several months (as reported by facebook) you can expect Facebook to slowly implement this idea /algorithm. Websites that are “too slow” and have a “poor user experience” will slowly start to lose traffic over time and might not even appear within in any users news feed.

 

How do i start working on my user experience?

We advice you to start working on your user experience immediately if you are using Facebook on a daily basis for your business or organization.

Here are a few of our recommendations to start today:

 

 

  • Head over to your web hosting company – Are you on shared hosting or VPS? Switch over to VPS servers to get your website faster. Sharing a server slows down your website.

 

Article Author

Victoria Islas – Founder of Creative Two / Omni Online Marketer & Designer

She is inbound marketing certified, loves creating amazing projects for her clients and enjoys reading a great book on marketing or music. On other days, she is spending time with her kettlebells and playing guitar.