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How To Write Copy For The Web

How to write copy for the web

The internet is filled with every different type of writing you can think of. So how do you make your words stand out? Good copy attracts people, it motivates them and inspires action! It is useful in sales, marketing, educating and even simply entertaining.

Without copy, there would be no content on the web. Copy is essential, to the internet. Be sure that your writing stands out, gets your point across and sticks with the reader.

There are certain guidelines and techniques that you can use in order to write effective copy for the internet. Whether it is for your personal blog or a web page for a Fortune 500 company, there are unifying factors to all good writing. So let’s get started!

1) Make Your Writing Easy To Digest

Unless you are writing in a technical setting, for other professionals, it is best to avoid language that is too complex. Take a conversational approach.

Visitors are scanning your copy for valuable content that stands out to them. They’re not reading for quality. They aren’t your English professor marking your Hamlet essay.

It can be difficult, but you will need to unlearn the tactics of written English that were taught in school. When you write for the web, you can break certain rules of written English in order to better relate to your audience.

Tips To Break The Rules Of Written English:

  • Use conjunctions: don’t, can’t, won’t.
  • Don’t be afraid to start sentences with “but” or “and”
  • Ask questions in your copy
  • Use one-word sentences
  • Write in the style of the target audience
  • Appeal to emotion, use “you” and “we”

It is a good idea to have a target audience in mind when you are planning your copy. However, your writing should be so easy to comprehend, that someone without former knowledge of the topic can have a basic understanding of what is being said.

Write in short paragraphs. No longer than three sentences. The best way to create fast and visually pleasing content is by using lists. Numbered lists are both beneficial for Google and for your readers. You can scan information quickly in bulleted format.

When in doubt, pretend you are writing to a close friend or family member. Begin all of your copy with “Dear Mom” and proceed to write in a way you’d speak. Definitely, delete your greetings before your publish your post!

2) Pick The Right Tone

Writing for the web is a very human experience. You want to connect with the people who are passionate about reading your writing. Let your personality shine through!

Whether you are writing for a corporate audience, a nonprofit, potential sponsors, a small business or a personal blog, keep in mind that you are writing for humans. Web optimization is important, but it doesn’t matter if you rank #1 online if no one can read your site pages.

Write for a positive user experience. The most disappointing thing in copy is arriving at a site, only to find repetitive keyword stuffing with thin, uninformative content.

Appeal to readers’ emotions and use the language that they use! Be quick and direct, don’t waste time with long words. Your goal in whichever tone you pick is to relay the essentials. Your reader should easily understand and connect with the copy on a more personal level.

3) Add Photos And Visual Aids To Your Work

It is difficult to read large chunks of texts, without any whitespace or photos. People are visual creatures. (Look at popular apps: Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.)

They favor web content that is supplemented with plenty of images.

Readers will often scan pictures to determine whether or not they want to read the related content. So photos are vital in attracting readers.

Your pictures should be condensed and optimized with the appropriate alt text so that Google knows that you have images on the page as well.

Search engines don’t “see” photos like people do, they read them instead.

Always keep in mind that your viewers are your priority. Visuals are important to them. They should be there to help visually guide your readers. Use related images as much as possible, not awkward or unrelated stock photos.

Use screenshots when appropriate. You can even add videos to your copy if they are related and available. Always remember to cite your photos. Give credit to photographers and get permission before you use images that aren’t your own.

Stock photos are a great option, as long as you don’t go overboard. The images should pair well with the content at hand.

4) Format Your Writing For The Web

It is always a good idea to keep in mind that if your writing isn’t optimized for the web, it is less likely to be seen, and attract the readers you want.

When Google crawls your web pages, it follows a certain set of algorithms. It needs to organize and compile every piece of content on the web. It wants to deliver the most relevant search results for a given search.

In order to get your content to the top of search results, optimization is key. Write copy first with your audience in mind. Compose content that you know your viewers will engage with and love.

But at the same time, keep in mind that search engines don’t read like humans do. Optimize your content after it is written.

Write content within their guidelines so that Google can also “read” what you’ve written, and sort it as helpful, reliable information. There is a great article on how to rank first on Google here.

Google looks for keywords, formatting, and tags. It checks to be sure that the title of your work is related to the content.

It also monitors what sites you hyperlink to, in order to ensure that the information is related to what you’re writing about.

Be sure to organize your writing so that both readers and search engines can benefit. Have headings, numbered lists and titles, metadata and alt text on images. Brainstorm your copy beforehand and set up an outline so that you write in a coherent structure.

5) Add Hyperlinks To Your Copy

One of the best things about writing for the web is that there’s information everywhere. Make it easy for your readers to access related content by providing them with links to similar information in your copy. You can also link to your older posts that are relevant or helpful for your readers.

Hyperlinks make your writing interesting and interactive. They are a good way to keep your readers engaged while they are reading. Hyperlinks are a great way for you to write focused content with additional, informative links.

You can use hyperlinks to inform your readers on things that may take too much time to explain in your copy. For example, you can link readers to a “how-to” article. It saves you time and space in your copy, and it keeps your readers informed.  

6) Close With A Call To Action

What was the reason for writing this post, page or whitepaper? There is always a reason for why you’re writing online, even if it’s simply to gain awareness on your personal blog. End all of your writing with a type of conclusion that motivates your reader.

Your reader found your copy because they were looking for specific information. Whatever you’ve written has been beneficial for them in some way and has ideally given them the answer to what they were looking for.

If you have written about a new recipe, it is likely that your reader is going to go start cooking after reading. Motivate them and get them to share your recipe with others.

Likewise, if you are writing about a product, let the reader know that you not only know about this product. You also know where to buy it and provide them with a link to a sale.

7) Edit, Rework And Revise Your Writing

Editing is essential to all copy, online or otherwise. Read your writing out loud to check for flow and consistency. Have someone edit what you have written, and provide comments and suggestions. There are several excellent apps to help with editing and content writing.

Hemingway, for example, is an app helps you determine the readability of your writing. It indicates when sentences are simple or complex. It also checks for common grammatical mistakes.

Grammarly is an automated proofreading tool that can be used as a chrome extension. It actively corrects your grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. It also sends you fun weekly updates, highlighting your most common grammatical mistakes.

Proofreadbot is an application that has both paid and free options. It is useful for editing shorter snippets of writing. Simply copy and paste your work into the “check your writing” box and it will scan your work for errors.

Read your copy in the mindset of your readers and ask yourself: Is this writing helpful? Does it answer my readers’ questions? If your copy seems like it needs more work, add to it and change things until you are satisfied with it.

A great part about writing for the web is that there is always new information emerging and evolving. It is vital to continually update your old copy with new information when it is available.

Key Takeaways

  • Write like you speak
  • Keep it simple
  • Do keyword research
  • Optimize for the web as well as the reader
  • Metadata and a clean title
  • Add photos and visual aids
  • Short sentences

Great web content takes time, and the best way to learn how to write effectively is through experience! Copy is always changing and it can always be improved.

You should now have a better understanding of how to write copy online. There are plenty of other tips on web content writing if you are interested. Test out what you have learned and leave comments on your own personal tips as well!

How To Claim And Optimize A Yelp Business Page

Image credit: Fortune

When you think of Yelp, do you first think of foodies posting restaurant reviews?  

Yelp is indeed an important factor for restaurants digital strategies. But overall, Yelp is much more than a website for people to rate their favorite meals.

In fact, according to Yelp’s statistics, only 20% of total reviews are for restaurants.

Whether you’re a dentist or candy store owner, Yelp can help increase web traffic to your site and foot traffic to your front door. 

With a quick look at the US demographics, you can see how Yelp is used by a wide range of age and income groups.

Join me below, and I’ll share –

  1. Why your business should have a Yelp business page,
  2. Some impressive stats, and
  3. How to optimize your Yelp listing for maximum traffic.

Why Your Business Should Be On Yelp

When Yelp first started in 2004, it was an email service for exchanging local business recommendations in San Francisco.  It would evolve into a business review website with social networking features, discounts, and mobile applications being used by consumers throughout the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Europe.

Yelp receives 120 million monthly visitors and has over 53 million user reviews. Judging by the curve of the graph below, this doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon…

The future of search is moving towards mobile screens and social networks. Just recently, a global survey reported that smartphones have surpassed TV’s in the amount of user viewing time per day. With this in mind, a well-constructed Yelp business page could improve your online marketing by leaps and bounds with very little time/money invested.

Creating A Yelp Business Page

An obvious first step to optimizing your Yelp business page is to create one if you haven’t done so already.

To get started, go to the Yelp for Business Owners page and click “claim my business.” You will then be redirected to a page that asks you to find your business.

You will then have one of three cases occur –

  1. No Business Listed: Your business hasn’t been listed on the site, click “Add your business to Yelp” on the bottom of the page.
  2. Already Unlocked: If your business is already unlocked that means someone else has already claimed your business. Yelp has a review process, so it is unlikely that it was unlocked by someone outside your organization.
  3. Unlock Your Business: You can unlock your Yelp business page by clicking the “unlock” button and filling in the required information.

With your Yelp business page now created, the next step is to fill your business profile with useful and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) friendly information.

Optimizing Your Yelp Business Page

Yelp will essentially guide you through this process once you have created a business page. They even have a friendly alert to remind you, in case you forget.

Before you start filling out the content on your Yelp business page, make a list of keywords you want to rank for. Keep these in mind for every section of your Yelp business profile and use them wherever appropriate.

Below are the different parts of a Yelp business profile that you should fill out. Filling out these sections well will help you increase your organic traffic and search rankings within Yelp.

Do you want to lose out on potential business? Not many people do, so make sure your Yelp Business page has all of these things complete:

1. Business Information

Basic Information: In this section, you will be filling out the basic information for your business. For SEO, and customer satisfaction, you must have consistent and correct information for your business hours and address.

Specialties: Give customers an overview of the services your business performs. Keep valuable keywords in mind and use them wherever appropriate.

Only use keywords where appropriate and to not engage in “keyword stuffing” or simply listing your keywords. Yelp will penalize you for doing so and it will hurt your chances of ranking highly.

Here is an example of a well-done business information section:

History: You can use this space to tell you business’s story with your most valuable keywords in mind.

Meet the Business Owner: People may like to know more details about the business so fill out this section to tell them about the owner and their personal story. You can include things such as motivation for starting the business, education background and any other relevant information.

It is important to fill out every section on this page. Not only for the customers, but your page is more likely to rank highly in search results if it has a complete profile with correct spelling, capitalization, and correct use of keywords.  

Yelp will penalize you for putting sales requests or incorrect information in the basic information session. Things to watch out for:

  • Calls to action: Do not put phone numbers, email addresses, website addresses, etc. in the business information section
  • Correct sections: Make sure the content matches the sections you are filling out.

2. Reviews

Timely Responses to reviews, both positive and negative, establishes legitimacy and can help strengthen your overall reputation. Post responses within 24 hours of the review being published.

There are Two Ways to Respond to User Reviews on Yelp

  1. Send a private message. This is much like sending the customer a direct email, and
  2. Post a public message below the consumer’s review for everyone to see.

Both ways should be used to respond to ALL negative reviews. Seeing responses to positive and negative reviews indicates you are engaged with your customers and concerned with their satisfaction.

The key to responding to negative reviews is to keep the BIG picture in mind. Don’t get defensive. Consumers are smart and know that an isolated bad review isn’t indicative of a bad business. A good way to respond to negative reviews is to acknowledge that you are concerned about the customers’ experience, state the business’ philosophy of excellent service, and have them contact a specific decision maker to discuss any grievance so that things can be made right.

For positive reviews, an authentic thank you is appropriate. That can be as simple as saying, “Thank you again, Bob, for staying with us and being so polite to the hotel staff. You are always welcome back!” simply saying thank you for the positive review is adequate but it is better to also respond in detail.

3. Photos And Videos

Quality photos on Yelp make a huge difference.

According to Yelp, people stay two and a half times longer on a business page when it has photos. That doesn’t mean you need to hire a professional photographer, but having high-quality photos should be a priority. 

4. Inbox

Yelp shows your response time and response rate so it is important to respond to messages in a timely fashion.

There are 3 ways to respond to messages: on the Yelp for Business Owners website, on the Yelp for Business Owners mobile app, or you can also set up email notifications to respond to reviews directly through email.

5. Questions & Answers

Responding to questions is a way to get more relevant information to your customers. Doing so will also hopefully reduce the number of direct messages you have to respond to.

6. Check-In Offers

Check-ins are another ranking factor for Yelp. So if you want your business page to show up at the top of the results list, it is important to have this offer complete.

The check-in feature is a way for business owners to reward customers through for checking in at their location using the Yelp app. It can be a discount price, percentage off, or some other incentive. By checking in at your business, customers social networks are notified, which increases your business’s visibility.

With all of your business page information now complete, the next step is to promote engagement on your site to get more customer reviews.

Generating Engagement

Social proofing works.

People trust Yelp because of the millions of customer reviews. There are many ways that you can promote these positive reviews reaching your business page, but be sure to never offer incentives. Yelp has a filter to block fake reviews and they can even penalize your listing for foul play.

The best way to garner positive reviews is the old fashioned way, excellent customer service, and a few of these tips.

  1. Have a Yelp Link on your website: The more exposure your Yelp business page gets the higher chance you will receive customer reviews.
  2. Including a Yelp Link in your email signature: For the same reason explained above.
  3. Reach Out to Existing Customers:  Ask your loyal customers if they would visit your Yelp Business profile and ask them what they think of it. (It’s against Yelp policy to directly solicit customer reviews)
  4. Promoting Deals on Yelp: Deals are a great way to grab attention and get new customers in the door!

The more Yelp reviews you have, the more likely you are to rank highly. Don’t forget to respond to those reviews!

With the nature of a business, sometimes you will receive negative reviews from a customer you weren’t able to satisfy. To reiterate our message in the Reviews section above, the best way to deal with these situations is to respond in a positive way.

A Yelp Optimization Overview

Does your page have quality photos and a keyword rich summary of your business? Optimizing your Yelp business page is about filling your page with useful information. It can be done in one sitting, but the key for a successful business page is responding to reviews to further engage with customers.

Keep the big picture in mind when responding to reviews, and continuously look for new ways to drive potential customers to your site. If you do all these things, while showcasing the personality behind your brand, you will be positioning your company for delicious online marketing success.

ElementIQ is one of a small handful of Yelp Ads Certified Partners, and we work with Yelp profiles every day! If you require further assistance with setup of a Yelp profile and/or advertising on Yelp, we can Help!

Digital Nomads: The Ability To Work From Anywhere

You see them in coffee shops, scattered around the power outlets, working away on a laptop. They’re in hostels, or local diners, networking with everyone around. They work from the sky, on airplane wifi. This unique group of people are unified by one thing, freedom.

The rise of technology in the 21st century has expanded and improved our ability to do pretty much everything. It is most noticeable, however, in the ever-shifting landscape of job opportunities.

Digital Nomads are individuals who use technology to their favor in order to live a nomadic lifestyle, free of traditional constraints.

Digital nomads are not tied to a specific working location. They travel freely, or simply work from home, earning a living completely online.

What Are Digital Nomads?

20 years ago, the thought of working alone, tanning with a view of the beach and an acai berry smoothie bowl in your lap was unheard of. But it is becoming an ever growing norm as Millennials and Generation Z enter the workforce.

These tech savvy generations are liberated by the technology they’ve grown up with. Generation Z is actually said to be the first generation that has grown up without knowing life outside of modern technology.

These generations have a sense of global awareness generated from a lifetime of access to the internet.

As a result, they are waving goodbye to cramped offices and cubicles, exchanging them for a lifestyle that incorporates a cohesive blend of work and travel.

You may have heard the term before. Digital nomads are people who work from wherever they please. Their jobs are often cultivated and modified to accommodate the ability to travel freely.

Traditionally, in the past, this style of living was exclusive to niche careers by influencers or travel writers. It was not a common way of living.

Whereas now, most jobs that simply require a computer can effectively allow for a nomadic style of work.

Common Jobs For Digital Nomads Include:

  • Influencers/ Brand Reps
  • Digital Marketers,
  • Jobs in Social Media, YouTubers
  • Vloggers, Professional Bloggers, Writers
  • Global Tourism
  • Developers
  • CEO’s
  • Freelance work
  • Language Teachers
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Artists, Craftworkers, Photographers and Graphic Designers.
  • (And Spies obviously)

Many of these careers didn’t exist two decades ago. There are also countless careers that aren’t listed here. These jobs allow you to travel and go where you please, no longer limited by the toil of 9-5. You are not expected to show up in an office every day. You can pick the hours that you work.

Is Digital Nomad-Hood A Sustainable And Viable Career Choice?

Do you have to enter an office in a suit and tie every day in order to pay the bills? In short, the answer is no. However, your grandparents may continually ask you what exactly it is you do for work.

Be prepared for disapproving looks at family get together’s. But the truth of the matter is that people can make a considerable amount of money from these positions.

Many digital nomads have experience working in a traditional workspace. They either felt that the structured environment wasn’t for them and changed careers paths.

Or discovered a means of doing what they do in the office, entirely from their computers, remotely.

In essence, you can become wealthy as a digital nomad, but it is very dependant on the individual circumstances. It requires a keen ability to budget and utilize the resources available.

In general, the key to living a high travel lifestyle when you are not exactly jet set is finding patrons, crowd funding, and sponsorships through companies.

There are some key cost benefits to a nomadic lifestyle. In general, the career move comes naturally with living a more minimalistic life.

You do not need to budget for a car or a mortgage when you travel constantly. This enables you to save money, where most people spend the majority of their earnings.

However, you need to plan ahead before you can confidently live off the grid. It is best to keep emergency savings at all times during your travels.

Definitely have a budget and savings plan in place beforehand. Being free of the office space does not mean that you are free from monetary responsibility.

Just as you would budget your life living 9-5, it will likely take even more planning to properly budget in order to live a nomadic lifestyle.

Benefits Of Travel And Work

Digital nomads have the unique ability to experience a life of travel and independence that generations before them did not.

They are liberated by technology and have an excellent opportunity to see the world. If you work in a field that gives you this option, it is always something to try. Even if it is something you simply do for a month or a year.

If a full career as a digital nomad sounds slightly daunting, you can still gain an international perspective and try working a year abroad.

An international work environment increases perspective in so many ways. You have the ability to connect with a global community of like-minded individuals.

It gives you insight into other cultures and languages that you likely would not have found entering the same office every day.

Resources For Nomads

There are many excellent resources online for those who are looking into this style of work. A core component of living a nomadic lifestyle is finding a place to live and work temporarily, from country to country.

Get To Know A City

Sites like Nomadlist are very helpful for getting the “feel” of a potential city. The site gives short descriptions of everything from the access to wifi, to the best local places to eat and visit.

Find A Place To Stay

Airbnb is another easy way to quickly find reliable housing, from people all over the world. It is now more affordable than ever to find places to stay.

Airbnb is unique in the sense that you stay with local people. They can share unique, local knowledge that you would not learn in a hotel.

Additional Resources For Digital Nomads

There are plenty of resources and blogs that offer advice about managing your finances while you are traveling.

There are many apps that actually let you find temporary work opportunities, based on the country you are visiting.

Hubstaff Talent is an excellent resource for freelancers and businesses of all sizes. You can build and utilize a remote team or work remotely with companies world wide. It’s also completely free.

Living A Nomadic Lifestyle? Share Your Thoughts!

Be sure to comment about your own personal experiences living a life free from the office. Share resources and opinions that you have on the topic!

At ElementIQ, working in digital marketing, it is possible to work remotely. It is certainly an experience that we encourage others to try!

Why Does Google Rank Some Sites Higher Than Others?

You often hear business owners saying “I want to rank first” for their targeted keywords. That is because on average, 71.33% of searchers click on results shown on the first page. Page two and three get only 5.59% of clicks. And on the first page alone, the top 5 results account for 67.60% of clicks.

So from a business perspective, potential customers are much more likely to find and choose your business if you rank highly on Google.

How do you get your page to rank highly on Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERP’s)?

Google uses about 200 search ranking factors in their algorithm.

The overall goal with all the different ranking factors is to deliver the most relevant search results for a given search. By finding the “best” content and delivering that to users, Google will not only be satisfying the searchers but they will also be keeping themselves as the preferred search engine.

More satisfied users, means more traffic on Google and the more Google can charge to advertisers.

To tailor your website to be perfect for every one of the 200 different ranking factors a lot of things would need to go your way. Instead, it is most efficient to focus on the most important ranking factors.

Which ranking factors does Google consider to be the most important?

How can you optimize your website to rank highly for these factors?

Continue reading to find out!

1. Content

The most important ranking factor for Google is the content on your website.

Google has bots that go through every page on the internet. These bots are often called “crawlers”. As they crawl the World Wide Web they index, or save, all the pages into Google’s database.

Then, when you search something in Google, Google scans all these pages using their algorithms to evaluate each web page and then gives you the best results.

So naturally, the content on your site is what Google will look at first.

There are a few different aspects of content that are important to consider

Length

Pages with more content do better than pages with ‘thin’ content. Algorithm updates like Hummingbird and RankBrain are all about optimizing search results to match the searcher’s query. This means that for the query to be answered an in depth examination of one topic in easy to understand language will rank first.

Keyword Usage

Throughout the pages, it should be clear what the page is about. It should also be focused on one central topic. This can be done by determining the keywords you want the page to rank for then creating the page around those keywords.

Use keywords in the H1 text and in the body. Your keywords should come naturally, if you’re talking clearly on the given topic. If you are talking about “Apples”, then the word “apples” will appear in the H1 and Types of Apples, How to Eat Apples and so on will end up being the sub headings.

Correct use of keywords will make sure Google knows what the page is about. But make sure you are not engaging in “keyword stuffing”, a term for unnecessary usage of keywords. Keywords should always flow easily in the paragraphs and be logically placed.

Comprehensiveness

Good content is important but it is also important for that content to be easy to understand for the user.

Correct usage of H1 and H2 text is a good way to tell Google (and the user) what your page is about. Subheadings can also make the page easier to read by sectioning your post.

Using multimedia is another great way to improve the user experience. So include image, infographics, and videos wherever applicable.

2. Backlink Profile

To measure a page’s legitimacy and credibility, Google will evaluate a page’s backlink profile. A backlink profile is made up of all the different sites with links pointing to your site.

How does Google make backlinks a measurable signal? It is done by evaluating the level of quality your links are and where these links are coming from, amongst other factors. Specifically, the number of backlinks, link authority and diversity.

Number Of Backlinks

The more sites you have linking to yours the better. Having links pointing to your site from great sites indicates to Google that your page is socially verified as a useful page. People view your page as relevant and credible enough to link to it on their site.

One thing to watch out for when trying to increase your backlink profile is spam links.

Because the number of backlinks is a ranking factor for Google there are a lot of black hat SEO sites out there which create pages for the sole purpose of getting backlinks.  However, Google has noticed this problem and taken action against it by prioritizing other link factors like quality of the links.

When Google crawls the web it marks pages that have a lot of outbound links and few inbound links as spam sites. Being associated with such sites will negatively impact your page.

In fact, in 2012 Google released the Penguin Algorithm Update. Penguin was designed to better catch sites attempting to inflate their search ranking position with spam links. Specifically, those doing so by buying links or obtaining them through link networks designed primarily to boost Google rankings.

Link Authority

The number of links is important. But what is equally, if not more important, is the quality of those links. Link authority will be determined by the authority of the domain linking to you. Domain authority is evaluated by looking at the number of links pointing to a site and the quality of those links.

The more links you have coming into your site (inbound links) the higher your domain authority will be. Links from pages with a high domain authority will have more weight than those from pages with a low domain authority.

Spam sites usually have a low domain authority so checking the domain authority of the pages linking to you is a good way to make sure you don’t have any spam links pointing to your domain.

Diversity

Google will typically only count links coming from the same domain once. So even if one domain links to you 5 times those links will carry less weight than if 5 different sites linked to you.

The primary thing to focus on will be getting links from a number of different domains. Also to focus on getting links from domains covering a variety of industries.

How To Optimize Backlink Profile

The first step to optimize your backlink profile will be getting your backlink profile.

At ElementIQ, we use the MOZ Open Site Explorer and Ahrefs to evaluate backlink profiles. This is a free and easy to use tool. It will tell you the domain authority of the site you are evaluating as well as all the inbound links.

If you are link building, checking your competitors SEO link profile is a great way to see what you are up against. It is also a great way to get ideas of websites and blogs you can reach out to for link building.

If you are working on link building, this blog post by Kissmetrics is a great resource.  

3. Mobile Optimization

Google is always working on improving their algorithms to make sure search results are as relevant as possible. Today, more than half of Google queries are coming from mobile devices. So it is logical for Google to be paying more attention to how sites function for mobile users. This was the premise for Google’s new “mobile first” version of indexing.

Up until now when Google was indexing sites they came from a desktop perspective. Now, they will be going through the web from a mobile perspective first and desktop second.

When building your site it is important to make sure it is responsive and optimized for mobile users first and desktop users second.

Additionally, the content on your website should be the same for desktop and mobile

How To Optimize For Mobile

Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly tool to test your website. The great thing about this tool is it will tell you how a Googlebot would rank your site, not just how users view it.

4. Page Speed

Page speed ties heavily into a good user experience and is an important ranking factor.

The rule of thumb is desktop websites should load in 3 seconds or less, and mobile websites should load in 2 seconds or less.

Page speed also affects other ranking factors such as the page bounce rate.

How To Optimize For Speed

You can evaluate your website’s mobile and desktop page speed with Google’s Page Speed Tool. This tool will also recommend ways to make your website faster so you can get started on making the improvements necessary.

Other Ranking Factors

These are just a few of the many different ranking factors for more information on some of the other ranking factors take a look at this infographic from Search Engine Land.

Ultimately your goal should be to make yourself visible to potential clients. As the digital world becomes increasingly important to how customers find businesses having a top position in SERP’s is a great way to increase leads.

Good focused content will be rewarded and the rest is improving your technical skills.

Beginner’s Guide: Getting Started With Google My Business

Google’s business listings first emerged in 2004 under the name “Google Local”. Over the years it has evolved from Google Local, to Google Maps, to Google Places, to Google+ Local and now Google My Business (with perhaps a few more lesser-known names in between).

Because Google My Business is so heavily integrated into Google Search, Google Maps, and even Google Adwords, it is now one of the most powerful and valuable Google services for a business owner.

Getting Started With Google My Business

Like any other Google property, you will need a Google account. First, head over to https://places.google.com and click on the big “START NOW” button in the right corner.

Creating Your Google My Business Listing

If Google does not recognize your business, you will need to create one. This is simple enough, just fill in the business information in the form:

The most important things are the Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) of your business.

Be sure these are correct and consistent with other instances online, particularly your website. Here are some helpful notes when adding your NAP:

Entering Your Business Name

For your Business Name, make sure you use the business name you would like to appear on the web. This does not necessarily need to be your official, registered name.

Formatting Your Address

Putting in the correct address format can be tricky since there are so many different ways to input it. What complicates things further is different directories online seem to have different formats.

Start by entering the street address in the first line, and then adding a line for the suite or unit number. Google is sometimes finicky with how it displays unit numbers, so you may have to adjust it after.

Optimizing Your Phone Number

Keep the phone number simple with the ###-###-#### format. If you are expecting many out of country calls it may make sense to put the +1 at the front.

Claiming Your Listing

Once your listing has been created the next step will be to claim it. The standard claiming method is to verify address ownership by requesting a postcard by mail. Postcards usually arrive in about 5 business days.

They contain a PIN number which will need to be entered into your profile dashboard.

Once you claim your listing it will be verified on Google and you will have full access to managing the business listing information.

Now if your business already exists on Google Maps (you didn’t need to create it) the claiming process is usually much easier.

First, search for your business on Google. If you find your listing and it has an “Own this business?” link, you’re in luck.

Click the link and it will allow you to receive the verification code by phone or text, in addition to the postcard. This will allow you to skip the wait time and claim your listing immediately.

Get Google’s Help

Navigating Google My Business is by no means a walk in the park. I have had my fair share of frustrations over the years.

The biggest issues you will run into are usually related to claiming and verifying the listing, especially if it has already been claimed or verified by someone else.

Here are some helpful tips I have found that can ease the process:

  • Google My Business support is surprisingly effective. Just click the “Help” link in the footer of the dashboard and select your issue. Most issues will require you to submit a ticket or request to Google, but I have found their email support to be quite responsive.
  • They still have a callback option though it’s buried deep in the Help options. Click Need More Help > Ownership or access to my business > Someone else owns or verified my service area business and request a callback. Someone from Google will call you and usually is willing to help with any issue, not just for service area businesses.
  • I’ve heard that contacting the Google My Business team through social media (Facebook chat or Twitter DM) is more effective because it will go directly to their Google My Business team in Mountain View, CA. I have had mixed results with this, from an immediate response for some cases to a 3-4 day delay for others.

Google My Business Should Be A Priority

If you are a small or medium sized business, you absolutely should invest the time and effort into your Google My Business page. Do not overlook this online profile as it is your best bet to get your business found online, and it’s free!

Google is constantly improving these business listings like allowing owners to now include posts. This allows for more engagement with customers.

Google My Business is a powerful tool that is only becoming more and more popular. It is an industry standard that legitimizes your company online and attracts customers. Stand out and get ahead, create your business profile today!

5 Tips To Navigate Instagram Stories

Image credit: Gary Vaynerchuk

Ever since the rise of Snapchat, social media outlets have been pining to capture the addictive pull that the ghost created.

There is something infectious about sharing live updates of your day-to-day life. Blame narcissism, but this interactive form of sharing is only becoming increasing popular.

Instagram is a popular app with young users. Yet, it decided that its most recent update would introduce an interface that challenged the Snapchat rise to fame.

If they say imitation is flattery, that may be the case with this battle of the giants: Instagram vs. Snapchat.

Welcome To Instagram Stories

Instagram introduced “Instagram Stories” in August 2016. It has been improving the feature with every following update. There are many appealing benefits to the launch of stories.

As with all app updates, this came quickly and without much instruction. It left many users thinking, “how on earth do I use this new component?”

Stories had opened up a new, more immediate way of sharing, outside of posting in your image gallery. The disappearing photos create a sense of immediacy. They enable viewers to keep up with their friends lives in real time.

Influencers especially have a greater reach when sharing stories with their Instagram followers. The Instagram Live feature allows for live, direct access for your followers. Celebrities gain a cult following of people, striving to keep up with the live documentation of their days.

Instagram Stories are here to stay. So for those of you struggling to keep up with these ever-changing apps, learn how to navigate the basics of this new and exciting feature.

1) The Basics

On Instagram stories, you have lots of different options to share with your followers. You can take a photo, video or boomerang clip. Reverse the image, go hands-free or go live.

The content that you post to your story will last for 24h and will appear at the top of your followers’ feeds.

Once you have a photo or video ready to post, there are options to personalize and edit it.

You can add your location to the story, as well as tag others in the image.

You can even use this feature for Instagram shoutouts. Or to notify your following of upcoming events or posts in your feed.

2) Uploading Existing Photos Or Videos

What if you have an old photo or video that your audience really needs to see? Have no fear, you can upload existing photos or videos from your camera roll as well.

Tap the stories icon and drag your finger up on the camera screen. It’s so straightforward yet so well hidden!

This should prompt Instagram to request access to your phone’s photos. Once granted, you will be able to scroll through your camera roll. This is a useful feature and it is often used to notify followers that you have recently posted a photo in your feed.

Take a screenshot of what you posted and add it to your story as well. You can’t always be sure that your followers will see your post if they’re scrolling through their feed.

This way, your photo at the top of their screen. You are the first thing they see. They can easily view your story and click to get to your gallery.

If you take a photo and want to save it to your phone as well as post it to your story, there is a save button at the bottom of the stories screen.

3) Make It Pretty

Instagram is a very visually focused app. It only makes sense that they allow you to filter your stories as well.

You can draw and write on the images and videos once they’re in your editing bar. There are a variety of different pen sizes and colours that you can choose from. As well as a host of images and banners to add to your visual display.

You can give your friends shoutouts or tag your location by typing the “@” sign, followed by your friends’ username.

You currently cannot add links to external web pages on Instagram Stories. But it is something that is in testing.

Instagram recently added facial filters for their stories feature. This is another nudge to Snapchat and their famous filters.

4) Who Can See My Instagram Stories?

If you don’t edit the viewers, everyone in your follower base will be able to view your story. If you don’t have a private account, anyone can see your Instagram Story.

Other users simply click on your profile image to see your story. You can limit who sees what you post on stories by going to the “Hide Story From” icon. This will let you select people to omit from your story.

Instagram Stories are an excellent asset to the app from a digital marketing perspective. It gives your followers direct access to your lifestyle, products and brand aesthetics.

5) What Is Instagram Live?

Instagram Live allows you to broadcast what you are doing in real-time and share it with your followers.

You can view how many followers are watching your live feed video and they can comment while you are hosting the video.

You are able to see the extent of your reach and interact with followers. You stay top of mind as your profile image is at the top of their feed every day.

You are able to save live videos. But the comments that people post on the video will not be.

Try It Out!

Instagram has successfully created a popular feature that is challenging Snapchat for users. The two apps are distinctly different. Yet the introduction of stories opened up many new sharing options for Instagram users.

There is a greater reach with Instagram Stories and it gives you the ability to interact live with your followers.

You can tag friends and add different locations. As well as keep your feed updated with aspects of your life that you may not otherwise post to your Instagram gallery.

The feature can be used for marketing and promotions, and you can use it to quickly notify followers of specials, deals or exclusive offers. Right in the top of their Instagram feed.

For more help on the basics of navigating Instagram stories, visit Instagram’s help center which discusses the stories feature in depth.

You can also follow @elementiq on Instagram to watch the masters of Instagram stories at work!

The Local Business Marketing Summit 2017

Introduction

Right off the bat, this was an awesome arrangement for anyone interested or involved with marketing local businesses.

The quality of presentations compared just as well with presentations in big conferences where you pay over $500 for a single ticket.

And this was FREE. So, hats off to the Local Marketing Summit 2017 for organizing this.

The topics and conversations were beneficial to both – business owners and marketing professionals. The set of speakers were all highly credible with the likes of Myles Anderson, the CEO of BrightLocal to Bernadette Coleman, the CEO of Advice Local.

They literally re-created a physical conference experience online with over 1500 attendees and the opportunity to share comments and network with industry experts. The only thing missing was the music and the fun stuff which can keep you from dozing off between sessions.

List Of Topics And Speakers

Let me begin by listing the set of topics presented on Day 1 and Day 2:

Day 1 

  • A Complete Local Digital Strategy in 30 Minutes – Eric Shanfelt, Founder & CEO of Local Marketing Institute
  • Social Media Tactics that Actually Work – Lissa Duty, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Rocks Digital, Social Media Trainer and Author
  • Anatomy of a Well-Designed Local Business Website – Marcus Miller, Owner and Digital Strategist at BowlerHat, Moz and Search Engine Land Contributor
  • How to Get More Reviews for Your Business – Myles Anderson, CEO of BrightLocal, Search Engine Land Contributor
  • Keys to Successful Facebook Advertising – Dennis Yu, Founder and CTO of BlitzMetrics
  • Get the Most from Google My Business – Joy Hawkins, President of Sterling Sky, Google My Business Top Contributor, Search Engine Land Contributor, Speaker at SMX
  • Should You Use a Paid Local Listing Service? – Roundtable discussion with Joy Hawkins, Phil Rozek, Myles Anderson, and Bernadette Coleman
  • Which Local Business Review Sites Work Best for You? – Collin Holmes, CEO of Chatmeter, Former VP of Product Management and Marketing for V-ENABLE

Day 2

  • How To Avoid Digital Marketing Landmines – Phil Nicolosi of Phil Nicolosi Law
  • Tips and Tricks to Build Your Email List – Chris Davis, Director of Education for ActiveCampaign, Former Head of Marketing Automation at Leadpages
  • Creating a Super Offer for your Local Business – Sean Daily, Founder / Lead Strategist at Social Media Ninjas
  • Content Marketing in a Bloated Age – Laurie Macomber, President of Blue Skies Marketing, Local, SEO, and Content Marketing Expert
  • Get the Most from Your Local Business Facebook Page – Bernadette Coleman, CEO of Advice Local, Contributor to Search Engine Land, Forbes
  • The Local SEO Checklist – Eric Shanfelt, Founder & CEO of Local Marketing Institute
  • Keys to Successful Google Local Advertising – Conrad Saam, GM of Mockingbird Marketing, Former Director of Marketing for both UrbanSpoon and Avvo

What Do The Topics Tell You?

The assortment of topics speaks a lot of about the conversations that are most current and relevant in the industry. To put all the topics in broader categories, they covered:

  • Local SEO
  • Web Development
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Google AdWords
  • Email Marketing
  • Reputation Management
  • Legal and Regulatory Considerations

Outside of Analytics, the 2 days have essentially covered the full gamut of topics that are relevant to digital marketing for local businesses.

Of course, there can be a whole series of sessions on each of the categories and one hour sessions can’t make you an expert. Yet, they can serve as a great introduction or inspire you with ideas to implement or improve your ongoing initiatives.

Three Key Takeaways

At the CTA Conference in 2016, Carl Schmidt, the CTO of Unbounce told me he didn’t like noting down what speakers were saying. Instead, he’d keep a pen and paper handy to note ideas that he could implement which were inspired by the speakers.

This is the approach I adopted and some of the refinements I will make to our approach to digital marketing will include:

1. Implementing Customer Lifecycles

Being more diligent and articulate with breaking the digital strategies into customer lifecycles referencing the image included below –

Image re-created referencing a slide from Complete Local Digital Strategy in 30 Minutes – Eric Shanfelt, Founder & CEO of Local Marketing Institute

This was also referenced as AIDA by Laurie Macomber in her presentation Content Marketing in a Bloated Age. AIDA is an acronym for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. It also translates to know me, like me, trust me, pay me – a phrase first coined by Barry Moltz.

2. Improving Local SEO Audit Process

Improving our local SEO audit process based on insights gained from the Local SEO Checklist session by Eric Shanfelt. This came in at a great time as I was already working on updating our internal local SEO audit checklist. While our current checklist covered most things that Eric touched upon, there were a few additional insights which I’m excited to incorporate. Here is an outline of the topics included in our local SEO checklist –

    • Business Listings/Citations
    • Mention and placement of business name, address and phone numbers on the website
    • Link analysis
    • Competitors link analysis
    • Reviews audit

3. Considering Different Online Platforms

Lissa Duty’s gave a talk on Social Media Tactics that Actually Work. She encouraged us to think about the platforms which the future customers of a business could be using. She encouraged marketers to ask a bunch of questions before selecting the social media networks where the business chooses to be active.

She said, instead of blindly jumping on the Pinterest or Instagram bandwagon, it’s important to establish why.

While the who and the why were questions that we already ask, we have given less thought to where the future customers will be hanging out. There may not be a definite answer to this question because the future is uncertain and ever-changing, but one can analyze trends and user demographics to make educated guesses.

Closing Thoughts

Digital marketers operate in a fast-paced ever-changing environment. To keep up with the changes, you need to be continuously learning. We often refer to blogs and resources on platforms like Search Engine Land, Moz and Digital Marketer. We also subscribe to industry experts like Neil Patel and Annie Cushing.

Along with the daily reading and courses, most marketers would recommend attending one or two major conferences every year – and I agree with them.

All learning resources can be great but summits and conferences can inspire ideas like nothing else. Attending the Local Business Summit was about as real as attending my first major conference of 2017.

If you attended the Local Business Summit, please do share your own experiences. I would enjoy hearing about the same. I also encourage questions and comments from business owners and marketers who did not attend the conference.

Staying Organized In The Multi-Tab Lifestyle

In today’s world, it seems impossible to not multitask to some degree. And with multitasking comes distraction, with distraction comes disorganization. While I’m in no way the most organized person, I’ll share some of my secrets, habits, and routines for keeping organized.

Get Motivated

I start my day with a simple accomplishment. Any simple accomplishment will do. Making the bed, doing some chores, something that needs to be done every morning.

That way you start the day with a small, satisfying feeling of completion to motivate you in your tasks ahead.

That was more of a motivational tip, but one of my habits that truly keeps me organized is taking little steps throughout the day to stay on top of things. I make an effort to read every email, spam or not, and properly deal with it. I seldom leave an important email un-replied to as soon as I’ve read it.

Stay Organized

When I make a file, I don’t let them pile up on my desktop and lie to myself about cleaning it up one

weekend. I always spend the time to save it to the proper folder, and to name the file correctly (as opposed to slamming my keys randomly while naming it).

Even at home, I take the time to organize out of place objects, no matter how small or insignificant. This helps me to save myself from a weekend full of cleaning. It also gives me peace of mind.

I find the cleaner my work environment is, the more organized my work tends to be.

It’s really just a mental state, but the initial effort it takes to justify “wasting time” by naming your files correctly pays off by eliminating laziness and creating an organized workplace in the long run.

To-Do

Another approach to organization is having a to-do list, but not in the typical way people normally use one. To start, don’t stick to large, broad topics on your to-do list.

Get specific. I even find that I’ll write little instructions to myself when making my to-do list, as it helps me remember exactly what to do.

That way I feel accomplished checking off upwards of 10 items on my to-do list per task, and each item was completed with a very tight focus. I also find myself hiding all other tasks except the task I’m currently working on.

I keep my to-do list in Google Docs and I change the text color of upcoming tasks to white, which I find invaluable in keeping me focused on the task at hand.

When I organize it this way, I feel much less stressed than when I’m worrying about other items on my to-do list.

Some apps I like to use for keeping track of my tasks are Trello, Google keep, Google docs, and a whiteboard.

Trello is great for helping me see a project’s entire scope from start to finish. It helps prioritize what is

necessary. It allows me to quickly prioritize what needs to be done, lets me see if a certain aspect of a project is nearing completion and motivates me to finish it off.

Google keep and Google docs are my go-to for short notes, reminders and small tasks for myself.

I make it a point to not let tasks pile up, and I let older tasks cycle up to the top of the list.

Write It Out

The whiteboard is great for writing down quick, temporary notes and to-do items, and I try to have everything on it completed and erased at the end of the day. Plus, physically writing notes down makes it a lot easier to remember them.

Vigilantly using the methods above throughout my day makes me just that more organized than before. I find work not only being done faster but with more enthusiasm and satisfaction.

ElementIQ Partners With The Sharing Farm

BURNABY, BC  — ElementIQ will be contributing 1% of annual sales to support The Sharing Farm, a non-profit organization that helps grow food, farmers, and community through its various programs.
“We were so excited when we heard that ElementIQ wanted to partner with us for 1% for the Planet,” said Sarah Drewery, Executive Director of The Sharing Farm. “We are a small organization with limited funding and this contribution really makes a huge difference, enabling us to carry on growing nutritious food to donate to families in need.”

This is all part of ElementIQ’s commitment to give back to the community.

In April, ElementIQ officially joined 1% for the Planet, pledging to donate 1% of annual sales to support a non-profit organization focused on the environment.

The Sharing Farm is a community farm that produces food for those less fortunate in Richmond. In 2016, The Sharing Farm donated 20,500 pounds of produce to neighbors in need through community meals and the Richmond Food Bank.

ElementIQ has already begun its contributions and will also be doing a team-building volunteer day at the Farm in August. Stay glued to the ElementIQ blog for updates on this exciting new partnership.

How To Publish A Google Post

Alright, folks. It’s here. Google is now allowing businesses to create short snippets of content in Google Knowledge Graph.

In this post, I’m going to tell you how to publish a post on Google – with some recommendations!

What Are Google Posts?

First, here’s some context behind what Google Posts are and what they can do for your business.

Posts appear on your Google My Business listing. They can be viewed in Google’s Knowledge Graph result for a search for your brand.

Searchers can tap/click to read the full post. They can also share that post with friends via social networks directly from Google.

Why Do Google Posts Exist?

If you’re still wondering why you should even care about Google Posts, let’s dig briefly into why these are even a thing.

The purpose of these posts are to allow businesses to publish timely information, like specials or events. If you have a time-limited sale or weekly special, this would be a good place to publish it.

Google also wants to give searchers a “one-click path” to connecting with a business.

They originally only limited it to celebrities, museums, sports teams and movie studios to use. Now, every business can publish a post.

Step-By-Step – How To Publish A Google Post

Step 1: Go to business.google.com. Log-in. Then, scroll all the way down until you see your page(s) come up.

Step 2: Select your Google My Business page.

Step 3: Click on “Posts” on the left-hand side.

Step 4: Click on “Write your post”.

Step 5: Write your Google post. Add an image too.

Make your copy captivating. Think about your ideal customer. What would make them want to take action? What visual might they want to see here?

Step 6: If you would like to make the post an event or add a button, scroll down and select that option.

If you’re highlighting a particular offer, your call-to-action button should match the offer.

Step 7: Preview your Google post and hit “Publish” when ready!

Step 8: Verify that it published.

Your Turn – Publish A Google Post!

Go ahead and publish a Google Post to your business listing! Let us know by posting a link to your Google Post in the comments below.