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How to plan for Google’s mobile-first ranking strategy

How to plan for Google’s mobile-first ranking strategy

Google is rolling out a change that will affect you and your website.

About 52% of global website traffic traveled through mobile phones – up from less than 1% just nine years ago. That is why Google is beginning to rank mobile websites ahead of desktop sites. And it is why you need to be fully mobile, too.

If your website is responsive — that is, it translates well to smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices — you may not have to change anything. If you don’t yet have a mobile site, it’s time to get one. Google will continue to rank your desktop-only site, but your ranking will likely trend down.

Why mobile-first?

Google is changing the rankings for its own benefit. With the explosion of websites generally, Google sought a new way to find and judge website content quickly. Its original method – finding a URL and then moving through each line and link of a site – is too slow when there are billions of sites.

Its new method allows it to gather information on APIs, a type of function on every site that gives direct access to volumes of content, including libraries and other troves of data that can be quickly gathered and analyzed.

What is a good site?

A highly ranked mobile site will load quickly. The photos and content will be easy to consume without pinching or expanding. The font will be readable – no fancy curls and large enough to read on a phone.

Your site needs a clean, uncluttered design that conveys your ideas quickly. Mobile-friendly copy is also important – for both your Google ranking and your visitors. Short sentences, easy-to-digest words and otherwise clear writing will help move people through your site.

And if you include pop-up content on your site, Google will penalize you.

Google has been talking about this change for more than a year, and the transition won’t be fully complete for another year or two.

Next steps

Google will notify you when it begins to rank your site for its mobile-first capabilities. If you monitor your traffic, and your site is mobile-friendly, you may begin to see more results from the mobile version of your site. If you don’t have a mobile site, or your mobile and desktop sites are not compatible, your rankings will probably begin to go down.

In this age of digital communication, you should be evaluating your sites a couple of times a year to make sure they are effective, clear and able to connect you with your audience. Now more than ever, your mobile site needs to be the best you can make it.

Have questions about your website? Schedule a meeting with Lauren to go over your site and discuss your options.

Optimizing your company’s Instagram

Optimizing your company’s Instagram

Take the shot and post it! Maybe edit the picture a bit and apply some filters which are easily accessible. Find the right hashtag or memorable quote and you are on your way. Sound like you? This is the easiest and most common way people go about posting individual posts on Instagram. We focus primarily on the reaction for each post instead of focusing on long term followers and the image we would like to set as a whole. You can personalize and maximize your feedback by focusing not only on the post itself but the theme or image you wish to portray when followers visit your account. Are you organized? Do you have a common theme? Here are some tips as well as a few apps that will help you maximize your potential and reap a new generation of followers.

#1 – Avoid haphazardness

Sometimes it seems best to make a post based on a compulsion or what you feel might get the most attention in the moment. Instant gratification is a must in our time, but what happened to the element of surprise? What happens to working toward something great? Think ahead! Think about what you are trying to sell or the image you are trying to relay in the long run. How can your posts now help build up the momentum to more important and hopefully game changing posts?

#2 – Common theme

There is nothing more frustrating than a lack of balance when viewing a business’s website or Instagram account. Our eyes don’t know where to look and we are left wondering what the purpose is behind it all. What sets this company or organization apart? Balance is key in this life and this should roll over into your decisions on how you will construct your Instagram account. Some simple steps to take in order to reach this balance may include: common colors, similar filters (i.e. black and white), similar imagery, or as previously mentioned some pattern in which you build up to the goal or overall image. Is it pleasant to the eye? Or does it cause visionary overload? We must place ourselves in the shoes of those people we wish acquire and view it through their eyes.

#3 – Stick to your goal

Often times we jump ship on great ideas in order to seize the moment. A lot of small steps make big changes. Remember that each individual post should be flowing in the direction you are wanting to course out. In the moment we may seek instant gratification, but how much better would it be if your final goal was the fulfillment of this gratification? Not only will you receive more gratification but you will achieve the image and the ideas you wish to set for your company or personal potential. Avoid compulsives posts. Step back and think about what you are trying to achieve. Think about the direction in which you want your company to go. Make this the goal of every post and it will not disappoint.

 

Here are some Apps available to help make this possible:

VSCO – offers great tools for custom filters, image sharpening, as well as general editing. The possibilities are almost limitless. (Subscription required for premium features)

InShot – allows the user to create custom borders as well as various filters which allow for editing images optimized for Instagram stories.

Adobe Spark – allows you to create designs, quotes, and flyers using preset templates in order to allow even a non experienced person to make great images which will leave a lasting impact on your followers. (Subscription required for premium features)

How to connect your business to Millennials

How to connect your business to Millennials

It’s official: Millennials are changing the (consumer) world.

A report from management consulting firm McKinsey & Company shows what younger consumers expect as they buy and engage with brands. The study focuses on beauty brands, but its findings can be applied to any company that sells to younger buyers.

Millennials were born from the early 1980s to the late 1990s, so today they are anywhere from their late teens to their mid-30s. The older ones were born before the internet and all its opportunities were widespread, but they all now communicate, shop and entertain themselves online.

They also are much more willing, according to McKinsey, to try new brands. They respond less to traditional advertising and want to engage with stories involving brands.

New is in, old is out

Not coincidentally, internet-inspired communication – such as social media, blogs, video and even email – are excellent ways to tell stories and connect directly with individuals.

According to McKinsey’s research, millennials are:

  • Three times more likely than baby boomers to assume that newer brands are better or more innovative and three times more likely to say they typically learn about new products or brands from social media.
  • They expect to be able to try anything once — free of charge. And they want the experience to be fun and prefer informal interactions.

McKinsey quoted the WaR Agency, a London-based marketing firm, which says that seven out of ten people surveyed said they want to learn about products through content rather than advertising.

The findings mean that entrepreneurs working to build an audience, and therefore customers, need to create relationships with younger consumers. You can do this by telling your story on your website, and encouraging consumers to sample your products — and then talk about them on their favorite social media.

Make consumers part of the story

Doing so not only introduces your product to consumers, but creates an experience and even gives customers a sense of ownership in your company’s growth.

The approach is working in the beauty market. From 2008 to 2016, new brands grew by 16 percent a year, four times as fast as legacy companies.

Let’s work together to market your products and services to the largest number of consumers possible. Contact me at lauren@bingleydesign.com or (203) 491-2814 and we’ll talk about how to work together to increase your sales.

Imagine your best customer, and stop marketing to everybody else

Imagine your best customer, and stop marketing to everybody else

No matter how great your product is, and despite your devotion to customer service, most people won’t buy what you sell.

A common mistake of entrepreneurs, however, is to try to appeal to everybody, assuming that anybody is a potential customer.

That approach is not the most efficient, and it will dilute the message of who you really are — which makes it that much more difficult to show potential customers what you can do for them.

Best customer forever

As an exercise, describe your best friend. Mine is not just a female who lives in Manhattan. No, she’s fun, likes movies and an occasional drink. She enjoys shopping for clothing, but not groceries, so she eats out a fair amount. She has a driver’s license but doesn’t own a car. Go a little deeper and you will find she is an avid baseball fan. But her team is the San Francisco Giants, because her grandmother rooted for the Giants, even after they left New York in 1958.

Car rental companies can attract my friend’s interest, but car manufacturers never turn her head. She will investigate a new restaurant near her home and she has been looking into the many new companies that will deliver fresh food to her apartment. She subscribes to MLB.com and watches Giants highlights on her phone. She comments on social media about their biggest wins.

Can you describe your ideal customer to that level of detail?

If not, let’s start.

Who wants what you sell?

Why would this person buy your product? Does it make life easier or does it enhance their own business? How much does that customer know – or want to know — about your product? Do they involve themselves with its implementation, or instead do they just want it to work without worrying about it? Do you have customers for whom cost is no object, and others who look for every bargain?

And if one is much more profitable for you, how do you get more of them and fewer of the other?

Not only do personas help you communicate with your existing customers, and find the most profitable ones, but a deep understanding also can help you address churn, or the phenomenon of customers who buy, and then leave you for someone else.

If you are just starting out in business, create personas that reflect who you think your ideal clients should be. You might believe your sweet spot is made up of homemakers, architects and artisan coffee brewers. Determine their comfort with technology and whether they will drive to your office or work only online. What is their income range, age and gender? Giving them names might help you build an even stronger connection.

Longer-term companies can survey their existing clients. It’s one more way to communicate with your customers, and offers an opportunity to know and describe them in greater detail.

Happy customer, happy entrepreneur

The results might surprise you, too. Perhaps you will create an entirely new persona for your ideal customer, add another one or two, or tailor a better sales message.

At the same time, you will stop pursuing customers who are unlikely to ever buy from you. You can stop selling to everybody and anybody, because you understand them — and your perfect customer — much better.

Why you need to understand Europe’s new website standards

Why you need to understand Europe’s new website standards

Why you need to understand Europe’s new website standards

By now, you have become accustomed to a message at the bottom of websites you visit that reads similar to the following:

This site uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some are essential to make our site work; others help us improve the user experience. By using the site, you consent to the placement of these cookies. Learn more

The message is the result of the General Data Privacy Regulation, or GDPR, put in place by the European Union. You may wonder why the all-American website you are viewing needs to comply with an EU rule: Because it’s the Internet, and folks over in Europe are watching us, buying from us and sometimes even answering our questionnaires.

That last part, in which we gather information about customers and potential customers, is what requires U.S.-based companies to protect themselves from stiff penalties that could result from violating GDPR rules.

And it is what you should consider – even if you work by yourself and don’t intentionally appeal to Europeans.

One more point: The rules set out in the GDPR are intended to improve transparency for consumers. Transparency helps customers understand what you do, and decreases their tendency to think you are somehow deceiving them. In other words, following the general intent of the GDPR guidelines is a good business practice, even if you aren’t bound by the technical rules.

The basics

Under GDPR, a business must get permission from website visitors to collect their information. It must also keep that information secure for a required period of time (which may depend on where your business is based), and ensure that any vendors that you share the information with also protect it.

The GDPR will also keep an eye on what kind of information you collect. If you are only asking for name, email and name of business, you will be OK. If you ask questions about religion, spouses and similar personal information, you may be violating the law.

Who needs to worry

Most small businesses probably won’t be targeted by the GDPR rules, which are realistically aimed at multinational corporations and companies doing business within the borders of the European Union.

But you might be surprised when you look at where some of your traffic originates. It’s as easy, of course, for someone in France to access your site as it is for someone in your hometown. You will probably only be notified of a GDPR violation, however, if you collect personal information as you fill your sales funnel, and then find that many of your potential customers are citizens of the EU.

On the other hand, keeping track of your customer information is always a smart idea, whether you sell overseas or not. You are also likely to get more customers, and earn their loyalty, if you are clear about how you handle any information they give you, and that you can keep your promise to safeguard it.

Bingley helps customers build attractive, effective websites. Call us with your questions about whether you need to comply with GDPR or want to improve your customer communication.

Create your brand. Market your brand. Be your brand.

Create your brand. Market your brand. Be your brand.

Building a strong brand is important, but until you have one, the entire concept of branding can be elusive.

First, of course, you have to decide what you want to be known for. Most of us work in competitive businesses; what we sell isn’t the only one of its kind on the market. So we need to offer a unique twist. We might have more training and experience than our competitors. Perhaps we offer impressive guarantees, price breaks, or more sophisticated advice.

Or you might sell a service or craft that can be found in other parts of the country, but you corner the market in a certain region and that, in turn, becomes part of your brand. (Vermont maple syrup is an example.)

Why brand?

A strong brand makes it easier for consumers to choose your product from among competitors.

Branding can focus on offering the lowest price or it could appeal to the wealthiest percentage of the population. Several niches are available in between: sporty, fun, youthful, high-quality at reasonable price, and low-key but sophisticated to name just a few.

Successful branding rarely happens overnight and, once you choose how you want to be known, you have to convey your identity consistently with your product and service as well as through your messaging.

That process can include website design and content, product packaging and social media marketing. How you and your staff interact with customers, and your presence in the community can also convey and enhance your brand.

Entrepreneurs who speak at seminars, for instance, become known as experts in the field (while they get an opportunity to discuss their product and service to an audience). But you also influence your brand when you become known as a community volunteer, for instance, and are a familiar face at networking events. People take leadership positions in business and service organizations because they want to help their communities. They become a source of information and support for good and important causes. Secondarily, it enhances their brands.

Branding never stops

As you can see, branding is an ongoing process. Maybe you get your clients because what you sell is of high quality. You keep them for the long-run because you treat them well and deliver what you promised. You remind them you are still there through Facebook, a newsletter or blog. Then they come back, and refer colleagues and friends.

When branding becomes part of who you are, what you sell, and how you sell it, your company’s brand will help you attract new customers and keep current ones.

Bingley specializes in branding for new business owners and helping to visually display that vision to your customers. Schedule a meeting here to start a conversation.

Four programs to make you look like a social media pro

Four programs to make you look like a social media pro

Does this sound familiar? You create a Twitter account, post messages for several days, and then slow down to once every few days. Soon it’s been weeks. The most recent post on you company Facebook page is from 2017. (You downloaded Instagram but haven’t used it.)

You aren’t alone.

Even better, there are many tools available to help you get started (again) and keep your momentum.

Here are four that I recommend.

Canva

Canva offers an online suite of tools that make it as easy as possible to create graphics, illustrations and charts. You can add photos, choose fonts and other items for a highly designed presentation. Canva works for social media messaging, but also for PowerPoints or blogs, business cards or posters. Canva tutorials make design fairly easy, even for people who have never designed anything. Most of the tools are free, although some photos, for instance, cost $1 each. Upgrades with more tools start at $12.95 per month per user.

Trello

If you have ever forgotten a task you assigned yourself, or had to remind a crew member of the assignment due today, you know that keeping a schedule in your head has flaws.

Trello is a project management tool that allows the boss to create a project, assign tasks and keep track of who is doing what. As Trello likes to say, you can “organize everything (literally, everything — from the day-to-day operations of your business to your next family vacation).” Members of your team (or family) can access a calendar that sends deadline reminders. They can chat online with one or many team members in real time and add other applications like Dropbox to their dashboards. If you like embedding GIFs into your communications, you can create a library of them for easy access. And all the tasks you perform most frequently can be added to your dashboard. Cost ranges from free to $20.83 per month for large organizations.

Google Sheets

Sometimes all you need is a list of the people who post on social media for your company. The list will tell you what type of messaging they have been assigned, when they will post it and on which platform. You can scratch it out on a whiteboard in the meeting room or an Excel spreadsheet that you update and send to the team each morning.

Or you can use Google Sheets, an online spreadsheet that is shareable with others and can be loaded with information from any internet-connected device. You can access Sheets from your phone, tablet or desktop. It’s free and you can pair it with other Google project management software. You don’t need to be a computer scientist to use Sheets — but if you are, you can write your own custom code. Tutorials here and here give you all the guidance you will need to get started.

Sprout Social

Investigate Sprout Social when you have built a vigorous social media presence that you are having trouble keeping track of. Sprout empowers you to create and monitor consistent social media messaging for your company or organization. You or staff members still have to write the messages but with Sprout you can analyze traffic and determine communication history – which customers communicate with you most often or for the first time. With a Sprout dashboard you can manage all your channels – Twitter, Facebook, etc. – at the same time. A shared content calendar provides a comprehensive view of upcoming messages across your entire team and who needs to review, edit and approve content. You can download Sprout for a free month, after which prices range from $99 to $249 a month.

 

 

Still overwhelmed?

You don’t need all these tools to ramp up your social marketing but you might start with one and, once you’re comfortable, add another. These programs also help if you have more than one person, or multiple locations, contributing to your social media.

As with all new projects, it’s important to take the first step, and then keep on going. It may continue to seem a little daunting, but it’s better than staring at that ancient and lonely post on your Facebook page.

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Three tips you can use as Facebook overhauls the newsfeed

Three tips you can use as Facebook overhauls the newsfeed

If you run a business that relies on Facebook to engage customers and potential customers, your world is about to change. Facebook announced that, starting in the next few months, its news feed will strongly favor conversations between family and friends. A standard business post that announces a new product or service, or your comment on your company’s page about an industry trend, will be much less likely to show up on anyone’s screen. “As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media,” said Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. “And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard – it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

What can you do to maintain a significant presence on social media, where many of your customers have become accustomed to hearing from you? First, don’t panic. Here are three steps you can take to stay in front of your audience, communicate regularly with your best customers, and continue to fill the top of your sales funnel.

Facebook still offers options

Goal: Attract not just viewers, but comments and shares. The more discussion your posts generate, the more likely they are to show up on your Facebook friends’ news feeds, and the more likely their friends will see them.
Issue: It takes effort and time to write posts that engage people and entices them to
comment.
Solution: Facebook Live is the fast-growing video streaming segment within Facebook. It allows you to build on a blog post or other content you have already generated. A weekly Facebook Live post that gives a few details about a blog, white paper or a new offering on your website, can entice viewers to move further into your sphere.

Move to Instagram

Goal: Build an audience on Instagram, a popular channel that is making it easier, not harder, for businesses to connect with consumers. A new feature, Instagram Stories, allows you to add your link within a post so viewers can move directly to a blog or other feature while remaining on the Instagram platform.
Issue: What? You want me to learn a new social medium?
Solution: If you have time to focus on only one social media channel, give up Facebook and put all your efforts into Instagram.

An email newsletter

Goal: Keep your best customers up-to- date with regular communication that they trust – and that they know is coming to their inbox. A newsletter is a forum to discuss trends, the latest products and new services. You can determine the percentage of people who open the email and how much time they spend reading it.
Issue: Why do you insist that I have loads of free time to create content? I am running a business and I AM ALREADY RESPONSIBLE FOR DOZENS OF TASKS!
Solution: Admittedly, content creation takes time and energy. It’s on you to figure out where to carve the time from, but everyone has plenty of raw material at their fingertips. Your customers are a good source of content ideas. Every time you answer a question, you are developing content that could become a blog or an Instagram post. Likewise if your business makes adjustments for the seasons – including tax season, beach season or various holidays – you have content that will help identify you as an expert in your field. Once you have a piece of content, you can maximize its use in ways not possible even a few years ago. Imagine: Post a Facebook Live video referring viewers to your Instagram
Story, which is a tease to your latest blog, which you repurpose in your newsletter.

I’ll help you with the details. Schedule a meeting here and we’ll discuss how to make your communication plan as easy and efficient as possible.

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5 Reasons A Responsive Website is Essential for Your Business

5 Reasons A Responsive Website is Essential for Your Business

Today, using the internet is comparable to using electricity.  Mobile usage is soaring and businesses need to adapt with beautiful and responsive sites. Having a great website can make a huge difference for the visibility of your company.  Want to see how a mobile-responsive website will help you? Here are a few that matter to us to Bingley:


1.  It Improves Your SEO Ranking

You don’t have to know the specifics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to know that it is important for your site to get shown across the internet. You will rank/be indexed higher on Google if you have a responsive site. High rankings = more visibility. And more visibility = more site viewers and customers.

2.  Social Media and Blogging Brings More Mobile Traffic

If you have a well rounded marketing plan it probably involves some social media sharing and blogging. Content marketing and social media will bring your site more website traffic. You will need a responsive site so your visitors are able to use your site to its fullest potential.

3.  Speed is Necessary

Your site should load within seconds. If it takes any longer then that you will lose people quickly. There is nothing more frustrating to would be buyers then when a site isn’t loading or they can’t navigate easily through the site. Responsive sites help to reduce these types of bugs.

Mobile Phone

4.  It Makes It an Easier Experience

It’s easy to believe that more than 58% of American adults own a smartphone and almost 60% of all website traffic is from our phone!  It is absolutely essential to have a site that is responsive enough to handle people looking at it from different devices, not merely a desktop computer. If you keep your viewers interested, it is less likely they will jump off to a competitor’s site too!

5.  It Provides a Better User Experience

Overall you want to have a website that will be easy for your visitors to navigate. If your website is responsive there will be no need for pinching and zooming to see different parts of it correctly. This increases the likelihood that people will stay on your site, see your content, and/or buy your products. Your website will also adapt to devices of various sizes which will make it look crisp and clean regardless of where it is viewed.

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As you can see a responsive site can take your business to the next level. If you don’t know where to begin when it comes to building a better site, click here and we can chat!