Category: Digital Marketing

Outgrow: Boost Conversion Rates by up to 40%


Outgrow was founded by Pratham Mittal and Randy Rayess. It is essentially a marketing toolkit that specializes in designing customized and interactive content pieces for your online presence. Today, Outgrow caters to businesses across the board, ranging from finance, healthcare, real estate, insurance, marketing agencies, fitness, health and others.

Mittal founded Newsance, a Wharton VIP company, organized the inaugural Hack the Change Hackathon and worked at the Host Committee. Rayess has always been passionate about remote work, outsourcing and software development. He worked in technology, investing in SilverLake Partners, in machine learning as well as in payments. 

Interactive vs Static Content

Static content aka passive content, is when the content does not change and is not updated often. Whereas interactive content is when the intended audience interacts with the content itself.

Interactive content is powerful and is the way of the future as it establishes a meaningful connection with the audience. This engages them to stay longer and increases the probability of the audience reaching the results page.

Unlike Ads, interactive content helps to build trust with the audience, thus adding real value to the sales cycle. It makes your audience feel important and valuable, leading to higher conversion rates. Inherently, this can be viral with minimal effort. In addition to this, it can also provide you with more social proof, adding to your online presence authority. Using interactive content is a great way to boost your SEO rankings and at the same time, you get better data collection.

What You Can do With Outgrow

Build interactive content (quiz, calculator, assessment form) easily using Outgrow’s pre-built templates and web-base editor. For review and testing purposes, we created this choose a host quiz using Outgrow.

Outgrow helps you to obtain, qualify and engage leads by their easy-to-build personalized quizzes, calculators, assessments, recommendations, polls, even chatbots. You may not need developers or designers. 

It already has a host of design templates which are fully optimized for mobile, desktop, and tablet. They are easily embeddable into your advertising, websites, mobile apps, social media, SMS, existing Sales and Marketing tools and email communications as well.

The development studio solution focuses on the following key areas:

Content Marketing

  • Audience targeting, 
  • Brand Management
  • Campaign Management
  • Categorization/Grouping
  • Conversion tracking
  • Distribution management
  • Multichannel Publishing
  • SEO Management
  • Video Management

Lead Generation

  • Lead Capture 
  • Lead Database Integration
  • Lead Nurturing
  • Lead Scoring
  • Lead Segmentation
  • Prospecting Tools

The Smart Builder tool helps accelerate the whole development cycle to within minutes. You can easily and quickly craft the questions and options you want with this user-friendly intuitive interface. 

Templates and layouts have been optimized for better conversion rates. The look and feel can be customized to bring out your brand. Users can create customizable lead forms and call to action for websites too. 

Outgrow also deploys powerful Analytics and Users Funnel to help identify patterns and drop-off points to help increase your conversion rates. You can build in your required logic, to craft different paths for your respondents, based on their responses. 

By building in Conditional Messaging, you can show result-specific messages to make your calculators and quizzes more personalized and thus more meaningful. With the Graphs and Charts functionality, you can build dynamic charts based on user input. This is useful for you to better understand your audience. 

Outgrow widgets allow users to calculate their return on investment (ROI), savings, percentages and discounts can be embedded into users’ websites, blogs even in popups. Users can also choose to send personalized marketing emails through Outgrow. 

Key Benefits

The challenge has always been to get your audience to engage with your content and then successfully convert it to a qualified lead. Outgrow helps you with this. There are more than 300 pre-made content pieces and funnels that help improve conversions. 

With their many tools, Outgrow provides easy-to-analyse insights into the rich customer data, so you can easily track visits, conversions and traffic from across all channels.

Outgrow analytics
Demo: We created a 7-step quiz to help WHSR users choose a web host using Outgrow. Screenshots show the user engagement metrics.

1. Increase Conversions and Improve Your ROI

Outgrow is a tool that helps to better attract, engage and acquire leads by giving personalized solutions that could melt even the cold leads. It is proven to bring in, on average, a 30-40% conversion rate, compared to the 8-10% for landing pages and 2-3% for website forms.

Various pre-made templates suitable for a range of industries have been rigorously tested and optimized for higher conversion rate. All you need to do is change the questions, make tweaks here and there to sync with your brand and goals. Your interactive content can be ready in minutes and can be published with no hassles.

2. Improve Audience Engagement

Quizzes, calculators and assessments help engage your audience in a more targeted manner. These add real value as such personalized solutions tend to do and empower users with information they need to make necessary decisions.

3. Gain Greater Customer Insights

When Outgrow receives a response, it saves this data to help you analyse better and segment your customers into different categories. This information is particularly useful when you want to do smart retargeting and effective conversions.

4. Fully Optimized for Mobile, Desktop and Tablet 

Outgrow can easily be embedded into anywhere, namely websites, Ads, pop-ups, chatbots, mobile apps, social media and emails. The integration into Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin is also easy and seamless. They offer integrations with over 1000+ sales, marketing, and analytics tools too.

5. Good Support

Throughout the whole journey in building your interactive content, there are many tips on the dashboard and also multiple short videos to assist you. In addition to that, their service staff is both professional and proactive.

6. User Experience

The hardest thing to face about any new tool is learning curve. This can be very hard for many vendors to overcome. Outgrow has managed its User Experience (UX) admirably thanks to their use of gamification. This makes it more of an adventure to explore rather than a challenge that needs to be overcome.

Outgrow Isn’t Perfect

Although Outgrow has proven itself to be robust and worthy, there are still some areas that could use some improvement.

1. Price

Outgrow’s available plans could be deemed as pricey for some, especially smaller business owners. The customized layout option only comes with more expensive plans. Perhaps Outgrow can look into different plans catering to businesses of different business sizes.

Even for those who are willing to buy into their plans, it is likely to cause outrage that an Essentials plan which costs $95/month will still have Outgrow branding. I’ve seen many other service providers who remove this branding for far less. One example of this is Typeform, which removes its branding at the Premium Plan ($70/month)

Outgrow pricing – entry level package starts at $14 per month and goes all the way up to $600 per month.

2. Support

Although the support system included is great and much explanation was given throughout the journey of creating interactive content, when it came to the more detailed and advanced assistance, things can get quite confusing. 

3. CRM Integration 

The integration process could be complicated especially during the installation. Field mapping could be made a lot clearer and less confusing.

4. Bugs Do Still Exist

While I don’t mean this in any major way encountered so far, I have noticed that the Quiz / Form editor could be improved. While trying to use it, errors cropped up from time. Normally errors can be annoying, but these completely wiped out some work and made me have to repeat the entire creation process.

Outgrow has Helped Customer Experience Success

Success Case #1: VenturePact

VenturePact is a software development company that has a valuable marketplace to help businesses find and engage developers and designers. They were able to generate 11,592 qualified leads, 40% conversion rate and increase traffic by 15%, by using an interactive calculator with Outgrow.

VenturePact initially designed an inbound strategy that included blogs, ebooks, search engine optimization and social media, all closely knitted well together. Although these resulted in an increase in engagement over time, the results were not satisfactory as they were not sufficient to help them maintain a high growth rate. 

They opted for interactive content. So they built a mobile App Interactive Calculator where a prospective client could answer 9 questions about their App and then obtain an estimated cost almost instantly. Venturepact used Outgrow to create a simple and attractive landing page for their calculator. The landing page had a really high-conversion rate with a click-through rate of 66%. 

The lead generation form before the results page was displayed, had a built-in virality factor as it not only asked for the user’s email but also those whom the user wished to recommend the calculator to. This led to a conversion rate of a staggering 40%. On top of this, the Results page was clear and concise with real-time results. There was also an onward call to action on this page where around 4% of the users actually went through to the company website.

Since the calculator was a very useful tool to many, people actually shared it on social media and boosted the company’s word-of-mouth traffic. News has it that VenturePact is working with Outgrow to launch 3 new calculators in future, namely to estimate costs for design work, security budgets and WordPress website development effort. 

Success Case #2: Get Paid for Your Pad (GPYP)

GPYP’s business is to help property owners become expert AirBnB hosts. They were able to garner 800+ conversions at a 41% rate with a stellar 60% completion rate by building an interactive assessment with Outgrow to help Airbnb hosts better understand how well their listing was performing. 

GPYP, relied heavily on paid searches and some Facebook advertising to drive traffic to a lead generation form on the website. However, the nature of the AirBnB industry required something more on a personal level to help with sales. So, GPYP turned to something more interactive than just a static form. They needed more insight from the clients into the host’s AirBnB profile, so they could customize the follow up emails to make them more personal and relevant to the prospects.

GPYP then built an interactive Assessment by using Outgrow’s interactive content platform with the available pre-made templates and Codeless Editor. It was ready in a couple of hours with no need of hiring designers and developers. All 9 questions in the Assessment could easily be answered with no typing required, as they were all dropdowns, multiple choice and sliders questions. Majority completed this. 

Just before the results page was displayed, the Assessment displayed a form that required them to fill in necessary information. This form had optimal lead generation as a 40% conversion rate was registered and 60% of people who started the quiz actually completed and reached the last page. GPYP is now looking into building 3 more projects with Outgrow. 

Conclusion

Interactive content offers an opportunity to help differentiate your brand and engage your audience better. Now that you know that interactive content is that powerful and is the way of the future, if you’re a content marketer, won’t you instantly want to jump onto the Outgrow bandwagon and get started? 

Creating interactive content has never been so easy, now that Outgrow is here. If you want to deliver the right content to the right people at the right opportune time, then Outgrow is your answer.



Meet The Team: 20 Questions with Sheron Chiwa


https://www.sterlingsky.ca/

Excited to roll into month two of our new “meet the team” feature here at Sterling Sky.  This month I’m happy to introduce Sheron Chiwa, our executive assistant extraordinaire!  Sheron is an invaluable member of our dream team that keeps all the cogs aligned and the wheels turning behind the scenes – without her Joy would have to do MUCH more paperwork!  Sheron is now based in Ontario – after a brief relocation to British Columbia for the last few years.

https://www.sterlingsky.ca/

  1. How do you start your morning?
    I like to start with a cup of coffee then a quick walk in the park to get a dose of the nice morning breeze.

  2. Where is the first place you will travel when we’re clear from COVID-related issues?
    South Africa, to spend time with family then Switzerland for breathtaking views and chocolate.

  3. What’s your favorite ice cream?
    Hazelnut

  4. What’s your favorite game? (Sport, Board, Video, Card, whatever)
    It’s now Basketball since the Raptors won the championship!

  5. What’s your favorite charitable organization? Drop a link!
    Sick Kids, an organization dedicated to improving the health of children – https://www.sickkids.ca/ways-to-give/index.html

  6. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? Did you like it?
    I can’t think of anything that I’ve eaten that was weird, but I once drank hot chocolate mixed with hot sauce and it surprisingly tasted really good.

  7. You can invite anyone to dinner, dead or alive, who do you pick?
    My dad

  8. Betty White or Lucille Ball?
    Betty White

  9. Harrison Ford or Sean Connery?
    Harrison Ford

  10. BC or Ontario?
    Definitely Ontario, though the BC views were breathtaking

  11. What’s your favorite goto meal to cook (or order in?)
    I enjoy cooking pasta

  12. Cats or Dogs?
    Dogs

  13. Favorite music?
    Jazz or a great 80s hits list

  14. Favorite childhood memory?
    As a child, I always enjoyed watching the lightning when there was a storm, I still do.

  15. If you could go back to high school, would you?
    I would have joined more clubs and played more sports.

  16. House Plants or Outdoor Gardening?
    House plants, but I’m thinking of growing tomato plants.

  17. What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?
    I’d have to say Sharknado. I can’t believe they made five more after the first one.

  18. What’s your favorite thing about working at Sterling Sky?
    The team is truly amazing! Everyone is super smart, and they have such a positive attitude which makes work enjoyable, not to mention a great sense of humour.

  19. Drama TV or Sit-coms?
    I always enjoy a good sit-com

  20. If you had to delete all but 3 apps from your smartphone, which ones would you keep?
    Whatsapp, Instagram, and the Tim Hortons app because coffee makes everything great!

Thanks, Sheron!

https://www.sterlingsky.ca/
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Raziel: Dungeon Arena – Preload Now and Play Tomorrow




Indrasoft has announced the official launch date for their upcoming mobile game, Raziel: Dungeon Arena. Players can now pre-download the game from your local App or Play Store and can start playing the game when it goes live tomorrow.

The game was initially soft launched in Singapore and Australia and New Zealand back in 2017. I’m not quite sure what happened between then and now but the good news is that the game will be officially launched tomorrow, 22 September 2020.

Raziel: Dungeon Arena is a Hack’n’slash, ARPG which was said to be the closest game to Diablo that you can find on the mobile platform.

Players can make your way through Raziel’s 60+ single player dungeons or party up with your friends and enjoy co-op raids and boss battles.

Publisher
Indrasoft

Platform

Android Link
iOS Link




How to Create Location Landing Pages that Convert & Local SEO Reporting with Google Tag Manager


<br /> How to Create Location Landing Pages that Convert & Local SEO Reporting with Google Tag Manager – Whitespark



Your Final Checklist Before Launching Your Website


You’re so close. Your designer has sent over the finished website. It looks good and checks all the boxes you need it to. You’re almost ready to launch.

This is a big moment, but before you actually put your website out into the world, you want to be extra sure everything is just right. Devote a little more time to completing these 15 steps and you can launch with total confidence that your website is ready.

Review Every Page

Your first few steps can all be treated as one big project. You want to go through the entire website, page by page, and do each of the following on every page as you go. Keep a spreadsheet as you go through this process to help you keep up with which pages are complete and what updates you still need to make.

1. Proofread each page.

Even the best writers and editors know how easily a typo or misused word can slip through. Even if your copywriter or content team proofread everything once already, do it one more time. Read over every page on the website to make sure it makes sense, supports your brand strategy, and doesn’t include any embarrassing typos or grammatical errors.

2. Check that paragraph styles and spacing are working correctly.

Sometimes the formatting that looks just right in a word processor ends up looking funny on your website, or the spacing gets messed up in the transfer.

In addition to checking for typos, check to make sure the text on each page is formatted in a way that looks good and makes it easy to read, and that the spacing is consistent throughout.

3. Check the links on each page.

While you’re on each page of the site, go through and click on every link. You want to make sure that:

  1. None of the links are broken.
  2. They all take you to the page they’re supposed to.

In the future, you can use a free broken link checker tool to help, but for now when you want to check for all three things, you should do it manually.

4. Confirm that all images load correctly.

A website with images that don’t load looks sloppy and will tarnish your brand’s reputation. Review each page to ensure that all images are showing up as they should – both the important images that are large on the page, and the smaller stuff like social media icons.

Nothing turns a user away than arriving on a website that looks like this:

Check new web pages load correctly

5. Confirm on-page optimization.

Search engines completely dominate the way people use the web today. Therefore, every website owner has to think about SEO. Hopefully, by the time you’ve reached this point your webpages are already optimized for SEO, but you should make a point to check that all of them have basic on-page optimization down.

That means that you’ve:

  1. Determined a keyword to optimize each page for based on research.
  2. Included the keyword in: the URL for each page, the title tag, the page headings, the copy for the page and the image names and alt text.
  3. Write a meta description that includes the keyword.

While you’re checking that each of these fields has been filled in and includes your keyword, also make sure that everything is spelled correctly. Sometimes it’s easy to forget to proofread the stuff that’s not on the page itself. Don’t make that mistake.

Keep in mind here that you don’t want to overdo it. Keyword stuffing is bad for SEO and more importantly, for the user experience. Make sure all uses of the keyword feel natural and don’t hinder how a visitor would experience and understand the page.

6. On each page, ask yourself: is it clear what you want the visitor to do next?

Before you move onto the next webpage, confirm that you know what the goal for the page is and feel confident that the design, copy, and images all work to support that goal. If you want people on that page to sign up for your email list, make sure the email signup form is easy to find and the page makes it clear why it’s worth it for visitors to do so.

If the goal of the page is to sell a product, make sure that the copy is persuasive and the next steps to complete a purchase are clear.

Your website as a whole should have a goal, but each individual webpage should as well. Use this step to make sure those goals are clear and the pages are ready to meet them.

Check the Website Functionality

The page-by-page review will take time, but it accomplishes some really important tasks. Once you’ve gotten through that, there are a few things you need to look into about how the site works as a whole.

7. Check how it looks on mobile.

A lot of the people that come to your website will be doing so on their mobile devices.  You have to make sure your website is mobile friendly. If you are using a mobile responsive design theme (most are these days), you can mark this off your to-do list!

Start by simply pulling up your website on your own mobile phone and doing some browsing. Does it look ok? Is it easy to find what you need and move from one page to the next? Try filling out a form or making a purchase. Was any part of the process difficult to do? Are all the buttons large enough to easily tap with your finger?

You can also use Google’s mobile-friendly test tool to see if the search engine deems your website a good experience on mobile (which matters for SEO). If the tool determines that your website isn’t mobile friendly, it will give you tips on what changes to make.

Mobile Friendly Test

8. Check the site speed.

People don’t have the patience for a slow loading website. In fact, people now expect websites to load in less than a second. If your website makes them wait, there’s a good chance they’ll click away and find themselves another website to visit instead, potentially one of your competitors.

Site speed is also an important ranking factor for search engine optimization. So you’ll want to make sure that your website loads quickly.

You can find a number of free site speed tools on the internet to test your site with, such as GTMetrix and Page Scoring, both of which provide reports that help you understand what’s working and what’s slowing your site down if it’s not fast enough.

GT Metrix

Page Scoring

9. Test it on different browsers.

Different visitors will be coming to your website through different browsers. By this point, you’ve checked how the website looks through the browser you use the most often. Now it’s time to go back and test it out in all the others.

The most popular browsers you should be sure to check are:

  • Chrome
  • Internet Explorer
  • Firefox
  • Safari
  • Opera

Download each one of these browsers and test your site. Or you can use a browser testing tool to quickly manage the process.

As you did when checking your device on mobile, don’t just pull up the homepage on each. Do some browsing, fill out a form, and make a test purchase. You want to know now if something’s not working on a particular browser, instead of after it has caused frustrated visitors and lost sales.

10. Check that your favicon is in place and showing up.

Even if you haven’t heard the term favicon, you’ve seen them around. They’re the images that show up on the tab at the top of your browser. For example, the HostGator one looks like this:

Favicon

A favicon won’t make or break your website, but it’s a nice little branding opportunity that’s good to get into place before you launch. If you already have a logo that will work as a Favicon, then this step will be easier, otherwise you’ll need to design one (or hire someone to design one for you).

Keep in mind when choosing the right favicon for your site that’s it’s going to show up tiny, so don’t bother with too much detail. Once you have an image ready, load it to your main directory and insert the proper code into each of your webpages.

By default, you website will have the HostGator logo as the favicon. Check out this article for how to update your favicon.

It’s easy to set up and your website will immediately appear that much more legitimate and established with a favicon in place.

11. Verify that any forms on the site are working correctly.

Most websites include contact forms or forms for lead generation (such as those people have to fill out to download an ebook). Every form on your website needs to be tested out before launch, not just to make sure that you can fill it out easily without problem, but also to make sure that the information the form collects is sent to the right place.

If it’s supposed to go to your CRM or be sent to you in an email, check that it ends up where it’s supposed to. If your forms don’t work, not only will you lose out on valuable leads and contact attempts, but you also risk providing a disappointing experience to prospects that are expecting something from you.

Last Minute Steps to Get Ready

You’re almost there! You just have a few more general steps to take in order to be ready to launch.

12. Set up a custom 404 page.

Hopefully, by fixing all your broken links in step #3, you won’t have to worry about your visitors ending up on an error page any time soon, but inevitably at some point they will. Be prepared.

Set up a custom 404 page that matches your branding and helps customers figure out where to go next.

As an example, ours gives people a few different action items they can follow, so we decrease the risk of losing them.

HostGator 404 Page

Your 404 page doesn’t have to be clever, but it doesn’t hurt. A 404 page with a cartoon alligator dressed like Sherlock Holmes or a clever message like the one NASA uses dulls the frustration of a broken link.

404 Page

13. Set up a system for continual backups.

Technology’s done a lot to improve our lives, but it’s not perfect. Most of us have dealt with the dreaded experience of losing valuable digital data or documents in one fell swoop due to a technical failure of some sort.

The website you’ve worked so hard on should not suffer that fate. Most hosting platforms (including HostGator) offer a service for automatic backups. It’ll cost you a little money, but those few bucks a month can save you from the catastrophe of losing your website. You’ll be glad you spent that money if the day ever comes when you really need that backup.

HostGator’s backup service – Code Guard – will automatically backup your website as often as daily so you don’t have to think about managing backups.

It’s also equipped with features like one-click restore of your entire website, or just a single file. Finally, it has security features like 24/7 website monitoring and security scans, plus instant email alerts for any unauthorized changes that were made to your website.

If you’re using building website on WordPress, you can even use a plugin to handle your website backups, or you can manually backup your WordPress site if you don’t want to rely on a plugin to do the work for you.

14. Sign up for Google Search Console.

A Google Search Console account gives you the means to communicate certain things directly to Google. If you want to submit new content for crawling by Google or remove pages you don’t want to be indexed, this is an easy place for you to do that.

It’s also a good spot to check in to see if there are any issues with your site’s performance. You can get a quick snapshot of issues like manual penalties or detected malware. As such, it’s an important account to have set up before your launch.

15. Set up Google Analytics.

Finally, the most important tool for tracking your website’s performance over time is Google Analytics. Every site owner should have a Google Analytics account set up by the time their website launches. If you don’t have one already, time to get started.

You can set up an account by simply following the instructions here. You’ll be provided with a tracking code that needs to be added to every page on your website.

Once your website has launched and you start getting visitors, you’ll be able to access detailed data on who is visiting your site (demographically speaking), how they found you, and what they did once they reached your website.

Google AnalyticsReady to launch?

Now it’s time. If you’ve fixed every error you encountered in the course of taking these 15 steps, then your website is as ready as it’s ever going to be. Unleash it onto the world and get ready!

Your website may be finished enough to launch, but once it’s out there, it’s time to start paying attention to what works so you can start the never-ending process of making your website better in the days to come.

Remember – your website is NOT print. So publish when you’re ready to go live, and make improvements later. After all, a successful website is never really done.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.

What Even Is An SEO? (Can We Please Stop Talking About HTML)


Hi friends, it’s me Dan. Your friendly SEO curmudgeon in training.

Recently the SEO community (cough cough, SEO Twitter) has been caught up in a veritable tizzy about knowing HTML. Beyond the obvious epistemological considerations, I think there is a real ontological question raised by the primacy of HTML as a programming language in the SEOs toolkit.

So I ask you:

What even is an SEO, and can you even be one if you reject the fundamental nature of HTML?

Spoilers, yes and I do.

Let’s start up front, HTML is a front end web development language. If you don’t do front end work, things like HTML don’t really mean much to you. Here is a spoiler for you; not all SEO roles involve front end auditing. I guess I can see why this is a little controversial, as the traditional conception of SEO is based around this idea of an SEO freelancer jill-of-all-trades. However, this doesn’t make much sense as a way to organize modern SEO functions. First of all, because teams are cool, and collaboration is cool. Even if your teams have 10x SEOs (think mythical 10x engineer) the idea of a freelancer centric model of SEO feels very dated. I think Local SEO Guide CEO Andrew Shotland (sound trumpets) is the perfect person to get a quote from here. Andrew has been in the SEO game a long time and here is what he has to say about how it has changed over time:

In some ways, how I help our clients succeed at SEO hasn’t changed since I started doing this strange form of marketing almost fifteen(!) years ago. The advice we are delivering to clients this week could easily be in an audit from 2005. But whereas in 2005 you only needed one guy behind the curtain turning the knobs, these days there is a entire team of Oompa Loompas, and they all are really good at turning their specific knobs, and the don’t need to be masters at every other knob.

Nowhere is this shift in how SEO is organized more clear then the difference between how successful in-house teams work and how SEO agencies generally work. More and more in-house marketing and SEO teams have analytics and data roles and are becoming cross functional. A lot of the work they are doing is to integrate SEO more fully into their internal business intelligence systems. That is often a full time data role, and some of the most cutting edge enterprise SEO orgs have multiple full time team members with analyst-type pokemon skill sets. But don’t take my word for it just look at this job posting Adobe has for an SEO Insights Manager. Nowhere in there is HTML, but Python/R/SQL are def core to this job. I reached out to enterprise SEO badass Jackie Chu (Senior Manager SEO; Uber) to get her thoughts:

Funnily the core charter of my team (Intelligence) is to build bespoke tooling for the SEO team, so I’m no longer in the day to day “traditional SEO activities” around ideating new page types or localization. The majority of my day is spent cleaning up data, feverishly checking Kibana, QAing dashboards and working on setting requirements for the future of tooling for the team. We’re currently hiring for another headcount, but outside of this person my team will mostly be supported by adtech product and engineering to see the bespoke tooling and warehousing of the underlying datasets to fruition.

At other companies like Square and Dropbox, it was pretty standard to get at least partial Analyst support for business exercises like forecasting and reporting, and also for measuring A/B tests, experiments, and the impact of traditional SEO efforts like optimizing page templates or link building. Most of these companies use their own internal data warehouses, and while you inevitably need baseline SQL skills most SEOs won’t be able to pull the data with the same rigor and speed as someone who is in the tables day in and day out. It’s also great to have hard numbers provided by an unbiased 3rd party to use to get resourcing in the future and quantify your contribution to the company’s bottom line. After some successes my old colleague, Chris Yee, even secured data science hours to build bespoke SEO research tools. The pilot was so successful that the Data Science lead later went on to another company and immediately added an SEO-dedicated headcount to his team.

I think when you work in enterprise, you want to break down the walls of SEO being seen as something only the “SEO team” does. Whether your peer’s skillset is Analytics or Engineering, If their success metric is growth realized organically on the website, then they’re part of the SEO team.

I saw Jackie give a talk entitled “Soft SEO: How to Win Friends and Influence Leadership” and I think it’s one of the best SEO talks I have seen recently. Everyone should bug her on Twitter to put the slides online.

This isn’t just relegated to in-house teams. We have 3 backend/analyst roles ourself. While they all “know” html it is totally irrelevant to their day-to-day work (except for Sam who owns our Puppeteer instance.) And it’s not just us. Orgs like Merkle, SEER etc all have dedicated analytics teams that are exclusively data roles. Python/R/SQL are all more useful across these roles than superficial knowledge of HTML. These are the very normal and very traditional tools of the trade for data analysts.

Before you are like “but that isn’t SEO!!”.

Now we are firmly back at the ontological question of the day; What even is an SEO?

Just to be totally transparent, I’m going to just flat out reject definitions related to “what is an SEO” that marginalizes team members across our organization. And that is exactly what people are saying when they say HTML (or insert X skill here) is critical to be an SEO. For some roles HTML or general front end auditing skills are not critical. Some examples of these roles that we have in our org are:

  • Technical Development
  • Data Analysis
  • Linkbuilding
  • Content Optimization
  • Content Production
  • Project Management

In fact, in a not so funny quirk, linkbuilding and technical development/data analysis overlap with us in terms of leadership which should tell you that linkbuilding is super technical, and the most core function of SEO (getting links) is 100% detached from front end auditing. Here, they count as real SEOs.

None of the SEO work we do as an org would be able to happen without being able to integrate people with non-front end skill sets into our SEO flow. For more about this, and how this has led to a huge empowerment of people and teams across our org, I highly recommend you check out my talk at VirtuaCon on going from Automation Zero to Hero. Andrew is going to be giving an updated version of this talk at Whitespark’s Local Search Summit next week. In fact, just yesterday I had a call with Tealium in order to work on integrating some client data into our Google Big Query stack so we can use it to do analysis. No HTML required.

Alright, I’ve said basically everything I have wanted to say here so let’s bring it home. SEO is a rapidly diversifying role/function and needing to know how to do everything doesn’t equate being able to do everything well. To succeed in SEO moving forward the discipline needs to throw off the shackles of its past and embrace new ways of thinking.

Oh, and we are hiring. So if this sounds like an interesting place to work you may want to apply.



How to incorporate a business


Solidify your foundation

Eureka! You have a unique idea for an endeavor that you’re passionate about or believe can meet the needs of many consumers. You have collected feedback and tested out this great idea. But before you can bring your idea to life, you need to know how to incorporate it into a business.

Having your big idea allows you to choose a business model and create a business plan that acts as the foundation for your new venture. Incorporation is a critical next step before launching a small business.

In this post, we’ll take a look at what it means to incorporate as a business entity.

We will also outline some of the most common entities for incorporation, including these formations:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Limited liability company (LLC)
  • Corporation
  • Professional corporation
  • Nonprofit corporation

What does it mean to incorporate a business?

How is incorporation defined?

Incorporating a business is the process of creating a corporate business structure.

 

This structure allows the business to become a separate, legal entity from its owner. An incorporated business may also receive liability protection. This type of protection is known as limited liability.

Limited liability helps separate personal and professional assets. This means that in the event of an unforeseen circumstance, such as a lawsuit or business debt, there is protection from the risk of satisfying the debt or lawsuit with personal assets. These assets may include houses and cars, which are protected by limited liability protection.

What would happen if you did not incorporate your business? It is still possible to run a business as an unincorporated company. However, an unincorporated business faces certain dangers that would not impact its incorporated counterpart:

  • No limited liability protection.
  • Difficulty establishing credibility. Consider startups that have abbreviations like “LLC” and “Inc.” after their names. Customers will trust these companies because of their professional identity. It becomes more difficult to willingly do business with certain industries, like retail and medical practices, that do not have this type of proven legitimacy.
  • Quiet concern about “what if?” scenarios. Let’s say you run an unincorporated business. Have you ever thought about how you might handle the worst-case scenario? What would you do if your website was hacked and hackers compromised personal data? What if a customer was accidentally injured on your premises? Incorporation, at the bare minimum, allows entrepreneurs to silence these thoughts. It provides peace of mind in knowing that you, and your incorporated business, will be in good hands regardless of what happens next.

Common entity types

Now that you’re ready to incorporate your business, what are your entity options? Let’s take a look at some of the most common entity formations.

There are even more business structures than the ones listed below, including S corporations and benefit corporations.

Please note, I personally cannot advise entrepreneurs on which entity is the “right” structure for their business. However, what I can do is provide some of the most common business entities and a bit of information about each formation.

Sole proprietor

Woman Using A Laptop And Mobile Phone

This entity formation is one of the simplest to form. It is also the only one on this list — and the only business entity, actually — that does not provide its owner with limited liability.

If you set up your business as a sole proprietor, you will have full control of the business.

This is an exciting opportunity for anyone that wishes to be the boss of their entire operations.

 

In addition to being the boss, the sole proprietor must also take responsibility for everything that impacts the company.

This may range from good things, like favorable press, to bad circumstances, such as lawsuits, that leave the business and its owner in a precarious situation.

Sole proprietors who are in industries that need limited liability protection may incorporate as or switch to an entity that provides it.

Related: Which business entity is best for an ecommerce company?

Limited liability company (LLC)

A limited liability company, or LLC, is a popular entity formation choice for many entrepreneurs. It generally protects its owners (also referred to as “members” under an LLC) from personal liabilities for business transactions.

LLCs are also fairly flexible entity structures. There are fewer compliance requirements necessary for an LLC, such as annual meetings or minutes. This makes it a bit easier to maintain.

One of the greatest draws of an LLC is that the entity is taxed as a pass-through entity by default.

The profits of the business “pass-through” to the owners. This helps avoid double taxation.

Profits and losses are reported on the individual tax returns for the owners, not at the business level. Other losses or operating costs of the business can also be deducted on personal tax returns, which can help offset other income. As a return, it is usually a bit simpler for owners to file taxes for an LLC.

Do you plan to run a business with other owners, or members? It is advised that the LLC sets up a written operating agreement. This is a document that details the rules and regulations for operating as an LLC.

Some areas to cover may include but are not limited to, the roles and responsibilities of the LLC’s members, the members’ rights and voting power and the ownership interest of each member.

Corporation

Skyscraper View From The Ground

Corporations are ideal for entrepreneurs who know they may want to expand the business worldwide or go public with an initial public offering (IPO). Much like an LLC, incorporating as a corporation also provides its owners with limited liability protection.

However, running a corporation is not nearly as flexible as running an LLC. This entity is much more structured. It must be able to meet certain compliance requirements. The organization must have a board of directors and take detailed minutes during annual meetings.

In addition, corporations must follow a set of corporate bylaws. This is akin to an LLC’s operating agreement. Bylaws allow the business to maintain consistency throughout the corporation’s operations.

Professional LLC and professional corporation

Now that you have an understanding of an LLC and corporation, let’s talk a little bit about professional LLCs (PLLCs) and professional corporations (PCs).

These two entity formations are a bit more specialized than their standard counterparts — and typically a good match for entrepreneurs occupying specialized professions.

Who qualifies to incorporate as a PLLC or PC? These are professionals that require state licenses in order to offer professional services. They must work in certain occupations and offer specific services. Some examples of these niche businesses include, but are not limited to, the following professions.

  • Lawyers
  • Physicians
  • Engineers
  • Doctors
  • Dentists
  • Optometrists
  • Accountants
  • Architects

Unlike a standard corporation or LLC, filing as a PC or PLLC requires additional information. You must be able to provide proof of your specialized profession when filing as one of the two entities. For example, you may use your state license.

In the case of PLLCs, you’ll also need to check and see if the state you do business in has authorized PLLC legislation. A state that provides PLLC legislation gives professional LLCs the go-ahead to limit personal liability for claims related to the errors or malpractice of a member.

Authorizing PLLC legislation means that the member forming a PLLC isn’t held personally responsible for these claims.

Not every state has authorized PLLC legislation, however, so check with your state’s Secretary of State office before filing to ensure PLLC formations are authorized for business.

Nonprofit corporation

Nonprofit corporations have several similarities to standard corporations. However, the greatest difference is that a nonprofit corporation is founded for a charitable purpose. Some of these purposes may include but are not limited to, the following initiatives that benefit the general public.

  • Conducting charitable work
  • Aiding in disease prevention
  • Addressing social issues
  • Advancing environmental goals

A nonprofit corporation is formed to carry out a charitable, educational, religious, literary or scientific purpose. Incorporating as a nonprofit corporation means following certain, similar steps like that of a standard corporation. These include preparing articles of incorporation to incorporate the business and creating bylaws.

It is also critical that nonprofit corporations file for tax-exempt status. The most popular type of exemption is 501(c)(3) status. This status exempts eligible corporations from paying federal and state taxes because the corporation is pursuing a nonprofit mission.

Additional tax advantages are also available to nonprofit corporations. Contributions to charitable corporations are tax-deductible and fringe benefits may be deducted as business expenses.

How should a nonprofit corporation operate? Much like a standard corporation, it is important that a nonprofit corporation follows formality requirements to stay in compliance. You will need to file annual reports, attend annual meetings and take minutes to maintain corporate status.

How to choose an entity when incorporating a business

Still have questions about incorporating as one of the business entities mentioned above or an alternative option? Consult a legal professional, like an attorney, for assistance in addressing answers to any further questions.

Related: From naming to writing a business plan — start a business in 3 steps

What comes next after incorporation?

Woman Working On Laptop

After you have filed the paperwork and paid the filing fee to incorporate your small business with the local Secretary of State, remember to fulfill additional requirements your small business may need before it fully opens its doors to the public.

Trademark your brand

If your business has a unique name, logo, design or slogan, you will need to file for federal registration of this mark. Conduct a name search through the USPTO’s trademark database prior to registering for a trademark. This will allow you to see if your mark is available or if there is a similar, or same, trademark that has already been registered.

Obtain an EIN

An EIN is an abbreviation for an employer identification number. This is also referred to as a tax ID. It is a nine-digit number issued by the IRS to identify employer tax accounts. It is necessary to obtain an EIN if your business plans to open a business bank account, hire employees, or build corporate business credit.

Designate a registered agent

A registered agent often referred to as an RA, is the official point of contact between your business and the state. Registered agents receive paperwork on behalf of the business from state and county agencies. They organize the documents and pass the information along to the business owner. Not only does an RA deliver necessary materials like renewal reminders in a timely manner, but they are also discrete in their delivery to ensure no confidential information is leaked to the public.

File for business licenses

The business licenses and permits your company needs to operate depend on your industry and the city and state in which you do business. Even your entity formation determines if you may need a specific business license. Reach out to your local Secretary of State to determine which licenses you need and file for the appropriate materials.

Fulfill annual maintenance requirements

Is it time to file your annual report? Do you need to pay franchise tax fees? The requirements for your annual maintenance will depend on the entity you incorporated as. From day one, it’s important to stay organized with upcoming filing deadlines and file all materials on time. This ensures your business stays in good standing with the state and does not fall out of compliance.

Did you check off each of the items above? Great! You’re ready to launch your small business — welcome to the world of entrepreneurship.

This content should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Always consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation.

Want to End Your Lease But Not Your Local SEO? Factors to Consider If You Might Leave It Behind


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Now you’re looking at your lease through the local SEO lens.  A combination of the pandemic, the lockdown(s), the quasi-reopening, and other changes has made you want to save money where you can, or work from home indefinitely, or move your HQ.  The basic concern is, “Will I destroy my local rankings if I rent somewhere else or stop renting altogether?”

Your more-specific questions might include:

  • Should you stay in your current building?
  • If you stay, how long should you stay?
  • If you move, which address (old or new) should you show online?
  • Should you stop showing your address online?
  • How important is your exact address, in the grand scheme of local SEO?

The answer to those questions and others in a similar bucket is: “it depends.”  It depends on a lot of factors you need to weigh.

In recent months I’ve helped several clients transition to work-from-home, develop or reopen with virtual/online/not-in-person services, or move to a new address.  (I also did some of that pre-COVID.)  You might have similar goals.  In that case, I’m here to point out all the ways an address change can blow up in your face, so you can decide what the least-bad course of action is.

Below are some factors I suggest you include in your head math as you decide whether and when to drop your lease (or make a similar big change).  The more of these you can answer “yes” to, the better.

  1. Are you OK with the risk-reward balance of using an old address for your Google My Business page – AKA “hermit crab SEO”? If not, then you probably have little choice but to keep paying rent a while longer. If so, it might be at least a short-term way for you to cut your lease but still stick around on the map for at least a while longer.  The main risks of hermit crab SEO are (1) your Google My Business is somewhat more likely to be removed from the map at some point, and (2) it will be harder or impossible to re-verify page at that address again, if you ever need to.  By the way, a tool like Persuaded.io can tell competitors whether the USPS considers your address occupied, which may help those competitors send in a Google Maps edit that sticks.  Read my post on the pros and cons, if you haven’t already.
  1. Do you get customers / clients / patients from a variety of cities or towns or neighborhoods, rather than only from the one you’re in? You’re taking a real gamble if most or all of your business comes from one small spot. But if you get people from a variety of places – and if you suspect they found you online and aren’t all just word-of-mouth referrals – then your visibility is probably diversified enough.  Your rankings go down here and go up there, but you’re still OK.  Not all your eggs are in one basket.

 

  1. Do you rank for any important search terms outside of your immediate, hyperlocal area? In other words, how location-sensitive are the Google Maps rankings you care about? If you only rank for your important search terms within a very small patch of land (like in a few neighborhoods in your city, or in one small town), then any change of address will probably mess you up.  How do you find out how location-sensitive your rankings are?  I’d look in a combination of the AdWords Ad Preview & Diagnosis Tool, in a local rank-checker that uses a proxy, in Google My Business “insights,” and maybe in Search Console (under “Performance” -> “Queries”).  No method is perfect, but if you piece together what you see in various places you should get the picture.
  1. Do you have solid organic rankings in addition to solid Maps rankings? If not, removing or changing your address will affect your visibility on the map – probably for the worse. But if you do have that solid baseline of organic rankings, removing your address from Google My Business or changing your address is less likely to cut into your overall visibility.  How can you find out the breakdown of your Maps vs. organic visibility?  Look in the places I mentioned in point #3 (above), and maybe at a rank tracker.

  1. Do you have a plan ramp up your organic visibility fast? Easier said than done, I know. But if anything happens to your Google Maps rankings, the organic results will probably be your main or only source of “free” visibility.  (Most of your visibility on the map depends on your organic SEO strength anyway.)  Your main alternatives are (1) wait for a miracle, (2) spam the map and hope it doesn’t backfire, and (3) pay for ads as your only source of sun rays.  Not a great scenario.  How can you ramp up your organic visibility fast?  Well, short of spamming or earning a ton of good links, I’d suggest (a) getting at least a few solid and relevant links, (b) creating a separate page on every specific offering you’ve got (so as to get more “one-box” visibility), (c) working your homepage WAY more, (d) going after  “near me” terms, and (e) maybe creating the kind of “areas served” page that would bring a grin to my mug.  In general, my suggestion is to create in-depth pages (not blog posts) on very specific topics that people both nearby and farther-away research at some point in the buying process.

  1. Do you already have “virtual” or “online-only” customers, clients, or patients? Before you might make your business less bricks-and-mortar, you need to know whether the people who pay you are fine with a service that’s less bricks-and-mortar.  Not everyone will stay on that road with you, but some will need to.

 

  1. Does your “virtual” or “online-only” clientele include some people you started working with after COVID and the lockdown hit? For one thing, you need to establish that you can get new customers / clients / patients when it’s clear to them from the start that your service (at least for now) is done remotely. Also, as I mentioned, it’s great if some or most of your tribe has made the transition with you, but those people already had in-person connection to you.  That’s a kind of glue.  Can customers get attached to you even if they don’t start off with the glue?  How long do they stay attached to you before you start looking like just a floating head with a voice and an invoice?  Good questions.  The short answer is, “it depends.”  Most of my longer answer you can piece together between this post, this one, and this one.
  1. Will your service area stay pretty much the same? If so, then you may not need to wait until you’ve built up organic visibility in more of your service area. If not, you’ll probably want to fill in some gaps before you drop your lease.  Your local SEO effort needs to go beyond the map.
  1. Do you have a solid pile of non-Google reviews? Put another way: even if people never see your GMB page and its Google reviews, will they still see a rock-solid reputation and know what to expect of you? Diversify where you get reviews, whether or not you end up cutting your lease.  By the way, you’ll probably find that’s not too tough to do.  With the exception of Yelp, Google is a harder place to get reviews on that pretty much every other review site.
  1. Do you have a good way to explain PUBLICLY what your location is? If you want or need to specify it on your site, or explain it to Google My Business “support,” or clarify something in a response to an online review, you don’t want your place of business (or lack thereof) to seem dodgy.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/massagephotos/31196147226/

  1. If you use AdWords and run location extensions, do your ads without location extensions do well? If your CTRs or other important metrics are only good when your Google My Business page gets dragged along into your ad, and then you make a big change to that Google My Business page, your Google Ads visibility may become collateral damage.
  1. Are you fine with your old address (or your home address) showing up on certain local listings? Your address won’t show up on all listings (especially if you take pains to conceal it), but it will appear on some sites. Probably shouldn’t be that way, but it is.  If the address you’re leaving or the one you’re switching to is absolutely top-secret, then you’ll need to reconsider.
  1. Is your current place itself not a big selling point for most of your customers? If you don’t know already, see if you can glean any insights from your customers’ reviews of you. Maybe your possible new location or non-location is better for you and not a deal-breaker for your clientele, but how many people would miss something irreplaceable about the old location?

Lifting anchor from your lease may or may not be voluntary.  Whether it’s a change you have to make, or want to make, or that you figure you might as well make because so many other things are in flux anyway, it’s worth engineering in your favor as much as you can.  Knowing the trade-offs and blind spots is the best way to do that.

What are you considering doing with your lease or address?

Any factors you’re weighing that I did not mention?

Any unique twists in your situation?

Leave a comment!

[DEV] “Reaper of Immortals” is a game I released a while ago and I would love to share it with everyone here, link in the comments! : AndroidGaming


level 1

Does it work with external controler?

NEW ‘Just Reviews’ Subscription Plan


Just Reviews is a brand new, super-affordable BrightLocal plan that gives you just what you need to focus on review management only. Here’s what the new plan offers and a look at why we’ve developed it.

We always aim to deliver fantastic value for everyone, and we mean everyone. For example, we believe that having the right tools to build and maintain a strong online reputation shouldn’t be exclusively for those that have the deepest pockets.

We recently took a look at how rival vendors price their reputation management products, and felt that many people weren’t being catered for. We think a price point of $200 per location, per month prevents a lot of businesses from being able to reap the rewards of a well-managed reputation.

And it’s not just small businesses who miss out. Marketers at bigger brands are already stretched enough trying to maintain online reputation at scale, and they struggle to get the budget to do it efficiently. Meanwhile, agencies will always need a cost-efficient and profitable way to provide reputation management services.

That’s why we’ve decided to start offering our entire review management product, Reputation Manager, as a standalone plan costing just $8 per location, per month.

We call it ‘Just Reviews’, and you can try it for free today.

That’s $8/month to:

  • Have peace of mind that you’ll stay on top of all your reviews
  • Grow reviews to outshine the competition
  • Increase website conversion rates and win new customers

Now those of you who just want to focus on reviews only have to pay for what you need: a complete review management solution at a great price. It’s a small investment that can reap big rewards.

Don’t just take it from us, though: Accelerate Marketing
have been long-time fans of Reputation Manager and have used it to deliver incredible results.

“We helped generate $88,000 for a client with online reviews using Reputation Manager!”

Crystal Horton, Marketing Consultant at Accelerate Marketing

What’s included in Just Reviews?

Every Just Reviews plan comes with all the tools and features of Reputation Manager. In case you need a refresher, Reputation Manager consists of three core tools:

  • Monitor Reviews lets you stay on top of reviews from across the web. You’ll see all your reviews from over 80 sources in one dashboard. From there you can respond to reviews on Google and Facebook quickly, analyze a business’s online reputation, and devise a strategy to boost your online reputation.
  • Get Reviews helps you generate new reviews quicker and easier. Launch email and SMS campaigns directly from our platform, and set up landing pages that can be shared via a link or even used in-store, on a terminal or tablet.
  • Showcase Reviews turns reviews into powerful social proof on any website. Curate your very best customer feedback and testimonials and display them proudly on your site with easy-to-build, customized widgets.

Try it today

Our Just Reviews plan is available to try out free for 14 days for up to 10 locations.

After that, you’ll be able to choose how many locations you need and only pay for the ones you manage. Add and remove locations as needed, and we’ll adjust your plan to match.

Just Reviews: It’s just what you need for an awesome reputation.