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Local Search Clinic with Colan Nielsen [BrightLocal Webinar]


Welcome to Local Search Clinic!

Each week BrightLocal CEO Myles Anderson will welcome a different local search expert to host their very own clinic — a dedicated space for you to get your questions answered, chat with other local SEOs, and source new inspiration.

For one hour every week, this is your opportunity to sit back, relax, and enjoy some unadulterated local SEO talk.

This week on Wednesday, April 15th, at 11am ET/8am PT we’ll be welcoming Sterling Sky’s Colan Nielsen to answer your questions on service-area businesses.

Got problems only the pros can answer? Looking for tips to boost your online search presence? Or just want to chat with fellow local SEOs? Join us each week for an hour of expert insights with new topics each week.

Read on to find out how to get your questions answered!

For any questions or issues registering for the webinar, please email us at content@brightlocal.com

Can’t see the button to register above? Click here to save your spot.

How to register and ask your question

1. Click the green ‘Save my spot!’ button at the top of this page.

2. Click ‘Email me a login link’

3. Click ‘Confirm & sign in’ in the email from Crowdcast

4. Click ‘Ask a Question’ and submit your question using the popup (you can do this before or during the broadcast)

See a question in the popup that you’d also like the answer to? Just click the arrow next to the question to ‘upvote’ it! The popular questions with the most upvotes will be answered first.

P.S. Don’t forget to join our Twitter local SEO networking list! Simply follow the list and we’ll add you in.



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Is your restaurant ready to offer food for delivery?


Plated and packaged

Delivery orders were once a thing of myth. Most restaurants didn’t offer food for delivery, and if they did, it was viewed as a special perk. It wasn’t expected or common.

But with the rise of on-demand and on-call services, delivery turned into a necessity for restaurants. Customers began to expect and demand it. So if you’re a small business owner in the restaurant or food industry, it might be time to add food delivery services to your options. To help you decide if your restaurant is ready to offer food for delivery, consider the following questions.

What’s the real demand?

Consider your current customer base. Are they asking for delivery? Have you received requests or inquiries? Before you jump into making delivery a permanent offering, spend time researching if your customer base would use the service.

Conduct a survey, review customer requests and comments, and try running a trial delivery service to see if it is well-received.

Will your food travel well?

Food For Delivery Takeout

Some foods quickly decrease in quality if they aren’t eaten right away. Look at your menu and consider whether or not your food will travel well during delivery service.

  • Will it keep its taste?
  • Will it become soggy or lose its consistency?
  • Will it maintain an optimal temperature for taste and food safety?
  • Will it reheat well?

As you create your food for delivery menu, only include items you’re sure will keep their integrity during delivery.

How accurate are your in-house restaurant orders?

When someone is served the wrong dish in a restaurant, they can send it back. With delivery, the option of returning inaccurate orders is gone. As you consider if your restaurant is equipped to make food deliveries, take a look at the accuracy of your in-house service.

If you regularly have customers returning incorrect orders, you might want to focus on improving that process before jumping into food delivery.

How will you set limits on your delivery options?

Food For Delivery Plating

As you decide if your restaurant is ready to offer food for delivery, consider the area and population surrounding your establishment.

Determine how many potential customers you want to reach and then draw a boundary for where you will deliver.

 

Make a map of where you will cut off service, and decide what type of delivery you will offer. Keep the following options in mind:

  • Delivery routes that take multiple orders at a time.
  • Back-and-forth delivery where drivers leave every time a new order is placed.
  • Pre-scheduled drop-offs that are only available with an advanced call.

Setting clear boundaries and guidelines for delivery options will help you run a more streamlined service if and when you decide to launch.

Do you have the right packaging for food delivery?

Before you decide to offer food for delivery, you need the right packaging. You might not be able to rely on the to-go containers you currently provide to guests in the restaurant.

Ensure you have high-quality, durable boxes for transporting food.

 

As you shop for what you need, remember that you should:

  • Match your food containers to the quality of your food. Don’t use cheap styrofoam for high-end foods.
  • Consider the temperature of the foods. Don’t mix cold items with hot items, and decide if you need different types of packaging for cold and hot foods.
  • Use insulated delivery bags. Have a heat-insulated bag for hot foods and cool-insulated containers or coolers for foods that need to remain chilled.

Don’t rush through this step. Carefully consider how to get the best product to your customers. Using the right food packaging will help keep the integrity of the food, which leads to happier customers and a more successful delivery service.

How will you accept delivery orders?

Food For Delivery Menu

Part of the appeal of food delivery is its simplicity. Customers want to easily order and quickly receive their food. So, make sure you can set up a streamlined ordering process.

Look at your options for adding online ordering.

 

Most people prefer to order from their computer rather than the phone. Check out services like GloriaFoods or ChowNow that can set up ordering systems on your website.

GoCentral Website Builder lets you add ChowNow to your website with a couple of clicks.

Should you outsource your food delivery?

Finally, decide if it’s better for you to outsource the delivery process. You can stick to what you do best — making food and serving in-house guests — when you hire a service to deal with the logistics of delivery for you.

More and more restaurant delivery services are popping up.

 

Some services are local and cater to specific cities while others are spreading nationally. A few of the most popular service partners include:

Search for available partners in your area, and then vet them to see which works best for your restaurant. Ask the following questions:

  • How much money does the vendor take?
  • Will they help promote your restaurant? If so, how do they do it? Are you responsible for contributing?
  • How many customers do they currently have?
  • What is their typical delivery turn-around promise? Does it meet your expectations? Will you be able to meet their expectations?
  • How do they handle incorrect orders or delivery complaints?
  • How do they accept and process food orders? Through you or their own app? Will it integrate with your internal system(s)?

Before you form a partnership with a food-delivery service provider, make sure your goals align and that the company is a fit for you, them and your customers.

Food for delivery — the way of the future

Up until a few years ago, it was not unusual for a restaurant to exclusively offer dine-in experiences. But times have changed, and now food delivery is something that customers expect. So use these considerations to help you prepare to join the on-demand restaurant community, and start giving customers what they want, right when they want it.

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A Likeable Lifestyle App with Clicker DNA


As a species, we tend not to drink enough water. Yes, there are those smug people who carry a bottle with them wherever they go, but for the majority of us hydration is just another chore that we fail to keep on top of.

Fortunately, there’s an app for that. Plant Nanny 2 is developer Fourdesire’s attempt to get us all drinking more, in a bid to save us from high blood pressure, constipation, creaking joints, knackered kidneys, unsightly faces, and all the other ills that befall the chronically parched. 

It does this by effectively gamifying the act of drinking. As the name suggests, Plant Nanny 2 gives you a plant to look after, reminding you at intervals to water it to help it flourish. And for every ounce (or millileter, if you prefer) that you pour over your grateful plant, you’re supposed to pour the same amount into yourself. 

It’s a neat idea in principle, and the execution is slick and adorable, with crisp cartoon visuals and soothing music. 

Here’s how the gameplay works. Your huge-eyed plant sits in a pot on a tree stump. To feed it, you need to hold down an on-screen button, which prompts droplets of water to float up amid burbling noises and land on your grateful plant. 

As your plant levels-up it grows and blossoms, until eventually it reaches its max level and graduates to the greenhouse. 

Going Deeper Underground

Unusually, this greenhouse is underground, and it has layers, with the depth displayed on a little wooden sign beside your plant pot. Each layer of your greenhouse can accommodate three plants that you’ve completely levelled up topside, and once a layer is full you can start levelling that up too, using Sunlight. 

After you level-up a layer all the way to three, you unlock a special creature that helps your plants get more sunlight and produce more Seeds. The creature you end up with depends on the combination of plants you place in that layer of your greenhouse, encouraging experimentation.

Seeds are necessary for, you guessed it, growing new plants. The more you collect, the higher value the plant you can grow, so there’s always an incentive to harvest seeds from your greenhouse and save them up.

Four leaf clovers, meanwhile, allow you to buy various cosmetic pot upgrades. You get four leaf clovers by logging in every day and by completing quests, though you can also obtain them by watching ads or through in-app purchases. 

In fact, Plant Nanny 2 is full of opportunities to watch ads, mostly to double rewards. You can also watch an ad to collect seeds automatically, which is well worth it. 

You can view your collection of plants at any time, and share them on all manner of social media platforms and messaging apps. They look great, with gorgeous art design and helpful little explainers telling you where they grow, what they look like, and so on. 

Likewise, the animals all have their own cards with beautiful illustrations and informative and lyrical descriptions. 

You Can Lead a Gamer to Water…

As you can tell, Plant Nanny 2 has all the trappings of a free-to-play casual game in terms of its upgrade loop, different currencies, in-app purchases, ad rewards, and so on. It’s almost like a clicker, albeit at a slower pace than any clicker we’ve played.

You can’t rush Plant Nanny 2. Even if you guzzle your entire day’s water intake in a single sitting, your plant stubbornly refuses to level-up beyond its daily allowance. And, as the app is at pains to point out, drinking too much water at once can be dangerous. 

Plant Nanny 2 isn’t just a game. It’s a lifestyle app with the trappings of a game. In that sense, it’s only as good as the work you’re prepared to put into it. There’s nothing to stop you watering your plant without taking a drink, so you need to apply yourself to get the most out of it. 

But if you’re committed to your own hydration, and you’re looking for a gentle, pleasant daily reminder to drink more water, Plant Nanny 2 seems as good a way as any to receive a bit of encouragement.

Download Plant Nanny 2 for yourself here.

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How to Launch a Virtual Learning Site with MemberPress


Editor’s note: The following article was written by Jessica Starks, a Staff Writer at MemberPress, which is a WP Engine Partner that specializes in helping customers build successful, engaging membership-based businesses online.

The lives of millions of people around the world have been drastically changed, and many are scrambling to figure out how to supplement or replace an existing income. Thanks to the internet, there are a number of possibilities you can dive into right now.

One way you can earn extra income is by starting an online business. And one of the most in-demand online businesses these days are virtual learning sites.

Online learning has taken off in the past decade, from people teaching anything from academic courses to crafting, or even the history of stuffed animals (yes, it’s a thing)! Not to mention that starting an online business, such as a virtual academy, doesn’t have to be expensive, and it can be done anytime, from anywhere, giving you ultimate flexibility and peace of mind.

Everyone has a teachable skill that someone else is eager to learn. Why not try your hand at virtual education?  We can show you how to get your digital learning site started with WordPress, WP Engine, and MemberPress.

What Is MemberPress?

MemberPress is an easy-to-use WordPress Membership plugin that helps you create, manage, and track membership subscriptions and sell digital download products. MemberPress integrates fully with your already-existing WordPress site on WP Engine, so you can get your online business up and running in no time.

If you don’t currently have a WordPress site with WP Engine, now is a great time to accelerate your digital business with world-class themes, WP Engine’s industry-leading speed and performance, and powerful plugins like MemberPress that will help you quickly realize your digital vision. 

Start Your Virtual Learning Site in 7 Easy Steps

Step 1: Install and Set Up MemberPress

Before you can begin to work on your virtual learning site, be sure to get MemberPress, install it, activate your plugin license, and set up your preferred payment method. This is essential before you move forward.

Step 2: Create Your Courses

Are you wondering how you create your Course Content using MemberPress? Well, this is the beauty of MemberPress-—it can protect ANY content on your WordPress-based website! So in this example, we’ll just create our Courses using standard WordPress Pages. For this example, we’ll create a page that represents a Course and then we’ll set up child pages for this Course where you’ll put the individual Lessons. Later on, we’ll protect them to ensure only paying customers will be able to access them.

To create a page, simply go to “Pages” on your WordPress dashboard, and click “Add New.” Here you will simply type in the name of your course. If you have lessons or modules in each section, you may also create subpages, by clicking “Add New” again, typing in the name of your lesson or module, look to the right of your page for “Page Attributes,” and clicking the dropdown to select the main page that you want that page connected to.

Step 3: Create Your Membership(s)

On your dashboard, scroll down to “MemberPress” and then click “Memberships.” Once you’re on that page, you will click “Add New.” This is where you will begin creating your course Memberships. 

Here, you will be able to set the name of your course, the price of your course, and whether you want customers to have lifetime access or access for a certain amount of time. This is where you can also set up recurring subscription membership plans. As we will show later, one membership can be used to protect any number of pages, posts, and more … including your Courses!

When you scroll down to “Membership Options” and click “Price Box,” you’ll be able to create a display that will show to your customers. You can add benefits of the membership, pricing, custom button text, and more here.

Once you are finished there, scroll back up, click “Publish,” and pat yourself on the back—you’ve created your first course membership! You can follow these steps again for as many course types as you need.

Step 4: Create Groups

Now that your memberships are created, scroll down to “Groups.” Creating Membership Groups allows your subscribers to only subscribe to one membership at a time, but will allow them the option to upgrade or downgrade their membership. 

Once you have clicked groups, click “Add New” to create your group. 

Once you have finished configuring your group, click “Publish.”

Step 5: Create Rules to Protect your Courses

Now that your Courses and Memberships are in place, scroll down to “Rules” and click “Add New.” This is the place where you’ll determine which memberships have protected content.

Here you will type in your rule title, as you can see above, and then link your memberships’ pages. Under “Access Conditions,” you will determine which memberships can be seen. Once you are done here, click “Publish” and repeat this step for your other membership levels.

Step 6: Link Your Pages to Your Memberships

Now that you have your pages and your memberships set up, you can now link the membership with your course overview page (or a page that links to multiple course overviews on it if your membership includes multiple courses) so your customers can immediately access what they’ve paid for when they sign up.

You will go to “Pages” and right-click on the page of your course. Click “Copy link address.” Now, head back over to “Memberpress -> Memberships” and click on the corresponding membership. Once you click on that page, scroll down to the “Advanced” tab and paste the link you just copied into the “Membership Access URL” box and the “Default Login Redirect URL” box. This allows members to automatically access their courses and be redirected to that URL when they join.

Step 7: Configure Your Menu & Test

Now all you need to do is set up your menu to make sure that your members can easily join your site and test it out to make sure there are no kinks in the process.

In your WordPress dashboard, go to “Appearance,” then “Menus.” Once you are there look at the top of the page and click “Screen Options.” Here, be sure to check “Groups” and “Memberships.” After that, you can add in your menu items so your customers can sign up for and access your courses.

Once you have clicked “Save” on your menu items, you can view your site to ensure that your membership options are visible and your courses are easy to access. You are now ready to release your virtual learning site to the world.

You have now set the foundation for your virtual learning site! Of course, there may be other WordPress-related things you’ll want to do–like customizing the look with an amazing StudioPress theme. Or perhaps, you’ll want to set additional options for your membership—MemberPress also has you covered as it supports a huge array of features, and offers a huge library of fantastic documentation with great customer support. Basically, with MemberPress you’ll be able to do almost anything you want with your virtual learning membership site.

Final Thoughts

We know that starting any business—let alone an online business—can be a challenge. However, starting something like a virtual learning site is an excellent way to continue earning an income while still being able to share your expertise with others, on your own time and from the comfort of your own home without spending a fortune.

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Search Scoop: Week of March 30th


Adam Henige
Adam Henige Winners and losers: How COVID-19 is affecting search behavior — Stuck at home and in need of more random information to consume? We’ve seen some interesting traffic numbers across our various client sectors, but rather than assemble my own blog post, I’ll be lazy and share the impacts of the Coronavirus on search from George Nguyen’s perspective on SearchEngineLand.
Elyse Motte Google Trends is Useful During Coronavirus — Use Google Trends to your advantage during the Coronavirus pandemic! This article shows you how you can find and use various trending searches and leverage them for your business, clients, and content.
Jerod Karam Google Offers Free Google Ads Credits for Small Businesses — Google is providing several million dollars in free ad credits for small businesses that had an active AdWords account during the last year. If you’ve had an active AdWords account and want some free advertising, go get you some!
Joe Ford Reducing digital marketing due to COVID-19? Read this first — A very timely article on evaluating digital marketing analytics and tactics in this down economy. Especially poignant was the references to SEO.
Kelli Kaufman How to Create a Goal in Google Analytics to Track Conversions — If you have an e-commerce store, it should be essential that you set up goal tracking in Google Analytics. This guide will walk you through the basics and how to get started with creating a goal.
Lexie Kimball 25 Tips for Updating Old Blog Posts for SEO & Boosting Organic Traffic — This article on updating blog posts is on the longer side, but has a lot of great tips on determining which blog posts are worth updating and what you should be thinking about when making updates.
Michael Hall Google is Asked About Advance Warning of Penalties — Ever wonder why Google does not send warnings in Search Console before placing a link-based penalty on a website? Google’s John Mueller provides an explanation. In short, you shouldn’t expect to see any kind of communication from Google before a link-based penalty is placed on your website.



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Do GMB Products Impact Ranking and Drive Website Traffic and Conversions? [Case Study]


https://www.sterlingsky.ca/

If you want your clicks from Google My Business (GMB), website conversions and traffic to increase, adding GMB Products should not be on the top of your local SEO to-do list. In this post, we have extracted the data to show you how we came to that conclusion. With that said, we still love GMB Products, and we will explain that to you as well.

The Products Beta inside Google My Business launched for almost all business categories in July 2019. The feature is most prominent on desktop.  It appears very high in the Knowledge Panel and is more visible than Google Posts. GMB Insights doesn’t track activity from the products but we wanted to know if they are driving conversions, website traffic or impacting rankings for SMB’s. To see more about how to track this activity yourself, see this post on how to track traffic from Google My Business.

In this case study, we looked at 22 locations across 12 verticals that have been using GMB Products since August 2019.

Key Takeaways

  • Adding GMB Products does not impact ranking
  • The overall impact on website traffic is low
  • The overall impact on driving conversions is low
  • An SMB  who actually sells a physical product and not just a service saw the most conversions and website visitors in our analysis
  • Adding GMB Products does not seem to increase overall click-through-rate (CTR) within the local knowledge panel (clicks to visit the website, request driving directions, mobile click-to-calls)

Before we get into some of the results, a little background on the GMB Product feature.

What are GMB Products?

GMB Products can be found inside the Google My Business dashboard.

https://www.sterlingsky.ca/

Here’s what it looks like on the front end on desktop and mobile. They appear above Google Posts so in that sense, they present a good opportunity to highlight products and services prominently in the local knowledge panel.

https://www.sterlingsky.ca/

_________________________________

Google says this about the feature:

The Product Editor allows merchants to build a presence on mobile and the computer to showcase their products and drive customer interactions. Customers will see a more curated showcase of a store’s products on the Business Profile Products tab on mobile, or the Product Overview module on the computer.

Items added through the Product Editor appear in business profiles on the computer and mobile version of Google Search.

The Product Editor is for small- and medium-sized individual businesses. All categories of businesses, except for a few verticals, can use the Product Editor to showcase their products to potential customers. The Product Editor will not affect the use of the Popular Dishes features.

If you’re a larger chain, you can provide data about the products you sell and their availability through Local Inventory Ads.

 

What is the difference between the Products Beta and Product Posts?

The Products Beta has a lot more visibility.  When you do a product post inside Google Posts, it only shows up on your Knowledge Panel on Desktop for 7 days.  On mobile, it will appear permanently both on the Updates tab and the Products tab.

Does adding GMB Products drive website traffic?

The short answer is, “not really”. Over the course of six months here’s how many new users entered a business website by clicking on one of their GMB Product listings. We looked at one to four businesses per vertical. The only business that had a slightly higher number was in the home security/automation vertical. Interestingly, they are also the only business we looked at that sells actual products (home security and smart home equipment) and not just services.

Does adding GMB Products drive website conversions?

The number of website conversions that originated from a GMB Product was so low that a chart was not worth the effort. Across the 22 businesses that we looked at there was a total of 4 conversions.

Does adding GMB Products impact ranking?

We looked at rankings in Bright Local as well as Places Scout to see if there was a ranking increase around the date that the GMB Products were added. Not one single case indicated that adding the GMB Products had an impact on ranking.

Does adding GMB Products impact overall CTR on the local knowledge panel?

We wanted to check on one last thing regarding the impact of adding GMB Products. The question we wanted to answer was, “Does adding GMB Products increase overall CTR on the businesses knowledge panel?”.   We were looking for increases in driving direction requests, clicks to visit the website and mobile click-to-calls. This was inspired by Joel Headley’s research on the Moz blog where he saw a correlation between Google Posts and increased clicks on the GMB appointment URL.

To get the click-through-rate (CTR), we used the following formula using GMB Insights data from every month:

Actions / Searches = Click-Through-Rate

We looked at the CTR for the months after we added GMB Products and compared it to the same time periods before we added the GMB Products. Overall, CTR actually went down.

 

So what?

  • Adding GMB Products does not impact ranking
  • The overall impact on website traffic is low
  • The overall impact on driving conversions is low
  • An SMB  who actually sells a physical product and not just a service saw the most conversions and website visitors in our analysis
  • Adding GMB Products does not seem to increase overall CTR within the local knowledge panel (clicks to visit the website, request driving directions, mobile click-to-calls)

With all that said, we still think that GMB Products have value. This will vary by business and vertical but here are some final thoughts on how to make the most of them.

  1. Approach GMB Products as a way to enhance your branded search. Your local knowledge panel is your business card. Make it stand out.
  2. Adding GMB Products extends the length of your knowledge panel. By doing this you push down competitor listings. Google loves to surface competitor discovery on branded searches.
  3. Get creative with it. Do lots of testing. What types of images have a bigger impact? Can you highlight unique selling propositions? Testimonials?

Do you have any questions for us about GMB Products or this case study?  Let us know in the comments.

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Games vs Covid-19 | Pocket Gamer.biz


Games vs Covid-19: Pokemon Go gets more indoor features

With movement restrictions impacting many millions of people globally, the time spent on screen-based entertainment is increasing.

This chronologically-ordered list is an attempt to keep tabs on stories reflecting such behaviour so game developers can better understand how different platforms and titles are performing.

Hopefully it will also be useful for consumers as various games and game services become more accessible in terms of pricing. 

30 March:

29 March:

27 March:

25 March:

24 March:

23 March:

  • Steam breaks its concurrent user record again – 22 million
  • “It remains to be seen which verticals see the most growth as the quarantine phase of the Coronavirus pandemic gives way to the recession phase. But as it stands now, gaming hasn’t been the primary beneficiary of this moment.”

22 March:

21 March:

  • Jam City announces in-game specials and gifts across seven titles including Cookie Jam and Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery and Panda Pop over the weekend and coming week. 

20 March:

19 March:

18 March:

17 March:

16 March:

15 March:

  • According to the unofficial SteamDB website, Steam hits a new all-time record for concurrent users with 20.3 million users during a 24-hour period
  • Some users suffer from sign-in issues on Xbox Live, which takes a couple of hours to fix  
  • Real Betis and Sevilla played their scheduled derby via FIFA 2020 and Twitch

14 March

February:

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who’s forgotten where he’s left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.



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Essential Website Elements that Increase Online Profits


It’s no secret that your website is a great tool to generate more leads and profit for your business. However, bad web design and a cluttered layout can hurt your digital marketing efforts. In addition, omitting elements like a call to action (CTA) or a contact form can stunt your online growth and revenue.

Why create a website if you’re not going to optimize it for business growth? 

This article will guide you through essential website elements that increase online profits for small businesses. No matter if you’re new to the digital space or would like to revamp your current website, this article will list elements that you should consider when optimizing your website for online growth. 

Launch your web presence quickly and easily with our Shared Hosting plans!


Intuitive Website Design — Master Your Homepage Layout

When someone lands on your website, will they be able to easily understand your business and how to get in touch with you, or are your services and contact information confusing and unclear? How easy is it for your audience to navigate and interact with your website?

Before we discuss which elements to add to your website to boost your online business, we must first cover best practices for basic website elements. Adding basic website elements is a simple task when creating a website, however, you still need to make sure you’re implementing them strategically to increase your leads and profit. 

Here are some guidelines to consider when creating your homepage and website:

  • Value Proposition: What sets your business apart from your competition? What pain points do you answer for your target audience? Though you do not need a literal section for listing your value proposition, the message should be clear for your audience as soon as they land your homepage. How can you help them?
  • Call To Action: Once you’ve properly added your value proposition to your website, you will then need to add a clear next step for your audience to follow. This is also known as a call to action (CTA). A CTA informs the audience of the action you want them to take on your website once they land on it. For example, your CTA could encourage them to subscribe to your newsletter or sign up for a free trial. However, overall, make sure you define some type of CTA on your website. Directing their actions will help you increase the number of leads you gain from your incoming traffic. There is more information about CTA types and best practices below.
  • Social Media Links: This should come at no surprise. If you have social media accounts for your business, link them to your website. Social media can enhance your online presence and gives your audience another opportunity to engage with your business. It also increases your digital reach and allows your business to be shared easily across platforms. It’s much easier to tag a friend in a social media post than it is to email or text a website URL.
  • Easy Navigation: Planning your website navigation should be done strategically, especially if you plan on adding to your website in the future. Top-level navigation and dropdown items should be clear. If you don’t want to name the page “about,” consider common alternatives like “who we are” or “what we do”. However, try to stay away from words and phrases that are too unique. You should not have to explain the name of the page, the name should be a clear description of what the page will contain.
  • Highlight Services/Products/Content: As your website visitors scroll down your homepage, they should see sections highlighting your services, products or content. It should not be a lot of text, possibly just an image, 1-2 sentences and button linking them to the respective page to learn more information. However, there should be brief information on your homepage showcasing what can be found on your website. Think of it as a summary or an overview. Also, the sections can and should be updated periodically. If you’re selling products, showcase different products, different categories, or popular products. If you have a blog, add a blog feed that will display your most recent blog post on the homepage as you publish them.
  • Clear Contact Information: Once they’ve read through your homepage, contacting your business should be easy. The contact information you’re providing should be listed in your header, footer, or both. In addition, consider adding a contact form to your footer as it will then be seen throughout your entire site. You can also create a contact page to house the contact form. We talk more about contact forms below. If you create a contact page, even if you have your contact information in the header or footer,  make sure you still add your contact information to the contact page. Give your website visitors every possible opportunity to see and use your contact information.
  • Testimonials & Awards: Social proof is a great way to increase trust, thus increasing leads. Reviews are an important part of the digital experience, especially since we cannot physically touch the product or talk to the business in-person. Because of this, customer reviews are a big part of increasing business online.  Show off your customer reviews and add relevant awards to your homepage to gain credibility and new customers.
  • Design Elements: Lastly, don’t forget actual design elements that help facilitate a positive web experience. Make sure your images are relevant, high-quality, and will resonate with your audience. Landscaping businesses should have high-quality images of past projects. A dentist’s office should have high-quality images of smiling people. If you do not have high-quality images, you can use beautiful images for free from Unsplash. In addition, make sure your font is readable and on a contrasting background, for example, black font on a white background. You also want to make sure there is a good amount of space between each element so the webpage doesn’t feel cramped or crowded. 

All website examples were created by our professional web design team!


Call To Action

Your website call to action (CTA) will help your audience navigate and interact with your website. A CTA tells the audience what you want them to do and how to complete that action. For example, your CTA could be “Contact Us Today For A Free Quote,” “Signup For A 30 Minute Consultation,” “Subscribe To Start Your Free Trial,” and more. Your call to action, in addition to encouraging action, should nurture your audience into becoming loyal customers. 

To avoid confusion, your website should only have 1-2 main calls to action. However, they can be placed in multiple areas on your website. The below infographic will guide you through the best CTA placements for increasing engagement and leads.

Best call to action webpage locations to help increase leads

Customer Communication 

Contact Forms

Contact forms are one of the most powerful tools for digital marketing and increasing your online business. Forms capture the contact information of your audience and can be used to gain information on their interests and needs. This data is invaluable in your efforts to increase your business. You can add fields to your contact forms to gather additional information —  like which particular service they are interested in, custom products/services they need, or even specific pain points they are experiencing. All this information will help you tailor your response to them, your future products/services, and the messaging on your website. It’s a free, easy way to gain insight into the minds of those directly interacting with your business and your website. 

In relation, you should also consider integrating newsletter email capture tools into your website. Email marketing platforms, like MailChimp, allow you to capture emails and save them in an email list you can then use to send marketed emails to further promote your business. Even better, MailChimp has many free templates you can use when planning and designing your email newsletters. 

Live Chat

Another great way to increase your online business is to integrate a live chat option onto your website. Similar to a contact form, a live chat allows you to collect questions and insight from those who are directly interacting with your website. 

However, while forms allow the website visitors to carefully craft their responses, a live chat will give you candid feedback about your business and your website. All feedback is helpful but raw, candid feedback will allow you to obtain initial frustrations or joy. Data around first impressions will give you needed insight for future website and business decisions that will encourage visitors to stay on your site longer — eventually leading to new sales. 

Learn how to get your business online quickly with our comprehensive PDF guide! 


Though the above may seem overwhelming, remember you will be adding the majority of these elements to your website anyway. This article is to ensure that you implement the elements strategically to help increase your online business. For more website and branding tips, check out our Web Design Education Channel



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RICE Model Forecasting for SEO


Investing in anything at the moment is not an easy decision. Now imagine you have to invest in something as perceptually flaky as SEO. Now imagine you have to convince someone else to invest in SEO. You’d better have your shit together.

With that in mind, I’d like to offer you Local SEO Guide’s version of the RICE Model for SEO. The RICE Model provides a data-driven way to forecast potential results from SEO projects. While it’s by no means perfect, it provides managers with a way to prioritize SEO activities against other priorities and against each other.

“RICE” stands for Reach, Impact, Confidence and Effort, which are defined as follows:

Reach: The % of pages affected by the project. For example, if you are recommending updating a template with 10,000 URLs out of a 100,000 URL site, the Reach would be 10 (we don’t use % for Reach to make the final score larger and easier for management types to grok).

Impact: The % traffic lift expected by the project. This will typically be a guess based on your experience with similar projects.

Confidence: A score that reflects how confident you are that the project will succeed. We use the following scale for Confidence:

90 Google explicit statement or we have conducted our own tests
80 Google implied (Looking at you @JohnMu & @Methode)
70 We have seen this work in the past, but not certain it still works
60 Reputable pros have stated but we don’t know
50 We need to test

Of course, you can tweak these based on your preferences. For example, a Google explicit statement about an SEO technique might equal a Confidence score of 0.01 to you 😉

Effort: The estimated # of Dev days or hours the project will take.

You then put these data in the following formula to get the RICE Score of the project:

(Reach x Impact x Confidence)/Effort = RICE Score

Once you do this for all projects then you can compare the RICE Scores of each to prioritize. You can also add estimated revenue impact based on these scores to have another metric to work with. Once you have the basic formulas, the model can become pretty flexible to accomodate variables specific to your projects.

Anyhow, here’s a free version for you to use.
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1GkuiQi5n9mOTsAdtGhp3r0XHDYlI3gf3hZ7RCDEq-1c/edit#gid=0

Happy forecasting!

h/t to Traian Neacsu for the inspiration!

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Want to Help a Local Business in Tough Times? Write That Review Already


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At some point, daily life will go from FUBAR back to good old TARFU.  When that happens, do you want to continue with the businesses you love and rely on, or will you find them on Boot Hill between Sears and Toys “R” Us?  Your review might make the difference.

Supporting businesses that do a good job is always a good thing.  Whatever form that takes during this disaster (COVID-19) or in future disasters is probably helpful and welcomed.

But do you know what most business owners like even more than your prepaying for services or ordering a gift card?  Customers.  Both the fish and the ability to fish more.  That’s where reviews come in.

Any revenue businesses get now will help them now, but then they have to fulfill later.  That’s the deal, of course.  But it can create a serious pinch later, especially if a lot of customers prepaid around the time you did.

Writing a detailed and useful review – maybe one you’ve meant to write for a while – helps in at least two ways that prepaying or gift-carding can’t:

1. It can help the business get a customer now who needs the business’s services or products now. The business can probably do the work or fulfill the order now more easily than it can later, when it may be under a pinch. You may not need the service or product now, but someone out there does.

2. You may expand their customer base a little. The only thing better than a happy and loyal customer is one who also brings in more customers like him or her. That is the ultimate.  On a couple of occasions I’ve been told, “By the way, thanks for your review a few months ago.  A few customers have mentioned it as a reason they ended up choosing us.”  That’s always nice to hear.

Writing a helpful and maybe influential review takes time, and maybe you don’t have the time to help all the local businesses you want to help.  In that case, at least help a couple of businesses.  If you don’t do it for them, at least do it for selfish reasons: If it’s a business you like or rely on, you probably want it to stay in business, or else you’ll need to shop around later and still maybe not find as good a provider.

How can you write a review that packs a wallop, and at just the right time?  A few basic SOPs:

  • Go into detail, or as much as you can. Explain why you picked the business, and how it stacks up against alternatives (e.g. other businesses you may have used in the past). If possible, explain why you still use the service or brought the product even now, when times are tough, or explain why customers’ money is well-spent if they do so.
  • Post your review on a 2nd review site, or at least offer to do so. Stick your Google Maps review (for example) on another review site, or vice versa. It won’t get filtered because of the cross-posting, in my experience.
  • Ask the business owner what he or she would find most helpful. One way to do that is to ask, “Hey, I’d like to write you a review. Any particular site you want, and any points you want me to touch on?”  Another way is to say, “I just wrote you a review. Let me know if you want me to tweak anything, expand on anything, add photos, etc.”

I guess it depends on the business and on the owner, but I’ve found often that I get extra-good service after I’ve reviewed a business.  On the one hand, maybe that’s because I do my research and only work with solid companies and people, so I avoid the deadbeats.  On the other hand, most business owners remember a good word and a good deed, and try to make it worth your while.

Writing a review of a business you like is free, but it can accomplish a lot:

  • Help keep them in business for their sake, in a time of need.
  • Help keep them in business for your sake.
  • Help other customers find and pick a keeper.
  • Possibly earn you “VIP” treatment sooner or later.

Reviewing good businesses is time well-spent.

Do your reviewing habits change at all during rough times?

To what extent do you have customers come out of the woodwork when it matters most?

Any unconventional suggestions on how business owners can encourage stressed-out people to put in a good word online?

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