Category: Digital Marketing

Update, turn out we can kill it! Took a lot of tries but I finally did it. Grimvalor made my weekend, 5 stars 🥰 : iosgaming


Hell yeah, takes forever to deplete his HP though. I suspected we could since it seems inspired by Dark Souls, this sub confirmed it for me.

I remember falling in love with DS1 when I accidentally attacked the 1st NPC I met. He’s so OP he can kill you in 1-2 swings, and even after you die and revive he will keep attacking you. You’re supposed to start over but after many tries I managed to kill him and man It feels so damn good!

Killing the Slayer feels just as great but you get an amazing sword too 🤣

How to write and use a unique selling proposition


Stand out from the crowd

When customers have a choice between two offerings, they need something that drives them to choose one option over another. That thing is a unique selling proposition (USP).

Whether customers realize it or not, they use unique selling propositions to decide what to buy and who to buy from. When shopping for a new laptop, someone who values price may choose a more affordable option over a high-performance, high-price product. Or, a health-conscious customer shopping for new makeup may choose a brand that is all-natural versus a brand that uses chemicals in its products.

Customers use unique selling propositions to decide what to buy, so brands must use USPs to show customers why they should buy from them.

Let’s look deeper into what USPs are, why they are important and how to write a unique selling proposition that will attract and keep customers.

What is a unique selling proposition?

A unique selling proposition is something that makes a business or offering different from its competitors. It refers to the features and/or benefits a business offers that its competitors do not.

A unique selling proposition explains:

  • How a brand is different from competitors
  • The specific and unique benefits of choosing one brand over another
  • Why customers should care about those benefits

Related: How to re-evaluate and update your business plan

Why you need a USP

Customers have a lot of choices. There are a variety of options of brands, products and services in almost every industry.

If your brand doesn’t have a unique selling proposition that makes it stand out, you risk blending into all of the other options and failing to attract attention and customers.

When you have a strong unique selling proposition, you can:

  • Develop a strong, recognizable brand. A unique selling proposition builds character for your brand. It defines what your brand stands for and helps customers understand who you are, what you believe and why you are right for them. (For tips on brand building, check out: A beginner’s guide to branding your business.)
  • Stand out from competitors. Without a unique selling proposition, there is nothing separating you from your competitors. When given the choice between two options, customers will have no reason to choose you over another brand.
  • Avoid low price being a key differentiator. If you don’t have a USP that shows why you are different from competitors, customers will look at the price to decide what to buy. They will choose the cheapest option. This puts your brand in a pricing fight where you may need to keep lowering your price to compete.
  • Build trust and affinity. Customers don’t love generic brands. They love brands that stand out and proudly promote what makes them different. The unique qualities of your brand or offering can attract customers and form long-lasting brand trust and affinity.
  • Improve customer targeting. When you are clear about what makes your brand or offerings different, you can better understand who would be drawn to you. You can conduct better customer targeting by focusing on the audience most likely to be interested in your unique selling proposition.
  • Create stronger, more consistent marketing messages. Having a unique selling proposition gives you a consistent angle for your marketing messages. You can use the benefits of your USP to promote your product or services across all of your marketing channels.

Customers consider unique selling propositions in just about every buying decision they make. If you haven’t identified your USPs, you’re missing opportunities to reach customers and drive more interest in your brand and sales for your business.

Let’s look at how you can craft a useful unique selling proposition for your brand, product, or service.

How to write a unique selling proposition

Notebook open on desk in front of computer
Photo: Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Before we dive into directions on how to write a unique selling proposition, let’s consider a few best practices that will help you have the right mindset and information to create a powerful USP.

Don’t write your USP until you have done the following.

  • Research your audience. Don’t make assumptions about your customers. Instead of guessing, do the work to get real answers. Survey your customers, dig into your audience insights and data and create buyer personas that help you truly understand your target audience.
  • Understand why customers buy from you. Look at what current clients praise, and address feedback from negative reviews to see how those comments can give you insight into which factors customers are most interested in when confronted with choices.
  • Collect data that proves your claims. Collect evidence wherever you can find it, including ratings, reviews, awards, thank-you notes and work samples.

Once you have gone through those activities, you will have the information you need to create a compelling unique selling proposition.

Now, here’s an exercise to help you learn how to write a unique selling proposition. Go through each question to get ideas for what you can use as a USP for products, services or your brand.

1. What do your customers care most about?

Consider the values, wants and needs of your target customers. How can you connect with those interests?

2. What problems can you help customers solve?

Show how you are a problem-solver. Explain how your offering or brand specifically helps customers overcome an obstacle or issue.

3. What motivates the buying decisions of current and future customers?

Look at your buyer personas and identify the specific propositions that are important to them during the buying process. Do they value:

  • Price
  • Delivery time/speed
  • Free shipping/handling
  • Service level and availability
  • Breadth of options or choices
  • Special access to products or services only available through one source

Get insight into how customers make buying decisions.

4. How can you help customers optimize resources?

People are always looking for shortcuts that make their life easier. Explain how you can help customers get more out of what they have or simplify their life. Can you help them save money and time or reduce reliance on other expensive or complicated solutions?

5. What unique processes, skills or traits can you highlight?

Consider the background, history and values of your company. Can you highlight any of those things to connect with customers? What is a unique element of your process or organization?

6. What concrete evidence can you produce to support your claims?

If you are going to make claims about your product outcomes or benefits, have the evidence to produce it. How can you showcase:

  • Awards
  • Reviews on other websites
  • Testimonials
  • Thank-you notes or letters from customers
  • Mentions in published articles
  • Professional recognition including education, certifications, memberships, and affiliations
  • A recognized local figure who endorses your business

Related: How to ask for testimonials and reviews from your clients

7. What type of compensation would customers value if the claims in your unique selling proposition are not met?

A unique selling proposition could be that you backup your claims with a concrete guarantee.

You can boost consumer confidence by using USPs such as:

Related: How to reshape your return policies to maintain trust and customer satisfaction

8. How can you create a USP that is better than your competitors?

What USPs do your competitors have? Identify where competitors have an advantage in terms of price, service, location or quality. Figure out ways to improve upon that. Which weaknesses do your competitors have? How can you highlight your difference when it comes to those weaknesses?

9. Which negative emotions do customers experience with your competitors and industry?

What parts of your business or industry typically cause customers to feel stress, irritation or frustration? Consider the negative stereotypes in your industry and see how you can specifically address concerns in those areas. How can you be different so customers don’t experience those feelings?

Check the strength of your USP

Man pushing boulder up hill
Photo: Vicky Sim on Unsplash

Once you develop a unique selling proposition, double-check your work to ensure that it is a promise you can keep and value you can provide.

Look at your USP and ask yourself:

  • Are you relying on a single factor (such as price) that would be easy for someone else to undercut? Beware of lowering prices in an attempt to boost sales. With so many other factors to consider, price alone should no longer be the differentiator.
  • Can you substantiate what you’re claiming? Don’t say “thousands of small business owners prefer us” unless you can produce testimonials, survey results, objective reviews and numerical evidence.
  • Is your claim too generic? Highly generic and replaceable terms aren’t meaningful. Saying you are the leading or the best doesn’t necessarily convey real information about your advantage—unless you really did receive a “best of” award.
  • Can many others make the same claim? When everyone makes the same claim or promise, its value is diluted and eventually meaningless.
  • Are you sure that your USP is a benefit to your target customers? Beware of touting a benefit that doesn’t matter to customers. If your claim doesn’t appeal to what concerns your customers, it’s not making a difference in their buying decision.
  • Is your USP too broad and vague? Avoid claiming an “empty” benefit and trying to appeal to everyone. Don’t just say “we’re the best choice for individuals and small- to medium-sized businesses or nonprofits.” Narrow down your audience of ideal clients, then appeal to them—and only them.

Asking these questions will point out weak spots in your unique selling propositions and give you ideas for how you can improve it to make it even more compelling to customers.

How to use a unique selling proposition

Just having a unique selling proposition isn’t enough to do anything for your brand. To get the most out of your USP, you need to actively use it in many parts of your business.

Here are a few ways to put your USP to use.

Highlight it in your brand guide and workspaces

Don’t create your USP and slip it into a drawer to never be seen again. Highlight your unique selling proposition in places where you will be reminded of it often. Include it in your brand guide that explains and outlines your positioning. Also, consider placing signage in your office to keep your USP top of mind with your team.

Include it in your sales and employee training

It’s important for your entire team to be familiar with your unique selling proposition. Employees won’t be able to accurately talk about your brand if they don’t understand what makes you unique and different from others. Include training on your USP in employee onboarding. Also, place a large emphasis on USP training with your sales team as they need to know the language to use to sell your products, services and brand.

Use it across all marketing materials

Consistently promoting your USP helps it resonate with customers. The more times people see it, the more they will remember it and associate it with your brand. Use it across multiple platforms in your marketing messaging such as on your website, in your social profiles and even in your physical marketing materials.

Feature it prominently on your website

Display your unique selling proposition where customers will see it on your website.

  • Feature it in your headings
  • Optimize copy around words and phrases used
  • Incorporate it into the About page
  • Create a separate Why Choose Us page with narrative and details

Related: How to create an About page for your eCommerce shop

Use it in ad copy and the associated landing pages

When running paid ads, put your USP front and center. Use it in the primary messages of your ad as well as on the landing page where you are driving website traffic. Highlighting your USP will catch attention and also build awareness about what makes you different.

Sprinkle your USP into promotional social media posts

When creating promotional posts about your brand on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, consider how you can tie your posts back to your USP. For example, don’t just post a generic testimonial. Share one that uses language that highlights your USP.

Include it on print collateral

Adding your unique selling proposition to all print materials such as business cards, brochures, print ads and even on giveaway items and your email signature.

Start putting your USP to work

A business can’t overlook the value of having a strong unique selling proposition.

By working through these steps to develop a unique selling proposition, you’ll be well on your way to doing more than just setting your business apart from the competition—you’ll nail down the compelling reason that potential customers must choose you over all others.

Now that you know how to write a unique selling proposition and put it to work for your business, get busy. Craft your USP, add it to your website, and update your marketing materials to spread awareness about what makes your business unique and special. Use GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing to get started.

Image by: Olia Gozha on Unsplash

Search Scoop: Week of November 23rd


Adam Henige
Adam Henige How to Optimize for Google Featured Snippets [Research] — One of the biggest ongoing changes to your organic CTR comes from changes in SERPs. Nothing impacts that more than featured snippets these days. SEMrush pulled together a mountain of information to help make sense of the current featured snippet landscape. Well worth a read. Jerod Karam
Jerod Karam What to Do About the Data Leak That Hit 8 Major Hotel Booking Sites — Another day, another data breach. If you’ve ever used a major booking site such as Expedia, Hotels.com, Booking.com, etc. to plan your travel, be hyper-vigilant about your credit/debit card statements moving forward. Just today my bank called me because someone tried to make five separate charges totaling about $300 using my bank card at Chick-Fil-A. I like me some fried chicken sandwiches…but not that much! DON’T GET COMPLACENT! Joe Ford
Joe Ford Google’s Auto Applied Recommendations catch advertisers, agencies off guard — This article hit very close to home as I saw this occur to one of my accounts. It was switched to Maximize Conversions out of nowhere…with no change history! Kelli Kaufman
Kelli Kaufman 6 Content Writing Trends for 2021: An SEO Content Checklist for SMBs — A good SEO content checklist to have nearby when headed into 2021. There is always room for improvement when it comes to your content. Lexie Kimball
Lexie Kimball Rank Math Review – Why I Ditched Yoast For RankMath — We’re pretty avid Yoast supporters at Netvantage but recently learned about Rank Math. Learn more about the new SEO plugin that many are turning to. Michael Hall
Michael Hall Link Building & Anchor Text: 3 Things You Need to Know — When it comes to link building, anchor text is important – it can both help or hurt your site. Anchor text helps search engines categorize content, but over-optimizing anchor text could lead to a penalty from Google. So where’s the middle ground? This post is a great read for understanding the current situation of anchor text heading into 2021.



Why Doesn’t GMB Insights Data Match Search Console: A Case Study of 78 Listings & 1,560 Keywords


https://www.sterlingsky.ca/

Keyword research in Local Search can be hard.  When you’re working with small businesses you are often working with small sites with very limited data.  Many of the popular keyword research tools show zero data or won’t allow you to get data specific to the city the business is targeting so people often default back to Google’s tools.  In Local Search, there are two different places where you could look for this – Search Console and Google My Business (GMB) Insights.  I wanted to see how these tools stack up against each other and if they essentially tell the same story.

TLDR;

  • In this case study, 66% of the top 10 keyword lists for Search Console vs Google My Business Insights were different (click to Tweet)
  • Search queries inside Google My Business Insights are reflecting unique users, unlike impressions in Search Console. (click to Tweet)
  • 1 Quarter in GMB Insights is not real-time and doesn’t display data from the last 3 months. (click to Tweet)
  • Search Console is not tracking impressions from the local pack that happen on mobile devices (click to Tweet)
  • Search Console impression data includes searches done by rank trackers.  Although one ranking report could trigger thousands of impressions in Search Console, it should only show up as 1 device/user inside Google My Business Insights. (click to Tweet)
  • Explicit keywords (ex: “plumber Chicago”) do not convert better than implicit queries (ex: “plumber”) (click to Tweet).

Methodology

In this case study, we looked at 78 different GMB listings for 29 different businesses.  For each one, we took the top 10 queries inside Search Console for the last 3 months and compared it to what Google My Business Insights was showing for the last quarter.  

https://www.sterlingsky.ca/

Inside Search Console, we made sure to only look at the impressions that were for the page containing the UTM code.
https://www.sterlingsky.ca/

We then took the keyword lists and categorized every keywords into 4 groups:

  1. Near Me – These were queries that included “near me” or a close variant.  For example, “divorce lawyer near me”.
  2. Branded – These were keywords that included the specific name of a local company or one of their employees/practitioners.
  3. Implicit Queries – These are search queries that are local in nature but don’t specify a specific location.  For example, “divorce lawyer”.
  4. Explicit Queries – These were search queries that include a location.  For example, “Divorce Lawyer Denver” or “Divorce Lawyer Colorado”.

Search Console top search queries are very different than what you’ll see in Google My Business Insights.

After compiling all the data, we found that 66% of the top 10 queries were different.  For example, this was how the data differed for a plastic surgeon.  There was only 1 keyword that was in both top-10 lists.

Google My Business Search Console
1 Rhinoplasty Brad Patt
2 Rhinoplasty Houston Rhinoplasty
3 Lip Fillers Dr Bradford Patt
4 Nose Job Houston Lip Enhancements
5 Nose Surgery Dr Patt
6 Lip Injections Houston Bradford Patt
7 Botox Facial Plastic Surgery Houston
8 Plastic Surgery Houston Deviated Septum Doctor Houston
9 Lip Injections Lip Enhancements Near Me
10 Lip Fillers Houston Nose Reconstruction Houston

This led me to want to dig into finding out why the lists differed so much and figure out which one was more accurate.

    1. Google My Business Insights Reports on Unique Users.  Unlike any other metric available to us, search queries in GMB Insights represent unique visits.  Technically, it might report on the same person twice if they’re using different devices, but at least it’s not going to increase the numbers when I search 10 different things on my computer while researching for a client.  Impressions in Search Console, on the other hand, are not unique.search queries in GMB Insights
  1. 1 Quarter in GMB Insights is not the last 3 months.
    The second reason why the data sets didn’t match is because 1 quarter in GMB Insights is not representing the last 3 months. I didn’t know this until recently when I started digging and found this example.
    https://www.sterlingsky.ca/
    This screenshot for 1 quarter was pulled on May 13, 2020. It’s for a business that does lawn care in the summer and installs Christmas lights in the winter. Due to how much we monitor his website traffic, ads, and various other places, I’m extremely confident that massive searches for Christmas lights installation do not happen after Christmas is over. Also, common sense is helpful here. The last 3 months would be February – April if this was true. Additionally, I checked back on this several times over the course of a couple of weeks and the numbers didn’t update. Google doesn’t state how often they fetch these but they are not in real-time.  The fact that I was looking at the last 3 months in Search Console and an undefined time period in GMB Insights is another explanation why these data sets didn’t match.
  2. Search Console is not tracking impressions from the local pack that happen on mobile devices.
    This is a fact that many people don’t realize.  Search Console is tracking everywhere your website appears whereas GMB Insights is tracking everywhere your GMB listing appears.
    GMB Insights vs Search Console
    This becomes problematic when you realize that most local packs on mobile devices are missing the website icon, which essentially means all these searches/impressions will be missing in Search Console.
    https://www.sterlingsky.ca/
    This causes even more of a discrepancy when you start to realize how different the algorithms are for local packs and organic search results.  There are tons of keywords that rank businesses for one and not the other.  For example, if you look at the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for “Botox”, you’ll see that there is a local pack at the top but the rest of the search results are highly favoring national sites that no small business stands a shot competing with.
    https://www.sterlingsky.ca/
    We also see that sometimes the local pack will show businesses local to that area but yet the organic results show businesses in the next town over.  For example, when I search “car accident lawyer” from Aurora, ON, I get a local pack showing lawyers in Aurora but the organic results show me businesses in Toronto which is 40 minutes away.
    https://www.sterlingsky.ca/
    We see this pattern more often with implicit queries so it wasn’t surprising to see that 40% of the search queries that were in our GMB list and missing from the Search Console list were implicit.  According to our study, “Botox” was on the top 10 for the plastic surgeon in Google My Business and had 49 unique users, yet it wasn’t on the top 10 list from Search Console because it only had 18 impressions for 3 months.  At first, this makes no sense until you realize that most of the impressions they are getting from this query are coming from local packs on mobile devices.  According to Search Console, he’s getting 6x more clicks for “botox” queries on mobile devices.
    Botox Search ConsoleRemember that the website icon isn’t appearing in local packs and he ranks nowhere organically.  This means he’s only getting an impression logged if someone clicks on his listing (because at that point Google shows the website icon).  It makes the CTR in Search Console for the GMB listing look ridiculous but it all makes sense once you realize that most of the mobile searches are simply not counting as impressions because the website icon isn’t present until the person clicks on the listing.
    https://www.sterlingsky.ca/
  3. Search Console is tracking impressions from ranking trackers.  We realized this pretty quickly when diving into some data in Search Console.  We have a particular client with an extremely large report that tracks tons of keywords from various geo-coordinates.  Take a guess at which day the report runs:
    https://www.sterlingsky.ca/
    Although one ranking report could trigger thousands of impressions in Search Console, it should only show up as 1 device/user inside Google My Business Insights.  Darren Shaw, who operates a local search ranking tracker, confirmed that if you used a tracker that tracks both mobile and desktop, it might log as 2 in Google My Business Insights since there would be two different devices.  From the case study, 40% of the top Search Console keywords that didn’t show up in Google My Business were explicit.  I believe the reason for this is the local search community’s habit of focusing on these keywords.  I generally hear things like “I don’t rank for ‘plumber Chicago’” a lot more than I hear “I don’t rank for ‘plumber’”.  I think it’s possible that some people also assume that explicit keywords would convert better because they are more specific.  That also turned out to be false according to our case study.  When we dove into the Google Ads accounts for 15 of these businesses and looked at a sample of 894 conversions*, we found that implicit queries actually converted at a higher rate overall.
    https://www.sterlingsky.ca/It also varied quite a bit across different clients, so it’s important to make sure you’re tracking and looking at both.
    https://www.sterlingsky.ca/

 

Conclusions

We learned a lot in this study but if you work in the local search industry, these should be your main takeaways:

  1.  Search queries inside Google My Business insights is a valuable metric that should not be ignored.
  2. Search impressions inside Search Console should not be used as a method to pick keywords; use click data instead.
  3. Make sure you are tracking both implicit and explicit keywords.  Get rid of the thinking that one is better than the other.

*We specifically looked at keywords that had at least 100 impressions over the last year to get a better sense of how higher searched explicit vs implicit terms were stacking up.

https://www.sterlingsky.ca/
Latest posts by Joy Hawkins (see all)



Don’t Miss Out on Great Cyber Weekend Deals at WP Engine


Thanksgiving is just around the corner and you know what that means—turkey, stuffing, and great Cyber Weekend deals from WP Engine and our world-class partners! 

Cyber Weekend has come to represent the traditional “Black Friday through Cyber Monday” time period, which kicks off in the wee hours of the Friday after Thanksgiving. While in year’s past, this time has been marked by frenzied doorbuster sales at big box retail stores, this year is expected to be a huge one for online sales, and we’ve compiled some of the best WordPress-specific deals below, so you can find them all in one place. 

Note that most of the deals we’ve listed actually begin before Thanksgiving, and many run well into next month. That said, each deal has different, unique details so be sure and read on to find out more about each one.  

If you have a WordPress service, theme, or plugin and a Cyber Weekend offer you would like to add to the round-up below, please send an email with the details of your offer to our partner management team at [email protected]. They will reply if your offer is a good fit! 

In that vein, keep an eye on the list below as we’ll be updating it when new deals become available, leading up to and even during Cyber Weekend 2020. 

Happy shopping and happy site building!

Genesis Pro 30% off first year of Genesis Pro

Genesis Pro is a WP Engine subscription plan that gives you access to advanced tools to help you build better sites faster. These tools include Genesis Blocks Pro, Genesis Custom Blocks Pro, the Genesis Framework, and more.

Offer: Get 30% off your first year of Genesis Pro

Coupon Code: SP3FREE

Dates Valid: November 23, 2020 – December 4, 2020


WPFormsUp to 70% off

WPForms is a beginner-friendly WordPress contact form plugin. Used by more than 3 million sites, the drag & drop builder makes it easy for users to create beautiful online forms. 

Offer: Get up to 70% off on WPForms plans (and a chance to win an iMac!)

Coupon Code: None needed

Dates Valid: November 23, 2020 – November 27, 2020


WP Mail SMTPUp to $150 off

WP Mail SMTP makes email easy for WordPress users! This plugin enables users to send WordPress emails using an SMTP server, ensuring your emails are delivered using the standard mail protocol.

Offer: Get up to $150 off WP Mail SMTP

Coupon Code: None needed

Dates Valid: November 23, 2020 – November 27, 2020


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Speed up your website in a few clicks. WP Rocket is recognized as one of the most powerful caching plugin by WordPress experts! No coding required. WP Rocket provides fast loading times whether you are a beginner or a performance expert.

Offer: Get 30% off on WP Rocket

Coupon Code: No coupon code required. Coupon will automatically be applied.

Dates Valid: November 24, 2020 – December 2, 2020


LifterLMS 20% off the first year of any new LifterLMS purchase

LifterLMS is a powerful WordPress LMS plugin that makes it easy to create, sell, and protect engaging online courses and training based membership websites.

Offer: Save 20% on your first year of any new LifterLMS purchase

Coupon Code: BLACKFRIDAY20

Dates Valid: NOW – November 30, 2020


Flothemes – 35% off all themes

Flothemes offers beautiful, fully customizable, and SEO-friendly website designs for photographers, videographers, educators, designers, workshop organizers, and many other creatives! 

Offer: Get 35% off any themes, or a free template when you purchase an Advanced or Pro setup service.

Coupon Code: BF2020

Dates Valid: November 19, 2020 – November 30, 2020


Beaver Builder – 25% off all plans and upgrades

Beaver Builder is a flexible drag and drop WordPress page builder trusted by over 1,000,000 sites. Save time and money building mobile-responsive WordPress pages in less time. 

Offer: Get 25% off all plans and upgrades

Coupon Code: Discount will be automatically applied at checkout

Dates Valid: November 27, 2020 – November 30, 2020


MemberPressUp to $250 off MemberPress

MemberPress is the all-in-one membership plugin for WordPress. Use it to build top-level WordPress membership sites, create and sell online courses, control who sees your content, sell digital downloads, and accept credit card payments securely—all without difficult setup.

Offer: Up to $250 off

Coupon Code: BF2020

Dates Valid: November 23, 2020 – December 1, 2020


FooPlugins25% off annual FooGallery Pro, FooBar Pro, and FooBox Pro licenses

FooPlugins‘ offering includes FooGallery, a beautiful photo gallery, as well as FooBox, a responsive lightbox plugin, and now FooBar, their notification bar for WordPress. 

Offer: 25% off annual FooGallery Pro, FooBar Pro and FooBox Pro licenses

Coupon Code: FooBF25

Dates Valid: November 20, 2020 – November 30, 2020


aThemes 30% off all themes & plans

aThemes provides awesome free and premium WordPress themes with a focus on simplicity, ease of use, and clean design.

Offer: 30% off all themes & plans

Coupon Code: None needed

Dates Valid: November 25, 2020 – December 5, 2020


DiviWP30% off Yearly, Lifetime, or Agency plans

Beautifully designed Layouts and Sections, hand-crafted for the Divi WordPress Theme and Page Builder.

Offer: 30% off all themes & plans. Offer valid for new customers purchasing any Annual, Lifetime, or Agency plan. Not valid for existing customer upgrades.

Coupon Code: BLACKFRIDAY

Dates Valid: November 27, 2020 – December 4, 2020


Formidable Forms50% off plans

Formidable Forms is the only WordPress forms plugin designed for turning form data into web applications.

Offer: 50% off plans

Coupon Code: BF2020

Dates Valid: November 23, 2020 – November 30, 2020


Restored 31625% off WordPress Themes

Restored 316 creates beautiful WordPress themes to help you have a gorgeous web presence without eating up all your dollars.

Offer: 25% off WordPress themes

Coupon Code: R316CM20

Dates Valid: November 27, 2020


Happy Thanksgiving and a Happy Cyber Weekend to all!

Visit WP Engine’s Solution Center to find out more about our partners, as well as other WordPress solutions we’ve vetted and are proud to recommend.

Heroes War: Counterattack Launches Today




Zombie-ridden turn-based mobile RPG Heroes War: Counterattack is now available for Apple App Store and Google Play Store users. The latest mobile game from publisher Com2uS, Heroes War: Counterattack is set in a post-apocalyptic world where a deadly disease, known as the “Z Virus,” has wiped out most of humanity. Players devote themselves to one of two warring factions and must simultaneously survive the growing infected population.

Dormant under glaciers, the Z Virus was released due to global warming and soon wreaked havoc on over 30 percent of the human population in the world of Heroes War: Counterattack. A massive corporation rushes to produce a vaccine, but it proves futile against the rapid spread of the virus. With humanity crippled by the Z Virus, Heroes War: Counterattack has players command one of two factions: Survivors Union, a force of non-infected humans using powerful and mysterious “Neostones,” or the Harz Alliance, infected but conscious humans gifted with superhuman abilities from the virus.

Heroes War: Counterattack’s strategic RPG gameplay includes hours of PvE and PvP content surrounded by an innovative battle system that combines classic turn-based strategy with a new counterattacking mechanic that lets players turn the tide of any fight.

There’s also less focus on collecting new characters than most games in the genre, instead opting for a robust character development system. Players looking for a story-driven single-player experience can check out the PvE portion which includes:

  • A campaign for each faction that examines the lore behind the Survivors Union and the Harz Alliance with various dungeons and story chapters
  • Battle Center which encompasses a variety of different dungeons and rewards players with Badges, Cores and EXP Boosters
  • Trace Specimens mode, which pits players against bosses, Isard and Trivia, in order to farm equipment

Players looking to go head-to-head in multiplayer can check out the following PvP modes:

  • Arena – An asynchronous multiplayer mode where players battle it out to earn Arena Points
  • Mercenary Missions – These include “Search” and “Occupation” missions. Search tasks players to find and destroy as many hidden Blowbys as possible. Occupation has players control and hold bases with battle reinforcements. Rewards for completing Mercenary missions include Gold and Mercenary points.

Publisher
Com2uS

Platform

Android Link
iOS Link




2020 Holiday Guide to Google My Business


This year, the holidays will look very different for most of us. The pandemic has affected us all in different ways and its effects are far reaching across economies and consumer habits. Here at Whitespark, we love local businesses and strive to create useful free resources for small businesses owners and marketers on this blog. We know this has been a challenging year for you, your families, and your business. We wish you and yours a happy holiday season!

Adapting Your Holiday Sales Strategy for COVID-19

According to Google’s latest consumer trend report, half of U.S. shoppers say the pandemic will affect how they’ll shop for the holidays this year. Shopping locally is more important than ever – but everyone’s looking for a deal. What’s a small business to do? We’ve created a new Holiday Guide with this in mind.

1. Have your sales early

This year, 70% of shoppers said they intend to plan their shopping earlier to avoid crowds, and 80% plan to make fewer trips than they have in previous years. More than a third of U.S. shoppers who normally shop in stores for Black Friday say they won’t this year. It’s also important to keep in mind that postal and delivery services are usually operating above capacity for the holidays and delays are expected due to additional precautions for COVID-19.

As shoppers look to avoid crowds, plan your sales earlier this year to assure your customers that they’re really getting the best deal today from your business. If you anticipate maxed out in-store capacities, line ups or shipping delays, communicate these with shoppers to avoid negative Google reviews this holiday season.

Share your early holiday sales events with searchers with a Google My Business Event or Offer Post.

2. Keep shoppers informed of special hours, services and health & safety measures

Your business is likely operating with additional precautions due to COVID-19 and maybe even new services such as curbside pickup or service-specific hours.

This season, 53% of shoppers said they’ll choose to shop at stores that offer contactless shopping and 47% said they’ll use options like curbside pickup, in-store pickup or buy online.

To ensure a happy customer experience, let searchers know how you’re offering a safe shopping experience and any new services or services during specific hours.

In your Google My Business dashboard, open the Info section and add any relevant attributes, including amenities, health & safety and service options.

 

In the Info section, also add any special hours (Special hours) or service-specific hours (More hours).

3. Engage with your customers online

Already get a lot of questions about inventory during the holidays? Expect even more inquiries this year; 67% of shoppers said they plan to confirm online that an item is in stock before going shopping.

No one wants to make an unnecessary trip. If your store’s inventory is visible on your website, make sure it’s up to date and also posted in the Products feature of GMB. If you don’t have inventory to add online, here are 3 things you can do instead:

  • Add your services in the Products feature,
  • Turn on Messaging to allow customers to send their inquiries (just remember to respond quickly so you don’t miss a sale),
  • Use the Questions & Answers feature, as the business ask “Looking for a specific product?” and answer with your preferred contact information (h/t Liz Linder at KickPoint)

Post your inventory or services on Google My Business with the Products feature. You can include a photo, description and price for every item you add. 

Don’t forget to keep your Q&A refreshed seasonally

Make Your Business Discoverable Online

You can expect more shoppers to go online this season than in years past. To get ready for the holiday shopping season, make sure your online presence including your Google My Business listing, website, social media profiles, and ads are updated with the latest information.

Almost 75% of U.S. shoppers who plan to shop this season said they will shop online more for the holidays than they did in previous seasons, and a similar number said they would browse for gift ideas online and not in store, according to Google/Ipsos Study (2020).

For more tips on updating your Google My Business listing for the holidays, check out our recommendations from last year (including how to swap your top Q&A, promote events, and update your cover photo) too.

Happy Holidays from Whitespark!

AUTHOR

Allie Margeson

Allie been helping small business owners get the most bang for their marketing bucks since 2014. She loves the opportunities and challenges of local search marketing and Google Ads. She has a knack for helping busy entrepreneurs, owners and marketing managers understand the value of local search efforts, without all the jargon.



Does changing your business phone number affect SEO?


30-second summary:

  • Although a business phone number isn’t as tough on your SEO as a complete rebrand, changing it can have an impact on your SEO.
  • Preserving NAP consistency should be your primary goal when changing your phone number.
  • Your marketing strategy can help make the transition easier for your customers, too, as you can notify them of the change ahead of time.
  • The key goal in addition to retaining your ranking should be to not lose the trust of your customers by changing your information – hence the need to approach the process carefully.

Much like all other aspects of digital marketing and brand positioning, SEO is a constantly changing game. With so many moving pieces and evolving trends, it’s no wonder that brands aren’t quite certain which decisions will negatively impact their SEO, and which ones are safe enough to make. 

One day, it seems that one kind of behavior is perfectly fine, while the next Google will penalize it because they’ve implemented algorithm changes. Add customer expectations into the mix, and it gets even more difficult to figure out just what’s worth the effort, and what should be left alone. 

When it comes to your business details, including your name, address, and phone number (neatly packed into the notion of NAP information), change can be good. After all, entire companies have successfully rebranded without a hitch. However, changing a single piece of information such as your phone number can change the entire customer journey if not done right.

Here, we’ll tackle a few essential steps in the process to keep in mind, so that your phone number shift doesn’t impact your ranking or your brand perception negatively. 

NAP it in the bud

Local search is a vital component of your overall SEO strategy, all the more so when you’re running a strictly local business with a physical presence, such as a pastry shop, a car repair facility, or a beauty salon. Your foot traffic heavily depends on your customers’ ability to find correct information online when they search for your services.

If they stumble upon an outdated number, they’ll call the next business in their search results with solid reviews and forget that you exist. Simply put, consistency matters. Google doesn’t want to disappoint its users, so it penalizes businesses with inconsistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) information across the internet. As soon as your directories, your website and other online listings don’t show your actual phone number, your ranking will suffer.

The remedy is fairly simple. If you have decided to change your phone number or your entire communications system, for that matter, you should take the time to revise all your local business listings and directories where your company pops up. 

NAP consistency is a vital ranking factor that can either plummet your business in the eyes of search engines, or it can help you reach those topmost desirable spots in the SERPs. So, while changing your business phone number might not be a cause for worry on its own, how you distribute it will greatly matter in local rankings. 

Take care of your call tracking

Some businesses steer clear of call tracking simply because they aren’t sure how to go about it, afraid to damage their SEO in the process. Even more importantly with regards to call tracking, every business needs to adhere to those key legal requirements, such as the EU’s GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, to make sure their customers’ sensitive information is safe. But when the time comes to move from outdated landlines and change your numbers or merge them, you can also reap the benefits of this potentially SEO-beneficial process.

Wanting to unify and improve their communication systems, companies are switching to digital phone solutions such as voice over internet protocol (or VoIP for short). There are many perks of such a transition for call tracking, smarter customer support, and better customer engagement, all of which can support your SEO efforts in the long run. As you learn about VoIP and its many applications, you’ll be able to make the most of your phone-based interactions with your customers to serve your brand reputation, but also your ranking.

In addition to having more business phone numbers at your disposal if you need them, you should know that VoIP platforms come with other useful features such as call analytics, recording, emailing, and texting. Collecting all of that data and implementing SEO-safe call tracking with the help of Dynamic Number Insertion both work in favor of your SEO.

Building and preserving customer trust

When done right, changing your business phone number can be a seamless process that doesn’t do any damage to your ranking. However, it’s important to remember the reason for the ranking in the first place: search engines want to give users the best, most trustworthy results first and above all other available options online. In doing so, they reward businesses that accurately portray themselves online, and contact information is a vital component of that representation.

The basic premise goes as follows: if a customer calls you and gets a notification that the number no longer exists, they lose trust in your brand. Google and other search engines recognize that lack of trust and thus push other businesses above yours, with accurate and verified contact details available. In a sense, it’s customer trust that drives search engine ranking. 

Research has confirmed this, as 80% of surveyed respondents in BrightLocal research have stated that they would lose trust in a business with incorrect and inconsistent contact details. If you’ve decided to change your phone number, making sure it’s consistently represented across all of your digital outlets is the key piece of your SEO puzzle: to preserve customer trust and thus to preserve your ranking. 

Notifying the customer in time

Thankfully, you can make sure that your customers have the correct information in a few simple ways. If you’ve taken care of all of your business directory listings, your social media pages, messaging app presence, and your website, you can use your marketing strategy to get the word out. 

Your subscribers and return customers will want to know that your business has changed a vital piece of information. Just like you don’t want them to spend an hour going to an old address of your café only to discover a weird-looking shop for plumbing supplies, you want to have your new number added to their contacts list.

You can use your weekly/monthly newsletter to notify them of the switch, post a social media update letting customers know the new number they can reach you on, and post a little announcement on your website, too, especially if you gain plenty of call traffic from all of these outlets.

Changing a business phone number can be a simple process in itself, but its impact on your business will not be unless you prepare properly. Taking care of all the business registers where your company is listed paired with implementing search engine-approved tracking tactics as well as customer engagement will be more than enough to help you through the process. 

Emma Worden is a digital marketer and blogger from Sydney. Emma writes for many relevant, industry related online publications and does a job of an Executive Editor at Bizzmark blog and a guest lecturer at Melbourne University. You can find Emma on @EmmaRWorden.



Making The Most Of Managed VPS Hosting – A Linux Sysadmin’s Perspective


Once you truly understand what Linux VPS Hosting is, and how much you can do with it, you may have questions about what happens on the backend of the virtual private server. 

What should be happening in the background of your managed VPS? 

Where should you begin as a new cPanel VPS customer?

We could easily start discussing some in-depth topics:

It’s easy to read that list and feel as if you need to do all of the things right now. 

Let’s take a step back and take in a different perspective on how to get the most out of your managed VPS.

We asked InMotion Hosting Linux system administrator Jason A. about his thoughts on getting started with Managed VPS Hosting.


A Sysadmin on Managed VPS Hosting

Because I’m big on protecting personally identifiable information (PII), I won’t ask too many personal questions. How long have you been working with Linux?

I installed Linux for the first time at the age of 15. All I had to figure it out was a book and installation media from a friend. Since then I’ve been finding newer and newer ways to break Linux which gives me opportunities to learn

As a Linux system administrator at InMotion Hosting, what’s your role in maintaining cPanel managed VPSs and dedicated servers? What’s your regular day for a Linux sysadmin?

We monitor our VPS and Dedicated hosting platforms 24/7/365 to ensure uptime. One of the main things I look out for on our VPSs is a short term spike in resource usage. That could mean a sale on an eCommerce site or an article on a blog has gone viral. But sometimes it’s the sign of an attack which I want to address. Immediate but reversible steps are taken to address the issue in the short term. They are then communicated to the customer to allow their developer to review and make a final decision.

As for our Dedicated Hosting customers I treat them like they just purchased their own private island. I watch for proverbial smoke signals and wave as I pass by in my dream Yacht. Ready to provide aid as needed.

What do you enjoy most about working on cPanel managed servers?

The toolkits. The tools found on a cPanel server allow me to do my job a whole lot more efficiently compared to a server with a base level OS installed.

cPanel’s ability to backup your website files, databases, email accounts, e-mails, logs, and other data into a single file is quite powerful. It makes keeping your own backups easy but also allows you to migrate to and from a cPanel host painlessly.

Get automatic cPanel cPanel backups with our exclusive Backup Manager.

What common myths do you often hear about cPanel Server Hosting?

Softaculous dashboard

I’d say the most common misunderstanding is that you need Linux or Programming knowledge to use cPanel hosted on a Linux server. cPanel has done a great job at making the process of managing your web hosting much easier. We offer tools like Softaculous which make it simple to install your favorite CMS and get the ball rolling.

We both know cPanel adds new features regularly. What cPanel or WebHost Manager (WHM) features do you believe should be used more?

2FA (Two Factor Authentication). Any password can become compromised. Having a second layer of authentication is imperative to maintain VPS security.

What additional software do you often recommend to VPS administrators?

I strongly recommend the use of a web application firewall (WAF). A WAF is a service that sits between the server hosting your site and visitors to your site. It can provide caching, added security, and additional traffic reporting for your website.

For improved performance-focused WAF, we recommend the Cloudflare content delivery network (CDN). To prioritize security and receive remote assistance when malware is detected, check out the Sucuri WAF.

What do you believe should be the first steps when setting up a new cPanel VPS?

cPanel ships with many services installed and enabled to cover most people’s needs. My first steps would be to set a strong root password, enable the aforementioned 2FA to protect root level WHM access, and disable any services you do not need.

What is your advice for anyone considering dropping a cPanel VPS for Unmanaged Cloud Server Hosting?

Do not run any Linux command you do not understand.

Cloud server and managed VPS Hosting Snapshot options in AMP

While your favorite search engine is your friend it can still lead you astray. Take advantage of our Managed Hosting team! Their guidance can prove priceless when setting up your server.

If I can sneak in a second piece of advice that is to use server snapshots! You never know when you might need that restore point from last week to save your bacon.

I had a peanut butter and jelly burger with bacon a few days ago. Delicious. Anyway, we currently offer CentOS, Debian, and Ubuntu Cloud Server Hosting at InMotion Hosting. What additional OS would you like to see us offer?

SuSE logo

SuSE is one of the last Linux OSes supported by the virtualization software we use that is not currently offered. Adding an option to drop an OpenSuSE container would mean we’re passing on all the flexibility of our virtualization platform to our customers.

I’ve only covered SuSE in a Firewalld installation article, thanks to DistroTest.net. Different Linux distributions for different types of users. On that topic, what type of user do you think should consider our Cloud Server Hosting instead of a cPanel VPS? 

Someone who prefers their own choice of OS, needs access to the newest software versions, and doesn’t need a graphical user interface (GUI) to administer their server would find a cloud server a strong choice. With AMP (Account Management Panel) and SSH access you can customize the blank slate that is Cloud VPS Hosting to your specific needs.

Any last bits of advice or closing statements you’d like to offer to customers getting started with Managed VPS Hosting?

I am an advocate for putting your dreams into action whatever they may be. My dream was to become a Linux system administrator. But you don’t have to be a Linux sysadmin to successfully launch a business in this online world. cPanel and WHM on a managed VPS allow you to easily set up your website, email accounts, and start working towards those dreams.

Have more questions? Let’s talk in our Community forum. Or ask our Sales team about the right Managed VPS Hosting plan for you.

Welcome United Search | Local SEO Guide


Dan Leibson has been a strong advocate inside LSG and on SEO Twitter for the under-represented in the SEO community. At times his advocacy has been a bit too strong for some leading to several “WTF is up with Dan?” DMs to me.

Well you know WTF is up with Dan? He has spent the past few months working with an incredible group of SEOs creating UnitedSearch, a first of its kind speaker accelerator focused on helping promote new voices in the digital marketing industry.

“By offering mentoring advice from people with real world, practical, SEO experience, we give students the skills they need to be able to deliver an amazing presentation on any stage and the network they need to land gigs.

All at no cost to the student.”

I am so proud to have one of our team playing a part in this. And I couldn’t be happier to give them what I hope is their first link.

You should do the same.