How to Increase your Business’s Visibility for Local Searches

Old Style Photo. Folded Abstract Navigation Map with Target Pin on the table

Let’s face it, as a small business you probably don’t stand a cat in hell’s chance of appearing on the first page of Google for the search term ‘business insurance’. But, localise that search to ‘business insurance Farnborough’ and you will drastically improve your chances.

Optimising for local search is a vital weapon in the small business armoury. Local results are shown to those who search for businesses and places near their location. The results generated by these searches appear in the organic search results and Google Maps, and could become a reliable and lucrative revenue stream.

To give your business the best chance of becoming a big deal in your local area, you need to tick all the right boxes. Then, and only then, will your business feature prominently in local search.

Give Google all the information it needs

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The more information you provide about your business, the more relevant your business will become in the eyes of Google. You need to enter all your business information in Google My Business, including what you do, where you are and when you are open. Google will ask for your physical address, phone number and business category. Make sure all the information you provide is accurate and up to date.

Verify your location

The next step is to verify that the information you have provided is correct. Depending on the type of business you run, there will be one or more verification options open to you. This could include:

  • Verification by postcard
  • Verification by phone
  • Instant verification
  • Bulk verification (if you have 10 or more locations)

Once you’ve verified your information, you’ll be asked to review your details and make any final changes. Here’s the official spiel from Google if you need a little help:

Customers may choose to leave reviews about your business. Replying to these reviews can help to build customer trust and ultimately raise your profile (the better the reviews, the higher you’re likely to rank). You should respond to reviews with genuine, helpful responses. And remember, any responses you post will be public, so keep it polite, relevant and free from colourful language.

Add some snaps

female photographer with professional SLR camera, natural light, selective focus on eye

If you‘ve already read our post about the power of visual marketing, you’ll understand that a couple of pictures of your business can attract customers and help to tell your story. Images can also show prospective customers that you can supply the products or services they need.

How does Google determine your relevance in local search?

Google’s algorithms take a number of factors into account when determining the ranking of businesses for local search terms. This includes the business’s distance from the user, its prominence and relevance to the search.

  • Relevance

The more Google knows about your business, the better. Google wants to provide users with the most relevant results to their search. The closer the information contained in your local is to the search, the higher you are likely to rank.

  • Distance

There are no tricks here. Google will favour businesses that are closer to the location of the searcher. If the user searches for ‘shoe shops in Farnborough’, and you have a shoe shop located slap bang in the middle of Farnborough, you stand an excellent chance of ranking.

  • Prominence

Google will take into account a number of different factors to determine how prominent it believes your business to be. The number of positive reviews your business has received, the amount of quality content on your website and the number of links you have will all be taken into account. Your adherence to SEO best practices will also boost your local ranking.

Is it time you took local search seriously?

At DGTL, we can transform your business from a local flop to a hotshot in your target area. Combining SEO best practice with quality content and a little local know-how can give your business the boost it needs. Please get in touch to discuss your requirements with our team.

The Power of Images and the Rise of Visual Marketing

Digital Marketing - Father & Daughter

There’s plenty of truth in the saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. There’s a fundamental difference in the way our brains process images and words. Our visual system has evolved to process images essentially in parallel, whereas text, which only appeared a few thousands ago, must be processed one character at a time. The result is that our brains process images 60,000 times faster than words, conveying complex ideas and emotions that stay with us for longer than words on a page. This is great for digital marketing purposes.

This biological leaning towards images is a prominent factor in the rise of the Facebook-owned photo sharing platform, Instagram. From January 2013 to September 2015, the number of Instagram users quadrupled, from 90 million to more than 400 million. At the end of 2015, there were 14 million active Instagram users in the UK, and this meteoric rise looks set to continue.

Digital Marketing: The rise of visual marketing online

Instagram is best suited to lifestyle brands that target younger consumers, typically the under 30s. One of the main attractions for Instagram users is the ease with which pictures can be uploaded and shared. This has helped Instagram carve out its ever expanding niche.  

Digital Marketing - Instagram

While Instagram is now the biggest and arguably the best photo sharing platform, it was not the first to tread this highly visual path. The first visual marketing platform of this type was Tumblr, which was followed by Pinterest, a popular picture sharing site that allows users to ‘pin’ or ‘re-pin’ pictures of interest.

The intent behind the use of these platforms differs, so it’s important you choose the right tool to sell your brand. While Pinterest is used by people to visually showcase their dreams and desires by creating a pictorial ‘wish list’, Instagram is predominantly a tool for users to document their lives.   

The power of visual content

Just a few years ago, embracing visual content simply meant putting a couple of pictures in your blog. Now, images are no longer just an afterthought. Lifestyle brands that produce a regular stream of high quality visual content are reaping the rewards, and with Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, they have the perfect tools for the job.

One of the real benefits of a visual marketing campaign is the potential for user-generated content. This means your users can effectively do the job of marketing your brand for you. Until recently, very few brands understood just how powerful user-generated content could be, but now they’re finally starting to embrace this customer-led digital marketing opportunity.

Authenticity above all else

The real benefit of user-generated content (UGC) is its unmatched authenticity. According to research from Olapic, 66 percent of UK consumers seek out UGC when deciding which products to buy; while 39 percent of UK customers are more likely to buy clothing that’s been ‘modelled’ by another customer.   

Instagram #liquiproof

The conversion rates show just how powerful user-generated content can be, with 4.6 percent of customers making a purchase when photos of customers are used. This jumps to a conversion rate of 9.6 percent when shoppers actually interact with the customer photos. The same effect can be seen when UGC is used in Facebook ads, with some brands experiencing a 50 percent increase in click-through rate.

While the visual content landscape will undoubtedly evolve in the next few years, the principals behind visual content are unlikely to change. Customers want to interact with content they can trust. They are inundated with adverts and other marketing messages, but prefer to seek out user-generated content they can engage with. Brands that understand the power of UGC can use this supply of fresh, cost effective imagery to drive their digital marketing in 2016.

The help you need to connect with your customers

Digital Marketing Hampshire
Visual marketing isn’t just a growing force in digital marketing; it’s actually becoming the most effective way for businesses to connect with their customers online. As a leading digital marketing agency in Hampshire, we understand the power of content marketing and can help you create powerful visual messages that inspire and engage your audience. Please get in touch for more information.  

Back to Content Marketing

Content Marketing Focus: GIFs

The internet has introduced all manner of new words and terms into everyday parlance. Nowadays, if your content’s not going ‘viral’ then you could be guilty of producing ‘spam’. And if you don’t know your ‘hashtags’ from your ‘memes’, you might need a little refresh.

DGTL-gifs

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One form of content that has taken the online world by storm is the GIF. The term GIF is an acronym of ‘graphics interchange format’, which is a bitmap image format. With so many different forms of content hitting the internet at an alarming speed, content marketers are always on the look out for the next great way to cut through the noise.

Research into the online data explosion reveals that, every minute:

  • Facebook users share nearly 2.5 million pieces of content
  • Twitter users tweet nearly 300,000 times
  • Instagram users post nearly 220,000 new photos
  • YouTube users upload 72 hours of new video content
  • Apple users download nearly 50,000 apps
  • Email users send over 200 million messages

In today’s fast-moving, mobile-centric world, image based content which is easy to understand and eminently shareable can help you make your mark in even the most crowded markets. So, could the image-video hybrid, the GIF, be the next best way to engage your customers and fans?   

Some GIF examples

The good news that as well as paying for GIFs that have been created and licensed for use by third parties, there’s also a decent stockpile of free GIFs you can use courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.  

In today’s age of instant gratification and shortening attention spans, this medium demands more attention than an image, without demanding the commitment of a video. What more do you need? Here’s how a well placed GIF can spruce up your content…

1 Add some personality

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The value of a GIF lies in its unique ability to express what can be complex concepts or emotions in just a few seconds. GIFs draw on a tremendously diverse range of cultural references that let your company’s culture shine through. Whether you get creative, be clever, or choose to showcase your fantastic sense of humour, GIFs are an incredibly effective way to inject stale content with a little personality.

2 Bring data to life

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Presenting complex data in interesting and engaging ways can be particularly problematic for some online businesses. Brands and news outlets are increasingly turning to the GIF to solve this problem. GIFs can be used to animate maps, concepts and diagrams to make data more digestible and entertaining.

3 Create educational resources

Educational

The image-video format of a GIF lends itself perfectly to informative, educational and instructional guides. For example, if you’re producing a guide to explain how to use a new tool or product, what better way than via the GIF? Adding a visual component to the instructions in this way can help deliver information concisely, and keep the audience engaged for longer.

To GIF or not to GIF?

Research has shown that humans process visual information much faster than written content, and are also much more likely to remember it in the long-term. For this reason, a GIF can be the perfect way to bring a little life to your content. As we’ve shown, there are plenty of GIFs you can use completely free of charge, adding value to your content without costing you a penny.

The Cinemagraph

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A cinemagraph isn’t your ordinary GIF, think of it more like a living photograph. It is an amalgamation of the still image and animated GIF.

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Parts of the image are isolated and can be seen as moving. Conversely, other parts of the image are left static. This stark contrast of movement and static imagery mean that certain features of a cinemagraph can appear as though they are stuck in time. The result? An eye catching piece of media that’s great for social media marketing (if done right!).

How can we help?

Need a little expert assistance incorporating GIFs or Cinemagraphs into your content or digital marketing campaign? Get in touch with our GIF friendly team today.   

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Content Marketing Boost

How can Content Marketing Boost ‘Boring’ Businesses?

Content Marketing Boost

First things first, we’re firm believers that there is no such thing as a ‘boring’ business. Every industry is interesting to someone, with plenty of opportunities to create informative, relevant content that might not always be exciting, but will still be incredibly valuable. The truth is that helpful things are rarely boring, even if objectively they might be a bit dull.

Of course, in certain industries it is a lot easier to create a buzz and build on the level of interest that already exists. But in what we might term ‘drier’ industries, there are still plenty of opportunities out there; you just have to work a bit harder.

There’s no such thing as a boring business

Boring content isn’t boring to the people who need it. Some businesses believe a content marketing agency won’t be able to help them because their industry is bland, but that really isn’t the case. Effective marketing produces sales, regardless of the industry you operate in.

On the surface of it, the company selling snowboards is more interesting than your insurance business. But if you’re willing to get creative and trust a content marketing agency to do their work, your insurance business can be relevant, informative and interesting too.

Here are three tips to keep in mind when creating content for your ‘boring’ business…

1. Capitalise on the opportunities

If you operate in a boring industry then believe it or not, in terms of content marketing, you are actually at a distinct advantage. While there will be hundreds of pieces of content targeting every keyword in more glamorous industries, competition for keywords and topics in your industry is likely to be low. This means you can enjoy excellent search engine rankings for the content you produce without too much hard work.

This presents an excellent opportunity for your business, allowing you to carve out a niche and become an industry authority without having to spend a fortune. That’s an opportunity businesses in more exciting industries simply don’t have.

2. Keep content relevant

As it can be more difficult to brainstorm ideas for businesses in less exciting industries, the temptation is to create content that’s less relevant in the search for backlinks. We’d advise you to steer well clear of this strategy.

Instead, you should focus on producing high quality, relevant content that serves a genuine purpose by answering your prospective customers’ questions. Even if link building opportunities are few and far between, it’s better to build a reputation as an industry authority, rather than going in search of users who are not part of your target market.

3. Inform your readers

 Consumers in every industry love data that provides them with new insights and shapes their purchasing decisions. Presenting this data in clear and compelling ways, such as infographics, charts and images, is a great way to grab their attention and keep it. Framing your content in such an attractive and readable way also makes it more shareable, thereby increasing traffic and spiking interest in your supposedly ‘boring’ business.

How can we help?

DGTL is a web design and content marketing agency that helps a diverse range of businesses capture the attention they need online. From keyword-rich articles to infographics and videos, we create content that turns your ‘boring’ business into the next big thing.

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Best Practice for Creating a Cohesive Content Marketing Strategy

Content creation is the search engine optimisation method ‘du jour’, and has been ever since Google’s Panda update algorithm changed the way the search engine ranked web pages. Websites with thin content and lots of ads were shunned in favour of those that were stacked full of relevant, high quality content that met their users’ needs. Ever since, webmasters in the know have been filling their website with top quality content in a bid to help their customers and work their way up the search engine rankings.

Quality content marketing is not something that can be done without planning. Creating content for the sake of content marketing, without thinking about how it should be structured, presented or delivered, is a waste of resources and time. Putting a strategic plan into place helps to focus your resources and maximise the effectiveness of your content marketing.

What is a content marketing strategy?

A content marketing strategy is the high-level vision that guides the development of content against a specific business objective. It dictates the planning, creation, delivery and governance of content to produce online assets that are well structured, easily found and can improve the user experience of a website.

Content marketing strategy basics

In more simple terms, a content strategy will help you identify what content already exists, the gaps in the market, and customer questions that are going unanswered. In this context, the term ‘content’ refers to infographics, white papers, videos, online guides, how-tos and anything else that helps your users.

To draw up a successful content strategy, you need to focus on the content you intend to create, and the people responsible for creating it.

  • The content – Identify your goals and think about the types of content that will help you achieve them. This includes the most appropriate content type (videos, blogs, guides etc), the intended audience, the voice and the tone. You also need to think about how the content will be structured to make it accessible for the user.
  • The creators – Focus on who is responsible for managing and maintaining the content and draw up a calendar that dictates when it will be created. You should think about the standards and guidelines that will frame the content creation process, and how the content will be managed throughout its lifecycle.      

The content lifecycle

The beauty of content marketing is that once it’s posted, it’s online forever. This makes it an extremely cost effective form of marketing. It can also appreciate with age, working its way up through the search engine rankings as the content matures. The lifecycle of content can be mapped in the following way:

  • Audit – Take a look at your current content and identify the gaps. What questions do your customers frequently ask? If you’re not answering these questions online, someone else will.
  • Strategy – What are your particular areas of expertise? Think of the topics you can write about with confidence and create a workflow for your content production. You should also define your brand’s tone and voice.
  • Plan – Carry out keyword research to identify terms that attract plenty of search but have low levels of competition. Think about metadata, sourcing pictures and where you’ll publish the content.
  • Create – Now it’s time to write the content. Make sure all content is optimised and proofed before it’s published online.
  • Maintain – Plan to audit and update published content to keep it relevant and fresh. Are there any pieces of content that are performing particularly well? Perhaps you can create similar content in the future?

Following these content strategy basics will help you create meaningful and relevant content that:

  • Reflects the culture and goals of your business
  • Communicates with customers in a way they understand
  • Can easily be found through the search engines and your internal navigational structure
  • Is genuinely useful
  • Is up-to-date, relevant and factual
  • Is consistent with your brand

Drop us a line

Want to know more about how a content strategy can help you achieve your business goals? Get in touch with the DGTL team today to find out how a content marketing agency can bring in more traffic and position your brand as an expert online.

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Responsive & Mobile Friendly Web Design

Before we start it’s important to go over the recent changes to Google’s ranking algorithm regarding mobile friendly websites. In a nutshell the update will give priority ranking to websites that are in some way optimised for mobile browsing. This has been appropriately dubbed ‘Mobilegeddon’. Google has begun rolling this update out to data centres as of April 24th 2015. With Mobilegeddon on the way it’s vitally important you assess your business’s mobile strategy.

So, with that being said, what is Responsive and Mobile Friendly Web design?

Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design concept.

Mobile internet usage has never been so popular. Although desktop internet browsing remains the favourite, Responsive Web Design caters to both these giants.

Responsive web design is a way of adapting the layout of a website through the use of flexible images, CSS3 media queries, and proportion-based grids. This enables an optimal viewing experience across the spectrum of different platforms.

Responsive website design is different than just a separate iteration of a website built for mobile. It unifies desktop and mobile browsing in a flexible manner, meaning the domain name and website content are consistent across all platforms.

The Advantages:

  • Content can be managed on one domain.
  • Flexibility – Responsive web design enables content to move freely across all screen resolutions and devices.
  • Consistent user experience across all platforms
  • Sites optimised for mobile use are given additional ranking power by Google as per the Mobilegeddon update.
  • Cost effective – Having a responsive website developed is more cost effect than having a separate desktop and mobile iteration of that site.

We cannot emphasise enough just how important it is to cater to the mobile market.

Responsive web design is a relatively new technology. As with anything new it can come with it’s fair share of drawbacks. What it really boils down to is complexity. Complexity in programming a responsive website which inevitably leads to a longer development time, and complexity in managing content. For instance, using a whacking great image on a desktop is fine but when browsing on a mobile device data allowances must be taken into account. That being said, responsive web design done properly can avoid such issues or have appropriate workarounds put in place.

Mobile Friendly Web Design

Responsive web design concept.

Mobile friendly web design, as the name suggests, refers to any website that is optimised for mobile browsing. This could be a dedicated mobile site or a responsive site that can accommodate both mobile and desktop viewing.

As mobile friendly web design can fall under the responsive umbrella, let’s have a look at the advantages you can expect to achieve with a dedicated mobile website:

The advantages of a dedicated mobile site:

  • Content will be geared towards speed and on minimising mobile data usage
  • The site is specifically optimised with the mobile user in mind, taking into account interaction methods like touch screens and certain limitations like screen resolutions and sizes.

One of the major drawbacks of a dedicated mobile site is cost. Although the cost of a mobile site is not much different than that of a desktop counterpart, responsive web design can hit two birds with one stone, reducing your cost in the long run.

Conclusion

If you are serious about your business you need a responsive website. With the recent changes to Google’s ranking algorithm affecting mobile friendly websites you need to put yourself in the best possible position to rank highly. Mobile browsing is now so popular that you cannot afford to miss out on the mobile market. Responsive web design is cost effective and a surefire way to future proof your businesses online presence.

Need a responsive/mobile friendly website for your business? We can help.