Pagination; You’re Doing it Wrong!

There seems to still be a lot of confusion surrounding the issue of pagination — what it is, what its real purpose is, when it should be employed, how to implement it properly, should it be combined with a canonical and more.

Hopefully, this series of articles will provide you with a better understanding of how pagination can help you rank the pages that are important to you. Most importantly, it should help you avoid some of the most common errors that can make your pagination work against you.

TeamVFM Local Seo Pagination; You’re Doing it Wrong!In this article we will cover:

  • What is pagination
  • Why do we need pagination
  • Why is pagination important for SEO
  • Common SEO issues resulting from improperly handled pagination
  • How to diagnose common pagination issues
  • How to properly implement pagination attributes

But before we start, it’s important to remember that pagination is only a suggestion to Google that you prefer the sequential pages to be consolidated as contextually related. Using rel=“prev” and rel=“next” attributes tells the search engines that a page has a topical tie with adjacent pages in the series. That may be just two pages, or it may be two thousand – it works the same. When implemented properly, Google will normally heed that request, but conflicting signals can cause the search engine to ignore your pagination, which will often be to the detriment of your rankings.

What is pagination?

Pagination is simply a manner of ordering sequential pages which are contextually connected, to provide continuity to both users and search engines. It is accomplished by placing rel=“prev” and rel=“next” attributes in the head of each page in the series.

There are two common instances in which pagination should be implemented. The first is for paginated posts or articles, where you have a long document which you prefer to break into multiple pages. More often, however, it is utilized in paginating archives, such as are encountered with product descriptions on an eCommerce site which include various sizes, colors or models. This image from Google’s Webmaster’s Blog illustrates both:

Article series suitable for rel next and prev

Why do we need pagination?

There are a number of reasons to employ pagination. For one thing, it is a method of telling the search engines which content should be considered to be part of a series or set, in order for them to assign indexing properties to the entire series, rather than to just one page.

By tying similar content together, it also shows the search engine how much content on your website is relevant to a particular topic; this can serve to help your site stand out above competing websites.

Breaking expansive pages up into smaller chunks also makes it easier for users to digest the content on the page. Users can also find pagination useful in facilitating navigation through extensive lists.

Why is pagination important for SEO?

Pagination can affect the SEO efforts on your website in two different ways. The first is for the purposes of ranking and internal flow of link equity. Proper pagination informs the search engine that link equity should be distributed across the entire paginated document, rather than to just one page. Obviously, sending the wrong signal here could seriously affect the distribution of that equity.

There can be other SEO impacts, as well; if the search engine fails to consider the series of pages as a single document, the amount of content that would be considered relevant to the targeted topic could be greatly diminished.

It is also worth remembering that Google is critical of any practices which aren’t user-friendly, such as an awkward site architecture or clumsy navigation. The process of setting up proper pagination will often lead you to the discovery and correction of such issues, which can only help.

Common SEO Issues Resulting From Improperly Handled Pagination

One common indicator of incorrect pagination will be index bloat — this is not as great of a problem with small to medium-sized sites; it is most often a problem with large eCommerce sites which include a lot of products with different varieties, such as color or size.

When not properly paginated, every page of a series may be indexed as a separate document, which consumes crawl budgets (on larger sites), as well as making pages compete with one another for SERP placement.

Unimportant pages, such as tag pages, can also create index bloat, again consuming the crawl bots’ time on your site which would be better spent indexing your important pages.

While there is no such thing as a “duplicate content penalty”, duplicate content can still have a detrimental effect on your SEO efforts. If not adequately addressed, it can dilute the focus of your site’s content, thus making it much more difficult to rank for target terms.

As stated earlier, along with topical dilution, a failure to paginate correctly can also cause significant dilution of link equity.

How to Diagnose Common Pagination Issues – Part 1

There are several things to look for when trying to determine if a site has properly implemented the most appropriate pagination. What is advisable in each circumstance will depend upon how the content is structured, both contextually and physically.

Is there a View All version?

The first thing I check on archive pages is whether there is a “View All” version which allows users to view the entire document, in addition to the individual pages of the series. I check that first because that will impact how canonicals should be implemented in that series.

Without a “View All” version, each page of the series should self-canonicalize. But with a “View All” page, every page of the series should canonicalize to the “View All” page, as illustrated in this example from the Google Webmaster Blog.

Pagination article with a view-all page

When Google detects the presence of a view-all page, they normally try to show that page in the SERPs, as well as consolidating indexing properties, like links, to the “View All” page. It is still a good idea to canonicalize to the “View All” page, though, even though Google tries to consolidate to it (if they detect it without a canonical tag). When there is no “View All” page, they will often display the first page of the series when they detect paginated content.

Is rel=prev/next properly implemented?

The only difference in the pagination structure when a “View All” page is provided is that in addition to the rel=“prev” and rel=“next”, there should be a link rel=“canonical” tag pointing to the “View All” page of the series.

The first page of the series should have just the rel=“next” attribute, pointing to the second page.

The last page should have only rel=“prev”, pointed at the previous page. All the rest of the pages in the series should have both, always pointed at the adjacent previous and next pages.

How to Properly Implement Pagination Attributes

Some rules to always adhere to:

  • When breaking an article, post or another document into a series of pages, tie them together with rel=“prev” and rel=“next” to let the search engine see the connection. The first page should have just the rel=“next” attribute, the last page should have only rel=“prev”, and the rest of the pages in the series should have both, always pointed at the adjacent pages.
  • Always self-canonicalize all pages in a series (unless there is a “View All” page, in which case all pages should canonicalize to the “View All” page).
  • Avoid the use of a “View All” page when the page would be too long to be easily used, or if the page would take too long to load.

Simple Rel Prev/Next Implementation

Page 1

<link rel="next" href="https://example.com/index/page/2/" />

Page 2

<link rel="prev" href="https://example.com/index/" />
<link rel="next" href="https://example.com/index/page/3/" />

Page 3

<link rel="prev" href="https://example.com/index/page/2/" />
<link rel="next" href="https://example.com/index/page/4/" />

Page 4

<link rel="prev" href="https://example.com/index/page/3/" />
<link rel="next" href="https://example.com/index/page/5 /" />

Page 5

<link rel="prev" href=" https://example.com/index/page/4 /" />

Rel prev/next implementation without a View All page

Page 1

<link rel="next" href="https://example.com/index/page/2/" />
<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/index/" />

Page 2

<link rel="prev" href="https://example.com/index/page/" />
<link rel="next" href="https://example.com/index/page/3/" />
<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/index/page/2/" />

Page 3

<link rel="prev" href="https://example.com/index/page/2/" />
<link rel="next" href="https://example.com/index/page/4/" />
<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/index/page/3/" />

Page 4

<link rel="prev" href="https://example.com/index/page/3/" />
<link rel="next" href="https://example.com/index/page/5/" />
<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/index/page/4/" />

Page 5

<link rel="prev" href="https://example.com/index/page/4/" />
<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/index/page/5/" />

Rel prev/next implementation with a View All page

Page 1

<link rel="next" href="https://example.com/index/page/2/" />
<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/index/view-all/" />

Page 2

<link rel="prev" href="https://example.com/index/" />
<link rel="next" href="https://example.com/index/page/3/" />
<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/index/view-all/" />

Page 3

<link rel="prev" href="https://example.com/index/page/2/" />
<link rel="next" href="https://example.com/index/page/4/" />
<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/index/view-all/" /> 

Page 4

<link rel="prev" href="https://example.com/index/page/3/" />
<link rel="next" href="https://example.com/index/page/5/" />
<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/index/view-all/" />

Page 5

<link rel="prev" href="https://example.com/index/page/4/" />
<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/index/view-all/" />

Verify

It is all too easy to forget to open or close quotation marks or use a – instead of an = sign. So when you are through setting up your pagination, here is a great tool with which to check it, to be certain each page is pointing to the correct previous and next page, as well as where the canonical is pointed:

(Max Prin and Alexis Sanders have a number of handy free tools there, so you may want to bookmark that site)

What’s Next?

Parts 2 and 3 of this series of articles will dive further into pagination to cover robots instructions, javascript, infinite scroll, and how confusing canonical and robot instructions can damage your rankings. Stay tuned!

via: https://www.semrush.com/blog/pagination-you-are-doing-it-wrong-part-1/

Report: Websites and GMB Profiles Both Essential for Local Businesses

TeamVFM Local SEO Santa Clarita Valley Google My BusinessWhile information on Google is increasingly essential to connecting brick-and-mortar businesses with nearby customers, it has definitively not rendered local business websites obsolete. That’s according to a new report from local marketing firm BrightLocal.

A whopping 64% of respondents indicated relying on Google My Business (GMB) to find contact information for local business, suggesting it’s an indispensable platform. Yet consumers still trust local business websites most of all, and only 8% say they never consult a business’ website when making shopping decisions.

The information consumers most frequently seek out on Google includes, in the following order of frequency, opening hours, directions, reviews, a path to the business’ website, and photos. Out-of-date contact information ranked number one among errors that could turn a customer off completely from visiting a local store.

Finally, while messaging platforms are all the range among emerging vendors, the trusty phone call remains the most common way to contact local businesses. As in the GMB versus website debate, this does not mean newer tactics are not worth business’ time or financial investments. It just means combining the new with the old is the way to go when trying to be as present as possible in today’s customer journey.

TeamVFM has created a custom Google owned Property Social Media Service for SMBs and companies that have a formal Marketing Plan in place and realize the necessity of having Google My Business, YouTube, Blogger, and Picasa in their marketing plan’s marketing arsenal without having to have them setup individually.

What this means to you as an SBO or are in charge of your companies marketing on Social Media, is all of these SM Platforms will be setup and optimized completely and consistently, so that they fit your over-all marketing plan and work in conjunction, not only in and amongst the Google SM platforms themselves but also with your other Online Presence platforms, including your website. This will provide uniformity and significant cost savings in the long term, while providing a dominant ROI for your over-all marketing.

via: https://streetfightmag.com/2019/05/09/report-websites-and-gmb-profiles-both-essential-for-local-businesses/?mc_cid=1bcc1a459f&mc_eid=9b4273079a&doing_wp_cron=1557439983.8414819240570068359375

6 Actions You Must Take After an SEO Audit

What's Next- 6 Actions You Must Take After an SEO Audit

Want to improve the organic search visibility of your website?

Step one is commonly an SEO audit.

An SEO audit can produce valuable insights. It reveals past SEO strategy and tactics – or lack thereof – and is a fresh way to get started with a new partner,

The best audits are done in-depth and focused on aspects across the three key areas of SEO:

  • Technical.
  • On-page.
  • Off-page.

They also use some keyword or goal-oriented focuses to compare against. This allows for a deeper analysis of keyword performance and competitor comparison.

When investing time, energy, and actual dollars in an SEO audit, you are probably doing it with the goal of taking action afterward. Perhaps you’re looking to get a return on investment or jump-start ranking, traffic, and conversion goal improvements.

So what comes next?

Here are some specific next steps you should take after the audit is completed to build momentum and ensure your time and investment isn’t wasted.

1. Develop a List of Insights

A detailed, handcrafted audit report often includes:

  • The list of SEO items audited.
  • What the status is of those items weighed against best practices, audience, and competitive filters.
  • Recommendations of aspects to correct or improve.

These are often woven throughout the report and sometimes are summarized in an executive summary or conclusion section.

For lighter or more automated audits, this section of findings might be lacking clarity or depth.

Your first step after the SEO audit is to get to the short (or possibly long) list of specific insights and things that need action.

2. Prioritize Based on Level of Impact

Using the list that was included in the audit report, or the insights you compiled, it’s time to begin the planning phase.

If you have the option to go back to the person or team (internally or externally) who conducted the audit or do a post-audit meeting, this is the time to learn and understand the expected level of impact of each of the items on the insights list.

Not all corrective or optimization actions will have the same magnitude of impact. While SEO professionals are pressed to avoid promises due to the uncertain nature of the industry, there should be a scale and objective way to prioritize the list based on how big issues are.

Setting expectations of what the impact could be, even when they are based on benchmarks and where you want to be, will be helpful later for measurement of actual impact.

For example, resolving the issue of missing title and meta description tags on every page of the site by writing custom, helpful, keyword focused tags will likely have more impact and should have higher priority than implementing schema structured data for a contact us page.

3. Determine Necessary Resources

With a prioritized list of action items based on the level of impact, you can now determine the necessary time, budget, and resources needed to tackle each item.

Some updates can be made in minutes by a single person with little training. Others might require the assistance of other departments, individuals, or outside vendors.

Something like the implementation of a sophisticated canonical tag strategy might require a good technical SEO mind plus the skills of a web developer. Those resources may cost money and have to be slotted into schedules.

Once you know how long it will take to implement each item, what it will cost in time and resources, coupled with the level of impact from the previous step, you can filter the list and re-prioritize.

4. Develop a Timeline

You now have an outline of the work and needs in front of you. This is not the time to take your foot off the gas.

Pushing forward on the SEO plan can be daunting due to time, resource, and budget constraints. However, SEO is a long-term commitment that is fueled by short-term activities and tactical execution.

At this point, you should be able to see what the all-in investment is for implementing all of the items on the list.

Based on budgeting, pacing, and the ability to commit, it should be possible to know how much time overall it will take to work through everything.

With this in hand, you can develop a timeline with specific milestones, goals, and reporting cycles to measure the impact of the effort.

5. Create an Action Plan

Putting the plan in motion, you’ll need to find the right systems to ensure that:

  • Collaboration is easy.
  • Tasks are scheduled and assigned.
  • Accountability is attached.

Whether that is a workflow program, SEO tool, or project management suite, treating this as a real project or campaign following the audit is one of the best things you can do to give it a fair shot.

Heaping a big stack of tasks or assignments on an individual, team, or group of roles with no expectation or accountability is a big risk for failure.

Setting the tone with a plan and an expectation of it being organized and completed on budget and on time is critical.

Not all stakeholders and roles will understand the potential impact of improving SEO if they only have a small role in certain pieces.

The IT manager (no offense) probably won’t care much about why you want them to change 302 redirects to 301s or set a canonical version of the root domain.

Without some education and a clear assignment with a due date that tucks into the plan, it might go into an IT queue with low priority and never get done.

6. Achieve Success

How are you going to know what SEO success looks like and that this effort was worthwhile?

Tying back into the goals and expectations you set in the first post-audit step of assessing the best estimate possible of the level of impact of the action items identified, you can measure performance.

Using baseline or benchmark data, you can isolate the project schedule and see where average position, impressions, traffic, and conversions changed during the project or campaign.

With a dedicated plan and concerted effort, you should be able to track specific improvements.

Be sure to use the annotation feature in Google Analytics and have regular reporting cycles monthly or weekly depending on how long your timeline is for implementing the plan.

This is a great way to track improvement over time and understand the actual impact versus the estimated level of impact and to make any agile revisions to the plan or to keep going with the original schedule.

Conclusion

The SEO audit process can be overwhelming.

Depending on the type of audit, and how much support and education you receive at the end of the process, it can be challenging to use the audit as a powerful tool to improve the optimization of a website.

Through working from insights to fully-actionable and measurable plan, you can achieve success and find ROI not just for the audit investment itself, but in leveraging SEO as a valuable digital marketing channel.

A Website Audit Report allows you to get a professional health check on your website covering Web Design and Web Structure Analysis, Page and Link Errors, Page Title and Meta Description Issues, Back links Analysis, URL Architecting, Duplicate Content Analysis, In-depth Target Keyword Analysis, and much more! When you want to invest in an online marketing campaign, particularly SEO, it is important to have a deep analysis of your website completed ahead of time so we can customize your marketing campaign for optimal results.

via: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/after-seo-audit-next-steps/298487/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=daily-newsletter&utm_campaign=daily-newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Digital Executives should know about Web ADA Compliance

If your business operates online, there are many pieces of legislation that you need to keep updated with to make sure you are operating on the right side of the law.

Many of these laws are self-explanatory, and you may already be implementing the necessary procedures.

One that isn’t quite so obvious is the ADA—or the Americans With Disabilities Act.

This act protects disabled people by making disability discrimination illegal. This means that your business should have the necessary measures in place to ensure disabled people can access your business without restrictions.

You might think this doesn’t apply to you because your business operates online, but not true anymore.

In 2018, to reflect modern society and new technology, the ADA passed a new set of regulations specifically targeted at website ADA compliance.

This means that you need to make sure that your web property can be accessed by disabled people, some of whom may use devices to help them do so, to avoid being sued for inaccessibility.

It’s easy to think that this ruling doesn’t apply to you if your company doesn’t cater specifically towards the disabled.

When 1 in 5 Americans are disabled, however, it’s almost a guarantee that your website will be visited by a disabled person at some point, and it’s not worth waiting until you’re sued to take action.

Even celebrities are suffering the consequences of their websites not being ADA compliant.

Most recently, Beyoncé is facing a lawsuit after a visually impaired individual could not access features on her website.

It isn’t just big names that will face these lawsuits, either.

In fact, even if you’re a small or medium sized business, you can face a fine of $55,000 if your website isn’t ADA compliant, and that’s only for a first offense!

It’s true that you making your website ADA compliant costs more money initially, but as we can see, the charge for not doing so is far more costly.

Here is what you need to know about ADA compliance to make sure your business is operating as it should be.

Non-text content must have an equivalent text alternative

One of reasons for Beyoncé’s lawsuit was that her company had failed to include text-based alternatives for pictures on her website.

This meant that those with visual impairments couldn’t fully immerse themselves into the website in the same way as those without a visual impairment could.

It might not seem important to you, but not including text attributes for all your images on a website is illegal under the ADA legislation because it directly prohibits equal use and discriminates against the individual.

At the same time, this infringement is easy to rectify if this is one of the issues your website is facing.

The easiest way to fix this problem is to type a detailed description of each image on your website in the alt tags during the editing process, before you hit the publish button.

You can also have a text-only website page, CAPTCHA audio alternatives, or decorative graphics that are made invisible to assistive technology.

Audio must be controlled separately from the main computer audio for automatic audio that plays for longer than 3 seconds

If your business has implemented audio or visual media that plays automatically, users should be able to turn this off without muting their computer sound altogether.

The exception to this rule is audio that plays for less than 3 seconds, which limits you to notification sounds, like when an individual receives a message on social media.

Seizure-Causing Content Is Strictly Prohibited

People with photosensitive epilepsy, and other seizure disorders, can have seizures triggered by flashing lights, or content with lots of flashing imagery.

These seizures can be life-threatening, so to prevent people from being able to access the internet at all, the ADA has said that this content is strictly illegal.

The specifics of this legislation state that you cannot use content that flashes more than 3 times per second.

For extra security with this legislation, placing a warning on content that has the potential to trigger epilepsy sufferers may also be useful.

Your Website Must Be Completely Accessible By Keyboard

Many disabled people access the online world without using a mouse at all, relying on a keyboard to operate the websites they use.

This means that your website must be accessible through the use of a keyboard.

One of the best ways to do this is by making sure that keyword shortcuts, like the tab key, can be used to navigate between web pages.

Although this is difficult to achieve for many websites, and it is likely to cost money to implement, it’s an essential if you want your business to be completely ADA compliant.

To be ADA compliant, you need to make sure users are able to complete the following interactions from their keyboard. These include:

  • Click on a link or button
  • Select or unselect an item as a radio button or item in a drop down menu
  • Navigate the page
  • Auto complete text
  • Close out a dialog box
  • Adjust a slider UI element up or down
  • Scroll through the navigation/menu items/the page

Web pages should be predictable in appearance and operation

One of the overriding themes of the Americans With Disabilities online addition last year was that websites should be perceivable and operable for everyone.

This means that you must think of your loyalty towards future disabled clients and ADA compliance from the moment you start designing your website.

You need to make sure that everyone can navigate your entire website and every single web page by using the same, predictable navigational tools throughout.

Another thing to bear in mind is that any change in context of things on the website should be user-initiated, and they should be able to turn these features off if desired.

Input assistance should be provided to help users avoid and fix mistakes

Whenever your website requires input from users, such as a contact form, you must provide detailed instructions to help someone complete whatever steps are necessary.

If someone makes an error, the message that comes up should offer clear instructions in text and audio form that tells the user exactly what they need to change.

You couldn’t just have the ‘error’ sign come up if someone typed their password wrong, for example.

Having something along the lines of ‘your username or password is incorrect’ would be accepted by the ADA, however, as it clearly tells someone what to do.

Making sure that context-sensitive help is available if needed is also another step you should think about implementing.

About the Author: Michael Reddy is the president of Digital Authority Partners, a Chicago web design & digital strategy agency.

via: https://www.websitemagazine.com/blog/what-digital-executives-should-know-about-web-ada-compliance

Digital is the name of the game in the world of marketing and has been for quite some time. Thanks to digital marketing techniques, even the smallest brands have been able to attract new customers, build lasting relationships, and expand their reach. This is easy enough for companies that operate on either a national or local level, but what happens when they do both?

In other words, how does a franchise marketing team adjust their digital marketing strategy to target local leads in their individual locations? In this guide, we will discuss some of the various tactics, best practices, and methodologies used in franchise marketing to achieve better local visibility and better targeting of local customers. This guide is not just for marketers. If you are a franchisee, franchisor, or handle local listing management for a franchise location, this guide is also for you. Now, let’s get started.

What is Franchise Marketing_

What is Franchise Marketing?

If you’re new to marketing for franchises, then it’s a good idea to quickly cover the essentials of what it is. Franchise marketing is a multi-tiered marketing plan whereby a company must craft marketing campaigns for franchises in specific locations, while also adhering to a broader strategy at the corporate level.

If it sounds complicated, that’s because it very well can be. When you own a franchise location, corporate will want to keep a hand in marketing to ensure consistency and quality control across the board. Local franchise owners will, however, be allowed some creativity to tailor ads to meet not just the cultural and socio-economic needs of an area, but also legal requirements.

Traditional vs Digital Marketing

Traditional vs Digital Marketing

From renting billboard signs to creating ads that run on game day and paying A-list celebrities to be brand ambassadors, traditional marketing is expensive. While these are still effective methods of generating leads and attracting customers, due to the high cost, they are better left to corporate. Local franchises who want to maximize their profits should focus most of their energies on digital marketing.

This helps to boost profitability by improving sales and cutting down advertising costs.

Even so, traditional marketing still serves a place as a complement to digital marketing strategies: a connection which we will discuss in greater detail later on in this guide. Here are some of the many marketing tools that are effective at the corporate and local levels.

  • Social media marketing
  • Pay-per-click advertising
  • Website search engine optimization
  • Video marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Text message marketing
  • Data analytics

Keep in mind that not everything on this list directly boosts SEO. Some items merely boost visibility or awareness, which increases the effectiveness of SEO tactics. It is one thing to be discoverable, but even better to be recognizable when you are. Also worth noting is the fact that not all of these tools will be beneficial to your specific brand.

To decide which methods will best suit your marketing goals and business type, you must consider how the demographic you serve prefers to engage with brands of their choosing and what forms of communications resonate best with them. Once you have these figured out, you can implement the specifics detailed in the rest of this guide.

Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing Strategies for Franchises

When it comes to digital marketing, one of the first tools that is often called upon is social media. That’s because social media is one of the best tools for increasing awareness of your business at both the corporate and franchise level if properly managed. If not properly managed, then you can create a mess of inconsistent messages intermingled with confusion over who has access to what account. Here’s the best way to organize this.

Corporate Level Social Media Marketing

There should be one social media account per platform at the corporate level, which is handled only by the professionals at corporate. Depending on your business and the demographic it serves, this could include LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. These main accounts should either forego using an exact physical location or use the address of corporate. In the case of Facebook, it is best not to use an address at all, so you can use the locations feature to pinpoint franchises in different locations.

As the fount from which the rest of social media marketing strategies will spring, it’s a good idea to create a Best Practices Social Media plan for franchisees to use. A good plan book will detail the following.

  • Basic social media marketing strategy guidelines
  • Tips on how to find local professionals to assist with marketing
  • Any social, religious or moral convictions that must be upheld in the branding
  • To what extent corporate’s social media posts and general content can be copied or duplicated
  • Keywords and hashtags used to boost SEO

Local Level Social Media Marketing

Before creating social media handles for a local franchise, it’s important to check with corporate to ensure this is allowed. Note that another franchise location receiving permission does not guarantee that you will. To increase your chances, have a hired social media agency at the ready to prove to corporate that you have professional assistance to steer you and your marketing campaign in the right direction. It may also be worth it to speak with other local franchises and propose shared social media accounts for the location, such as @VDigitalPHX or @VDigitalLA to complement a corporate handle of @VDigital.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Pay-Per-Click Advertising Strategies for Franchises

Most social media platforms offer some type of PPC advertising. The ones that are best for you will depend on the platforms you have identified as being best for your business.

Corporate Level Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Digital advertising on social media is a great way to get your ads in front of more eyes, while only paying for the level of engagement it attracts. Here are some of the PPC offers corporate should not miss out on.

  • Google: Almost every business uses Google ads. The reason for this is simple. Google owns the vast majority of the search engine market, so the searches you would most likely want to appear in belongs to Google. Why not pay for your spot?
  • Twitter: Twitter ads are one of the most expensive you may come across with monthly payments of $99 to use their Promote Mode option. However, if you have several hundred dollars to dedicate to this each month, it does pay off as the price helps to keep ad competition low.
  • Facebook & Instagram: Facebook ads are more affordable and tend to deliver more value for your money. Facebook pages are also arguably better formulated for generating business leads than Twitter.

Local Level Pay-Per-Click Advertising

When it comes to PPC advertising, local franchises are better off using Google, Facebook, and Instagram as PPC platforms. The effectiveness of these three outlets make Twitter ads an unnecessary luxury item. However, if Twitter is where most of your customers and clients hang out, and corporate okays the local use of Twitter, Twitter ads may be worth looking into.

Website Search Engine Optimization

Website SEO Strategies for Franchises

Website SEO is an integral part of marketing for businesses of all size. This is because SEO expands a company’s organic reach and continues to bring in website traffic as long as the keywords chosen remain relevant. When the effectiveness of a specific keyword changes, it’s a simple task to update content to reflect that. This helps to ensure that when someone googles relevant topics related to your business, your website will rank high in searches.

Your goal should be to land in the first three spots because most people don’t look beyond the first three results. Here are a few things you need to make sure you rank in the first three spots as often as possible.

  • A strong online presence to attract do-follow links from local news agencies, government bodies, and charitable organizations.
  • Content that is unique, engaging and provides a solution to the question asked or topic broached in the search bar.
  • A website that loads quickly and is optimized for mobile use.
  • A website that is properly coded so that search engines can easily find, crawl and index the pages.

Corporate Level Website Search Engine Optimization

As in all other areas of franchise SEO, corporate is expected to lead the way. If the corporate website is doing well and generating large amounts of traffic, then all others will benefit. This is true even when all local franchises are expected to build and manage their own websites, because a successful corporate website helps to spread awareness and boost credibility for the brand itself. If corporate has a formula that has been working well, it should pass on this information to the local franchises, so they can benefit from HQ’s wisdom and experience.

Local Level Website Search Engine Optimization

Not all franchise companies will allow you to build your own website. However, it doesn’t hurt to ask. And, while you’re at it, see if you can get a hold of the keywords corporate has been using. By using those same keywords on your own local website and social media pages, you will be able to piggy-back off corporate’s success. However, to boost your local ranking, you should add location tags, such as, “SEO services in Phoenix” instead of just “SEO services”. This indicates to Google that the services you provide are relevant to a specific location.

Another way to improve your local SEO ranking, particularly with Google, is to ensure your franchise is listed on Google with the following information.

  • Physical address
  • Opening hours
  • Phone number
  • Website

Depending on your type of business, you may be able to add additional information. For example, if you own a restaurant, there is usually an available slot for a menu.

Quick Tip: Be sure to clean up local listings to prevent the SEO nightmare of duplicate entries. Duplicate entries will only cost you customers and needless embarrassment down the line. It may also not sit well with corporate, who may then seek to tighten the marketing reins.

Video Marketing

Video Marketing Strategies for Franchises

Did you know that YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine? This shouldn’t be too surprising when you consider that Google owns YouTube. Naturally, because of this, the two combine forces in the SEO world to produce amazing results. In short, Google gives special favor to its own videos on YouTube and ranks these higher up in its search results.

However, publishing on YouTube isn’t the only way you can use video marketing to your advantage as a franchise. Here are some of the many ways video marketing is useful at both the corporate and local level of franchise SEO.

  • Use videos to humanize your brand and inject humor into your social media stream.
  • Tutorial videos are a great way to demonstrate how to use a product or service your business provides.
  • Videos can help you share the story of your brand and how your business grew to its current status.
  • If your company participates in local events or encourages workers to volunteer, use videos to showcase that involvement while giving your charitable employees a moment in the spotlight.
  • Videos are far more likely to go viral than a full-blown article, increasing your likelihood of exposure.
  • If your business features a service component, like personal training at a franchised gym, videos are a great way to create webinars or presentations to showcase your level of expertise.
  • Few businesses operate in a bubble. Most companies must partner with other brands to bring their businesses to life. If your business is contracted to work with a specific brand, consider exchanging product reviews. For example, a restaurant could review the brand of pasta they use for their secret in-house recipe, and the pasta company could review the restaurant that uses their pasta as a key ingredient.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing Strategies for Franchises

Before saying anything else regarding email marketing, let us first emphasize that we are referring to opt-in email marketing. When people choose to receive your newsletters, it’s a good sign that they’ll actually open your newsletters when you send them. This helps to generate more leads and potential sales.

Corporate Level Email Marketing

While all other areas of marketing so far have primarily been aimed at reaching customers, corporate should consider using email marketing to grow the franchise business by focusing on more B2B communications. The primary groups you should try to reach are as follows.

  • Vendors and suppliers
  • Administrative staff
  • Current and potential franchisees

Quick Tip: Be sure to utilize different mailing lists for each of these categories. This helps to ensure people don’t receive content that is not relevant to their interests.

Local Level Email Marketing

The great thing about email marketing is that it’s the one form of marketing so far that corporate may not try to control or curtail. This is because email marketing goes directly to individuals and is not published publicly.

Unlike corporate, local franchises should use email marketing to reach out to customers. Here are a few share-worthy ideas to send to customers and clients.

  • Upcoming events
  • Recent accomplishments with thanks
  • Coupons and special offers
  • Involvement in local charity events

Quick Tip: If corporate won’t allow you to run your own branded website, use social media and a lead form to build your mailing list. If social media isn’t allowed either, then the next tip is for you.

Text Message Marketing

Text Message Marketing Strategies for Franchises

Text message marketing is another form of opt-in direct marketing that can yield great results when done right. Because text messaging is more personal and informal, this strategy will be best used by local franchises, but there are some uses for corporate.

Corporate Level Text Message Marketing

When there are offers and promotions that are applicable across the board, sending text messages from corporate to customers is a good idea. Corporate can also utilize texts to send messages that encourage social responsibility in various forms, such as requesting donations on behalf of established charities after a natural disaster of national importance.

Local Level Text Message Marketing

As previously stated, text message marketing better serves franchises at the local levels. Local franchises can use text message marketing to grow their customer base in a number of ways. Here are just a few.

  • Some companies have successfully created platforms to handle customer complaints through text messaging. Serious complaints are usually escalated directly to the manager.
  • You could use text messages to provide coupon codes that people can redeem online or in person, whether it’s a free cup of coffee or a complimentary hour with a personal trainer at the gym.
  • Text messages are a great way to rally support for local charity events the company may support, such as, charity 5K runs, blood drives, and toy donations. Even when it doesn’t lead to a big turn-out, it nonetheless sends the message—literally—that you are actively involved in the betterment of the community.

Data Analytics

Data Analytics for Franchises

Truly, there is no point in investing in marketing or PR strategies if you don’t also invest in tools to track the effectiveness of the strategies you implement, and how well they complement your business goals. Here are a few questions you need to be answered regarding all the hard work and money you spend on your marketing campaigns.

  • What kind of content are your followers engaging with more than others?
  • What marketing channel is generating most of your high-quality leads?
  • What is your conversation rate?
  • What is the click-through rate on your PPC ads across various platforms?
  • What demographic primarily engages with and does business with your brand, and at what locations?
  • What time of day, week, month and year is busiest for business?
  • What time of day, week, month and year is slowest for business?
  • What is the monthly, quarterly and annual ROI of your marketing campaigns?

If social media is a big part of your marketing plan, then you may be able to take advantage of free insights and analytical tools from companies like Google, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. However, for in-depth analysis, you will need the help of professionals.

Get Professional Assistance From Franchise Marketing Experts

These days, the DIY culture is going strong. From businesses to individuals, everyone is looking to do more with less by getting some of the work done on their own. This is commendable, but some tasks are best left to the professionals. Due to the complicated and multi-layered level of marketing for franchise businesses, this task definitely makes the list of things better left to the experts.

The good news is, you won’t need to look very far to find a marketing agency that is accustomed to working on franchise marketing campaigns at both the corporate and local level. Like you, we are a large business with offices spread out in multiple locations, from Seattle to Miami.

We combine this personal experience with our professional qualifications to bring you marketing campaigns best suited to the complex needs of your franchise business. For more information on how we can help to streamline your marketing campaign and grow your business through improved SEO, email us via our contact page, today. We look forward to hearing from you.

The number of online shops is growing exponentially, and the competition level facing entrepreneurs is growing with it. Having the best product is far from enough! You can lose customers over the smallest details, so the transactional journey you provide should meet the highest standards.

To help out the business community we have conducted research powered by SEMrush Site Audit to find out which issues e-commerce websites are struggling with most. We have scanned 1,300 online shops for 80 technical and SEO issues, varying widely from mild nuisances to severe business-damaging errors.

We have gone over all the common on-page and technical SEO issues, including problems with HTTPS implementation, hreflangs, crawlability, site architecture, and more.

Guess what? Even the biggest retail websites have errors! Our research will help to give you an educated overview of your website’s health and find new ways to improve your business.

Paul Lovell, international SEO & PPC consultant and Founder at Always Evolving SEO, shared his expertise and concluded the research. We’ve also asked industry experts from all around the world to share their advice.

 

SEMrush Study: The 80 most common e-commerce website mistakes

Paul Lovell SEO & PPC Consultant

Via: https://www.semrush.com/blog/most-common-ecommerce-website-mistakes/?utm_source=sej&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=%D0%95%D1%81ommerceq4

Why Responsive Design is Dead

ED KENNEDY

The Adoption of Adaptive Design and the Rise of Progressive Web Apps

Mobile traffic is past its tipping point with roughly 52 percent of web traffic currently deriving from smartphones versus desktops – and counting. People are accessing sites and services with the expectation they will not only have the same functionality they would on desktops, but, more so today, that the sites will also use the functionality native to their devices without needing to download an app. To date, forward-thinking ecommerce companies have worked to ensure their sites were primed for mobile viewing, turning to responsive web design (RWD) as the solution. Times are changing, however, and device-specific experiences are becoming the new requirement (e.g., touch gestures, speech recognition, mobile push notifications). Responsive design that delivers one size, fits none is now being replaced with two new ways of implementing mobile experiences that are faster and provide a better customer experience: adaptive and progressive design. While adaptive design requires more coding, it offers a whole range of other prioritizing features on mobile that customers crave versus receiving a shallow, shrunk-down version of the desktop site that leaves too much to be desired.

But First, The Four Approaches

Before going further, it will be helpful to first understand the differences between mobile themes, responsive web design (RWD), adaptive web design (AWD) and progressive web apps (PWA). Mobile Themes These are responsible for the mobile-dedicated sites of the world – or m-dot. They are easy to add to existing desktop experiences, but each change to the site requires both mobile and desktop updates. What’s more, Google frowns upon serving two different experiences as its crawlers must essentially read two sites because the content and code of mobile themes are separate. Enter: responsive web design. Responsive “Responsive design is client-side, meaning the whole page is delivered to the device browser (the client), and the browser then changes how the page appears in relation to the dimensions of the browser window.” ~ Garrett Goodman of The Huffington Post The positives of RWD are often stated in that the sites are easy to maintain, and they provide a consistent experience across devices. On the other hand, one channel typically suffers. If mobile first, for example, then the desktop does not look quite right. If desktop first, then mobile is overloaded. Still, there is unified content and code, which minimizes the resource burden of catering to both desktop and mobile users. Adaptive “Let’s use an adjustable lamp as a real-world example: responsive design is when you flick the switch, and the lamp responds by turning on the light. Adaptive design is when you’re able to adjust/adapt the lamp so that you can see better. “If a website doesn’t respond to your interaction, it’s not very responsive, and if it isn’t able to adapt to its surroundings (i.e. the device screen), it’s not very adaptive. Both of these can significantly impact the UX.” ~ Daniel Schwarz of Sitepoint The positives of AWD are often under-stated in that it delivers a device-specific experience and it improves website performance (think speed, load times). AWD is not without its negatives though in that enterprises must manage separate code branches, which can add time to development and site updates – even though it uses a single content repository – still very much better than dedicated mobile sites. The content and code are both unified. Now, the mobile experience for both the end-user and the organization hosting the site itself, is becoming more mature. Progressive “PWAs enable companies (and the designers and developers they employ) to deploy their digital creations natively (on iOS or Android for example) and on the mobile/desktop Web itself, taking advantage of both channels, and the benefits of both channels – again, simultaneously.” ~ Peter Prestipino, Website Magazine Progressive web aps are user experiences that have the reach of the web, and the web reaches three times as many people as native apps. There is not a retailer alive who does not want to reach more people. Once they reach them, the users are presented with an app-like experience, using features of phone and browser to enhance mobile web experience – and quicker than other design options allow. Like each of the design approaches mentioned here, PWAs do have their downfalls in that organizations need to manage separate code branches. Managing separate code branches can add time to development and site updates, but PWAs use a single content repository so it is still faster than updating mobile themes. Progression from Desktop to Progressive Web Apps Capture1 Why It’s Time to Move on from Responsive Web Design While responsive web design is the de-facto mobile design approach these days, the negatives far outweigh the positives. Responsive sites send the entire website to a mobile device, which does nothing for user experience. This is called client-side (browser-side) rendering where a mobile browser is doing all the work. Adaptive Design is server-side rendering where the website decides which page elements to send to each browser and at what levels of quality. For consumers, one size also does not fit all. Desktop does not fit mobile, mobile does not fit desktop. And desktop first does not prioritize mobile navigation or features. See Apple’s example below: Capture2 On the left, the desktop navigation makes sense for the product browser. On the right, the mobile navigation is now what the person is used to.  Mobile first doesn’t create a great browse experience on desktop either. Check out the Lyko.se example below where the desktop navigation is hidden and not optimized for the device. Capture3 With the risk of redundancy, again, one size just does not fit all. Mobile first or desktop first means some experience will be second and customers are shopping on multiple devices in a continuous journey between devices. If retailers do not give the right experience in the context of the device someone is using, they will lose that customer engagement. Both approaches, however, do not allow merchants to prioritize features or navigation for the user’s need. The few positives are that responsive design is a dramatic improvement from mobile themes or rendering desktop and it is easy to maintain. Why Adaptive and Progressive makes sense now Technology is improving all the time and underlying technology is getting better and better to support adaptive and progressive approaches. Adaptive has not been discussed as much as responsive because the front-end code technologies were not as good, mobile was not as important as it is now, and responsive was so much better than desktop rendering that it was seen as a natural evolution. AWD has, however, so many positives from front-end development approaches that make it easier to maintain, front-end development approaches that make it faster, a single URL structure for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes (which is why many organizations started using RWD in the first place) and platforms that provide a mobile view for editors that can be integrated to an adaptive mobile strategy. Still, the rising star in the game is progressive web apps. Google is creating these apps to drive ad spend over Apple’s advocacy for native apps. Apple and Google are in a bit of a tussle over mobile experience that will affect ecommerce sales. Google is likely to win because of its higher market share of smartphones globally. This is going to lead to less mobile applications being developed for brands and retailers and more app-like experiences being developed for browsers. Progressive web apps are changing how retailers and brands can create stand out ecommerce experiences online. With progressive web apps many wins are possible. They use stored customer data in the mobile browser like shipping addresses and credit card details, which allows for seamless checkout without loading separate pages. Using progressive web apps, retailers are also able to create fun experiences that behave like apps without developing mobile apps. Paper Planes World is a great example of this, it uses a phones accelerometer (motion sensor) to allow users to ‘launch’ a paper airplane around the world virtually to other site visitors, catch a plane and see the stamps other users added to it. Is AWD or PWAs for Me? With times changing and technology evolving, consumer-savvy retailers would be right to ask if adaptive and responsive are right for their business. First, think of the margin. If device-specific features and experiences are important to the user experience and if users switch device during the journey, these new features are probably worth it. About the Author Ed Kennedy is the senior director of commerce at Episerver, a global software company offering Web content management, digital commerce, and digital marketing, through the Episerver Digital Experience Cloud™ software platform. via: https://www.websitemagazine.com/blog/why-responsive-design-is-dead

Create Visual Stories with Google’s New AMP Format

PETE PRESTIPINO

The “stories” style format has captured the attention of the Web. Facebook/Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter – pretty much every major platform is adopting the approach – and now you can add one more to the list.

ampstory-image1

Google recently announced the launch of the AMP Story Format and it has marketers and designers on the edge of their virtual seats. 

Those familiar with similar “stories” formats at platforms like Instagram and Snapchat are those that will likely be most eager to adopt the AMP-endable format from Google. Publishers are essentially able to build image, video and animation heavy stories for the mobile experience that users on mobile devices can easily swipe throgh.

Google has partnered and is launching with the usual suspects including CNN, Conde Nast, Hearst, Mashable, Meredith, Mic, Vox Media and The Washington Post. Like all of AMP, this is an open-source project (there’s no tooling available either) so publishers are on their own for development.

It’s actually quite simple to get started with creating an AMP story – at least for those with a basic understanding of HTML, CSS, etc. Google provides in-depth tutorials and guidance on working with the format, too, but let the following serve as a quick overview of how an AMP Story would come together.

amp_story_parts

The basic components of an AMP story are individual pages. Those pages are composed of individual layers that contain both basic HTML and AMP elements. Here’s how the code hierarchy might work for the story format:

amp-story-tag-hierarchy2

When executed well from a design and content perspective, the “story” format in general will be appealing to users and could drive significant increases in interaction for publisehrs. Coupled with Google’s support of the approach, it will make the approach that much more appealing to publishers.

Initially, however, expect adoption of the new format to be rather slow. As content management systems start to support it (either natively or through an integration), that will most certainly change. Now, whether Google continues to support the format, is another question entirely.

via: https://www.websitemagazine.com/blog/create-visual-stories-with-google-s-new-amp-format