How to Prepare Your Site for Google’s Mobile Update

how-to-prepare-for-google-mobile-update

Come April 21st, Google is integrating mobile-friendliness into its algorithm as a ranking signal.

Well, then. That sounds pretty exciting. But why is Google doing this now?

Google wants to make these changes so that users have a better experience when they search for things–whether that’s a local store that sells the hardware they need or a quick answer to “What is the capital of Canada?” (It’s Ottawa.) This is because so many people are using mobile devices now. And guess what? They get really frustrated if the top search results come from sites that can’t display properly on their tablet or smartphone. Have you ever searched on your phone and found a site that ended up just loading slowly and after you waited for so long, the text was too small to read? We all have. But this is primarily what Google is aiming to fix.

However, they also want to make money from it (of course). Because it’s not just mobile-friendly websites that’ll show up in search results–it’s also apps. As you probably know, Google Play is where Google makes money from app sales. By ranking these mobile-friendly sites alongside apps, Google can then stay in the sales game, especially when their competitors (Hulu, Amazon, etc) are still going strong.

What does this mean for you? It means that if you haven’t made sure that your site has a mobile-responsive design, it could take a hit in ratings.

So how can you make sure you’re adequately prepared for the upcoming changes? Below, we list a few suggestions that should get you on the right track.

Use meta name=”viewport” to tell the browser how to adjust the screen.

This might not be something you know how to do, but a web developer knows what this means. This code allows the same HTML code to be served on the same URL to each device (mobile, tablet, desktop), but the catch is that it will render the layout differently based on screen size of the device accessing the site. It’s the bit of code that makes the site “responsive”.

What does that mean in plain English? By adding this tag into the coding in your website, you’re telling the browser to adjust the screen based on the type of device accessing it, and you’ll be in Google’s good graces come April 21st.

Don’t block Javascript or CSS.

Check to make sure that your code isn’t blocking Javascript or CSS scripts. Why? Because these kinds of scripts are necessary for mobile devices to load pages and images properly, as well as for Google bots to crawl and index your site. If a mobile device can’t load your page, Google will see this and your site won’t count as mobile-friendly.

A quick way to do this is to use “Fetch as Google” function in Webmaster tools. Check Google’s guide here for more detailed information and a walk-through on using this tool.

If you have no idea what Webmaster tools is, talk to your developer or learn more about how it works here.

If you have WordPress, download a responsive theme.

This might sound like a chore, but trust us, it isn’t as bad as you think. You’ll actually have a much better-looking site if you make sure that everything is responsive and clean, and these changes generally are not difficult to make, and they don’t take up much of your time either.

If you’re unsure whether your current WordPress theme is mobile-friendly, first, determine which kind of WordPress site you have:

Did you sign up for a free blog on WordPress.com? If so, WordPress automatically includes mobile-friendly themes. You’re good to go.

Did you install software on your own self-hosted site? (Using WordPress.org.) If so, you’ll have to check to ensure your theme is responsive. Not all themes are.

  • First, go into your Admin panel.
  • Go to Appearance > Themes.
  • Usually you’ll see options for mobile devices here. if you don’t, check to see if you’ve updated to the most recent version of the theme. If your theme is up to date and you’re still not seeing mobile options, you may have to download a new theme. Browse themes with the “responsive layout” tag.
  • Check Google’s guide here for more detailed information, as well as links to WordPress resources.

If you use Blogger, then you don’t have to worry.

Blogger is operated by Google, so all the themes are already equipped with mobile-friendly options. If your theme isn’t mobile friendly yet, all you have to do is:

  • Go into your layout tab.
  • Select the gear icon under the “mobile” section.
  • Choose the way you want your mobile layout to look.

If you’re still having problems, Google has a tutorial with photos and more detailed instructions here.

Done all of that? Now do a final check to see if your site is mobile friendly.

After you’ve made sure your site can respond to mobile browsers and the theme is easily readable and loadable by these devices, you can check to see if your site is indeed mobile-friendly using Google’s very own tool–and it’s completely free! It only takes a few minutes of your time and it’s incredibly simple to use–just enter the URL of the site you want to check and press the “analyze” button.

If you get results that tell you your site isn’t exactly up to snuff, don’t worry. It’ll show you a mockup of how your site will appear on mobile screens so you can see just how much work needs to be done. There will also be a checklist of things you need to improve. You can then keep notes for your developer or attempt to fix them on your own, if you’re up to the challenge. (We would not recommend this if you are not familiar with coding. But if you have a WordPress or Blogger site as mentioned above, then you’ll have a much easier time with it.)

Remember, you have until April 21st, 2015 to get your site mobile-ready. Don’t wait until the last minute! Best of luck to you!

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to discover how we can help you be seen online.

Marketing in the Digital Age vs Traditional Marketing

Ah, marketing. It’s always been a confusing process. Learning how and when and where to spend your money, learning what your audience responds to and what repels them–it’s all complicated stuff once you really get down to it. And in the past, trying to reach newspapers, television stations, and writing old-fashioned press releases was time-consuming and difficult, making the entire concept seem impossible for many small businesses.

Nowadays, we keep hearing about how much easier it is to do marketing–you can do it from home because it’s all online. So you research how to write a press release online. You wonder if you could write an interesting blog. You hear about how people interview for jobs over Skype. But are these really just as effective as the marketing techniques of the past?

Let’s compare the modern equivalents of some of the older marketing strategies. You might find that they’re easier to understand than you thought–and that they’re much more approachable than they appear to be.

*Note: Of course the “old” methods can still be effective for certain industries and in smaller towns. However, we’re focusing on highlighting the differences between the traditional and the modern so that readers can appreciate the benefits of modern online marketing.

Old Way: Newspapers.

old-newspaper-ad
All the Planet of the Apes toys you could want.

Original image from PlaidStallions.com

Before, people used to pay to take out a spot in the classifieds. Depending on how much room you needed, the price could be pretty hefty. You might also have considered paying for placement in the Yellow Pages or in a local magazine. But no matter what you chose, your space was limited, and you could only rely on grayscale to represent your amazing products and services. In other words, you had to be over the top and obvious to make sure your point hit home. Thus, you ended up with a lot of cheesy ads like this one for Planet of the Apes toys. It gets its point across, but it looks dated, right?

Nowadays, fewer and fewer people are reading print newspapers. So what are people reading instead?

New Way: Blogs.

blogging-for-marketing
Who doesn’t have a blog these days?

To answer that question, people are reading blogs.

Today, many people choose to make their own space online. They want to share their original and personal experiences with readers and customers. And one great way to do this is to start a blog. Whether you want to write about the benefits of your industry in a sales-like manner, or you want to review and/or highlight new products used by industry professionals, blogs are an affordable way to do it. Plus, you can always write guest posts on other blogs and earn yourself a nice advertising spot without paying an exorbitant price. How’s that for the new Classifieds?

Old Way: Press Releases.

old-press-release
Typing up a press release by hand and getting it printed required a lot more effort than the syndicated press releases of today.

Image found at Zagato-Cars.com

Before the age of the internet, the process of writing a press release was a lot slower. First, it had to be hand-typed. Then it had to make its way to television stations, radio stations, magazines, and newspapers via mail or fax, depending on how far back we’re talking. Then it had to be approved and printed up or featured, and that could take a while. Honestly, it seems incredible, given the technology we have today, that these press releases were even featured in a timely manner.

To be clear, we still use press releases today. It’s just that you can now write them up without paper, and you can email them instead of mailing or faxing. People can then distribute them quickly using syndication software, and voila, you’re done. Much faster and much simpler.

New Way: Social Media Marketing.

social-media-marketing
So many social media networks to choose from.

If you don’t feel like writing up press releases today, there are still other ways to get the word out about your company. As mentioned above, you could blog or guest blog. You could also start a podcast or try being featured on a webcast.

But none of this really does any good if you don’t let people know about your work. So in order to effectively market your business, you must use social media. You can send your blog updates through all your social media feeds automatically so that whenever you post, your Facebook fans and Twitter followers will see it immediately. Now that’s fast. And you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to get your information featured elsewhere. Not everyone needs press releases!

Old Way: Telephone Interviews and Client Dinners.

betty-dinner-party
A little corporate dinner party a la Mad Men.

And we’re not just talking about interviews on cell phones. No, we’re going back to the days of interviewing people via office telephones. Taking people out for dinner for a face-to-face discussion was common, and a lot more time had to be put aside to interview somebody. When you were finished, you had to take notes that you wrote down by hand (or just cold-recalled from memory) to write up a piece that did well. Of course, recorders could be used to gather your information, too, but then you’d have to arrange for a quiet place to meet.

Analog technology. Can you imagine going back to it now?

New Way: Skype Sessions. And Client Dinners.

skype-call
A lot easier than going into the office.

 Image found at: Memeburn.com

Of course people still do all the above-mentioned things, but the advances in technology have allowed for a lot more personal interactions via calls. For example, you can Skype with someone and see how they look and how they present themselves. You can speak via FaceTime if you’re on the go, or you could try Google Hangouts or Webinars.

And, okay, so people still love an excuse to go out and eat. Who can blame them? This one is probably going to stick around forever.

Old Way: TV Spots and Appearances.

budget-divorce
And who wouldn’t trust a budget divorce lawyer?

Before the internet, how could a company get the word out about its services? Well, TV spots and appearances were always a good way to make sure you were seen. Back before the days of cable and TiVo, TV watching was a bit different. Not as many channels to choose from, and you didn’t really have a lot of choice in skipping commercials. While we still see local adverts today, they were much more effective when the audience was roped into watching them. Or you could be featured on your local news station. Being featured assured that a lot of eyes were on you, though, so you had to make a good impression!

New Way: YouTube Channel, Instagram.

youtube-marketing
You, too, can have a YouTube channel. Now don’t get discouraged by all the cats with more subscribers than you.

Image from Mashable.com

The internet loves videos. Well, you probably already know this–did you watch any videos today? We’re betting you did. Whether you’re keeping up with world news or just mindlessly scrolling through funny Vines, you more than likely understand just how evocative and powerful video marketing can be–even if you’re not entirely familiar with the ins and outs of marketing.

So how can you utilize video marketing for your business? For those who like to-do videos or showcasing their talents, YouTube is a great way to reach your customers. For others who don’t have as much time to invest, Instagram might be a good choice (although Instagram is known for its focus on aesthetics over function). Vine is also a great way to connect–and with only six seconds to record your video, you have to be creative. It all depends on the style of your brand and how much time and energy you have to invest.

The best part about online video marketing? It’s free. No paying for television spots or expensive production. Just try your best and connect with your audience for the best results!

Old Way: Word of Mouth. New Way:…Word of Mouth.

Some things never change. 🙂 If you don’t believe us, check out this article on how word of mouth is still effective–even in the age of digital marketing. You can also check out more information on social media marketing here, or take a peek at the benefits of video content or get familiar with mobile marketing.

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

Why 2015 is The Year of Mobile Marketing

Late last year, we talked about marketing trends that would play a big role in 2015. While there were a lot of different things that looked promising, one of the most important trends we discussed was e-commerce.

What exactly can we expect from e-commerce this year? Well, simply put, more people will be shopping online. In the past, online shopping meant sitting down at home in front of your computer and ordering everything from your office. And while that’s definitely one way you can still enjoy shopping online, the rise of smart phones and tablets has made it so that you can also shop pretty much anywhere else–on the train, over your lunch break, or wherever you have a wi-fi connection. And with all that online retail space just waiting to be utilized by other devices, marketers are now beginning to plan their strategies to get the most out of mobile advertising.

Let’s take a look at a few reasons why 2015 will be the year of mobile marketing, and why it’s so important for companies (even small local businesses!) to get on board with the idea of advertising for mobile users.

The Internet of Things Is a … Thing now.

As we mentioned above, it’s not just computers connected to the internet anymore. Ever heard of the “internet of things”? Well, as silly as it sounds, it’s definitely a “thing” now. The IoT includes wearable devices, tablets, and mobile phones, and it’s only going to get bigger in the years to come.

In fact, it’s expected that there will be a 30% jump in the number of internet-connected objects in use by the end of 2015. So if you’re not already reaching people via mobile, you should really consider how to approach the process. Your company can still jump in early at this point, so there’s a lot of room for trial and error before everyone starts saturating the market–particularly for small businesses.

You might be wondering, then, how you go about supporting mobile devices. Well, here’s some good news for you:

Mobile marketing isn’t about being fancy.

At the most basic level, marketers are looking to design their websites to be mobile friendly. They want users to have a positive experience when shopping on their website–and that’s probably something that sounds pretty obvious to you, right?

Well, you might be surprised to learn that there are still many sites out there that aren’t utilizing mobile-friendly designs. So one of the biggest concerns for marketers this year should be ensuring that their sites can be easily accessed and navigated by all devices–not just your standard desktop or laptop computers.

Mobile users generally don’t want any fancy graphics or auto-loading videos or songs. They want to access the site and navigate it using just a few taps or swipes. So don’t go overboard with your mobile-friendly design–just get back to basics and make it simple.

When you do this, you’re going to get people to spend more money. And that’s good, because…

Mobile users want to spend, spend spend.

Yep, it’s true: Mobile users are ready to buy things. E-commerce is exploding: Just check out these stats from the holidays in 2014. People wanted to do their holiday shopping online, and they wanted to do it on their schedule. If your customers are demanding these services, it’s your job to deliver them! As mentioned above, mobile marketing is only going to become more important in the coming years. Smart phones are going to get smarter, tablets are going to become more popular, and wearable technologies such as watches will be able to access the web, too. If you get in now, you’re going to hit the ground running. If you wait too long, the market will be saturated and you’ll have more competition.

And if you’re still not convinced about the necessity of mobile marketing, then pay attention to what’s going on in the SEO world:

When all else fails, listen to Google.

So you’ve read this far. You’ve learned that mobile users are looking to spend money, and that it really isn’t that difficult to make a mobile-friendly site.

But if you’re still on the fence about how popular mobile marketing will become, then listen to this: Google has announced a new mobile-friendly label in its search results pages on mobile devices.

“So what?” you ask.

Well, they also said that it would be a ranking factor. That means that sites that aren’t responsive for mobile devices will end up being pushed down the results by the sites that have done their research. In other words, that means sites that are slow to jump on board are really going to pay in the long run. And because Google is still the most-used search engine, can you really afford to not listen to their suggestions? (The answer is no. No, you can’t.)

So whether you’ve already looked into mobile marketing or you haven’t even considered the possibility, one thing remains clear: 2015 is the year of mobile marketing, and it’s a great time to get your feet wet. You have time for trial and error, and perhaps most importantly, you’ll be in before all the rest!

Internet Local Listings is an internet advertising company in Santa Ana, CA, serving clients across the country with the best website marketing services available in the industry. Visit us here for more information, or give us a call at (888) 770-3950 to see how we can help you be seen online.

New Social Media Trends You’ll See in 2015

As the year 2014 draws to a close, many of us are looking forward to a nice, relaxing holiday. And it’s well deserved–2014 was a busy year for us! But for marketers? Marketers tend to struggle with letting their brains completely relax, and so are already looking ahead to 2015 and analyzing social media trends to figure out how to plan an even better marketing strategy.

So let’s talk about marketing with social media. What can we expect to see in 2015?

While we don’t think we will be seeing tons of innovation (more on that below), we will see an increase in what’s already becoming popular: More visual content and more mobile content. Let’s take a look at some examples:

E-Commerce will take off

E-Commerce
E-commerce will explode in 2015.

 

Image courtesy of Mashable.com

Earlier in the year, Facebook and Twitter began playing around with “buy” buttons that appeared alongside content. This made it so that users could easily make purchases with just a few clicks, and they’d never even have to leave the network.

And guess what? It seems they’re doing pretty well with it.

You can expect this to continue into 2015, with many advertisers pushing hard to integrate this strategy in the top social media sites. By sticking that button in there, it not only increases the likelihood that someone will purchase something from your website, it also gives hard sales numbers for analysts to keep exact track of data. Before, this wasn’t possible. And considering that currently, over half of all mobile searches lead to a purchase, you can see why it makes marketers so giddy. So if you want to be on top of the e-commerce trend, you’re definitely going to be ready to implement these changes in the coming year.

Social media marketing will be even more popular

Social_Media_Marketing
Do you have a content strategy? You’d better be promoting it with social media!

 

Content strategy was a central theme to marketing in 2014. And guess what? It’s going to be sticking around for 2015. But this time around, marketers are going to press for a content strategy by leaning heavily on social media distribution.

What does that mean? Basically, there were a lot of companies that created content in 2014, but a good percentage of them didn’t bother to amplify this content through social media channels. And to be honest, that’s just silly. Promoting your content through popular social media platforms should be your primary goal in terms of content marketing. Your reach and visibility is greatly increased through social media. If you need more proof, you can read more here, here, or here. Take your pick 🙂

You’re going to see even more new networks

elephants-being-social
“Come on, Peanuts! JOIN US!”

 

Yes, we know, we said right away in the article that there wasn’t going to be a whole lot of innovation. So you might be wondering: If this is the case, then how can there be so many new social networks popping up? Ello, Yik Yak, and many others have burst onto the scene, so what gives?

Well, there’s always going to be someone new, someone trying to take a slice of the pie that is already being shared between social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. But will they last? Many of these new sites promise true privacy (and this is a draw to many with all the recent privacy breaches), but even if they deliver, it’s still incredibly difficult to make a dent in the already over-saturated social media scene. A large number of new social media platforms end up feeling incredibly empty and lonely, which directly goes against the primary reason people use social media in the first place: to be social!

So while you’re going to see lots of new, shiny sites to sign up for, don’t worry too much about being on top of every new trend: Many aren’t going to last. It’s still worth it to be aware of the trends, though!

Have you noticed any other social media trends that you think are going to be big in the coming year? Let us know in the comments!

Mobile Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

Mobile marketing tips for small  businesses
If you own a small business, it’s time for you to learn more about mobile marketing.

Today more than ever, it’s important for small businesses to optimize their websites for mobile access. According to statistics released by Strategy Analytics, as of 2012, more than one billion people used smart phones to access the internet. But to be brutally honest, sites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices load slowly and look terrible—and smart phone users immediately leave a site if this happens to them. And can you blame them? If you are browsing the internet, you don’t want to have to feel like you must solve a puzzle in order to use a website! So if your small business website isn’t optimized for mobile, that is a lot of potential business you’re losing out on. What can you do to remedy this?

In this article, we’ll take a look at three great mobile marketing tips for small businesses.

Mobile Marketing Tip #1: Responsive Design

As mentioned above, mobile web design needs to be implemented in order for smart phone (or tablet) users to browse your site effectively. Responsive design is a type of web design that detects which device a user is using to access your site, and adjusts the screen accordingly. This reduces load time, simplifies form submission (who likes typing out tons of information on a phone keyboard? No one, that’s who), and makes the site look professional and clean no matter how your visitors are logging on. Your customers deserve to have the best experience possible, and you owe it to them as a professional business owner!

Mobile Marketing Tip #2: Optimize Your Social Media Accounts

According to Constant Contact, up to 91% of local searchers use Facebook to find business online. When you sign up for Facebook as a business, you can fill out your location, business hours, phone number, and any other important local information. When a visitor finds you via search, they’ll be able to see all of this information displayed neatly on their mobile device. Setting up a Facebook account is easy—it takes fewer than 10 minutes to get the basics down. Plus, it’s free!

Setting up Twitter is also simple. You can localize your Twitter profile by filling out the “location” section, and add your website or contact information in your profile header. Many people search on Twitter for businesses, so make sure that you can be found easily and quickly by completing your profile fully. Like Facebook, Twitter is also free to use.

The bottom line? If you’re not on Facebook or Twitter, you could be missing out on a large amount of mobile traffic. And because both platforms are free, there’s no excuses!

For more information on social media marketing for small businesses, check out our article here: Developing Successful Social Media Strategies.

Mobile Marketing Tip #3: Opt-in for Text Messaging

This tip is a bit tricky, particularly for small businesses just getting into mobile marketing. You can allow your customers to opt-in for text message alerts. But here’s the catch: text messaging is pretty private, even if the customers DO want to sign up for alerts. So texts should only be sent when you have something better than normal to offer—a 24 hour sale, a limited inventory, or for a limited-time item that’s almost sold out. Allowing someone to opt-in can be a great way to get a customer back into your store and purchasing your products, but you have to remember to respect their boundaries.

Check out this resource to get started on building your website with responsive designs:

http://www.cio.com/article/2387279/developer/7-tools-to-build-websites-using-responsive-design.html

Or you can always visit Internet Local Listings and check out our websites. With our premium website packages, you’ll get 100% customized websites that look professional and are completely mobile responsive!

Do you have other suggestions for mobile marketing tips for small businesses? Leave them in the comments below!