The jury still seems to be out about how big of an impact Google’s latest algorithm change will actually have on search rankings. The vast majority of articles circulating the web right now are painting a picture of gloom and doom for those who haven’t made the investment in a mobile-friendly site.
Indianapolis-based Hirons published a great (and more optimistic) blog article, “8 Things You Should Know About Google’s Mobile-friendly Update, giving a little more clarity to how search results are affected. Most important, desktop and tablet searches are NOT impacted – the only searches this change affects is for mobile devices.
The statistics on mobile vs. desktop search are all over the place–mobile has overtaken desktop for LOCAL searches, but in the B2B world, most searches are still occurring on computers and tablets. Regardless, I think we can all agree that mobile use will continue to rise. So it’s not a matter of IF you make your site mobile-friendly, but WHEN.
What’s our advice for technical & B2B brands?
1.) Don’t panic – branded search queries are still safe. So if someone is searching for your company specifically (vs via another keyword), you should still be easy to find. If not, well…we need to talk because you have bigger problems. And again, only searches performed on smartphones are impacted. Computer and tablet searches are not.
2.) Put your site to the test: Google’s Mobile-friendly Test will tell you if your site is mobile friendly, along with a list of tips on how to get there if it isn’t.
3.) If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, get moving on a plan of action. Even if your business is not heavily dependent upon mobile search traffic, you should still be concerned that customers that DO wish to view your site from a smartphone are unable to easily access information they want and need, because your site is not mobile-friendly.
4.) If a complete site re-do isn’t in the cards right now, at least do the home page. Google looks at individual pages, not the site as a whole.
5.) If you had poor SEO prior to the algorithm change, making your site mobile-friendly won’t improve your rankings. Fixing your URLs, your page titles, your H1 headers and your copy should be a priority.
6.) If your website is more than 2 years old, chances are, it’s time for an update regardless. Design trends have changed tremendously since 2013. How does your site stack up against your competitors? Does your website properly reflect your brand? Visuals are especially important in the AEC space, where customers need to be able to trust that your website is a reflection of the world-class design that you can provide for them.
7.) Are you publishing content via a blog or newsroom, and pushing out through your social media channels and email? Content generation is one of the single most-important things you can do to elevate your brand and get the internet working for you — even in the technical, B2B world.
That’s our view on Mobilegeddon’s initial hit to search rankings, but we’re likely just seeing the tip of the iceberg (because…Google). Stay tuned for our next blog post from Eric on the Top 10 Reasons to Make your Website Responsive.
Most B2B firms see the value in thought leadership; I’d venture to say that the vast majority wished they demonstrated more of it. But there are many self-imposed barriers that get in the way of achieving thought leader status.
If your business is successful, chances are, you have already laid the groundwork and have a wealth of knowledge that you can share to elevate your public profile, allowing you and your company to be seen as a thought leaders.
What are your customers’ pain points? This should already be a regular topic of discussion for internal meetings at all levels within your organization. Isn’t the ability to solve a problem key to any company’s success?
But way too many companies stop there. They come up with these insightful and industrious solutions, but then they don’t talk about them publicly.
I find this to be especially true in technical B2B industries. Why aren’t companies shouting their insights and expertise from the rooftops?
The excuses vary: “Nobody has the time,” is the most frequent. Followed by, “We don’t want our competitors to know what we are doing.” A less-touted one I heard the other day was, “We don’t like being criticized.” This was from a company in a very small “community” that found a better way of doing things. Going against the grain would be a scary proposition for them. This is a common underlying reason that just isn’t often acknowledged.
I get it. Self-promotion takes a certain level of commitment – not only in dedication of resources, but also as a shift in mindset. You have to be willing to take on a bit of pain in order to reap the ultimate rewards.
If you don’t put yourself out there, how else will potential customers understand what makes you special, what problems you can solve for them? Especially since sometimes you may be solving a problem that customers don’t even know they have. It’s important to start the dialogue, and sometimes change the conversation.
Thought leadership is also important to employee recruitment, retention and morale. Even the most conservative brand can see how big of an impact that talent cultivation has on your company’s success.
Once you make the decision to “talk the walk,” how do you get started?
Identify your voice. What is your brand position? What makes you special? What is your tone, manner, and personality? Who are the subject matter experts in your organization? Do you leverage them, as well? Or stick with a single voice?
Analyze Your Audience. Who are your target publics, and how can you help solve their problems? How do you best engage and influence them?
Prioritize the issues. What is timely and relevant? What are your customer’s most critical pain points? Decide up front what issues you are going to tackle, and when. Which channels are most appropriate to deliver those messages? This doesn’t have to be a complicated process, just a quick exercise to ensure you have a solid launch strategy.
Tell a story. It should have a cast of characters, a hero and a villain, a problem and resolution. This is all figurative, of course. The villain is usually a function of time and/or money; the hero is your company, and the cast is made up of your client, project partners, and impacted community. Make sure you hit on your key messages, and do it frequently. Develop content that shines, and makes an emotional connection with your audience.
Build your digital and social networks. It’s no new revelation that – while still important, traditional media readership and viewership has seen a sharp decline in the past decade – a trend that will certainly continue. Today, successful companies are using many tools including blogs, podcasts, email newsletters, and the ever-expanding roster of social media channels to broadcast their messages and influence their target audiences. Analyze your audience and determine where you will see the greatest ROI.
Engage the media. A well-placed earned media hit will give you a lot of credibility, but then you need to re-broadcast it through your own media channels to amplify your reach and build a following.
Take your show on the road. Speaking at trade shows and conferences can propel you to the top as an industry leader.
Be bold. As a thought leader, people will expect it. If taking a strong position is not in your comfort zone or is not appropriate…be the loudest. Case in point: take a company that is very innovative, but divulging too many details about their innovation would disclose trade secrets. The “safe” topics they feel are common practice in the industry and not worth talking about, so they don’t strive to be a thought leader. Some of their less capable competitors, however, are highly visible and spend a lot of time broadcasting their ideas about topics the innovative company sees as mundane. Who is coming out ahead, here? If you can’t talk about the more innovate qualities, you can at least strive to be the loudest. That’s not technically thought leadership…that’s PR…but taking a strategic approach to how you communicate those more mundane topics can make all the difference as to how the information is being received.
Becoming a recognized thought leader in your industry takes a fair amount of planning and commitment, but once you make the decision to take the leap, you should quickly begin reaping the rewards.
For more advice, here is a great article from Inc. with 9 Ways to Create Winning Thought Leadership.
Welcome to SinningCommunications.com! As a people-pleaser, it took me way too long to get around to producing my own website…I’d much rather be doing client work. Recognizing that the only way it was going to happen was if I carved out time during nights and weekends, I decided to try building it on my own. Eight weeks and loads of frustration later – and with a little guidance and cleanup work from Patricia Gill at SaidTheSpider.net and Eric Carlisle at EMC Design – here we are!
My “little” WordPress experiment gave me the following insight: Just because you CAN build a website on your own, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Even the best WordPress templates take a lot of work to figure out, and the majority will require a fair amount of custom CSS coding to get the kinks worked out. If you are an established business, you will definitely want professional direction and customization to properly represent your brand.
But…sometimes very small companies and startups just don’t have the resources to hire a web team to help create their online identity. Here’s my advice to those looking to create their own WordPress site:
- Start with your brand position. Look at your competitors’ sites. What is their brand position? What do you offer that sets your company apart? What do you do better? You don’t want to be claiming the same position as everybody else. It’s important to try to be the a.) first, b.) best, or c.) only company to have a particular attribute. Don’t try to own too many positions…pick two or three. If you want a quick read on brand positioning, pick up a copy of The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Reis and Jack Trout. It is excellent!
- Pick a domain that represents your brand, purchase it, and sign up for a web hosting package with a company such as GoDaddy.com. Their customer service is top-notch! The only advice we did not take from GoDaddy was the hosting platform. They tried steering us toward the package that automatically installed WordPress updates, but upon the advice of my programmer, I declined that option. She believes you’re better off maintaining control of deciding which WordPress updates to install, and when.
- Think about your customers: who are they, and what features would they expect from your site?
- How will your customers access the site? Regardless, the site should be “responsive,”e. easily usable on every platform, including various mobile devices. This is especially important given Google’s upcoming algorithm change on April 21, dubbed “mobilegeddon.” If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you may experience a significant drop in the search engine rankings.
- Develop a sitemap—identify your main navigation and subpages.
- Identify an appealing design that works well with your sitemap, then find a couple of WordPress templates that will accommodate your design objectives. Really spend some time thinking about what your design needs to communicate. How do you create something with visual interest that draws people in and makes an emotional connection with your brand? This can be especially challenging for technical companies. Identify a WordPress template that will have all the widgets and features that you need, and make sure the developer offers reviews and sample sites. Check them out, and make sure they will deliver the quality that you need! Be on the lookout for reviews that promote usability and customer support.
- Identify your color palette and know the HEX values – what is your primary brand color? What complementary colors do you want to use? paletton.com and http://www.rgbtohex.net are handy tools.
- Collect your images – original photography and graphics are best, but sometimes stock photos will do the trick. shutterstock.com is a great resource.
- Develop your copy – following your sitemap, start putting words on paper that will communicate your story to your target audiences. Pay attention to brand positioning and key messages.
- Build your site – begin the tedious process of plugging in your content. Be patient; it will take time to get it perfect.
- Test it – invite your friends, family and peers to test the site and give you feedback. Pick people that won’t sugarcoat and understand your target audience.
- Tweak it. Hopefully you gained valuable insight during the review process.
- Go Live!
- Promote it. The work isn’t over when you publish it…you need to get your word out to your target audience. Social media and email blasts are great tools for this.
Building a website will take slightly more than these 14 steps, but there are a lot of great resources out there once you start digging. Good luck building your new site!