3 Pro Tips for Social Media Management

Tip 1
We’ve entered 2019 getting deep into our social media strategies as we’ve seen the impact its had on our clients over the years. In 2018, we saw tremendous growth in Social for our clients. Organic Social in recent years prior had been a great avenue for branding and trust, however, it had been getting less and less effective in driving high value leads. 2018, something changed and as we go into 2019, we’re dedicating a lot more time on Social.

We wanted to share 3 pro tips for managing social media. You should be doing these or some form of them to ensure you’re getting the most out of Social Media.

Social Media Pro Tip #1: Prepare an Editorial Calendar

We cannot recommend enough that you take the time to prepare your content based on your various content wheels into an editorial calendar. This allows you to map out the text, graphics, hashtags, links and topic for each of your posts going out in a month, quarter or more.

We use Google Sheets to manage our client’s calendar by creating a tab for each month with the content broken down by week. We further this by keeping tabs of approval of content and publish times/dates to ensure we know it all went out.

Social Media Pro Tip #2: Use a Smart Publishing Tool

Today, the tools for social media are both affordable and extremely easy to use. We’re a big fan of Buffer and use it with all of our clients. The cost-effective tool is free for average users, only $10/monthly for power users and $99/monthly for agencies like mine. It’s simple to use, provides a visual calendar and gives you analytics that are actionable.

Social Media Pro Tip #3: Track & Read the Results

Install Google Analytics and use tracking URLs on your social posts when able. Make sure your Google Analytics is tracking properly for behaviors (See Google Tag Manager Blog). You need to ensure your efforts aren’t in vain. So while you want to see page likes, comments, shares, retweets, etc, you also want to see pageviews, subscribers, leads and more from your website from your actions. Don’t just flood social media with hours of work and not measure the effort. You just may find that a channel that you spend a lot of time on, doesn’t provide as much success.

I hope that these tips help you in your social media journey. We’re going to dig deep in 2019 to share some results of campaigns, advertising and content strategies. We hope that the work will help you be successful this year and for years to come.

W3 Affinity Rises to the Top on Clutch.co!

With 15 years of experience, 300+ clients served, and a 30% average client revenue growth, W3 Affinity continues to make noteworthy strides in the marketing field. We provide exceptional web design and SEO strategies that are tailored to our client’s unique business challenges. As a full-service digital marketing agency that strives to fulfill any, if not all of our customer’s needs, we’re very proud that Clutch.co, an independent B2B research firm, has highlighted us on their platform for our level of customer service and overall accomplishments. W3 Affinity only joined Clutch.co just recently, and yet, we’re very excited that we’re already strong competitors among a number of other SEO firms!

At the time of this post, we’ve even attained #6 in the world as a top SEO for eCommerce businesses!

Clutch is based in Washington, D.C. A ratings and reviews platform for companies in the digital and technology space, their team of business analysts evaluate agencies based on the strength of their market presence, customer satisfaction, and most importantly, client feedback. Since reviews are an invaluable piece of a strong online reputation, W3 appreciates the service Clutch.co provides. Buyers are faced with a plethora of service providers, but Clutch has given them the tools to efficiently identify what agency is best for their specific need, budget, and other relevant criteria. In fact, if you’re looking for an SEO firm that specializes in E-commerce, an industry that involves a lot of moving pieces, you can find W3 Affinity listed as a leader on a directory of e-commerce SEO firms on Clutch’s sister website, the Manifest.

Of course, we could not have made it this far on Clutch without the participation of our clients. Their continued loyalty and diligence are reflected in the comprehensive reviews published to our Clutch profile.

Below are just a few of their stand out comments:

“Under W3 Affinity’s guidance, we now rank within the top five in every critical category related to our product and industry,” Founder and CEO, Harvest Timber Specialty Products.

“They took the time to research our product and it shows in the success of our project.” – CEO, Simple Living Home

“John does a great job at keeping projects on track and doesn’t keep me waiting on deliverables.” – Marketing Manager, Seattle Pump and Equipment

In summary, W3 Affinity keep projects on track. We take the time to research our client’s business. And these steps plus others deliver quality results. As Clutch says, we’re a ‘firm that delivers.’ True, marketing will continue to evolve and new changes are always on the horizon. But with W3 Affinity, you can feel confident that we’ll stay ahead of the trends and deliver results that go beyond original expectations. Thank you to Clutch, who is already an important partner in our process of growth and improvement, and to our clients for their continued support!

The Second Step for SEO: On-Page Optimization, Part 2

Alright, you’re likely reading this because you’ve read part 1 of On-site SEO and are ready to keep getting deeper into the on-page SEO. We’ll cover Keyword Consistency, Linking internally, Sitemap.xml, and Robots.txt.

These items are necessary to both help the user and the search engine understand your website and how to crawl it. Let’s dig in.

Keyword Consistency

This is one that has vexed me for many years. I read experts saying you have to have the keyword you’re trying to rank for X%, not more, not less, on the page you’re trying to rank for to make that happen. Others are stuffing the keywords everywhere it doesn’t belong and some are arguing that as long as it’s in the URL/Title, you’re fine.

Ok, to clear the air on this one and put my foot into this battle for who is right, I recommend that you naturally insert your keyword where it makes sense (Read: Design for the User for why). Using the keywords naturally in your website copy will make users not abandon the page, which signals to Google that they’re getting what they need and that they should show this page to more people like them.

Always ensure your keyword is in these key areas:

  • URL (www.domain.com/category/my-service-name <- Keyword)
  • Page Title
  • H1 Tag
  • Image Alt Tag & Title Tag (and preferably Image Name)

When we start competing with other websites in SEO, whether it’s local or national competition, we often run into the competitor that uses keywords stuffing or the golden keyword ratio to hold on to a top position for a keyword we want. Where we end up beating them in the rankings isn’t because we out stuff them, or simply write more content so we’ll have more instances of the keyword due to the ratio, but by taking care of the user by clearly getting our message across. One primary item to remember here, SEO isn’t solely defined by one tactic that is well done, but by the sum of tactics used with quality.

SEO isn’t solely defined by one tactic that is well done, but by the sum of tactics used with quality.

Using common sense, along with writing out everything that the user truly needs to make an informed decision, and making sure to hit the key areas listed above will help you start showing up for a keyword in no time. The rankings increasing for that keyword will be a mixture of this work plus many on-site and off-site factors.

Linking Internally

Internal linking has a lot of value for the user and search engine. Good internal linking structures can help a user find a deep page that makes sense to their need, or show authority of one page over another for a search engine.

How it helps the User

Since I’m a user first SEO kinda guy, I’ll talk about how internal linking impacts the user. Let’s say a prospective lead is looking for haircare tips and through a search on Google, finds a blog you wrote. This is great, they found content that can help them and are reading all about the care tip they needed, however, you also wrote a killer blog on a tip that is an advanced technique related to this blog post. Now would be a good time to link over to the advanced technique so the user can get deeper into your website while furthering their knowledge on the subject. Alternatively, in the blog you could be talking about how they can come in for a consultation for haircare services and link to the haircare services page where you have a way to book an appointment. This also provides the user value in a sense that they read your blog, become overwhelmed and want the expert.

How it helps the Search Engine

Internal linking helps establish content and priority of the content on your website. For instance, if you have a blog category about a specific service, and each of those pages links back to the service page related to it, it creates a point of authority. This method will explain to the search engine that we know/do this service + this page is our primary page for said service. This helps that specific page rank when a user searches on Google to find someone who does the service they need, getting them to the right place faster.

Why you need a Sitemap file on your site

Sitemaps are important. This is one of those items that every website should have as recommended by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. You’ll find their strong recommendation to use a sitemap just after the “getting started” section, as it’s a very high priority. There is even a spot in Google Search Console that allows you to submit and manage your sitemaps, so familiarize yourself with how to develop a sitemap.

Sitemaps simply put, are an index of your website. They list out every page, how often/last time they were updated, and the priority of each of these pages on your website. This is one step we don’t recommend skipping over as this is one of the primary ways that the Search Engine is able to crawl through your website and index all of your pages.

Why you need a Robots.txt file on your site

This file, which lives on the server in the root directory, is essential to SEO in a way that it tells the search engine what NOT to crawl, vs what to crawl like a Sitemap. Proper use of a robots.txt file can be found in Google’s Guide alongside of the sitemap content as it is important in helping Google understand your site.

This file is used to prevent the search engine from indexing pages that you don’t want indexed, such as:

  • Pages that wouldn’t be helpful if a user landed on them from a search result
  • Search results on your page (Imaging going from Search Engine to Search Result… Confusing right?)
  • Login Pages and Administrative Pages
  • Pages used for internal information only

Having this properly configured helps ensure that the pages you want indexed get their time in the lime light over pages that you don’t.

Make way for Part 3 of On-Site SEO

Next up we’ll cover 3 of the biggest strategies used by us to increase rankings:

  • Mobile Friendliness
  • Page Speed
  • Site Security

We look forward to diving in with you!

Cost of Web Development

Every business needs a website, whether you’re small or large, new or 30+ years in business, small town or major metro, a website is a 24/7 brochure to your business’s services, contact information and more. Not having a website these days, or having a poor one, leads to a smaller and smaller market of individuals looking for you being able to find the information they need, which ultimately leads to loss of business.

In a hurry? Here is a quick rundown of what a website costs:

  • Small Website – one or few services/products and locations – $750 – $2,000
  • Medium Website – Many products/services and/or Many Locations – $2,500 – $8,000
  • Large Website – Highly Complex product/services, Multilocation or international – $10,000+

Factors of cost:

  • Custom Coded Website vs. Content Management System (CMS)
    • A CMS can drastically reduce the cost of a website and add usability that a custom design may not afford. We highly recommend a CMS such as WordPress, Magento, or Shopify.
  • Number of Pages
    • If you have 1-4 services you offer from a single location vs 10 services from more than one location, there is more work for the additional pages needed to make this work.
  • Complexity of Services
    • Is your service simple? For instance, you build or sell widgets, they are simple in nature and don’t have a lot of features or specific attributes that need to be pointed out vs you build houses and you want to explain every aspect of how/what you do in a group of pages.
  • E-commerce vs Informational
    • E-commerce pages are generally more expensive for various reasons. Building an E-commerce page, we know we’ll need pages like Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, Shipping, Returns, Customer Service, and so on. Just the sheer amount of pages needed in E-commerce drives up cost along with the complexity of the systems they’re built on for behaviors like Checkout, Shipping Rules, Inventory Rules, and more.
  • The complexity of Design or Needs from Client Side:
    • Simple time = money here. The more complex you want the design or the more involved you want to be in the design process will cause there to be a larger bill due to the time needed to make that happen. Our recommendation is always let the Web Developer come up with the layout/framework and build it out, make minor revisions to suit your tastes (it is your website after all!) and then do testing in the future on items you’re not 100% in love with. Bottom line, web developers like us have extensive experience in successful layouts and formation of pages and that alone can help build your business online.

Let’s dig deeper now that we have your attention!

Custom Coded vs Content Mangement Systems (CMS)

A CMS as we stated above can really drop the cost of your web development project as much as 50%+. Simply put, a CMS is a framework used to put all the words/graphics needed to make your website what you want. Being able to deploy on a CMS means that you’ll have an admin panel to log in and make changes vs having to develop one of those as well or use FTP.

Upfront Cost Savings of a CMS

At the onset, due to many of the features a CMS has, you’ll be saving big dollars. Using WordPress for a content or non-e-commerce site over custom coding your blog will save time as stated above that the developer won’t need to create each page individually and stitch it together. A CMS like WordPress allows the developer to deploy global themes and begin adding pages/navigation quickly.

For E-commerce, simply put, go CMS. These days it doesn’t make sense to develop a custom E-commerce site due to security issues alone. Shopify & Magento have the checkout process locked down and offer so many features for their monthly costs that it’d be a waste to go any other way. There are many e-commerce platforms out there. One of them will suit your business model. The 2 we recommend are Shopify & Magento due to their stability, security, documentation, and service. you can’t go wrong with either.

Long-Term Savings of a CMS

Building on a platform like WordPress or Shopify won’t only save you early on with the development stages due to their complex backend systems, but will save you in the long run as well. Think about every time you need to update content on your website, flyer, etc. Each time you need help getting into your custom built system will cost you a lot of money and/or require expertise in FTP & Coding.

Alternatively, a CMS will allow you to log into an admin panel and make edits in your website as if you were using Microsoft Word or Apple Pages. This allows you, an employee, another developer get in and make changes quickly.

Number of Pages

This one is pretty straightforward, every page you need is time for content, graphics, media, layout, approval, management. We don’t say this to deter you from pages and adding pages isn’t going to make or break the cost of the web development. We say this to make you aware that trimming the web design to not include information about a side project on your website isn’t likely cost effect and/or good for the business’s overall goals.

Complexity of Services

To explain this one, it follows along with the above number of pages but deserves its own explanation because of the fact that this may not result in more pages on your new website. An example of this would be two different law firms. One law firm offers a hyper specific service, such as, Auto Injury, and no other area of the law. Wheras, another may offer family law and all of its aspects, Personal Injury and all of its aspects, and so on. This could result in a 1 page for services vs 20-30 pages for service and/or 1 short page vs 3+ exceptionally long pages. Formatting content within a single page to keep the user engaged is a specialty and when the content continues down and down the page or is spread across the site, developing this simply takes more time.

E-Commerce vs Informational

A quick explanation:

  • E-commerce – you intend to sell your product or service online and will be taking financial information through a checkout process
  • Informational – you intend to deliver information about your product or service and a way for the user to get them from you but not transact through the website.

Anytime you introduce financial information into the equation, costs will go up. Simply put, security measures and all of the legalese that come along with selling online. Don’t let this deter you from going e-commerce with your product. Systems like Shopify make it simple to setup and rather than paying a developer to make all the magic in the background happen securely, Shopify’s monthly cost includes all of this!

Informational sites while less expensive in nature will still depend on the above factors on this post. We’ve worked on more complex non-e-commerce sites in the past that have had a hefty price tag simply because of the other factors of website development cost.

The Complexity of Design or Client Needs (The Customer Effect)

You know where we’re going with this one. You’ve had it in your offices where the customer ends up costing you a lot of time because of their wants or needs. You’ve probably even had it where you’ve wanted to ask the client “Are you the expert or are we?”. We’d imagine that if the client wants to tell you how to repair a leaky pipe, rather than, allow you to do your job, there is a cost associated.

Allowing your web developer to do what they do best can decrease the time it takes to get a live website and reduce your costs that come along with it.

All of this not to say you should just run with whatever the developer wants and too bad for what you had visioned for your business. Input is necessary as your taste should be honored in any development. It’s your business, your brand and your website at the end of the day. Take recommendations from the web developer as a “Hey, we’ve built one or two of these, and if you put a button here vs there it’ll make more sense to the user and get you more business” and not as a must-do.

Ready to get rolling with a new website?

Now that you have a rough idea of what you’re getting into, it’s time to take the next step. A free consultation with us will help scope out the project and give you a better understanding of your needs online. We help determine what platform makes the most sense, about how deep you should go in your initial run of development and about how much it’ll cost.

 

Do I Need a Website?

In short – Yes, every business needs a website. 

We’ll get into some depth behind why you need a well-designed website for your business in this article. Strap on your boots, we’ve got some work to do.

Here is the list of topics we’ll cover:

  • Websites are for the customers as well
  • They’ll save you time & money
  • Can be used as an educational tool
  • Websites when living in a small town
  • They’ll get you more business
  • Your competition is already online

Websites aren’t just for you, they’re for your customers

That’s right! Websites are primarily for your customers to be able to gather information. Whether you’re a brick and mortar store or restaurant and the customer needs to get your hours, address, menu, or parking information or you’re a service company and they need to find out if you service their area. Nobody likes to get on a phone call with a company just to ask them the basic questions listed above.

Now picture that you’re an HVAC company that only offers commercial services. A prospective lead for residential Googles and finds your yellow page but not your website and assumes you’re a HVAC company that takes care of all needs. If you had a website, you’d also be able to avoid the excess calls that come from a misunderstanding of what you actually do. Websites allow you to, in detail, outline your business to the prospective clients.

When shopping for a product or service, it’s important for the customer to feel they can trust that they’re going to the right place or calling the right people. In a digital world where virtually everyone has a website, it’s difficult to make a decision on anything as people and services are more accessible than they’ve ever been. So no just having a website that was thrown together for the sake of having one, it has to be a good website. User-friendly, informative, unique and even persuasive.

Having a website will save you time & money

Yes, having a website will result in less work that you need to do upfront with customers. No more (or few and far between) will you have to answer that phone just to say, yes we’re open or no we don’t offer that service. Simple questions can be answered in your website in pages like a FAQ, contact pages, and service pages.

Along with helping customers, a website can help employees with customers. Employees can drive customers to various parts of the website or have the website up to answer questions that they may not be entirely versed in to provide exceptional customer service to your prospective customers.

Now, picture you’re a campground that takes reservations year round. Without a website, you’re probably needing to take all of your reservations over the phone (yikes, that’s a lot of time right there!). You’re probably also using a lot of paper for these reservations to keep track of who is coming. A website can come in handy here as customers can make their own reservation (could you imagine? People just make their own reservation and you don’t have to lift a finger?). So while you’ll come out of pocket to get this reservation system setup upfront, you’ll be reaping the benefits of this system for years and years to come, saving you a lot of time as you go.

Websites can be an Educational Tool

This is one of the best aspects of a website. Being able to educate your customer along with your employees on the services or products you offer allows you to appear as an expert (which we are sure you are!) in your industry and help envoke confidence in the business itself. Whether you’re asking high-level questions about your industry or getting in-depth and truly sharing your expertise, prospects will read the content and get a sense of “hmm, these guys know what’s going on, I should call them!”

Take our blog, for instance, you’re reading it to get educated on whether or not you need a website. Our intent is two-fold:

  • Give you all the information you need to make a decision to build a website
  • Hope you view us as worthy of a free consultation to talk to you about building that website

We pour our expertise in business and digital technologies into each blog to ensure you, the potential customer, know that if you call us, that you’ll be in good hands. This is the primary role of a blog or website.

I live in a small town, do I need a website?

I get it, you’re in a small town and pretty much everyone here knows who you are, right? Wrong, new people move into towns every day and have no idea who, where, why, and what you are. Also, those searching into your area may be traveling there for the first time or maybe researching options for when they move there. These people could be a large sum of business for you and you’re unable to reach them because you’re just not there…

We see this a lot, after all, we live in a small town and we travel to small towns all the time. When we’re out and we’re looking for a cool local restaurant or a cool place to stay to experience the town, we use the internet. If the company isn’t there, it is by sheer luck (and/or blessing!) that we find that gem of the town that didn’t have a website and goes down in our books as a place we’ll visit time and time again.

Websites will get you more business… Period.

You heard us! Having a website will get you more business. Having a website allows you to show up on the big search engines when a potential customers search for keywords that relate to your business. A person searching the internet for you by business name will likely find a little bit of information about you out there, like a legacy Yellow Pages listing. However, a user searching indirectly for you, that is, by a service you’d offer like “HVAC company near me” or “campground in the Outer Banks”, you have no chance to show up for without a website. There is just too much competition on the internet today to show up for a competitive keyword phrase in Google Search without having a website.

Your competition is doing it… I promise.

Every day, more and more businesses are getting online. The world has changed and it’s easier to get a website these days and the costs have come down making it a more accessible business expense. Your competition has figured this out and is online right now taking potential customers away from your business, as they serve them with the information, products and services they need without having to lift a finger.

You owe it to your customers, community, and self to get online and start doing more for your business. We offer a free consultation for any business looking to join the digital revolution and grow their business. We’ll come up with a battle plan that is suitable for your business goals and educate you on what it’ll take.

We’re ready for you, give us a call today!