SEO Basics
SEO Basics

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) describes methods used to ensure a website’s visibility in organic search results. If someone searches for a word or phrase associated with your business, where does website fall on the list of sites returned by the search engine? Understanding a few SEO basics will help you learn how to bump your website to the top of that list.

Why SEO?

Ever wonder why SEO is so important? Consumers may search for any number of terms directly related to your business. The higher on the results page your website appears, the more likely they are to click on your link.

In fact, according to Advanced Web Rankings, websites which appear on the first page of Google’s search results get 75% of the clicks originating from that search. Basically, if you don’t make it to the first page, the likelihood of someone finding your site from their search is pretty darn low.  

What do Search Engines Want?

Search engines function by scouring the internet for high quality, relevant information about the searcher’s query. Relevance is determined by whether a particular page seems like it might be what the searcher is looking for. Quality is evaluated in many ways, but foremost is the number and quality of other websites that refer to the page in question.

We know. It’s a lot to take in. Don’t fret if you feel like you need beginner’s guide to SEO. You’re about to get a crash course!

A Few Notes

Website optimization, even if you’re just implementing these SEO basics, isn’t a “one and done.” The algorithms used to determine search results are ever evolving. It’s important to stay up to date with at least the most basic SEO trends.

When we think SEO, we tend to think “Google.” And for good reason. It’s estimated that 93% of organic search traffic comes from Google. So, for the purpose of discussing SEO basics, we will be using the terms “search engine” and “Google” interchangeably.  

How To SEO

Okay, now what are the basics of SEO and how the heck do you accomplish it? In general, you’ve got two types of website SEO: on and off page. Take a look.

On-page SEO Overview

This is probably what most think of when they hear the terms SEO or optimize. It relates to integrating commonly searched, relevant, keywords into your website. Ideally each page on your site will target one core term and a few ancillary terms. Here are a few SEO basics and elements to consider for on-page optimization.

Title Tags

This is basically your search listing’s headline. It is also the clickable link to your page in a list of search results. Try to keep your title tag to 55 characters or less, as this is the maximum that will show up as the title in your search result. And make sure to include your keyword in that tag somewhere, too.

Meta Descriptions

The meta description is pretty much supplemental ad copy. It may or may not show up in search results, but it’s presence can help search engines actually find and rank your page. Therefore, it’s beneficial to incorporate your main keyword here, too.

Body Content

The actual content of each page is of upmost importance, and it’s where you’ll integrate your list of targeted keywords. Aside from keywords, search engines also consider the following SEO basics when determining the quality and relevance of your page:

  • Unique Content: In general, Google favors unique content. If your site provides the same information as ten other sites out there, what reason does a search engine have to return yours at the top of the list?
  • Engagement: If it seems as though your page is actually engaging visitors, you’ll be more visible. Engagement is typically measured by how long a person stays on your page and how they interact with it. Do they find your site helpful and stick around for a while, or do they bounce back to the search page and choose another link? Of course, engaging content is a must, but you’ll also want to avoid some of the most common web design mistakes to ensure a positive user experience.
  • Shareability: Search engines are also interested in how often your site is shared. The rationale is that if someone shares a page, it’s because they found it useful, which means that others might find it useful as well. Use share buttons to make this as easy as possible!
  • Alt Attributes: Alt attributes are code elements that allows you to provide alternate information for an image if a user can’t view it. Effectively using alt tags on your images can have a huge impact on how your site is perceived by search engines. If you’re able to naturally fit your keyword into your alt tags, great, as this will help search engines determine what your page is actually about.

Off-page SEO Overview

Keywords aren’t the only factor Google considers when determining how useful your webpage will be to searchers. There are several other items considered in the algorithms used.

Information Architecture

The way your site is organized, as well as the ease of navigating it, impacts user experience. Remember, the goal of a search engine is to help the searcher. If Google returns a page that is a pain in the butt for the user, their trust in Google may be jeopardized. Therefore, it’s best to learn which design elements you shouldn’t be using and do your best to stick with industry standards.

Internal Links

Search engines take note when you link to a page on your own site. Lots of effective internal links to a specific page indicates that the page is important, which helps it rank higher in search results.

Comments

A thriving community that includes regular comments indicates that your site is relevant and engaging. Just keep an eye on comments and filter out any spam, as it can dilute the value of your comments section and may lead to less engagement over time.

Content Marketing and External Link Building

Links to your website from other relevant, engaging sites is a clear indicator that your site is relevant and engaging as well. So, how do you get others to link to your site? Simple. Regularly provide meaningful content that meets users’ needs and satisfies their query.

While it might not be rocket science, effective content marketing takes some thought. Before you know what to create, you have to understand your audience, how you can help them, and the best way to provide that help. There is no magic wand or easy answer here. Every niche is going to be different.

Best Practices

Some of the most common website design mistakes can hurt you when it comes to these SEO basics. To maintain an optimized site, keep the following in mind:

Page Speed

Consumers expect everything to be delivered quickly, including the information on your website. Search engines are now placing an increased emphasis on quick load times. Google even has this helpful tool with suggestions for increasing your websites speed.

Mobile Friendliness

Users are on the move more than ever, and search engines account for this. Mobile-friendly sites tend to rank higher in search results. If you’ve wondered why you need a mobile first strategy, this is your answer!

Duplicate Content

Similar or identical copy on multiple pages “dilutes” your content, as the pages will compete with each other for search engine visibility, thus decreasing your SEO. Optimize by combining pages with similar content.

Get Started

What now? First and foremost, you want to prioritize. There’s truly no way to “perfect” your SEO game. There are too many factors to consider. You’ve got to determine what’s most important for your business and start there.

Are you a creator who wants your content in front of new people each week? Are you a large corporation that needs to technically optimize your entire site? Are you a small business looking to rank in local searches?

While SEO is essential, don’t stress. What is basic SEO today might change tomorrow. SEO is an evolving, never-ending project. There will always be something to tweak or improve, so just start with the most important pieces and work your way down your priority list.

Go Beyond SEO Basics with Hungry Media

Need a partner to help you improve your overall SEO? Optimize a specific page? Review your website for issues that impact visibility? Hungry media is ready to help take your SEO game to the next level! Contact us today at info@hungrymedia.com.

Net 30
Tips to get paid faster

Payment delays can be disastrous, especially for small businesses and crowdfunded startups with limited cashflow. Customer payments may lag for any number of reasons, from a lack of funds to internal bureaucracy that slows paperwork. Regardless, many businesses need to get paid faster than their current practices or net 30 payment terms permit. 

What Does Net 30 Mean?

If you sell B2B, your customers could require up to net 90 payment terms; although most common is probably net 30, meaning payment is due no more than 30 days from the invoice date. This time helps them sync your invoice with their accounting cycles as well as push your paperwork through the proper channels.

Should You Use a Net 30 Invoice

Well, it certainly provides some leverage, especially if you’re going after large clients. Bigger corporations aren’t always able to make immediate payments. So, if you’re unable to offer net 30 payment terms, they may be unable to work with you. 

In short, if you can, you should. Net 30 terms will provide you with a competitive advantage over those who aren’t as flexible. 

Tips for Getting Paid as a Small Business, Net 30 or Not

In an ideal world, simply sending an invoice would be enough to get a client to pay. Alas, things aren’t always that simple. So, what can you do if you want to offer net 30 terms but still need to get paid faster?

Go Cloud-based.

Cloud-based accounting software lets you work smarter instead of harder. Check out options such as FreshBooks or Quickbooks. Not only can you work anywhere at any time, but you’ll be able to automate many regular accounting functions such as sending invoices and payment reminders. It’s the ideal combination of convenience and efficiency, which totally helps you get paid faster!

Accept Electronic and Mobile Payments.

Just like mobile-first sites are becoming the norm, so are mobile payment options. Don’t be left behind! Electronic invoices often come with a “pay now” button. One click, and your customer is directed to your website’s payment screen. This significantly decreases processing time on both ends, getting you paid faster!

If you aren’t offering net 30 terms, you can still collect electronic payments via apps like PayPal or Venmo. Alternately, mobile payment solutions such as Square or GoPayment by Quickbooks work just was well. 

Set explicit expectations. 

Clearly lay out your pay on time policy, in writing. Client contracts and individual invoices should contain information such as payment terms, deadlines, and late penalties. Be specific and concise. For instance – provide a definite due date, rather than generic terms like “due upon receipt.” 

Incentivize early payments. 

Consider an incentive for those who pay sooner than their net 30 deadline. A small percentage discount such as 2/10 net 30 (2% discount for paying by day 10 of a 30-day window) encourages timely payments from businesses and individuals alike. 

Be prepared. 

Bigger companies get backlogged, which means it can take longer for the right person to receive your invoice, let alone pay it. To get paid faster, gather information about your contact person up front: name, job title, department, address (mailing or email), preferred invoice method, etc. This way you’re a step ahead when the invoice is received.

Invoice Immediately. 

This can be tough for small business owners. But the fact remains that clients can’t pay you if you don’t invoice them. If prompt payment is non-negotiable for your business, make quick invoicing a priority.  

Stop Working.  

When all else fails, you may have to stop taking orders or jobs from clients with delinquent accounts.

Get Paid Faster with Hungry Media

Hungry Media offers a wide range of experience in the world of web development, including the best payment integration options for your website. Contact us at info@hungrymedia.com to discuss this and all of your digital experience needs. We can’t wait to meet you!

Writing a Mission Statement

Writing a mission statement is a must for business builders, app developers, content creators and any other entrepreneur. However, slowing down to brainstorm about one simple sentence doesn’t always seem like a great use of time, does it?  But while a mission statement is a single sentence – it’s certainly far from simple.

How to Write a Mission Statement

What is a Mission Statement?

In short, the purpose of a mission statement is to define your company and set it apart from the rest. It describes why you exist, your goals, what you will provide your stakeholders, and how you plan on achieving it all. That’s a lot of pressure to put on one little sentence, huh?

Why Should You Be Writing a Mission Statement?

That is a lot of pressure to put on one little sentence. Which is exactly why the importance of a mission statement can’t be understated. Creating a mission statement is a process. It isn’t something you throw together in a few hours and slap up on your beautifully designed website.

Good mission statements will serve as your compass. A well thought out mission statement guides your decision making. It helps you focus your resources. It serves as a starting point for your branding. It provides a framework for your employees to work within.

So, yes. A mission statement is a big darn deal! And, yes. You should definitely be writing one. But how, exactly, do you do this?

Questions to Consider Before Writing a Mission Statement

Learning how to write a mission statement for a business takes time and perseverance. To get started, sit with the questions below and document your answers. It’s important that your mission truly encompasses the spirit of your business, so don’t rush this part.

What are your beliefs? 

To what do you hold true? What colors your view of the world? The best mission statements are built upon this foundation. A sentence to describe each of your top 3-5 beliefs will do.

What do you value?

Think about what makes you choose to spend your money on one product over another? What makes you gravitate towards certain people? This is a great way to identify the attributes you value most. Try to pare your values down to 1-2 two words, each.

Why does your business exist? 

What is your goal? Take a holistic view of your beliefs and values to answer this one. Of course, most businesses aim to make money. But what’s the reason you chose to make money in this particular way? That is your why.

What action word best suits your company? 

Dedicate, inspire, awaken, nurture, champion, refresh. Your options are endless. If you don’t identify with one word right away, try starting with a broader statement and whittle it down to a single word from there.

Who is your ideal customer? 

Envision them actually deciding to use your product or service. Why do they want it? How do they find you? What benefit will you provide? Keep this person in mind as you draft each version of your mission statement.

What makes you special? 

Why should a customer choose your business, specifically? Do you provide incredible value, the best customer service in the world, the most relatable content? What sets you apart from the rest?

How do you serve your other stakeholders? 

Describe exactly how you want those involved in your business to feel about you (and their work). According to a 2017 study, mission statements are more effective when stakeholders other than customers are considered, too.

How will others perceive your mission statement? 

This will inform the words and tone you use to craft your business mission statement. It also provides a great starting point for the revision step, below.

How to Write a Good Mission Statement

Once you’ve spent time considering the questions above, you can begin creating your mission statement. While there’s no “official” checklist, there are a few logical steps you can follow to guide you through the process.

  • Get it out. Write down, in paragraph form, exactly what you want your mission statement to convey. Include the answers to the questions above as clearly as possible. Don’t worry about word count yet. Just get it out there.  
  • Collect feedback. Have others read your draft. Ask them questions. How does it make them feel? What meaning does it convey? What could make it better? This isn’t the time for you to talk. Just ask the questions, listen to the answers, and take it all in.
  • Revise. You may need to revise and collect feedback a few more times before this first statement feels like a true expression of your mission. Don’t move on until it does.
  • Use a formula. Rewrite what you’ve got to fit this formula: Goal + who + how = mission statement. 
  • Collect more feedback. Ask the questions again. You want to ensure sure the change in structure hasn’t changed the overall perception of the statement.
  • Revise, again. Same as above.
  • Pare it down. Get out your red pen and start editing! Aim for a maximum of 20 words. Yep, 20! Get creative. Use a thesaurus. Research other mission statement examples for inspiration.
  • Walk away. Give your brain a break. Take a day or two to clear your mind. This will give a fresh perspective before you dig in again.  
  • Rinse and repeat. Continue to revise and seek feedback until you’ve got it right.
  • Use it! Take advantage of all that hard work. Allow your mission statement to guide you from here on out.  

Need Help Writing a Mission Statement for Your Business?

A good mission statement lays the foundation for business success. If you find yourself stuck, want to make the most of your existing mission statement, or simply need help working a mission statement into your marketing plan, reach out! We’re here to help and would love to be a part of your journey. Contact us at info@hungrymedia.com to get started!

Importance of Branding
Importance of Branding

What is Branding?

The term “brand” refers to a name, design, symbol, or other feature that sets a product or service apart from the rest. “Branding your business” refers to the process of fostering an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand.

Regardless of whether you own an established brick and mortar, are in the development phase of a cool new app, or just getting your startup off the ground via a crowdfunding campaign – your brand is your reputation. The importance of branding cannot be underestimated.

The Importance of Branding

In today’s marketplace, brand building isn’t simply a task that you complete in order to move on. Working through the steps of branding is a necessity. Branding promotes recognition, sets you apart from competitors, and tells customers what to expect from you. According to a 2013 Neilson survey, 59% of consumers prefer to buy new products from brands familiar to them.

Customer aside, a strong brand provides an internal compass. Brand can guide business decisions and help you stay on track when faced with uncertainty.

What is Brand Identity?

Brand identity encompasses several factors. It might start with a brand logo, but it also includes what a business actually represents and how customers feel when they think of it.

A strong brand identity will help you stand out in the marketplace by making your product or service more memorable to consumers. Over time it can also solidify your identity as a subject matter expert in your niche.

How to Create a Brand Identity

Keep in mind that brand identity is fluid and ever evolving. Therefore, it’s not something to create and forget about. You’ll want to monitor it closely and work to strengthen it as time goes on. Here are a few brand building strategies to get you started.

  1. Establish a mission statement. The time required to develop a strong, meaningful mission statement is time well spent. Your mission statement becomes the foundation of your brand by defining your purpose and your target audience. Everything from logos, to taglines, to voice should reflect your mission statement.
  • Determine what sets your company apart. You don’t have to be the biggest, fanciest company in your niche to stand out. What do you offer that nobody else can? What do you do well that you competitors do not? Is it the authentic, transparent customer service you provide? Is it the simple, handwritten note you include with each order from your Esty shop? Figure out what sets you apart…and do that!
  • Develop a brand voice. What adjectives will describe the way you communicate with your audience? Casual? Humorous? Professional? Technical? Once you decide how you would like to be perceived, brand your business by ensuring all customer-facing content utilizes your brand voice.
  • Maintain consistency. Once you begin to execute your plan with brand identity in mind, you’ve got to stay consistent. Otherwise you’ll confuse your customer. This means ensuring you’re always guided by your mission statement; moreover, it includes branding design components and web design elements, such as colors, fonts, logos, etc.

After you’ve established a solid brand identity, you can begin to foster brand loyalty. And let us tell you, this is where the magic really happens!

What is Brand Loyalty?

Brand loyalty (or lack thereof) can make or break any business, since it is based on customers’ feeling of support or allegiance to the business. The best brands can (and do!) maintain a loyal customer base despite changes in the environment, increases in cost of products or services, actions of competitors, market fluctuations, etc.

Brand loyalty exists when customers feel truly connected to the brand itself. This connection can be derived from a number of factors including the quality of the product or service, trust in the business, and customer service experiences, to name a few.

An established, loyal customer base will lead to repeat customers and word or mouth referrals, which are the holy grail of business building. As you can imagine, though, brand loyalty doesn’t just develop overnight. I must be built organically, and over time.

How to Build Brand Loyalty

Now that we understand the purpose and importance of brand loyalty, let’s look at a few ways to build it!

  1. Identify your target audience. Who is your ideal consumer? What are their priorities? Where do they shop? How do they dress? How much money do they make? Answering these questions in advance will ensure that your marketing efforts are focused in the on the correct group of consumers.
  • Examine what makes them tick. Learn what drives your target audience to make buying decisions and use this information as you create customer-facing content. Everything from customer service replies to Instagram ads should be developed with the needs of the customer in mind.
  • Stay consistent. Consistency is key here, too. You’ll build the most loyal base when your customer knows what to expect from you. This includes anything from how often you post on social media, to shipping time for your products, to turnaround time for email responses.
  • Provide incentives. For your customers to return, that is. Repeat business is where it’s at! Consider creating a loyalty program or use promo codes to keep customers coming back for more.
  • Use Social Media Influencers. Brand loyalty is dependent upon trust. Generally, consumers already trust the influencers they choose to follow on social media. If one of those influencers believes in your brand, their followers will be much more likely to believe in you as well.
  • Let your personality shine. Connection can drive brand loyalty. And nothing connects people quite a common quirk or two! Don’t be afraid to be yourself! YOU might be the very thing that generates an emotional connection between your customers and your brand.

Build a Brand that Inspires Loyalty

The best brands are built upon a strong foundation, which allows each and every branding decision to be made strategically. Whether you want to learn how to start branding your business, discuss the importance of branding, or simply want to brainstorm business branding ideas, we’re here for you!

We’d love to make your ideas a reality and help you create a brand that inspires lifelong loyalty. Contact us at info@hungrymedia.com. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Squarespace vs Wordpress
Squarespace vs WordPress

Okay, so you’ve decided to build a website. You know what it’ll look like, which web design mistakes to avoid, and what it’s purpose will be. What’s next? Well, when it comes to actually building your website, the first step to pick a web design platform. This decision often comes down to Squarespace vs. WordPress, and which is right for you.

Both web design platforms allow users to create a website with minimal technical skills and experience; however, they aren’t created equal. There are pros and cons to each, when considering which to choose.

The main points of comparison between these two website platforms are a result of their fundamental differences. Web design powered by WordPress (and we are referring to WordPress.org, here) uses an open source content management system, where as Squarespace is a cloud-based website builder.

That said, they’re often used for the exact same purpose – building and maintaining a website for use as a business tool. So, which should you choose, and why? Well let’s take a look!

Squarespace vs. WordPress: Design Flexibility 

Variety and Availability of Themes

It’s pretty safe to say that there’s little comparison here. When it comes to design flexibility, WordPress is going to have Squarespace beat. This is because WordPress is intended to be built upon, while Squarespace is intended to be a one-stop shop.

When designing a site from scratch, the options offered by WordPress are nearly endless. To date, there are over 7,000 free WordPress themes. And then there are thousands more premium options available for purchase. Most, if not all, WordPress templates are customizable in terms of colors, fonts, layouts, etc. Additionally, WordPress web design provides more in-depth functions and allows for complete, customizable control.

Squarespace is a “feature rich” web platform known for it’s beautiful, sleek templates. But given the nature of Squarespace itself, there is a relatively limited number of templates available. On the other hand, these templates are ready-made and come with plenty of preset features that are simple to use.

Extensions and Integrations

In a way, this could fall into the category of “design flexibility” above, as it can refer to the options you have when creating your website. But, it also refers to the options you have after your site is up and running.  As your business, following, or customer base grows, you may find yourself in need of additional functionality.

WordPress is much more adaptable in this situation. In addition to the most essential WordPress plugins, you’ll have close to 47,000 options to utilize. Whether you need to connect with third party software, tools, and services, or simply need to add a new feature – there’s a plugin for that. As your business grows, you’ll find endless opportunities to grow your website alongside it.

The list of available extensions for Squarespace, compared to WordPress, is very short. There are a few third-party integrations, but there isn’t a very robust API to build upon. If you want to extend a site using Squarespace, you’ll have to work within its limitations.

Squarespace vs. WordPress: Performance

SEO Optimization

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is super-important these days. It’s how you get your website to show up in a Google (or Bing or Wiki) search. But SEO optimization is an ever-changing science, and it can be a bit tedious to learn. Enter: SEO tools.

There are several SEO tools integrated into Squarespace, versus WordPress which requires plugins to achieve the same goals. WordPress plugins like Yoast SEO will guide you through best practices to optimize your site as well as your content.

Security

Website security is a hot topic, and for good reason. Your customers have to trust that you will keep their information safe. There’s one main difference between Squarespace vs. WordPress when it comes to security – who’s responsible for it.

WordPress requires that you keep your site’s security up to date. While this may seem a little scary, you need not fear! There’s a plugin for that. In fact, there are several plugins that automatically take care of security for you.

On the other hand, Squarespace manages security for you. The platform ensures your site stays safe from hackers and that the system functions properly.

Squarespace vs. WordPress: Convenience 

Mobile Editing

You’re probably on the go just as much as your customers are! You’ll want the option to edit, track, or analyze your site without having to sit down at your computer.

The free WordPress app allows you to edit content, review analytics, and update your pages from your smartphone. The official Squarespace app only allows you to edit your pages. There are additional apps available which provide the ability to update Squarespace content and track performance.

In short, you can edit from your mobile device regardless of which web design platform you choose. The only difference is the number of apps you’ll need in order to do so.

Ease of Use

When it comes to getting something new off the ground, the decision often comes down to ease of use. So, let’s talk about that!

WordPress is pretty intuitive. Given everything we’ve discussed here, it stands to reason that WordPress will take some time to learn. The good news is that the learning curve isn’t terribly steep. Most beginners adapt to WordPress after a just few days of working with the web design platform.

On the other hand, Squarespace’s visual, drag and drop operation very beginner friendly. In fact some might argue there’s no learning curve at all. Yes, it offers fewer choices in general, but that can simplify the decision-making process, thus shortening the time from inspiration to complete creation. Plus, you still get everything you need to design, publish, and maintain a full website.

Squarespace vs. WordPress: Cost

And here we are. The bottom line. What is each one going to cost you? Well, just like everything else on this list, there’s no black and white answer.

Technically WordPress is free. You don’t have to pay to use their software. But you do have to pay to host your site, as well as incur the one-time costs for any premium themes, templates, or plugins. There are plenty of hosting options available. For a service like Bluehost, which starts at $7.95/month, it’s a relatively inexpensive investment.

Squarespace is software as a service. Basically, you’re creating your site and paying a monthly fee for Squarespace to maintain it on your behalf. As with any service, there’s a cost. The cost of Squarespace includes hosting and starts at $12/month.

To be honest, the costs of each will probably equal out over time. You might spend less initially on Squarespace vs. WordPress, which could have a higher up-front cost. On a monthly basis, however, you will likely spend less on WordPress site.

Conclusion – Which is the Best Website Platform?

Well, as you might imagine, there’s no straightforward answer, here. Squarespace is certainly easier out of the gate for a beginner. However, it’s limitations can make future expansion of your site challenging, or even impossible. WordPress may take more time to learn, but most believe its flexibility is worth it.

The best platform for web design comes down to your ultimate goal. What do you intend to use your site for? Where do you see yourself and your business in two, five, ten years’ time? Our best piece of advice – start with the end in mind and work backward form there.

We’re Here To Help!

Want to talk it out? Interested in learning more about Squarespace vs. WordPress? Need a second opinion or some assistance? Get in touch! We’d love to help you design and build a website that meets the needs of your business today and well into the future. info@hungrymedia.com