ad blocking wars

Ad Blocking – It’s a Jungle Out There

As of yesterday my AdBlocker Plus plugin on my iPhone had blocked 34,667 ads in total. Today, a matter of only 8 work hours later, my plugin is up to 39,631. That’s nearly a 5,000-ad difference. Granted, I scout for a lot of information and inspiration for different tasks I work on throughout the day, but still, 5,000 ads in only 8 hours’ time is impressive.

Ad blocking in general has become a hot-button topic as of late, mostly because of the rise of anti-Ad software. Try saying that three times fast. To get a better understanding, if you have an ad blocker enabled, try going to Forbes.com. Chances are you won’t be allowed to see any content because, short and sweet, Forbes is greedy. They want the revenue that comes from your pain of having to see “a light ad experience” (whatever that means).

When it comes to our own company, yes, we brainstorm and work with clients who use such pay-per-click platforms as Google AdWords, Facebook, Twitter and others. Does that mean that we ask others to turn off ad-blocking software? No, but it’s not because we don’t want to ask, it’s moreso because we’re not creating revenue, but rather customer conversions.

Ad Blocking: Good, Bad or Indifferent

All of the above to illustrate not that ad blocking is good or bad, but rather that the world of technology is divided on how ad blocking and ad displaying should function. In Europe, their e-privacy directive specifically denies the right to request or access user information without explicit consent. Simply put, that means that anti-ad-blocking software is implicitly illegal. Here in the US, that’s not the case. Content producers are enabled to do whatever they wish—after all, it is their content.

84.2% of the American population has access to internet, and of those, roughly 45 million use ad-blocking software (that’s roughly 16.7% of internet users). Still, that costs publishers that obtain revenue through ads a considerable amount of money. Does that give them the power to impose ads on those that don’t use them? Should those 45 million be asked to submit to the power of publishers? What’s your take on the ad-blocking controversy?

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul Albee is the digital marketing director of ATS Design Group in Syracuse, New York. Paul and his team specialize in all aspects of online digital marketing including website design, SEO search engine optimization, social media marketing as well as print and advertising design. Paul grew up in Cedar Rapids, attended Washington High School and is Mike Albee’s brother, serving clients across upstate New York, Eastern Iowa and nationwide.

Social Media for Small Business Cedar Rapids Iowa

Making the Most of Social Media for Small Business

I am often asked by small business owners how they can make the most of social media for small business.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to get on various social media sites to get your name out there. By providing people with regular shareable posts, and tweets you will ultimately increase followers. Any small business feels it is important to promote your business and aim for more sales, but this isn’t the only thing your social media should be about. To build a social media following and grow your business, it is essential to find a balance of promoting yourself and providing content that is interesting. The goal is to increase followers, the more followers you social media has the more chance of creating exposure for your business, products and services.

Social Media for Small Business – Ideas to Consider

Here are a few methods successfully being used to increase exposure and followers through social media.

Flash sales

While it may seem obvious to make the most of events like Black Friday sales, you need to think outside of the box and not stick to just the seasonal sales. If you have a random sale, for example 20% off if you bring in a parent then your followers will be kept on the toes. Events like these will increase followers as current followers tell their friends about them. Also, by creating exclusive events for your followers you make them feel like they are being rewarded and this can go a long way to keeping them as loyal customers.

Always tell people about your new stock.

Posting photos of new merchandise or services regularly works wonders in letting followers keeping engages with your social media pages. It allows them to see what new things you have to offer. Begin by posting news about new products that are coming. This is a great way to create a buzz of what is coming then when you follow up posts when you have the product or services available then you keep the interest growing.

Promote company achievements.

By posting achievements you company makes like the winning of an award or an expansion into a new location keeps your followers feeling involved and will also be a great means of reaching out to potential customers.

Have a mission statement that you’re proud of.

Regardless of the type of business you have, creating posts about helping out a particular charity or community event gives followers an idea of what you stand for and what your core values and business philosophy is. Try not to be controversial in your posts, but creating posts which relate to common ideals, you can generate valuable shares, retweets, and likes from those following you on the various social media channels. A few prominent entrepreneurs come to mind as examples, including Bill and Melinda Gates, Richard Branson, and Steve Jobs.

Personally interact with followers.

Don’t under estimate the importance of interacting with posts and tweets your followers have said will keep them happy and show others how well-loved your brand is. Encouraging followers to post photos of them using products/services or to tag themselves at your business will boost your brand and is an authentic visual testimony. 

Within limits, allow people to get to know your employees.

By nature people are nosy. You can use this to your advantage by posting interviews of employees. By introducing your followers to your employees, you become a friendly approachable face. Also, this is a great way to get your employees family and friends to share the content.

Real Honest Customer testimonials go a long way.

Customers love interacting with a brand. Give them a great experience and encourage them to post about it makes for excellent re-tweets and new customers will feel encourage to check you out.

Be proud of your local area and community and let it show.

Providing your followers with funny facts about the local area can be useful tourist information. To maximize this use visual content such as photos. This will increase your chances to get lots of shares.

Social media for small business can work, but consistency and regularity is key. For small businesses creating an presence in social media is a very useful tool in building followers that will share your business and your brand with others, growing your business exposure. There is also SEO benefits from this exposure. If you offer a product that someone thinks is great, it is possible that they may blog about it and link back to your companies website. These links do a lot for growing your search engine rankings. Being active with your social media has many upsides that can help grow your small business.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul Albee is the digital marketing director of ATS Design Group in Syracuse, New York. Paul and his team specialize in all aspects of online digital marketing including website design, SEO search engine optimization, social media marketing as well as print and advertising design. Paul grew up in Cedar Rapids, attended Washington High School and is Mike Albee’s brother, serving clients across upstate New York, Eastern Iowa and nationwide.

responsive web design cedar rapids iowa syracuse ny

Responsive Web Design with Google’s Mobile Friendly Mandate

Last spring Google made a major change to search engine results page (SERP) algorithm on mobile devices. Websites that are more mobile friendly are ranked higher in search results. If your website is not mobile friendly then this algorithm could change how your web traffic is impacted. There are a number of ways of achieving this, but the most popular and widely accepted is responsive web design.

Why is Google Forcing the Issue by Insisting on Mobile Friendly Websites?

Google reports that beginning in the Spring of 2015, it found that there were more search queries being performed on mobile devices than on desktop computers. This trend has been much anticipated since before 2012, so the writing has been on the wall. But in Google’s webmaster blog, they actually came out and told everybody that they were focusing on end-user experience (nothing new) and that with the mobile user in mind, they were going to start ranking mobile-friendly sights higher in the search results than those if found were not mobile-friendly.

A number of tests by various well-respected internet SEO firms have confirmed that when Google rolled out it’s “mobilegeddon” update in the Spring of 2015, that there was indeed a ripple effect that skewed much more favorably to sites that were mobile-friendly. Google’s definition, by the way, of “mobile” means smartphones. Tablets are in another class, much akin to desktop. But stop and think about it… everyone is on their smartphone. You need to provide a friendly, positive, fast user experience on a smartphone internet connection and screen if you’re going to have any chance of competing in the marketplace that is no long off in the future, but in the here and now. The bottom line is: Be mobile friendly or be left behind, and Google is driving the bus.

Google’s Mobile Update and What It Means for You

If you don’t have a mobile friendly website then it is easy to say that your business is being buried on mobile search results. Even if your site is found, they may not say because your website is not responsive. According to Google over 50% of people will use a business less often if their website isn’t mobile friendly.

You are probably asking yourself what I can do to protect my business? First, check your site with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test by clicking here. If your website fails the test then it’s time for an update!

Choose Responsive Web Design:

There are not many options for making your website function well on mobile devices. But the good news is that responsive web design is the most popular methodology and it is also the most widely accepted.  Google, in fact, loves it. Any option is better than not having any mobile website design but some options are better than others.

  • A Separate Mobile Website: On mobile devices your website would redirect to a different URL that uses different HTML to look good on mobile devices. This method often can lead to coding errors and can be expensive to maintain if the setup is not properly done.
  • Dynamic Serving: This type of method uses separate sets of HTML and CSS coding on one url. This method lacks the search index issues of a separate URL mobile website but layout can be complex and maintenance can turn out to be expensive.
  • Responsive Web Design: The same code on the same URL adjust to the user’s device to display correctly on any screen size. This particular method is easier to implement and maintain, and it’s not prone to errors like some of the other options mentioned, and so you save money all while having a site that always looks great. Responsive website design is Google’s recommended design pattern.

If you are looking to update your website so that you’re sure it’s mobile ready, or perhaps it’s been a few years and it’s looking pretty tired and shopworn, give us a call and set up a free appointment to come in and discuss your current internet marketing needs. Our team of experienced web designers and search engine optimization specialists have deep experience and can help you get your website up to date quickly and affordably.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul Albee is the digital marketing director of ATS Design Group in Syracuse, New York. Paul and his team specialize in all aspects of online digital marketing including website design, SEO search engine optimization, social media marketing as well as print and advertising design. Paul grew up in Cedar Rapids, attended Washington High School and is Mike Albee’s brother, serving clients across upstate New York, Eastern Iowa and nationwide.

Social Media Marketing Small Business

Social Media Marketing for Small Business

If you are a small business owner looking to grow your business, chances are you have considered using social media marketing. Over 73% of all small business owners are now using sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest to help grow their business. If you are still standing on the social sidelines, there’s never been a better time to get started because the fact is, because it works.

Social Media Marketing for Small BusinessMore important than the exposure it provides your organization is the opportunity it provides to grow the relationships with your target audience. Your Facebook Fans, Twitter followers, and LinkedIn connections are people who know your organization, have likely done business with you in the past, and will be most likely to tell their friends about you. Social media can strengthen your relationship with your customers.

Social media is extremely popular. You don’t need to be a dedicated reader of tech blogs or an expert in online marketing to know that social media is really popular among consumers. Facebook alone has over 1 billion people, Twitter has over 200 million people, and there is 200 million more on LinkedIn.  Then of course there is Tumblr with hundreds of thousands of blogs on everything from celebrities and hand tools to vintage cars and style and design. (Did we forget to mention WordPress.com?)

Step number one, of course, is to make sure you have a modern, mobile-friendly website design that loads fast and is easy to navigate on a smartphone as well as a desktop or tablet.  Having that checked off your to-do list, the next step for most small businesses is Social Media and for the vast majority of small business owners that means Facebook as their first stop. Facebook is the perfect starting point for getting started with social media marketing. With it’s extensive reach and dynamic functionality there are very few businesses that couldn’t benefit from having a presence on Facebook.

Social Media Marketing: It’s Easy to Get Started

These social media sites are completely free so starting your marketing in social media is perfect. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn all offer free accounts to users and businesses and signing up won’t require anything more than an email address. Some sites like LinkedIn do offer paid accounts with features that are targeted at more advanced users, but for the purposes of getting started, there’s no upfront cost for most of the social networks.

Let Potential Customers Get to Know You. Social media sites are becoming the go-to place for consumers who want to learn more about a business. The fact is customers who have praise or complaints often look to social media to communicate with companies. These sites allow a business to inform customers about the most up-to-date information about products, services, or upcoming events and that makes a huge impact on connecting with your customers. Most of your activity and posts on social media can be made public so that means that search engines like Google can index them making you your visible to customers searching for you.

Social Media Marketing and Email Marketing

Social media has completely changed the game when it comes to how small businesses think of email marketing. Sharing your email newsletter across your social networks can open your content up to a whole new audience and finally generate the type of buzz you’ve been looking for. Not only that, but you can also use sites like Facebook to attract more readers by including a “Join My Mailing List” form right on your social media pages. Together, these two powerful tools have reshaped the marketing landscape and have really leveled the playing field for small businesses trying to better connect with current customers.

These are just some of the many reasons why social media marketing is a worthwhile investment. With more than half of all Americans are smartphone users the benefits have increased and will continue to with mobile activity becoming a common part of our daily lives. Every major social network offer free mobile apps that let business owner manage their presence on-the-go. More importantly, these apps let customers connect to their favorite sites wherever they are. For a site like Twitter, 60% of its entire user-base is connected via their smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices. These users aren’t just sharing updates from their own lives, they’re searching for businesses, products, and services, and connecting with brands through their social channels. If your business is running late when it comes to upgrading your website design to become“mobile-friendly,” social media can be an easy and cost-effective first step to marketing in the digital age. Plus, it can improve the chances of your business getting found when someone is searching for a place to eat or a product to buy, while on-the-go.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Paul Albee is the digital marketing director of ATS Design Group in Syracuse, New York. Paul and his team specialize in all aspects of online digital marketing including website design, SEO search engine optimization, social media marketing as well as print and advertising design. Paul grew up in Cedar Rapids, attended Washington High School and is Mike Albee’s brother. Together Mike and Paul serve clients across Eastern Iowa, upstate New York, and nationwide.

Syracuse Wordpress Web Design

WordPress 4.3 Updates Password Security

With the ever-growing threat of website hacking, phishing, identity theft and the like, it’s always welcome when a major and popular developer updates security features.  And with the vast implementation of WordPress as a content management, blogging and website design and development platform, the latest version of WordPress, Version 4.3 released this week, is a welcome addition.

WordPress 4.3 Updates Password Security. Version 4.3 of WordPress, named “Billie” in honor of jazz singer Billie Holiday, not only has made vast improvements in password security and handling, but they have also made it easier to format your page and post content without using a mouse (keyboard shortcuts ideal for quick edits from a tablet or smartphone) as well as customizing your site or blog. Check out the new feature rollout in the video intro to version 4.3:


SEO Website Design Cedar Rapids Iowa

Does SEO Really Matter? How Search Engines Work.

The Importance of SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

So does SEO really Matter or what? Whether you’ve decided to redesign your current website or build a new website, it’s essential for SEO to be done on your website. Below are some of the most important optimization elements to make sure are being complete on your website. The short answer is YES.  During a website redesign or update, it is possible that your page URLs (actual web address links) may change. If not handled properly, this can result in a loss of individual page rankings, culminating in a loss of overall site visibility in search engines.

Does SEO Really Matter in a Website Redesign?

SEO search engine optimization is absolutely critical during a website redesign. It is important that any pages that need to be rerouted with a permanent 301 redirects are done. Often webmasters will skip implementing redirects for pages with minimal traffic. Having a menu or hyperlinks to pages that are not able to be found is not only frustrating to potential customers but also Google, and that can hurt your sites position in search results.

Ideally, you should contact your webmaster hosting each link pointing to your site and request for them to update the URL. If this is not attainable due to the number of links or webmaster inaccessibility, preserve your link equity from your old website pages to your new ones by establishing what is called a “301 redirect” that redirects search results from your old page to your new one.

For example:

  • Old page: /my-web-page.html
  • New page: /my-web-page/

A website has many parts that need to be accounted for. Many of them you can check yourself to make sure they are done, and if not done you to make sure these thing are taken care of, otherwise your current search position will drop dramatically.

Website Redesign: Technical Considerations

Below is a list of the most important website design elements that simply can’t be overlooked, from a technical standpoint, when redesigning your website:

•    Missing page titles
•    Duplicate page titles
•    Page titles over 55 characters
•    Missing H1 tags
•    Duplicate H1 tags
•    Missing meta descriptions
•    Duplicate meta descriptions
•    Meta descriptions over 150 characters
•    Broken internal/external links
•    Image alt text
•    XML sitemap
•    Duplicate content
•    Pages indexed by Google
•    Site speed and performance
•    URL structure

It all sounds very complicated and technical, but if as a business owner you are at least passively aware of these things, you can at least ask the right questions and make sure your web designer is doing a good job for you.

All these components help Google and Bing to properly read and index your website correctly. When all these things are done properly, then search engines stand a much better chance of ranking your site higher than if your site is full of errors.

It’s not all that difficult. Just browsing through your site page by page, you can often see what SEO was done or not. Giving your website redesign this needed attention will help assure that your website if given the best possible chance to being visible search engines and letting your customers to find you.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul Albee is the digital marketing director of ATS Design Group in Syracuse, New York. Paul and his team specialize in all aspects of online digital marketing including website design, SEO search engine optimization, social media marketing as well as print and advertising design. Paul grew up in Cedar Rapids, attended Washington High School and is Mike Albee’s brother, serving clients across upstate New York, Eastern Iowa and nationwide.

Local Search Doubles Since 2014 on Smartphones

Google reports that people are searching more on their smartphones than ever before.  In fact, according to an official Google blog post earlier this month, mobile (smartphone) search has now outpaced desktop search for the first time in history in 10 countries, including the United States and Japan.

Now Google says that individuals are also searching with “location qualifiers” such as “near me” or “nearby, and that these types of searches have doubled in the last year.  (Google Trends, March 2015).

Furthermore, 80% of these searches are done from a mobile device, most often a smartphone.

The lesson for Cedar Rapids small businesses is to make your website your top priority since it is the first thing people look at and it is what determines whether they feel like they want to do business with you.  The bottom line is that you must have a mobile-friendly, responsive website design that looks good and provides a comfortable user experience on a smartphone screen.

Smartphones are the place most consumers start their journey to purchase, and the last place at the bottom of the sales funnel where they “tap to call” to make that crucial initial appointment or inquiry.