When it comes to building a successful web destination, it’s easy to get wrapped up in site design and content. While both of these factors play an important role in a site’s overall appeal, it’s the domain name itself that should be your primary focus. Shakespeare famously opined, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” but for branding purposes, your name is everything. Before you invest in the wrong product for your business, use the following tips to find and buy the perfect domain name.
Name Your Brand and Domain Simultaneously
Startups certainly have the upper hand here, but it’s important to include domain research when working on creating your brand. Spend some time getting familiar with your competitors and invest your creative energy in finding names with strong ties to your vision or product. If a name you like doesn’t have an available domain, consider alternatives that do.
If you’re an established company, you might not be willing to rebrand entirely for domain purposes. If your first choice domain is currently registered to someone else, consider contacting them using their WHOIS data details. You might also want to put yourself on a waiting list for the URL in question, which many registrars offer.
Create a Link to Your Business
It’s not rocket science folks! Pick a domain that you’ll never need to explain to your customers. Some web publishers focus too heavily on choosing a domain that uses industry keywords, rather than one that reflects an organization’s branding. While domain keywords can have an impact on page ranking, the benefits of branding your domain and business with the same name outweigh the advantages of snappy keywords.
Keep It Simple
Think of the domains you remember off the top of your head. Most of them are likely short, single-word URLs, correct? Long domains are hard for visitors to remember and not mobile-friendly. Don’t use hyphens or numbers, but try to stick with simple domains that have no potential variations. Make it easy for your visitors to remember you and your brand.
Stick with .com
Some businesses try to get around limited domain availability by eschewing the .com extension for alternatives like .net or .org. In most cases, however, it’s advisable to stick with the tried and true .com. This extension remains the most popular by far, and your visitors will have an easier time remembering your domain if you use it. Exceptions to this rule may include nonprofit organizations or companies located in another country, but most local businesses should make .com their priority.
Register for Multiple Years
Once you’ve finally settled on a domain name that meets the necessary criteria, be sure to register it for at least five years. Registering your domain for a longer period of time can help build credibility for your brand, and in some instances, a longer registration period positively impacts page rank. Longer registration periods are also cheaper in many cases.
Learning to navigate the complicated backend of a business website can feel like trying to make sense of hieroglyphics. From traffic generation to keyword density, the many facets of maintaining a successful site can place even the most experienced marketers in a bind.
Fortunately, Google provides a lifeline for webmasters eager to capitalize on their site’s potential: Google Search Console, formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools. Whether you’re an accomplished web guru looking to simplify management of your domain, or you’re an amateur treading unknown waters, learning the basics will make Google Search Console a must-have for your marketing arsenal.
Benefit 1: Speed Up Your Site
Every web user knows the frustration of trying to browse a pitifully slow website, but you might be surprised to learn that speed impacts search ranking. According to research conducted by Moz, it’s not the load time that impacts your ranking, but instead the time it takes for the server to respond to a user request. You can easily verify that everything is in order on your site by using Google Search Console to fetch your site. If the numbers are weak, consider upgrading to a better hosting plan.
Benefit 2: Discover Your Keyword Impact
Including the right keywords in your content falls under the auspices of SEO 101, but measuring the impact of your SEO strategy often proves somewhat problematic. Google Search Console simplifies this by revealing which pages on your site rank highest for particular keywords. To view this information, simply click any keyword in the search queries list. In turn, you can determine which pages to focus on improving to capture even more visitors.
Benefit 3: Examine the Value of Your Content
Many webmasters struggle to pinpoint where they should focus their content creation efforts. From photos and infographics to long form blog posts and video blogs, content extends far beyond the confines of text paragraphs. Google Search Console makes it simple to determine what content resonates best with your audience, with the average ranking position for each page of your website. These numbers allow you to understand what content you should focus on to make a bigger impact.
Benefit 4: Determine How Visitors Find You
Ever wonder how exactly your visitors are arriving on your site? Google Search Console takes the mystery out of your game, with detailed statistics that explore the average keyword rankings, organic search impressions, and overall click-through rate (CTR) for your pages. Again, this information can make a dramatic impact on your overall SEO strategy.
Benefit 5: Find Out Who Is Talking About You
Search engine traffic is great, but direct referrals from high-ranking websites can be even better. Google Search Console makes it easy to find out who is sending traffic your direction. Frequently monitor your inbound links to determine which sites make the biggest impact. If you’re particularly ambitious, consider building partnerships with these brands to further capitalize on the benefits they offer your business.
The undeniable power of search engine optimization has helped make the technique a marketing powerhouse over the course of the past decade. SEO offers a myriad of benefits for organizations of all shapes and sizes, but local business owners need to address a unique set of criteria to maximize the effectiveness of their optimization efforts. If you’re an entrepreneur looking to boost your site’s marketing prowess in your local market, consider the following essentials for mastering local SEO, once and for all.
Local Directories: Listing Your Business
Long gone are the days when consumers would turn to the Yellow Pages to connect with local business owners. Instead, modern buyers use sites like Google+ Places, Google Maps, Yahoo! Local and Bing Places for Business. Listing your business in these directories has a twofold effect. Firstly, the directories themselves serve as a valuable tool, should web users start their search with one of these portals. Local listings also enhance the overall SEO power of your website, in turn boosting your search rankings.
Social Proof: Demonstrating Your Value
Ask yourself the following question: Would you be more likely to trust the advice of an advertisement or an independent customer? In almost all instances, you’d choose a real customer’s input over a company’s advertising copy, right? This simple exercise demonstrates the incredible potential review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Google+ represent.
It’s not enough to merely claim your business’ listing on one of these sites, however. You need to publicize your presence on review sites. Many entrepreneurs include easy links in their email footers and on their business cards. You can also print signage to include in your storefront, or place small widgets on your site. Remember, it’s important not to directly solicit positive reviews, however, as you could find yourself in violation of the terms and conditions of these directories.
Mobile Users: Making Your Site Responsive
If you didn’t already know, Google changed its algorithms earlier this year to prioritize responsive sites. Responsive websites shift to fit the screen of each unique visitor. If your site isn’t yet responsive, make this a top priority in the months to come. Not only will adopting a responsive design boost your SEO performance, but it will also better convert the 63% of smartphone users performing local searches.
Running a local business and managing a corporate brand differ in a multitude of ways. Utilizing business directories, gathering social proof, and catering to mobile customers may not make much impact on a large conglomerate, but these marketing techniques have far reaching implications for small businesses. By investing your attention and resources in pursuing these marketing channels, you’re bound to increase your site’s traffic count, convert more visitors, and hopefully, grow your bottom line.
Content marketing accounts for an astounding $135 billion in annual spending, for one simple reason: it works. Great content should engage users, encourage social sharing, and ultimately convert visitors. Generating new content for the web can prove challenging, however, particularly for small businesses and restaurateurs. If you’re eager to capitalize on the power of content marketing for your business and not sure where to start, consider the following ten content ideas for restaurants.
1. Turn Your Best Dishes into Instagram Stars
Large chains spend billions of dollars each year bombarding television screens with delicious imagery in an attempt to lure in diners. You might not have the budget for a television advertising campaign, but why not use Instagram to document your latest creations?
2. Embrace the Listicle
Buzzfeed counts an impressive 200 million unique visitors each month, thanks in no small part to the digestibility of its listicles. Try your hand at creating something similar, such as 10 Plates
You Won’t Want to Miss this Month or 6 Dream Dates in [Your City.]
3. Tell Your Story in Video Format
Consumers love to learn the story behind a brand, and few mediums get the message across as well as video. Why not partner with a local videographer to broadcast what makes your restaurant truly special?
4. Release an Iconic Recipe
If your customers can’t get enough of your steak marinade or key lime pie, why not share the recipe with the masses? It sounds intimidating, by sharing favorite recipes can generate brand loyalty, encourage repeat visits, and more. Customers don’t patronize your restaurant just for the food—your ambiance, customer service, and preparation counts for more than you realize.
5. Get Your Chefs Talking
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many consumers are awful cooks. Why not ask your chefs to prepare a list of 5 simple tips you can share via social media?
6. Highlight Other Businesses
Instead of making everything about you and your brand, why not create a blog exploring the best destinations in your community and include your restaurant? You might be surprised how much traction these articles can gain quickly.
7. Host an Online Giveaway
People love free stuff. Why not host a gift card giveaway and require user submissions via social media. Encourage your followers to tag your restaurant for a chance to win, and watch the residual traffic pour in.
8. Seek Customer Input with a Poll
Internet users love to share their thoughts. Why not create a poll that will encourage user participation and provide valuable insight for your brand? Ask respondents to indicate which new special you should add to your menu or the best part of your restaurant’s cuisine.
9. Go Behind the Scenes
Customers are always intrigued by what happens behind the scenes at their favorite hotspots. Why not document a day in the life of one of your staffers or explore the creation of a new dish for the menu?
10. Create a Meme
Feeling clever? Why not make a meme using a photo taken in your restaurant? Put your link on the image and share it with the masses.
When it comes to establishing a full-fledged social media presence, many small businesses focus their attention exclusively on Facebook and Twitter. While the impressive reach of these two networks is undeniable, platforms like Pinterest represent an incredible growth opportunity for small brands. 83% of Pinterest’s users would rather interact with brands than celebrities, and a further 52% use the platform to make buying decisions. If you need further convincing, don’t overlook these key ten reasons to use Pinterest for business.
1. Pinterest Users are Motivated Buyers
Pinterest is driven by content. Research suggests that 47% of social media users have made a purchase based on a Pinterest recommendation alone.
2. There is No Better Platform for Sharing Content
Reaching the masses with your brand content often proves challenging, but Pinterest makes easy work of it. Encourage people to share your blog posts, photos, and videos by including share links directly on your website.
3. It’s Easy to Express Your Brand Aesthetic on Pinterest
The visual appeal of a brand falls under Marketing 101, but some social networks aren’t well-suited for branding messages. Pinterest makes it easy! Optimize your leverage by creating “pinnable” square graphics to accompany your content.
4. Pins Represent Long-Term Value.
Minutes after you share a tweet or Facebook post, users will see newer information at the top of their feed. Popular pins, on the other hand, can refer traffic days, weeks, and months after their original publication. If you’re striving to maximize your social media ROI, Pinterest offers a smart place to start.
5. Pinterest Drives Impressive Traffic.
Forget about paid advertisements and complicated SEO strategies—Pinterest represents one of the web’s most formidable forms of traffic generation. The network was responsible for the second-most social media referrals in 2014.
6. Market Research and Trends Abound
Never again wonder what interests your target audience. Instead, simply peruse the boards of your brand’s followers for a veritable treasure trove of information about your buyers’ habits and preferences.
7. Pinners Crave Lifestyle Content.
Pinterest’s user base skews overwhelmingly female, and its most active pinners focus their attention of food and drink, lifestyle topics, and home decor. If you’re operating in these industries, Pinterest represents explosive growth potential.
8. Pinterest Caters to a Diverse Audience.
Cutting-edge social networks like Instagram and Snapchat may be the most popular with Millennials, but Pinterest’s demographics show it counts large numbers of users across the age spectrum. Diversify your marketing efforts and start pinning!
9. The Network Keeps Growing.
Pinterest now counts nearly 80 million unique visitors monthly, an increase of 47% over last year’s numbers. Compare these numbers to the stagnant growth of both Twitter and Facebook to understand how powerful Pinterest is set to become.
10. Pinterest Plays Nicely with Other Social Networks
Fear you don’t have enough time to invest in operating a social media presence across various platforms? Fortunately, Pinterest works in conjunction with other networks. Integrate your account with Facebook, for example, and kill two birds with a single stone.