Mobile-First Indexing Is Coming: Is Your Website Ready


Is Your Business Website Ready for Mobile-first Indexing?

The day of reckoning is upon us. On March 26, Google began its great rollout of mobile-first indexing. And websites that are not optimized for mobile shall know the great pain of plummeting search engine rankings. As mobile views continue to overtake desktop views, websites must be mobile responsive. According to TechCrunch, the majority of people who use Google search now do so from mobile devices, and have done so since 2015. Lagging behind is no longer an option for businesses that want to be visible and competitive.

Google's Mobile-first Indexing: A Brief History of Mobile Overtaking Desktop

Google began to prioritize mobile sites in 2015 by boosting the rank of mobile-friendly webpages on mobile search results. The following year, Google detailed its plan to change the way its search index operates, explaining how its algorithms would eventually be shifted to use the mobile version of a website’s content to index its pages – as well as to understand its structured data and to show snippets from the site in the Google search results. 

In December 2017, Google began transitioning a small handful of sites to mobile-first indexing, but did not identify which ones had made the move.

Now, the rollout is officially underway. To avoid misunderstanding, Google explains that it will still have only one index for search results – the mobile-first index is not separate. This means that Google will look to a website’s mobile web pages first to index your website, not the desktop version – so change your mindset about the latter being the “real” version of your site that gets all the SEO, content, and structured data markup attention, and the former being an afterthought.

Google likens this switch to the move from analog to digital

 

In a related development, Google recently announced that starting this July, page speed will also be a ranking factor for mobile searches, with slow-loading content being downranked. Don’t say we didn’t warn you in our blog post of February 28, “The Importance of Getting Your Website Up to Speed!

Mobile Responsive Website Design: Ensuring Your Business is Ready

Continuing with our self-reference, our blog post of March 7, “How to Tell if Your Website Needs a Redesign,” discussed how a responsive website that changes based on the needs of the users and the device they’re viewing it on is mandatory.

Responsive web design allows a website to respond to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. The practice consists of a mix of flexible grids and layouts, images and an intelligent use of CSS media queries. As the user switches from laptop to mobile devices, the website automatically accommodates for resolution, image size and scripting abilities.

Responsive web design gives visitors a seamless user experience (UX) on all mobile devices. Orlando SEO, Orlando Digital Marketing, Orlando Web Design, Best Lake Mary SEO Company

According to Google, 61% of users are highly unlikely to return to a website that doesn’t work well on mobile, with 40% moving on to visit a competitor’s site. Couple this intrinsic drawback with diminished rankings from not having a website optimized for mobile-first indexing, and you can see how detrimental a non-mobile responsive website can be to your bottom line.

SEMRush offers the following advice for getting your website ready for mobile-first indexing:

• Aim for a loading speed of less than two seconds.
• Make sure your content is the same from desktop to mobile.
• Be aware that there is no longer a need to block CSS, JavaScript or images.
• Consider including expendable content on your mobile site – such as accordions, expandable boxes and content hidden in tabs. While this wasn’t weighted very high on desktop sites, it will be on mobile.

Of course, the best way to ensure your website is ready for this transformation is to work with a web design company that keeps up-to-date with industry changes. Virtual Stacks Systems is a full-service digital marketing company with 25 years of experience that includes developing websites for a wide range of businesses and organizations. Contact us today, so you can be ready for high rankings tomorrow!

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Why Your Business Needs a Custom Email Address


Still Using @GMail.com for Business?
This is Why You Should Switch to Branded Company Emails

It is practically impossible to do business these days without a custom email address. Whether your business is an online only ecommerce store, a brick-and-mortar, or a combination, a custom email address allows you to convey a professional image of your organization and increases its credibility. The message your email address sends is just as important than the message your email contains. For example:

• Custom email address = This is a real business

• Your personal gmail.com (or other) address = This is a side-hustle/hobby – or, even worse, a scam

According to a recent survey by Verisign – an internet domain name and security company – two thirds of consumers consider a branded, professional email address to be much more credible than a personal one. 

 While email may have fallen out of favor as the primary tool for everyday social interaction, it remains the most popular platform by far for business communication. According to Forrester, 87% of all corporate communications are carried out via email.

For budget-minded small businesses, a free email address might seem like the ideal solution. But the drawbacks far outnumber this single advantage.

Disadvantages to using a free email address for business

1- Lack of credibility/perception of your business as unprofessional or dubious.

2- Increased chance your email will be sent directly to the recipient’s spam folder.

3- Decreased data security. Yahoo’s massive data breach was reported in 2016, but occurred two years earlier, exposing sensitive personal and business for a long period of time. Major public email providers undoubtedly will continue to present an attractive target to cybercriminals.

4- Increased vulnerability to viruses.

Advantages to using a custom email address for business

In addition to helping establish credibility and strengthen branding, a custom email address can serve your business in the following ways:

1- More efficient collaboration with your team members – custom email addresses are rich in other features that help you collaborate with your team. Such features as contacts, tasks, calendar and outlook collaboration help you streamline your business operations. You can send, receive, and manage meeting requests, check your team members’ availability and view their calendar, which improves the overall functioning of your organization.

2- Greater flexibility and customization – You can create separate email addresses for people in various departments of your business. For example: service@ or admin@, which will allow messages to reach the appropriate departments or individuals, thereby providing a higher level of customer service.

3- You always have your files and data backed up – All of your contact information is vital to the success of your organization, and you cannot afford to lose any of it. When you get a custom email address from a reliable service provider, all your data is constantly backed up, and there is nothing that you stand to lose at any given point in time.

4- Greater security – Free email accounts are vulnerable to viruses that can compromise or destroy your company’s data, as well as infect the email accounts of others and steal their personal information. A custom email address provides greater protection. An email service provider should be able to supply adequate safeguards for your online data.

Virtual Stacks Systems has been providing affordable email hosting solutions for more than 20 years. Our services include anti-virus and spam protection, constant back-up with our global servers and experienced technical support. If your business needs help in reaching the next level of branding, customer service and security, contact us to learn more.

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Why Your Website Needs to be Up-to-Speed


Why Your Website Needs to be Up-to-Speed

Assuming that a critical mass of viewers of the 2018 Winter Olympics had only a passing knowledge of the sports and how they’re judged, the super giant slalom – or “super-G” – may have surprised many with the literally split-second timing by which victory or defeat was determined. But did you know that the same holds true for the speed of your website?

A too-slow site can cost you business in ways both overt (frustrated would-be customers giving up and visiting a competitor’s website) and subtle (negative indexation by Google – speaking of “super-G”). Here is what to keep front-of-mind when determining whether your website (which should be optimized for mobile – more about that later) has the speed it needs to give your enterprise the competitive edge.

Speed is Important to Everyone Even if your business doesn’t involve ecommerce, your website still exists to drive sales. Consumers looking for a pest control service expect fast-loading pages as much as those shopping for shoes. Pages with a longer load time have higher bounce rates (the percentage of visitors who leave the site after viewing only one page), as well as a lower average time spent on the page. Need we mention that visitors using a mobile device have even greater expectations of instantaneous results?

Also, Google has indicated that site speed is one of the signals its algorithm uses to rank pages. For those with just a passing acquaintance of tech-speak, site speed refers to the page speed for a sample of page views on a website. It is different from page speed – also known as page load time (the time it takes to fully display the content of a page) – or time to first byte (how long it takes a browser to receive the first byte of information from the web server).  Why is this important? Because Google may be measuring time to first byte when it considers page speed – and, in turn, your website’s page rankings.

Test Website SPeed, How to test Website Speed, Importance of Website Speed, Increase Page Load Times, How to speed up your WordPress

To test the speed of your website and diagnose errors that are slowing it down, try GT Metrix, and Google's PageSpeed Insights, we use them here at Virtual Stacks and they are trusted in our industry as go-to sources for accurate page speed testing.

Speed Improves the User Experience Back to the world of real-life consumers, website speed is vital to providing a good user experience – just as important as user-friendliness and site reliability. To owners of ecommerce websites, speed continues to increase as a factor in conversion rates. All of the most advanced conversion rate optimization (CRO) analytics won’t help your business if the website loads too slowly.

So what’s considered “slow” by the standards of online visitors? Returning to our opening super-G analogy, the average visitor will only tolerate a load time of up to two seconds. Google’s engineers have found that potential customers will visit a site less often if it’s slower than that of a close competitor’s by more than 250 milliseconds. Yes, you read that right – milliseconds. Among their other discoveries: even 400 milliseconds – literally the blink of an eye – is too long for website visitors to wait for a page to load.

Speed Moves Mobile ForwardWebsite visitors expect the same type of experience on their mobile device as they do on their computer. Yet according to Google, a web page can take nine seconds to load on a mobile phone. Even utilizing responsive web design – which automatically adjusts the display of the website according to the type of device accessing it – doesn’t guarantee faster load times.

Google appears to recognize the emergence of mobile as the predominate means of accessing the web as it continues to roll out its mobile-first indexing, using mobile content for all search rankings. Although called an “experiment,” it’s actually the first move in Google's planned shift to looking primarily at mobile content, rather than desktop, when deciding how to rank results. Search Engine Land recently reported that Google will move more sites to the mobile-first index in the coming weeks.

The Take-home Message An ecommerce website that provides a user-friendly experience – beginning with a fast load time – is better positioned to sustain a competitive advantage. From making customers happy to improving search engine rankings, website speed is now an even greater priority than ever. To be sure your organization is up-to-speed, our web development team at Virtual Stacks Systems can create a website/ecommerce site that will help your organization achieve its goals. Contact us today to learn more.

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The State of B2B Content Marketing in 2018 – Long Live the King!


The State of B2B Content Marketing in 2018 – Long Live the King!

The adage “Content is King” has just been proven more true than ever. A newly released survey report, B2B Content Marketing 2018: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America, reveals the effectiveness of content marketing in building audiences and businesses. The results are worth noting if your business is on the fence about launching a content marketing strategy, or committing more resources to your existing program.

The eighth annual survey was produced by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs, and sponsored by online video platform Brightcove.

  

It was mailed to a sample of marketers using lists from CMI, MarketingProfs, Association for Data-driven Marketing & Advertising (ADMA), WTWH Media, and Technology for Marketing (TFM).

Content Marketing By The Numbers

First significant finding: Content marketing is no longer a nice-to-have extra. The survey revealed an 18% year-over-year increase in respondents who said they’re focused on using content marketing to build their audience. Why? Because content marketing is a proven strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. In addition, nearly 65% of respondents said their overall content marketing success has increased compared with one year ago.

First eye-opening finding: 91% of B2B survey respondents said they use content marketing. Of the nonusers, 54% said they plan to launch a content marketing effort within 12 months.

Behind the numbers: Unlike the early days of content marketing, high-quality content that adds value to your business or brand makes a big difference. According to the survey, the major factor contributing to B2B marketers’ increased content marketing success over the last year was content creation (higher quality, more efficient) at 78%. Coming in second at 72% was strategy (development or adjustment).

Following the emphasis on quality, 74% of respondents agreed with the statement, “Our organization values creativity and craft in content creation and production.” The most agreed-with statement at 80% was, “Our organization is focused on building audiences (building one or more subscriber bases).” Also revealing were responses to how often B2B marketers consider various concepts while creating content. Ensuring that content is fact-based and/or credible was cited by 94% of respondents. Following in second and third place, respectively, was “Consider how our content impacts the overall experience a person has with our organization” at 72%, and “Prioritize delivering content quality over content quantity” at 70%.

Most Popular Content Marketing Types

What types of content did the survey respondents use for content marketing purposes? Social media posts – excluding videos – topped the list at 94%. However, long-form content, such as e-books and white papers (50%) and case studies (47%) placed ahead of social media posts (41%) when it came to the top three most effective types of content for helping their organization achieve specific objectives.

So how do organizations measure success? Analytics tools were identified by 87% of respondents for managing the effectiveness of content marketing efforts. Email marketing technology (email-focused) followed at 70%.

As further testimony to the power of content marketing, 38% of survey respondents expect their content marketing budget to increase in the next 12 months.

On the other side of B2B enthusiasm for content marketing was the group of respondents that did not plan to develop a content marketing strategy within 12 months. The major reasons? A small team (67%) and lack of time (44%).

Although the survey did not explore this aspect, organizations that feel shut out of the great potential content marketing offers can work with a full-service digital marketing company to provide a complete content marketing strategy, and handle all aspects of content creation, posting, management and analytics. Even B2B organizations that are considering expanding their content marketing reach or want to free up internal resources can benefit from outsourcing.

Add Content To Your Marketing Strategy

Our experienced content marketing team at Virtual Stacks Systems knows the importance of producing high-quality content that’s relevant to your target audience and adds value to your business or brand at every step. Contact us today if you want to be among next year’s top performers!

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