How To Plan A Local Business Marketing Strategy (for free!)

Local Business Marketing Strategy

I get a lot of hyper-specific local marketing questions, e.g. “should I get more links?” “how do I rank #1 on Google in my area?” or “I just launched website and want to try Twitter ads.” They are great in a way – I’m a huge fan of experimentation.

But most local store owners haven’t developed an effective inbound* marketing strategy at all. They miss the forest (how everything works together) for the trees (specific tactics) so to speak.

*Inbound = the industry jargon for marketing that focuses on being where your customers are so that they buy from you “naturally.” Inbound contrasts with outbound marketing, which focuses on finding, interrupting and cold pitching potential customers.

The exciting opportunity about local marketing is that even in major metros – few businesses have a consistent idea about what they are doing.

And unfortunately, the local agencies they hire either have no idea what they are doing either…or they remain focused on a single (billable) tactic.

So – if you are a local business owner and can take the time to develop a single comprehensive marketing strategy (don’t worry – it’s not as complicated as it sounds), you can take all in a winner-take-all-world of digital marketing for not that much money.

I’m going to outline the the exact inbound marketing strategy for local business that I recommend to every reader and client I’ve ever worked with. I’m focusing on local but 80% of this applies to every business (I even wrote a similar post for ecommerce here).

This post is 4400 words. It’s meant for reference as you tackle each part. The 5 step short version of the strategy is –

  1. Decide exactly who you are selling to (e.g., “hotel managers in the Charlotte metro region” or high-income women in Buckhead, Atlanta” or “people stranded in a grocery store parking lot around Los Angeles”).
  2. Build a website with Analytics enabled with pages that address problems & services your target market will need.
  3. Systematically claim & build out local profiles that your target market is likely to look at.
  4. Launch small ad campaigns on Google AdWords to get data & feedback on your site.
  5. Systematically build out new content & new promotional channels based on what you are good at & your market wants.

Definitions & Business Goals

Before you decide to do anything, you have to figure out what you have, what you want, and who you are going to market to.

This part of the strategy can be a big slowdown for people; so many action-oriented people immediately jump to trying stuff. That is true, but there’s a balance. It’s just as important to shoot in the right direction as it is to pull the trigger once you’re generally right.

There’s 3 things that you have to figure out. You can figure all of them out simultaneously or in any sequence, but you do have to have a general idea of your product offering, marketing personas and revenue goals. The good news is that the “local” part of your business makes this process simpler.

Product

What are you offering? What’s your brand? What do you have access to that’s different in any way?

Remember, you’re defining your product offering, not your grand life mission. Your product offering needs to be simple, clear and straightforward. Your offering should be something that is different in some way – ie, a competitor shouldn’t be able to copy + paste and be you.

If your sole offering is that you are the product provider at X address and not at Y address, that’s fine…but you should keep that in mind in your marketing. Your product is still competing for time and attention. For example, the only hot dog stand in Downtown is still competing with packed lunches from home. The only shoe store in the local mall is still competing with free shipping from Zappos.

Personas

Personas are the foundation of marketing and are simply process of developing a composite of your ideal customer. You can read very in-depth guides to personas or listen to episodes on personas but you can also keep it short, simple and straightforward (especially for local marketing).

Outline the wants, needs, likes, dislikes, habits, and information of someone you think would definitely buy your product offering. Outline where they hang out, what they read, who they pay attention to, etc.

Don’t just armchair imagine this. Ask potential customers what neighborhood they are from? What other shops do they visit? What local organizations do they volunteer with? What problems do they have that your business solves?

Make 2 to 4 very specific personas. Remember that your initial market is not your total market. Even if you start out by targeting a very specific geographic area or a very specific customer doesn’t mean that you can’t expand. It’ll just give you more focus.

Your initial target market/persona is simply your initial market. It’s small enough that you can effectively reach them but big enough that you can get some sales and feedback to polish your product and brand while rolling out to a bigger market. Nearly every business started this way – including famous local businesses. Shake Shack’s owners started by focusing on 5 minute walking area in New York. Zingerman’s Sandwiches started by focusing on college students in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Revenue

You have to put real money goals in place. Even if you feel like your budget is arbitrary…you still need a budget if only to give yourself some frame of reference. Outline all your product costs, profit margins, and what kind of marketing spend gives you a positive return. Here’s a more extensive post on “quant-based marketing.”

For local businesses based on leads, the data might be harder to collect. But some ballpark is better than nothing. If you can look at the last week’s inquiries and convert that to sales – that’s better than many businesses.

Website Structure, Analysis & Data

Now that you have an idea of what you are marketing, who you are marketing to, and how valuable that marketing is – it’s time to get a good digital foundation in place.

Some local businesses miss the days of Yellow Pages when local marketing was much simpler. And it was. However, the switch to digital research has become so complete that if you can navigate the foundation – you can go far beyond where you could have gone in the Yellow Pages days for far less money.

Like setting definitions and business goals, this part of the process can slow things down. But they don’t have to, as long as you keep the end goal in mind, which is:

To attract and accurately measure enough conversions (aka sales) to fund and improve your product offering, personas and revenue.

Setting Up Website

Even though you are selling in the physical world, you still need a solid website to do really well. If you are going super-lean, you can sell from a Facebook page or Yelp profile. But going without a decent looking website will put you behind the curve and place limitations on what you can do with your brand & marketing.

I recommend setting your own website up with a common, well known software like WordPress and hosting it on your own hosting account. I have a simple guide to doing that from scratch here.

That route will give you a good technical foundation with fast, simple setup. It will also allow you to implement a customized off the shelf design – “themes.” Themes allow you to have a website that looks good enough to make a sale without spending months and lots of money on a 100% custom design. Creating a website on something like WordPress also allows you to implement a 100% custom design when that time comes.

Setting Up Goals

The key part of setting up a website though is Analytics. There are a ton of options, but Google Analytics is the go-to solution (also – free).

If you are using WordPress, installing the Google Analytics plugin by Yoast will give you further flexibility to track clicks to call and more.

Click To Call for Local Phone Numbers

The key is to make sure you have goals setup. At minimum, have your contact form redirect to a Thank You page – and make the Thank You page a goal completion.

Thank You Page Goal Completion

Next, you should also link Google Analytics to Google AdWords and set up a retargeting audience with Google Analytics.

Then, you should set up a Facebook Ads account and place the Facebook pixel on your website. This will allow you to run retargeting campaigns on Facebook & track goals.

Then, be sure to add a Twitter retargeting pixel to your site.

*note all these are fairly simple if you are using WordPress and a theme like Genesis that makes adding code to the correct section simple.

Header Footer Editing in WordPress

Lastly, be sure to verify your website with both Google Search Console & Bing Webmaster Tools to track any errors & improvements that you can make.

Setting Up Local Profiles

If you are in local marketing (at least in the USA), you know all about Yelp, Google My Business, etc.

In local marketing, those local directories serve a three fold purpose in your marketing strategy –

First, they can drive customers to your website & directly to your business. Many potential customers skip to their favorite local directory before Googling.

Second, those local directories rank very well for potential customers looking for a local/product service. Do a search for your local product/service. Half the search results are probably Yelp, Yellow Pages, UrbanSpoon, etc. If you are the “result within the result” – you get to piggyback on those directories’ marketing prowess.

Yelp Ranking

Third, Google & Bing use directory profiles (aka “citations”) as a factor in their local search algorithms. It is very hard for search engines to verify the existence & quality of a business in the physical world. So they use these directories as proxies for both existence & quality.

Aside – a great post on how Google is now using & serving up local data now that Google+ is gone.

So what do you do?

Manually claim, verify & fill out every. single. profile.

Yes – the process is tedious, repetitive and a bit maddening. But it’s how this piece of local marketing works. On the flip side – your time investment in getting these profiles right creates a large barrier to entry that many competitors simply aren’t willing to do.

Start with Google. You can get a full list of the most common local directories here. If you are a restaurant, keep in mind that there will be others (e.g., UrbanSpoon).

So what exactly are you doing with these profiles? A few things.

The most important item is to claim & verify the profile then edit it so that every single profile has the exact same Name, Address & Phone number (your “N.A.P.” in marketing jargon). There shouldn’t be a single comma difference among your profiles. Ideally, your public business name will be the same as the name on your government-issued business license.

Next, make sure the profile links to your website. Fill out every field as best you can. Write a detailed description of your business.

Don’t buy ads or promotions yet. Just get everything verified & filled out.

Don’t outsource this to an agency or service like Yext. It’s tempting to have a tool do it automatically, but (speaking from a lot of experience) it’s simply not worth it. At best, it won’t be done right & will take a very long time. At worst, you will lose control of your own business listings in the future.

*side note – if you have more than ~20 locations, then look solutions like Moz Local and SweetIQ in addition to Yext. They all have tradeoffs, but once you are over ~20 locations, then you do have to start looking at tools, especially for your non-Google profiles.

If you need to save time, get an intern, a college student or your agency’s account manager to come on-site next to the owner/decision-maker. Set up a spreadsheet, a phone and a computer and have them knock it out.

Setting Up Focused Pages

Next, you need to create high-quality focused pages on your website. In addition to your Home page, About page, and Privacy page, you need landing pages to address specific needs.

When I say “landing pages” – don’t think of anything too complex. I’m simply referring to pages that visitors can land on from a search engine or an ad and find exactly what they are looking for.

Because why? Here’s pro tip that few website owners will admit to: nobody cares about or even sees your homepage. Your homepage is for people who already know you who are. For local businesses in a single specific service, you can use it to “rank” for your main industry term. For example, if you are a florist, your homepage might be titled “Bella’s Flowers: Florist for Downtown Atlanta, GA”

Landing pages go beyond your homepage.

Landing pages are for new (or returning) visitors to land on and convert. Before you build out all your website pages, you should develop focused landing pages that sell to one or all of these buckets:

Service specific – These pages are all about the product benefit for who you are selling to. They should “target” a term that potential customers are searching for. Keeping with the florist example, you should have pages about “Floral Arrangements for Funerals in Atlanta, GA” and “Birthday Floral Arrangements for Atlanta, GA”

Each service landing page should have content addressing all your persona’s concerns (ie, delivery, process, options, etc).

Local / Logistics specific – These pages are all about the location service & logistics of obtaining your products & services. If you are a restaurant, think your menu page. If you are a service area business, think neighborhood pages that you serve. For everyone, think directions page.

These pages are tough to do well. If you have the same page with one word swapped out, they look spammy. And are generally not useful. Learn how to do them well with this guide. Build them out over time based on your priorities.

The goal here is to sell to people at the very bottom of the marketing funnel – the customers most likely to convert. These pages will both rank organically – and you can use them for paid ads.

Getting Traffic

Now – you have to get people to your website. And this is where a lot of people get way too detailed…way too fast. Why?

Because not all marketing channels operate at the same speed. They also all have different strengths and weaknesses. Think of all marketing channels in terms of complementing or supplementing each other instead of competing. It’s all about how you put it together.

For example, the US Navy’s main war-going unit is the Aircraft Carrier Group. But it’s not just made up of an aircraft carrier. Instead, it’s a grouping of different types of ships that all do different things at different speeds so that the whole group together is nearly invincible.

A lot of local business owners want to start with only SEO or with a fully fleshed out social strategy…usually because the clicks are nominally free. To keep to the analogy, that’s like sending your battleship and aircraft carrier to scout out for the rest of the group.

Not usually ideal. Battleships (aka SEO) and Aircraft Carriers (Social) take a while to get going and to turn. Save those until you know where you’re going. For SEO, if you have built out a few key landing pages with the right keywords and titles and have your local profiles set up, your SEO strategy is already in motion.

For social, treat it like a customer support channel and/or dedicate minimal time to it until you have enough traffic to figure out what works.

Start with channels that can speed up, slow down and change direction at will. That means 2 things: direct outreach and paid traffic.

Direct Outreach

I call this channel direct outreach, but other people would call it “just hustlin’”. This channel consists of all the tedious and tough pitching that you know you need to do…but don’t want to do.

This means emailing and Facebook messaging people that you know might be interested. And sending them to your landing pages to buy or subscribe to an email list (for discounts, etc).

It means looking in your immediate area or niche social networks like NextDoor to see if there’s any way you can help neighbors (who are already fans) help you.

Paid Search Traffic

Yes, “inbound marketing” is usually associated with getting people to your website for “free.”

But I think search marketing is a bit of an exception. You are doing inbound marketing – being where your customers are when they are interested in buying – but you are just paying Google to be at the front of the line.

AdWords can be expensive for a good return on investment, especially for the close to converting keywords that you should try to buy. But your goal is slightly different.

You are buying data. Lots of data. And spending some money to acquire this data is a lot more effective than spending tons on an local content strategy right out of the gate.

Plus, if you run a well-structured, hyper-local campaign (remember those focused landing pages?), you can run a very cost-effective local campaign.

You should be doing a few things with your new traffic.

  • Look at what keywords are driving sales. AdWords gives you this information. Try using modified broad match for your keywords. Many times customers are using a wider variety of keywords than you’d guess.
  • Run your ads very focused on geography. If you have a landing page for a neighborhood, set up a campaign for that area.
  • Look at what landing pages are driving sales & calls.
  • Look at what areas are driving sales.
  • Test ad copy and figure out the right messaging. You can use this data to inform any print or display campaigns.
  • Test things like free coupons, events and offers in ad copy.
  • Testing related products to try to increase average order value.
  • Set up Google retargeting campaigns – not generic “buy, buy, buy” campaigns but interesting retargeting ads that you can afford to do when your traffic is small. Think retargeting repeat customers for a review. Think neighborhood specific coupons.
  • Set up Facebook retargeting campaigns – again, you can do some very interesting things with Facebook including all the same ideas for Google, but more focused.
  • Remember that you can setup retargeting cookies to last up to 540 days. That’s more than a year. If you have a long repeat sales cycle, you can bring back repeat customers every year.
  • These retargeting campaigns are all with people who have come to your website & are familiar with your brand. They’ve heard of you.

Now that you have some sales and some data, you should have some sense about where to head next. You can move to Organic Search – or keep moving with more paid options.

Other Paid Options

Facebook – you can run hyper-targeted local campaigns. Pair that with persona data, and you can end up paying very little per click for an extremely targeted ad. Facebook can put Yellow Pages and traditional advertising to shame.

Twitter – Like Facebook, Twitter can put traditional advertising to shame when it comes to hyper-local targeting options.

Google Display (w/ click to call) – Most top publishers run some ads brokered by Google. This means that you can test advertising on local publishers on a cost per click basis. You can even pair it with a click to call option.

If you aren’t sure about budgeting, options & time – move to organic search.

Organic Search (SEO) Traffic

Organic traffic (SEO) still might not be the best next channel to pursue after paid traffic.

And yet, most website owners do have a strong sense of the sheer volume of traffic that Google organic search can drive. For most, a successful SEO campaign would be a huge win. They just need to execute in the right context.

Google processes 4 billion queries with local intent per month. And for most queries, more than 80% of the clicks go to an organic result. And you’ll know from your AdWords campaigns that clicks for commercial keywords can be quite expensive. That’s a cost you don’t have to pay if you rank in the organic results.

So I won’t hide my enthusiasm for SEO. It’s my specialty and is the giant battleship that will keep on going once it’s headed in the right direction.

When you are setting your local inbound marketing strategy, you just have to know what it takes to get organic traffic and what it will take on your part to get it done.

SEO boils down to 3 components:

The first component is technical SEO.

Technical SEO is all about ensuring that Google/Bing bots can crawl and index your website effectively. It’s about making sure you’re not generating tons of duplicate content.

The good news is that if you are using WordPress or an HTML-based website builder (aka not Flash or Wix), you have the big barriers taken care of.

If you are already using a different platform, a technical audit might be the SEO item worth paying for. Mentioning a “stand-alone technical audit with recommendations” to an SEO expert can be valuable if you’re on a custom built site. Just don’t let them sell you on “ranking #1 tomorrow!”

If you are running WordPress, install WordPress SEO by Yoast and run through my guide for using it effectively.

As mentioned earlier, you should have Google Webmaster Tools verified. It will tell you if you have any major problems.

The second component of SEO – on-page content and optimization – is all about “targeting” the right keywords and ensuring that your website is laid out in a coherent way that is understandable by search engines and users browsing your website.

I wrote about the concept of keyword mapping and some basic on-page SEO concepts (like title tags and meta descriptions) previously.

For local marketing, there are a ton of different pieces of content that can bring in visitors. Your early focus should be on your focused landing pages. But there’s nearly unlimited potential to “localize” questions & answers about your products and services.

The idea here is to take pre-qualified content ideas and put a local spin on it. You will stand out if you put some research and thought into it.

Your content should bring in new people AND support sales. Don’t create keyword-stuffed content that won’t help customers on your website make a decision. Make the authoritative content that addresses problems, questions, etc of your market.

The great part about creating the best content is that it will naturally drive the third component of SEO – off-page factors.

Search engines use off-page factors as 3rd party endorsements to judge quality and relevance (aka to rank your site higher).

In local marketing, there are three distinct sets of off-page factors – customer reviews, local citations & links.

Getting Customer Reviews

Reviews on your local profiles are important. They are also incredibly hard to get. There are dozens of ideas on getting more reviews – from review handout packets to email follow-ups to retargeting ads.

However, many successful businesses that I’ve seen stick to the “hard way.” That is – doing an incredibly good job; going above and beyond for every customer; and when the time is right, making a sincere, specific ask from a that single customer.

Getting customer reviews is hard – but it’s equally hard for everyone. And every review that you get is an asset that you get to keep. It’s like building a moat around your local market share.

Getting Local Citations

Local citations are 3rd party mentions of your Name, Address & Phone Number. Most citations will occur in the local listing profiles that you’ve already claimed. However, they also occur outside of the typical local listing directories. Search engines look at these citations to verify that you are who you say you are in the physical world.

Your goal with citations is to make sure you have as many consistent citations as possible. If your name is listed somewhere, then it should likely include your phone number and address. If your phone number is somewhere, then it should include your business name – etc.

The simplest way to research citations is to do Google searches for your Name, Address and Phone Number separately. Look at all the results. Do email outreach to have them fixed.

There are also some tools such as WhiteSpark and Places Scout that can help speed the process.

Getting Links

Sketchy links, the type that you buy for $5, can actually harm you. However, quality links placed on a related or well-known website are the primary factor for getting better visibility in search results.

There are a lot of ways to get local links. But the best ways that I’ve found for local businesses are:

  1. Working closely with organizations, partners, events & complementary businesses to get a recommendation or sponsorship. If you are part of the Downtown Business Association, be sure to get the link that you are probably supposed to get.
  2. Hustle PR promotion – Local press is almost always looking for a good story. Take steps to establish a working relationship with the local press. Don’t focus on pitching your business. Focus on being a reliable source & providing good stories. Think back to localizing content…where you get to be the source.

Social & Reputation Management

If SEO is your giant battleship, I think of social as your aircraft carrier. It’s easy to burn a lot of energy flying planes for no reason, but nothing gives you a tactical edge and far reach like your aircraft.

Social media experts make social out to be rocket science. It’s really not. Unless you’ve started a business that you know nothing about…then you should know where your audience hangs out.

And if you know where your audience hangs out, don’t think that you have to be 110% present on every single social network. The key to social media is having direct interactions where you build relationships and learn more about your audience.

Claim and put your branding across all the various social networks, but choose the one or two that will generate an outsize impact on sales, links, and awareness (for local it’s usually Facebook).

Learn how to setup & automate the other profiles so that you have a presence even if you aren’t interacting directly. Many times customers see fully built out social profiles as evidence of legitimacy.

Don’t forget that many local directories have a social element as well. Respond to reviews – especially negative ones. Prove to prospective customers that you do actually listen.

Next Steps

That’s the local business marketing strategy that I’d work on for nearly any local business. It’s a long post, but it’s a plan that you can implement quickly.

Immediate next steps – start defining your product offering, personas, and revenue goals. Then break the rest into small, achievable steps that you can work on.

Check out Moz’s Local Marketing Options for more ideas.

h/t to Jeremiah Smith’s piece and Noah Kagan’s piece that provided inspiration and resources for this.

Image Courtesy EZ Dent

The post How To Plan A Local Business Marketing Strategy (for free!) appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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Using WordPress Category & Tag Pages for Search engine optimization

WordPress Categories &amp Tags

One amazing, but undervalued, feature of WordPress are Category and Tag pages. If you write a brand new publish, you can include that publish to some category or tag the publish.

Whenever you add you publish towards the category/tag, WordPress creates accurate documentation of all of the posts for the reason that category or with this tag. You’ll find them under Posts &#8211&gt Tag or Posts &#8211&gt Category around the WordPress Dashboard.

These category and tag pages are blank and just a summary of posts automatically. For individuals browsing your website, they may be helpful should you&#8217re in line with your categorization &amp tagging&#8230but for anybody unfamiliar with your website, they may be pretty useless.

Actually, for those who have plenty of random groups and tags &#8211 it can produce a poorOrreplicate content issue &amp appear spammy to look engines. Within my publish regarding how to use Yoast&#8217s WordPress Search engine optimization wordpress plugin, I suggested NOINDEX, FOLLOW category &amp tag pages to avoid any Search engine optimization-related penalties (ie, that informs search engines like google to click on for your posts, although not for everyone them searching results).

But category &amp tag pages is really so a lot more for your potential customers &amp search engines like google. And extremely, they simply take some completely unique content explaining the course or tag. Here&#8217s why you need to build your category &amp tag pages &#8211 and how to make use of WordPress category &amp tag pages for Search engine optimization&#8230

Why You Need To Build Out Category &amp Tag Pages

Which page you think more helpful?

WordPress Category Page with Content

Or&#8230

Unoptimized WordPress Category Pages

Explains Groups &amp Tags to Readers

Before searching at Search engine optimization implications, consider yourself like a new readers on the blog you happened upon &#8211 let&#8217s say its a do it yourself Plumbing blog. You&#8217re keen on the publish to read through &#8211 and also you want more. Exactly what do you read next?

The thing is a huge tag cloud within the sidebar with &#8220Faucets&#8221 as you. You&#8217re outfitting your bathrooms, which means you click. There&#8217s a summary of apparently random posts &#8211 that kind of seem sensible&#8230but not necessarily. All of the posts mention Faucets&#8230but you don&#8217t understand precisely what may be here or on-page 2. Which means you leave.

That&#8217s the default behavior of WordPress &#8211 and frequently the tags simply seem sensible towards the author, and not the readers. But if there have been some content &#8211 perhaps a Faucet overview with that page with a few finest blog hits, and content explaining the writer&#8217s thinking and method of posts associated with faucets&#8230the page might have made much more sense towards the readers.

Helps Search Engines Like Google Understand Context

Putting concepts in context could be useful for humans (see previous point), but it’s essential for search engines like google. Despite the fact that Googlebot can parse context &amp semantics &#8211 coaching the formula always helps the procedure along.

Searching at what pages connect to other pages helps Googlebot know very well what each publish is really about. Which&#8217s a job your category &amp tag pages can enjoy. They previously connect to relevant posts, if you can also add completely unique content that can help Google comprehend the category they’re linked from&#8230it can help your individual posts.

How Googlebot Can Use WordPress Categories &amp Tags

For instance, suppose that in your plumbing blog, you’ve got a publish on installing a sillcock on the brick wall. Now, a sillcock is plumbing jargon to have an outside faucet. Humans might grasp that rapidly having a picture&#8230but a internet search engine may not be 100% confident that your publish should rank well for &#8220how to set up a faucet on the brick wall.&#8221 However, should you have had a Faucets category page with completely unique content&#8230and you from the sillcock publish, that link will be a helpful signal search engines like google can use to parse the context &amp relevance of the sillcock publish.

More Prone To Rank well for Broad Searches

Ranking for broad terms is really a particular problem for blogs. Every individual publish is generally in regards to a specific subject that may rank well for specific keywords, however it rarely is sensible to possess a publish of posts targeting an extensive term. For instance, this publish is really a WordPress tutorial, but it’ll never come in search engines like google if somebody searches &#8220wordpress tutorials&#8221 since they’re searching for any list of helpful WordPress tutorials.

Now, I possibly could produce a page about my WordPress tutorials and connect to every one I write. I&#8217d need to update it each time I authored a replacement, also it&#8217d rapidly be a discomfort. OR&#8230 I possibly could use my WordPress category to focus on that broad term. I&#8217ve got plenty of tutorials &#8211 also it&#8217d make total sense to simply add content to that particular page, and then try to have it to position when individuals look for variations of &#8220wordpress tutorials.&#8221

Which means you&#8217re offered on spending some time building your category &amp tag pages. However, automatically, individuals pages are pretty useless. Here&#8217s how you can incorperate your amazing happy to all of individuals pages.

How You Can Add Happy to Category &amp Tag Pages

Before you decide to spend some time writing for your groups &amp tag pages:

  • Spend some time really organizing them and ensuring they create sense. It&#8217s very simple to at random add tags &amp groups which can produce a rat&#8217s nest of confusion for everybody.
  • That you can do either groups or tags or both, or individual groups &#8211 or all things in between. Don&#8217t get overwhelmed thinking you need to do everything at the same time.

Enable Displaying Content on Category &amp Tag Pages

There are many ways to achieve this &#8211 listed here are my top picks so as of simplicity.

Option 1: Via Theme Settings

Plenty of styles permit you to enable archive page content within their settings &#8211 or just get it built-in automatically. The theme framework I personally use &#8211 Genesis by StudioPress makes this very easy.

Before you need to do other things, look at your theme settings. Or simply visit Posts &#8211&gt Groups &#8211&gt Edit and try to add content &amp save.

Protip: WordPress includes a description field automatically, and a few styles use that to drag the on-page content. Complete it, save, and find out contrary seems in your category page.

Genesis Category Page Settings

However this setting isn’t restricted to Genesis &#8211 it&#8217s present in an array of styles. Before you decide to use a wordpress plugin, browse around your theme settings or go edit your Category page to find out if content could be joined that turns up around the page.

Option 2: Via WordPress plugin

WordPress plugins are pretty simple to install. And WP Custom Category Pages is easy and lightweight to make use of. Searching for this in Plugins &#8211&gt Install. Once you do the installation, you can check out the course of your liking to edit, enable content within the drop-lower after which write your articles within the box.

WP Custom Category Content

Option 3: Via Category.php

Should you aren&#8217t scared of messing with PHP (and when you don&#8217t understand what PHP is, then skip this method), you’ll be able to also just give a line for your category.php (or archive.php) file to allow content joined within the default description field.

&lt?php echo category_description( $category_id ) ?&gt

You’ll find additional tips &amp methods with PHP over at WPMUdev.

Write Completely Unique Content

You can now navigate to Posts &#8211&gt Groups or Tags, pick a specific category or tag, search for the information box, and supply completely unique content that provides an introduction to the page. Take a look at my Search engine optimization category to determine a good example of the way it looks within my theme.

Use Yoast Search engine optimization to Optimize

Next, you ought to have WordPress Search engine optimization by Yoast installed and configured. Within my original Yoast tutorial, I suggested hiding the meta box and examining the NOINDEX, FOLLOW box under Titles &amp Metas &#8211&gt Taxonomy settings since category &amp tag pages are thin pages automatically.

Now that they’re helpful and relevant &#8211 uncheck both individuals boxes to ensure that search engines like google will begin indexing the page and serving it for relevant searches. Also, unhide the meta box to be able to go back to edit a particular category or tag and write a distinctive title tag and unique meta description.

Yoast Category SEO Settings

Next Steps

Building your category &amp tag pages is really a win for the visitors in your website, for search engines like google, as well as for new visitors who come across your website via search.

Begin by going for a hard review your tags &amp groups. Get them organized around topics that you simply consistently talk about, and find out should there be any apparent possibilities to show the category or tag pages directly into archives.

Next, enable quite happy with either your theme, wordpress plugin, or editing the PHP. Add unique detailed, descriptive content then optimize it with WordPress Search engine optimization by Yoast.

For those who have any queries, comments or suggestions &#8211 tell me below or via email when the comments have instantly closed.

The publish Using WordPress Category &#038 Tag Pages for Search engine optimization made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

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Volusion Review: Pros & Cons of utilizing Volusion for Ecommerce

Volusion is among the leading located ecommerce platforms. They concentrate on supplying a complete toolkit for ecommerce proprietors who would like a located solutions. Their features lean for the operational side of the ecommerce store (ie, inventory management, customer managment, etc) over marketing-brought features.

There are plenty of Volusion reviews online &#8211 usually with user-generated reviews according to anecdotes and private experience. That&#8217s fine however i have a different approach. Like every option, it&#8217s likely to possess some pros and a few cons and can really come lower to whether it&#8217s a great fit for the specific business. Within this Volusion review, I&#8217ll concentrate on 6 pros and 6 cons which will most likely most affect your decision.

Get Volusion&#8217s free trial offer here.

Editor&#8217s Note &#8211 This review was initially printed in November 2014. It&#8217s been upgraded throughout by Feb 2017.

However &#8211 a fast summary of theonline store software landscape. Like I covered within my selecting a web-based store platform publish, ecommerce platforms exist on the spectrum with many different technical factors that may have as big of the effect on your web business as the store type &amp location can within the physical retail world.

Although the technical factors aren&#8217t as immediately associated with your ability to succeed as sales, service &amp product &#8211 it may be the variable that can help or hinders your daily and particularly lengthy-term growth. That stated, much like selecting a particular location leasing versus. owning or going mall versus. solo storefront within the physical world &#8211 there&#8217s no &#8220top&#8221 or &#8220best&#8221 choice. There&#8217s just the choice which makes probably the most sense given your financial allowance, expertise, conditions and goals.

Around the spectrum of search engine optimization, Volusion endures the finish that’s all-inclusive and offers all you need to start, run &amp increase your online shop while supplying your personal online &#8220space&#8221 that you simply control and may personalize.

Ecommerce Real Estate Tradeoffs

It&#8217s as opposed to solutions in which you buy, install, manage but wholly own different bits of why is your store your store (think obtaining a server &amp installing WooCommerce or Magento). As well as contrast to platforms that in which you only have an inventory within their space rather of the store of your (think eBay, Amazon or Etsy).

Using Volusion is kind of like leasing an outlet having the ability to personalize your store the way you like. You control everything business-wise like sales, marketing and merchandising however, you leave the plumbing, security, construction and maintenance towards the landlord.

Aside &#8211 I built a whole Buzzfeed-style ecommerce platform quiz to mirror each one of these factors.

Volusion (see Volusion plans here) mainly competes using the other two big located ecommerce platforms:

  • Shopify: See their plans here and my Shopify review here
  • BigCommerce: See their plans here and my BigCommerce review here

And Volusion competes not directly with non-turn-key options like WordPress + WooCommerce (observe how to put together here) and Magento. Let&#8217s take a look at Volusion pros &amp cons overall however with a tilt towards their direct competitors.

Quick aside &amp disclosure &#8211 I recieve customer referral charges from the companies pointed out within this publish. My opinions derive from my experience and research like a having to pay customer or consultant to some having to pay customer.

Pros of Volusion

Listed here are the factors which i believe are a benefit towards the Volusion platform according to my experience.

Built-in Education &amp Services

When I pointed out within my BigCommerce review, there&#8217s an abundance whatsoever of methods to guides, e-books, courses, and newsletters that will help you run your web store. And there’s no lack of freelancers, design agencies, and specialists who can sort out design, development or marketing.

Normally the real issue is curation and specialization &#8211 researching information which applies particularly for your store can be difficult to locate. You will probably find some good Search engine optimization or Facebook store advice, however it&#8217ll be very difficult to really implement in your [name your platform] store. Finding and vetting a freelancer discussion your store&#8217s platform could be even tougher (and much more costly when you purchase the incorrect one).

Utilizing a company which has built-in on-boarding materials and experienced account specialists can certainly justify the additional price of utilizing a platform, which&#8217s a place where Volusion really excels. They are doing the shop setup email sequence and knowledgebase similar to BigCommerce and Shopify.

Volusion Support

But Volusion goes one step further using their account specialists &#8211 they have a direct curiosity about your store and becoming it setup right. Even stores in a smaller sized cost point appear to obtain some attention.

Volusion also does something a little different with expertise that is one huge disadvantage &#8211 as well as the advantage of the doubt, we&#8217ll address it like a pro. That pro is they provide professional service directly through Volusion to assist with everything else from design to Search engine optimization to PPC shopping feeds.

Since things are provided through Volusion (and never not directly via freelancers like Shopify&#8217s Expert directory), you will know they are fully aware everything about supplying that service around the Volusion platform.

Volusion Design Services

Now, that may be easily a spot to upsell customers, but it is also a useful arrangement &#8211 kind of like Ikea where one can purchase the furniture and do-it-yourself or simply outlay cash to get it done. Should you&#8217re the kind of person who hates upsells, then this is a large disadvantage, but otherwise the choice as well as the well-done education is really a solid pro for implementing Volusion.

Customer Care &amp Onboarding

Customer care is among the toughest things to check out when reviewing a business. Merely a company can tell its internal culture and just how it treats customer support. Any comments or ratings that you simply see will just trend towards the extremes (ie, either naively positive or absurdly negative).

To try and work out how a business views customer support, I attempt to check out such things as availability, quantity of channels, and just how they solve the &#8220onboarding&#8221 problem (ie, will they solve potential challenges before they become problems).

Here&#8217s the first onboarding email that you will get from Volusion at register &#8211

Volusion Onboarding

Volusion offers support via phone, email, chat, ticket system, etc 24/7. In my opinion, they&#8217ve been awesome and incredibly responsive. They appear to possess invested a great deal in worldwide phone lines, their knowledgebase and chat software.

Their customer support doesn&#8217t stick out above BigCommerce or Shopify. But &#8211 most significantly &#8211 the 24/7 customer support is a big pro versus. hosting and piecing together your personal ecommerce site in which you don&#8217t have dedicated customer support. It&#8217s kind of like having a physical store inside a mall with 24/7 plumbing available versus. an outlet you build, own &amp operate that may get flooded should you burst a pipe. And also, since Volusion helps with their platform &#8211 they are more inclined to have the ability to solve the main issue.

Volusion Support

This time really segues nicely in to the next pro of utilizing Volusion &#8211 speed &amp security.

Speed and Security

If you’re building your personal store by yourself hosting account (ie with WordPress &amp WooCommerce), 2 of the very most challenging issues is going to be making your website fast and which makes it bulletproof secure.

Like I pointed out both in my Shopify and BigCommerce review, speed is very essential in ecommerce. Customers only have no persistence awaiting a webpage to load. Comprehensives research points that conversions plummet when you are getting in to the 4ish second page load time.

It&#8217s essential that Google really built it to their search formula. And becoming speed right online with a lot of graphics along with a large database (as all ecommerce stores have) could be tricky should you don&#8217t know where or how you can look. By utilizing Volusion being an ecommerce platform, your store is located on their own servers that are particularly enhanced to operate your website rapidly. This is actually the speed test using my Volusion development site:

Volusion Speed

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This pro comes with a caveat that neither BigCommerce nor Shopify has. Volusion caps the bandwidth (eg, the information transferred in the server for your customer&#8217s browser) that come and continue your bank account &#8211 even around the premium plans. For those who have large store on Volusion with a lot of traffic, then you’ll have to enter into the tricky speed optimizations anyway (ie, using CDNs, etc) if perhaps to reduce Volusion bandwidth usage.

Security is another related issue to hurry because it&#8217s something which is prime to managing a modern ecommerce store. You can’t accept charge cards unless of course your internet site is secure. There are many methods to delegate the safety to PayPal, or a variety of providers but to simply accept and process cards in your site together with your credit card merchant account &#8211 you need a safe and secure setup.

Volusion makes that provision by requiring a set up of the SSL certificate. Their setup is different from BigCommerce and Shopify &#8211 who provide shared, built-in SSL certificates for those their stores whereas Volusion helps make the SSL unique for you.

It&#8217s an additional fee (that will come into cons later), but it is also a professional because you own the SSL and checkout is going on completely in your domain rather of Shopify.com or BigCommerce.com.

Volusion provides you with additional control over your security and checkout while which makes it simple to apply and providing support to make sure your security is definitely set properly.

Intuitive Dashboard

When you’re first establishing your store on any platform, it may be frustrating to determine wherever things are. Lots of platforms &amp CMS&#8217s their very own lingo and different layout (like WordPress&#8217 Dashboard).

Volusion Dashboard

Volusion isn&#8217t the best for this, however they will have a towards an intuitive interface, thoughtful navigation and simple setup. The backend design continues to be lately updated. The actual interface is solid and simple enough for novices to make use of, however with enough choices for mid to large size ecommerce operations.

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Integrated Marketing Features

No ecommerce feature matters when the store can&#8217t drive sales. While your online marketing strategy matters greater than the various tools, getting a proven method is important.

There’s a couple of new ways to supply the numerous marketing tools to online storeowners. Shopify likes to accept &#8220app&#8221 approach where they build within the essential features, however require online storeowner to include the characteristics heOrshe really needs. BigCommerce loves to provide everything on this page &#8211 fully integrated. Which&#8217s the approach that Volusion takes too.

Volusion Marketing Options

Volusion doesn’t have each and every marketing feature that you desire, however they have most &#8211 and they’re seamlessly built-into the woking platform.

I won&#8217t dive deep on every feature, and can look carefully in their Search engine optimization toolkit.

Volusion is definitely an ASP-based platform. That’s development jargon for which programming framework the program is made on. And normally I wouldn&#8217t call that out aside from the truth that anybody that has labored in Search engine optimization for some time recognizes that ASP usually produces websites very unfriendly for Search engine optimization.

But, that isn&#8217t the situation for Volusion. It’s some Search engine optimization risks to prevent (especially duplicate homepages and incorrectly implemented HTTPS redirects), but overall Volusion includes a robust Search engine optimization set of features and it is technically solid as they are.

Volusion SEO Options

There&#8217s built-in fields for simple meta implementation, content boxes on category pages, XML sitemaps, and canonicalization options. It&#8217s not far above Shopify and BigCommerce &#8211 but it’s solid enough to become a strong pro for Volusion (especially when compared with a lot of other available choices with a lot of Search engine optimization problems like Magento).

Volusion SEO Instructions

There’s one caveat to think about with regards to hiring Volusion&#8217s ongoing Search engine optimization services &#8211 they (not their located stores though) happen to be penalized by Google for link manipulation.

The majority of Volusion&#8217s marketing features overlap with Search engine optimization &#8211 well-considered and fully integrated. But &#8211 that does assume they have the marketing feature, that is something I&#8217ll cover within the cons section.

Ecommerce Operations Features

Ahh inventory management. Administrative tasks. Crm. SKU tagging, warehouse communications, shipping and logistics. It&#8217s the boring backend of the store, but really kind of the reason behind its existence. When you can&#8217t possess a store without marketing &amp sales &#8211 companies are actually created to last with operations.

It is really an area where Volusion really excels for me. The things they lack when compared with competitors in marketing features, they create up here.

Actually, this pro really implies that Volusion is made for storeowners who’ve a complete presence both on and offline &#8211 who do retail instead of &#8220running a web-based store.&#8221

Volusion takes proper care of small things like product option updates &#8211

Volusion Updating Options

And larger such things as getting built-so as type functionality.

Ordering Types

Volusion also offers intuitive administrative controls for ecommerce stores with multiple employees and different responsibilities.

Volusion Admin Control

Inventory abilities are simple to access and integrated well in to the platform. It syncs across other platforms (like Amazon . com, eBay, etc) with no application.

Volusion eBay Linking

Volusion Amazon Integration

And there are many other operations style features, but when compared with BigCommerce and Shopify &#8211 Volusion includes a strength there.

Cons of Volusion

Listed here are the disadvantages which i&#8217ve found with Volusion.

Prices

It may really difficult to compare all of the prices factors for any new online shop &#8211 regardless of what kind of solution you select. But of all-inclusive ecommerce platforms like Volusion, it may be maddening to determine what cost comes even close to what since nobody&#8217s tiers align whatsoever. Here&#8217s the way i bust out the prices to try and compare apples to apples.

First, your monthly cost. This is actually the sticker cost you have to pay for any certain group of features. It’s a specific item on prices pages. Volusion&#8217s plans begin a $15/mo and increase to $135/mo.

Second, your platform transaction charges. Some intentions of all platforms charges you a transaction fee on every purchase (above charge card processing charges). Volusion does not charge transaction charges.

Third, your charge card charges. These was once pretty standardized, however more platforms like Volusion, Shopify and BigCommerce are establishing their very own charge card processing. These charges visits the charge card companies regardless, so any discount or versatility here will be a win &#8211 but nonetheless something to plan for.

4th, your add-on charges &amp exclusions. El born area is what you truly have to check out. Whether or not this&#8217s the price of add-on apps, bandwidth charges, or even the exclusion of key features, these charges can definitely impact your &#8220walking out of the door cost.&#8221

Here&#8217s how Volusion compares on every when compared with direct competitors.

Monthly prices &#8211 Volusion is extremely competitive at the very top and bottom tiers. In the centre tiers, they cap products and don&#8217t start adding some features versus. competitors. The center tiers could be competitive or otherwise based on for those who have lots of products or intend on using individuals features (particularly Amazon . com/eBay).

Transaction charges &#8211 Volusion doesn’t do transaction charges on any tier. Big plus to think about.

Charge card charges &#8211 Volusion provides a service known as Volusion payments with low processing charges (as good as Shopify) additionally to integrating along with other processors. All set here.

Add-on charges &#8211 And&#8230this is how Volusion really falls lower. They perform a couple of not necessarily awesome things. To begin, they cap your bandwidth (even at top tiers). Bandwidth with just how much data could be transferred between Volusion&#8217s server as well as your customer&#8217s browser. When you review your bandwidth&#8230you get billed for overages.

For many websites that wouldn’t be a problem, however for ecommerce websites (that have plenty of images, products, etc) it’s really a huge concern. Plus staying away from bandwidth overages results in integrating with increased complex solutions like CDNs which have a price and expertise to cope with. Other competitors offer limitless storage and limitless bandwidth.

Further, Volusion mandates that you buy an SSL certificate for on-site charge card processing &#8211 these usually run at $100 each year. It features a benefit as your full checkout happens in your domain and never, say, Shopify.com (which supplies free, shared SSL certificates) &#8211 however it does give a it for your fee every month as well as your &#8220walking out of the door cost.&#8221

Volusion Fees

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Lastly, Volusion has past hitting retailers with random charges. In 2013, they billed retailers having a $25 PCI compliance fee. Until very lately (and just once they were penalized by Google for link manipulation), they accustomed to charge $20 to achieve the &#8220powered by Volusion.com&#8221 link taken off your store&#8217s footer. Nothing huge &#8211 and surely an indication of too little cost transparency.

Blog, CMS &amp Analytics Set Of Features

For many online retailers, your site begins and finish together with your store catalog. However for others, your catalog is just area of the full website experience you need to offer &#8211 whether or not this&#8217s custom pages, content types or perhaps a built-in blogging solution.

And on a single theme, more often than not a fundamental install of Google Analytics is okay. However for others, adding conversion pixels, tweaking the analytics code or making edits is essential.

Regrettably, Volusion really falls lower around the latter issues. Not too competitors like BigCommerce or Shopify have world-altering cms or built-in blog setups, but a minimum of they’ve them available. Volusion doesn&#8217t have the choices available.

Volusion CMS

And even though you go the suboptimal route of getting your blog.yourstore.com with WordPress/Drupal/etc for any CMS (or getting your Volusion setup at store.yourwebsite.com) &#8211 Volusion still falls flat on easy analytics implementation. It needs to be hard-coded out of all page templates rather of adding a snippet to some &lthead&gt or &ltfooter&gt section. If you’re awesome with hacking with code &#8211 it&#8217s fine, but otherwise it&#8217s a significant disadvantage.

This can be a big illustration of marketing features that merely aren&#8217t area of the platform. You will find others &#8211 which rely on what specific solutions you already use &#8211 but suffice to state, it&#8217s worth searching having a trial to try to obtain the features you would like within the platform.

Mobile Site Setup

Or no business owner understands any online trend, it&#8217s the shift to mobile. Individuals are browsing and purchasing on from their iPhone 6 for their HTC Someone to their Android Tablet for their Universe Note for their PC Desktop.

Volusion stores possess a built-in mobile site, that is fine, with the exception that it&#8217s a mobile site &#8211 not really a responsive form of your site.

It may sound just like a small difference, but in my opinion it&#8217s a significant disadvantage. A mobile site implies that your clients are redirected to some m.yourstore.com out of your world wide web.yourstore.com. Sure, they obtain a custom experience, however it&#8217s completely different than your own personal store experience. Furthermore, the mobile website is only triggered by display size. There&#8217s no among sizing for that Notes, iPads, and tablets around the globe. Your store is gorgeous around the iPhone or on the desktop &#8211 but bad on other things.

The net has gone to live in responsive design because the best practice by far &#8211 also it&#8217s something which Volusion is still building to their platform

Design Options

Playing from the mobile site disadvantage, Volusion&#8217s entire design features will also be very restricting. The down-side of Volusion begins with a limited limited, but growing (thoug costly) template store.

Design Templates

Unlike other competitors, Volusion&#8217s templates are hard-coded and placed in a tough to browse file structure. It&#8217s fine to edit for those who have strong CSS or HTML skills, however it&#8217s not really a healthy for any solo DIYer (or someone attempting to click and tweak HTML). Unlike competitors like Shopify &#8211 they don&#8217t have drag to compensate for the possible lack of templates.

Volusion Templates

For any self-serve platform, I&#8217d want to see an simpler design editing interface.

third party Apps &amp Extensions

When I pointed out within my Shopify &amp BigCommerce Review, your store will evolve and alter with time. Whatever platform you select shouldn’t have only the set of features you’ll need in advance, but additionally afterwards. Shopify solves this problem having a huge add-on application store. BigCommerce also offers an application store, but additionally has a lot of built-in functionality.

Volusion doesn&#8217t genuinely have that expansion capacity. They’re certainly expanding the set of features, but there&#8217s no strong application store or giant listing of amazing features (see blog for example). Volusion includes a set of features to begin your store, but absolutely nothing to add-on and adapt. There&#8217s capacity for developers to construct onto it, however, that&#8217s not optimal for any solo DIYer or perhaps a small store that’s selecting an exciting inclusive platform particularly to prevent developer charges.

Easy Implementation

The final major disadvantage about Volusion is implementation. I&#8217ve discussed this in a number of points, but overall it&#8217s not very simple to get stuff implemented in Volusion &#8211 particularly if you aren&#8217t web savvy. Even right from the bat, obtaining the SSL installed properly could be a challenge. From your audit of even Volusion&#8217s featured customers &#8211 even they are able to&#8217t obtain the SSL installed properly.

Which theme continues right through to design, technical Search engine optimization, and analytics implementation. It&#8217s difficult to just get stuff in. If you’re a site that has development sources, it&#8217s fine&#8230but i then&#8217d also question the reason why you aren&#8217t running your personal custom store by yourself hosting. If you’re a DIYer or small company, the entire reason for selecting an exciting-inclusive platform is to possess a &#8220click, click, done&#8221 setup &#8211 and also the freedom to create edits without developer help.  DIY implementation is really a major disadvantage of Volusion.

Volusion Review Conclusion

If you are a online shop that &#8211

  • has some developer sources
  • uses a robust located platform for everyone as the catalog/shopping cart software
  • wants checkout to occur in your domain
  • wants solid operations features

&#8211 then Volusion is a superb fit. Get Volusion&#8217s free trial here.

For those who have marketing or design features like a priority, i then&#8217d recommend searching at Shopify (obtain free trial offer here see my review here) or BigCommerce (obtain free trial offer here my review here) for located platforms.

Or provide a shot at building &amp hosting your personal store with WordPress + WooCommerce wordpress plugin (my guide regarding how to here).

If you’re more confused than ever before, I produced a Buzzfeed-style ecommerce platform quiz that will help you decide according to your objectives, expertise &amp priorities.

Volusion Review

Volusion is among the leading located ecommerce platforms having a concentrate on operations features.
Volusion
Date Printed: 02/16/2017
Very robust inventory and customer features with same domain SSL integration. Limited design features though. Good fit for stores with a few development or design sources, not for novices or DIYers.
3.5 / 5 stars

The publish Volusion Review: Pros &#038 Cons of utilizing Volusion for Ecommerce made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

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