Website Audit

If you’re a business owner, I’m sure you’ve received the persistent sales emails with the subject line “Free Website Audit Results!” If you respond, they’ll perform a half-assed audit and try to sell you on services you may (or may not) need. And if you decline, they’ll call you 37 times and haggle you for their business.

Well, today, you’re in luck! We’ve compiled some of our top website audit factors and are providing guidance on how you can learn more about your website. See if your site is following SEO best practices that maximize visibility and impact performance. Download our worksheet, score your website and decide for yourself whether your site is in need of optimization. If so, give us a call.

Search Engine Indexing

“If you build it, they will come” only applies to web pages that Google can see. It’s critical that you know whether or not your high-value pages are being indexed and displayed by Google in search results. If your pages are blocked for whatever reason, users won’t be able to reach the site via organic search.

Follow the steps below to see which pages on your site Google is indexing:

In Google search > search “site:example.com" and replace example.com with your URL

If you aren’t seeing your high-value pages in the search results, there is a major opportunity to improve your site traffic.

Google My Business

Google My Business continues to be the most impactful driver of local SEO, so it’s important that your account is optimized to its fullest potential.

Here are the things you can do to improve your visibility on local results:

  • Verify your business location through physical mail
  • Keep your business information accurate - website, hours, menus, description, categories
  • Add photos of your business - exterior, interior, staff
  • Respond to reviews - both good and bad

See Google’s recommendations >

Ranking

75% of searchers don’t make it to the second page of search results. Do you know how your site ranks for your key terms? Search your main service line and location (i.e. “Scottsdale advertising agency”) in an incognito Chrome window and see if your site makes the first page in search results or local results.

Site Speed

According to Google, “Advertising and speed go hand in hand, with faster landing pages delivering better ROI.” With the data to back up that statement, they now use page load speed as a ranking factor. Faster sites provide a better user experience, therefore, Google prioritizes them in ranking over slower sites.

Check out your homepage’s desktop and mobile page speed >

Mobile Usability

According to Google, 94% of people search for local information on their phones, and interestingly, 77% of mobile searches occur at home or work. So it’s critical that your users have a good experience when visiting your site on a phone or tablet.

Google rates mobile usability by looking at elements on a webpage like text size, buttons, and content width. 

See if your site is mobile-friendly by Google’s standards >

How does your site compare?

We’ve created an easy tool for you to use and discover how your website stacks up in the rankings. Download our Site Audit Worksheet and score your website!

Site Audit Worksheet


Want an expert opinion? Give us a call.

Vote for TJA for Ranking Arizona 2021!

Voting is now open for AZ Big Media’s Ranking Arizona 2021 and we need your help! Follow the simple steps below to help TJA rank #1 again this year. You may vote once per hour through July 31 at 11:59pm.

How to Vote:
1. Visit the Ranking Arizona website
2. Register with your email address and create a password OR use your login information from last year
3. Vote for TJA in the following categories by clicking the VOTE button:

  • Advertising and Marketing
    • Advertising Agencies
    • Best Workplace Culture
    • Graphic Design Firms
    • Internet Marketing
    • Public Relations Firms
    • SEO/Social Media Marketing
  • Business Services
    • Best Place to Work
    • Event Planning
    • Women-Owned Businesses

Thank you for your support!

5 things you have to do before shooting a brand video to make it a success.

Everything that comes before “Lights, camera, action!”

Creating a brand video is the ultimate creative project. Storytelling harmonizes with videography to become a money-making, movie-quality video the client gets to splash across their website, paid media and social media platforms. However, there’s more to creating a film than storyboarding and day-of shoots; myriad decisions that involve other departments are critical to the final result. In this blog, we’re highlighting four considerations that go into making our award-winning brand videos. Read on to get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on behind the scenes.

How media buying influences videography. 

One of the biggest influences on a brand video comes from the media department. How will the video be used? Has ad space been bought that comes with sizing and timing constraints? Taking the endgame usage into consideration at the very beginning will eliminate many challenges during the editing phase. If you know you need a fifteen-second, vertical video for promoted stories on Instagram, writing that into the storyboard will align the creative process with the practical application. 

Add this to your to-do list:
Start a “future project” section part of your storyboard that lists all the applications for this video. Where will it be posted? How long will it be? What are the specs for social media platforms where it’ll go up? Usage can determine content, so having a written-out understanding can constructively guide creative brainstorming. 

KPIs and client objectives.

Keeping the measurable goals in mind is not a very sexy part of the creative process, but it’s essential. It actually makes telling your story easier by supplying queues on what to include and what to leave out. Understand upfront how the value of this brand video will be determined. Knowing what will be considered a success from the client’s perspective will prevent difficult conversations down the road. Better to course-correct toward the beginning than realize at the very end that your goals and the client’s objectives are entirely estranged.

Add this to your to-do list:
Before any work is done on concepting the video, agree upon three measurable KPIs and write them at the top of any documents relating to the shoot. Get a written statement from the client stating what they will consider a success and keep that as a North Star throughout the duration of the project.

How casting and data go hand in hand.

Did you know Google Analytics can help you narrow in on whom you should cast in your video? Here at TJA, we do significant research on target audiences to understand who they are and what they want. Casting decisions should take demographic and psychographic data pulled from reliable sources into consideration. Choose actors whom your audience can empathize with or aspire to be. 

Add this to your to-do list:
Have your team source information about your audience from your first-party platforms, like Facebook Audience Insights and Google Analytics. Combine that with third-party industry data to make data-backed casting decisions. 

Location, location, location. 

You’ve seen pictures online; maybe you spent some time on the Google Street View scoping out the area. Now it’s time to visit the locations IRL. It’s critical that you get face-to-face with your shooting spots. Assuming that the space will work without walking through it is like trusting a kindergartener with your dental work. Get a grasp on the variables, so that they don’t end up undermining the whole operation. 

Add this to your to-do list:
Walk through all of your pre-planned shots in the space so that you can check how angles, lighting and framing are going to turn out. Nine times out of ten, you’ll discover there’s a shot that isn’t quite as feasible as you thought. Do this far enough in advance so you can make edits to the shot list without throwing everything into chaos. 

So where does creativity come in?

Even with all these external considerations, the core of filming a brand video is to tell a story. The narrative thread will be the heart and soul for creative efforts. Media, target audience data and location provide the structure to build the story around. Additionally, once shooting begins, there will inevitably be improvisation. You’ll need to get creative with shots when timing gets tight, or when things on set don’t go to plan. Stay loose and go with the flow; it’s better to think on your feet than to force a shot just for the sake of the storyboard. Keep standards of quality high and the finished product in mind: an unexpected, dramatic sunset can be the money shot that pulls the whole video together. 

Add this to your to-do list:
During the lead up, think hypothetically about multiple ways you can achieve the same effect if an obstacle crops up. How will you handle talent running late? Adverse weather? Set malfunctions? Lost props? By employing problem-solving before you even reach the set, your mind will be primed to handle any situation you find yourself in. 

So you installed Google Analytics. Now what?

Five easy(-ish) things to do to get better, useable data from Google Analytics.

It is not enough to simply put Google Analytics on your website and check that box saying you are tracking how users are interacting with the site. You have to think about why your site exists: are you a restaurant and want people to view your menu and make reservations, or are you an e-commerce site and want people to make a purchase? Or maybe you run an educational site and want users to use it for information—like reading blogs and watching videos. Keeping the overall goal of your website in mind helps you customize Google Analytics to give you the information that will help you make better business decisions. Here are five metrics you should pay attention to when tracking user behavior on your site.

Views

Views give you the ability to start segmenting out your data. Although Google will allow you to have up to 50 different views, here at TJA we have four standard views that we set up for all new accounts:

  1. All Website Data + Filters – Think of this as your official consumer view. This view would exclude any internal traffic (like, for example, your office IP address), have any goals you wish to track (more about those below) and any filters (like making all page paths lowercase).
  2. Internal Website Data – Your employees (or agency) will 100% interact differently with your site then your target audience, so make a view that measures only their traffic. This view will help immensely when checking how pages are registering in GA.
  3. Testing – This view exists to play with or test any filters or goals. You would never report on numbers in this view. Since this view is for testing, it is not necessary to set up any initial filters to exclude different user segments.
  4. All Website Data – This is the default view that is created when first setting up your account. There are NO filters on this view (duh!).

Goals

Within Google Analytics you can set up four different types of goals to make sure users are getting the intended value out of your website.

  1. Destination: a specific page/location is reached. Example: thank you page for registration.
  2. Duration: users stay on the site for a specific length of time.. For example, sessions that last longer than 10 minutes
  3. Pages/Visits: a user views a specific number of pages per session. Example: your website exists to be a resource tool, so you might want to track if users are visiting at least three pages as a way to gauge the usefulness of your content.
  4. Event: in Google Analytics you can set up event tracking for things that do not necessarily require a new webpage to load, things like start and pause on a video, or download on a white paper. Once you set these up as events, you can add them to goal tracking.

Things to know about goals:

  1. You can have a max of 20 goals per view. Have more than 20 goals? Then you would need to set up an additional view (with the same filters) to track the additional goals.
  2. Goals cannot be deleted. You can turn them off so that they stop recording, but once they are set up, they have one of 20 seats for life.
  3. Goals will only work AFTER you set them up; they are not retroactive.

Turn on demo tracking

Within Google Analytics you can turn on a feature to track the gender and ages of your website visitors. In order to do this, you must have the proper privacy disclaimer in place on your website. Understanding how men or women, or people that fall within different age cells interact with your website can be a gold mine! It can help influence decisions like how to utilize media dollars to get more customers.

Learn more about turning this feature on here.

Annotations

Do you have post-its all over your desk f of scribbled reminders? Annotations are like post-its to Google Analytics. Get a pick-up on a press release? Annotate it. Start a paid media campaign? Annotate it. Make major website changes? You guessed it, annotate it.  

One of the fun features with annotations is the ability to make it private or shared, meaning your annotation can exist solely under your login or you can share it with anyone else who has access to the account.

Custom Alerts

So you don’t have time to be in GA every day? Well, this is the tool for you: within Google Analytics you can set up custom alerts so if your traffic suddenly spikes (or dips) you’ll get an email.

Because the things that keep you up at night will change, Custom Alerts can be edited or even deleted when they are no longer serving their purpose.

Click here for a how-to on creating and managing custom alerts.

And there you have it: five steps that will net you actionable data from your website. Getting Google Analytics is an important first step, but getting it set up correctly can be game-changing! If you understand the necessity of a proper Google Analytics strategy but aren’t quite sure where to start, let’s have a conversation. We can help you make the most of your data.

Writing for SEO strategy: When an algorithm is your audience

The way you write is more important than you think

What are you trying to accomplish when you set out to write a blog post, a homepage or any other piece of content for your website? Attract more visitors, get more customers, provide insight on your subject matter, sure. But your writing is also engaging in some behind-the-scenes negotiations with the ranking function of search engines—the bytes of code that determine whether your website ends up on the first page of results, or in the graveyard of the tenth.

A single piece of content is doing a lot of work for you. In addition to conveying useful information to readers, it’s telling search engine optimization (SEO) algorithms that the website as a whole is reputable and worthy of a good rank on a SERP (search engine results page). There are certain traits these algorithms have been programmed to recognize in high-quality websites. Modeling your content in a way that encourages these bots to check off their list and give your site a gold star can make the difference between getting 67% of all clicks or none.

How bots help you write better content

Search engine algorithms are mainly looking for content that was created with common sense. You can use their guidelines as an outline for your content. Here’s a checklist of what makes a high-quality webpage, according to Google:

  • E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness
    • Formal expertise is very important to Google, especially when your webpage deals with topics concerning your money or your life (medical, financial, legal advice, etc.). Expertise can be less formal for lower-stakes content, like recipes or humor, but still involve a high level of authoritativeness if the source is reliable, well-known and well-liked. Consider what expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness mean for your website. Who are your experts? What is making you a trustworthy source?
  • Prioritizing the right information
    • Think of your titles, headlines, anchored text and image names and descriptions as snapshots. They tell the algorithm about your webpage’s purpose and what the main content is trying to accomplish. These are the places to include keywords you’re trying to rank for, but be cognizant about the user experience. Are the keywords you’re choosing the ones people actually use to find you?
  • The inverted pyramid
    • Understand how readers scan text. Headlines and subheads are really important, as is the first paragraph. Include the main message and your feature keyword in your first paragraph. People recognize the word they were looking for and feel they’re in the right spot. Make your content “top heavy” by including the most important information first—no hedging or burying the juicy bits.

Ever-changing algorithms

SEO algorithms are really unglamorous critics. They have no faces, they shape shift all the time (in fact, it’s estimated that Google makes algorithm updates 500–600 times a year) and to top it all off, you can’t really fault them. Their whole purpose is to make it easier for the average Googler (or Binger, rare breed that they are) to find the most useful and user-friendly information. While most of these hundreds of updates are minor tweaks, there are major changes once or twice a year; you’ve just got the hang of Penguin when Pigeon flies in your face asking you to play by new rules.
We understand, it’s frustrating. You’ve gotta be a people pleaser, as well as a code coddler. What’s a writer to do? It’s not really as bad as all that.

Writing for SEO algorithms (without writing for SEO algorithms)

Scale it back. While, theoretically, most of the world could have access to your content, it’s highly unlikely that an audience that size is searching for what you’re serving up.

Sorry to be the one to break it to you.

Except not, because it makes your life much easier. You’re always going to be writing for a niche—a metaphorical audience of 10,000 and some bots. But remember, those bots are sifting through the internet finding the content that serves those 10,000 people best. They’re servants of the people, and that means…

Bots don’t want to be written to.

In fact, they penalize pages that attempt to game their system with keyword stuffing (repeating the same words or phrases you’re trying to rank for so often it sounds unnatural), shallow content (quickly created content of subpar quality and a low amount of useful information), anchor text overuse (linking to other webpages using words that you’re trying to rank for, even when it’s unrelated to the link) among other shady practices.

The long and the short of it is you can’t let the bots know you want them too badly. You’ll turn them off with needy, low-quality content. Instead, write organic and interesting content that drops hints with high-power keywords and well-written headlines that makes them want you. Play hard to get.

Do what feels natural

Write naturally. Write for people. Write for people who are specifically searching for the information you have, and don’t worry about casting your net beyond that audience. Most (if not all) web content is answering a question in some shape or form. Get to the core question of what your readers are going to be asking themselves while they sift through the web. Then, when they stumble across your website, make them feel like their search is over.

That’s the true secret to satisfying SEO algorithms.

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