Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is making your website easy to read by search engines. I wouldn’t go so far as calling Google stupid (it is, quite likely, the largest artificial brain on the planet) but it thinks in very different ways than we do. Part of the reason Google think so differently is that it has massive amounts of data to sort through, in its unique thinking process. You can’t just ‘tell’ something to Google. You have to spoon feed it.

SEO is how you spoon feed the search engines.

search engine optimization for red tricycleWhen someone is searching for red tricycles, Google will ignore a site that is dedicated to the history and development of the Radio Flyer company, with detailed specs and blueprints about the carry load on different models, if the site has no SEO. Thats why you often see annoying sites at the top of your google search titled “RED TRICYCLE WHEEL RED TRICYCLE PEDALS SEATS NOW.”

That website spoon fed to Google everything that the site was about. Google ate it up.

Here’s how you can do it:

Easy Search Engine Optimization Tips

  • Get bold. When you bold a word, Google assumes there is more importance about it.
  • Find the keys to your words. A ‘keyword‘ is a word that people use to search for your subject. Pepper your content with keywords that people will use to find them, and then – use them on your headings.
  • Make Headings. Keywords in the headings of your content (h2 and h3 tags) are seen by search engines as especially important. You can write your post with keyword research first, headings second, and content third.
  • Alt your images. Put your keywords into the Alt Text of your images – Google can’t read your image, but it can read your alt text. (My tricycle up above – hover over the image with your mouse to see what it says.)
  • Get backlinked. When someone else on another website links to your site, Google thinks you have valuable content, too, and you’re not just screaming your head off in the wilderness. Some search engine optimizations specialists make their living just on backlinks. (Be careful, though…many of them wear black hats.)
  • Get deeplinks. Don’t just link to your homepage. Link to sub-pages, or specific posts. It shows that you have a wealth of information all over your site, not just a good homepage.
  • Trade content. Those other websites that do what you do? Or do something tangentially related to what you do? They like SEO, too. Guest post on each other’s blogs, and link back to each other.
  • Get shared. There are fantastic, automated plugins you can use to allow readers to share your content with the click of a button. Use them, so your content can be used by others.
  • Tag your pages. Not with graffiti, but with meta tags, alt tags, and other techie stuff that should be easy if you’ve got search engine optimization plugins like Yoast or All-In-One SEO pack on your WordPress-powered website.
  • Don’t be dense. For a while, ‘keyword density’ was sooooo important that thousands of websites repeated their keywords every keyword other keyword word in their keyword article. Google is not stupid. (Biggest brain on the planet.) Their algorithm was modified, and now frowns on sites that attempt to spoon-feed it garbage.
  • Do some research. Use Google’s own free keyword planning tool to find out how people are searching for sites like yours, and write new and interesting content about those subjects.
  • Get friendly. Do an unexpected favor for other website owners in your sphere. Comment on their blogs. Participate in their conversations. You will find them returning the favor, because we all like to have friends.

“Caelan has done a phenomenal job on our SEO. We are the number one site that comes up in our area for any alternative health related search. We are also coming up on the first page of results for conventional medical searches! We love Caelan and his thoughtful, conscientious work on the design and the SEO of our site, thanks Caelan!”

Alisun Bonville

Naturopathic Doctor, Spring Integrative Health

eCommerce Shopping Carts

eCommerce Shopping Carts

At its core, the purpose of your website is to help strangers become customers. The transaction where this formally happens on the Internet is usually in eCommerce shopping carts.

The moment a new customer pays you for the first time, that is when they are putting their money where their mouth is; they know, like, and trust you, and believe in you enough that they are willing to invest their hard-earned dollars and purchase your product, your service, or your mission.

This is a crucial transition point, because if your digital infrastructure fails them here, they may never trust you again.

What are the best eCommerce Shopping Carts for small businesses?

There are many variables that factor into selecting the best ecommerce platform for your small business. You can schedule a consultation with us to get customized recommendations on the best shopping cart for your website; generally we find that the platform you want corresponds to the level of your business.

Amateur – Gumroad
Professional – Freshbooks
Rising Star – Woocommerce
Illuminator – InfusionSoft

If you’re just starting out, don’t bother with the difficulty and challenges of internet security. Gumroad has a really simple set-up process, it looks great, and it lets you sell digital products easily.

If you’ve been doing this for a while, Freshbooks is the best online accounting and invoicing software on the market. You can add clients and send them invoices with ease, which they can pay with PayPal or a credit card.

By the time you are ready to start handling transactions on your own website, it’s time to look at WooCommerce. This extensible plugin has a myriad of integrations, and can support sophisticated shopping cart functions on any WordPress website.

When you are ready to scale, InfusionSoft provides the complicated post-purchase nurture sequences of the best marketing automation platforms. Be warned: it’s not easy to set up or use, which is why it’s nickname is ‘ConfusionSoft.’

Can I set up an eCommerce Shopping Cart myself?

The short answer is: yes, if that’s really how you want to spend your time.

There are so many perils and pitfalls, though, that most people find it best to hire an expert to handle the technical installation, SSL encryption, payment gateways, and merchant accounts.

Each one of these components could take you a week or more to figure out, and you may run into issues that take experienced programmers many hours to overcome.

If you are growing your business, your time is best spent leveraging your greatest genius. If programming shopping carts is not where your brilliance is, build your team with those geniuses – or at the very least, get some good advice.

Schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation and we will help you figure out your next move.

“Caelan is a talented digital marketer who is always in beast mode – always zoned in, every pixel, every letter, every plugin, every line. He will help you discover the online success you’ve been hunting for.”

Andy Horner

Founder and CEO, Outstand Email Marketing Platform

Third Party Integrations

Third Party Integrations

Third party integrations can be confusing, but any website that is more than brochure-ware needs to manage multiple platforms by using them.

What is 3rd party integration?

Third party integrations with WordPress websites are when you sync another platform or account with your website, allowing a free and open exchange of data between your website and the third-party platform.

Examples:

You have an ESP (Email Service Provider) that sends out your email newsletter. People can sign up for your newsletter on your website. When they do, a 3rd party integration allows the newsletter form on your website to seamlessly pass the data to your ESP.

How does a 3rd Party Integration work?

Usually, a third-party integration passes data along an API, an Application Programming Interface. This is a set of programming commands that define what kinds of data is communicated between applications, and how that data is formatted.

The most common time that website owners interact with an API is with their API key. This is a random string of characters that verifies one program to pass data onto another – for example, your ESP has an API key, that is unique to your account. When you install their plugin onto your sidebar, so people can signup for your newsletter, it is the API key that tells the signup form how the data is to be formatted, which ESP it is going to, and to which account within that ESP the data needs to be delivered.

Many 3rd party integrations, especially in eCommerce websites, require customizations of arcane settings in order to get them to function smoothly for the user. Spending lots of time trying to figure these myriad options can be frustrating to even computer programmers; if you are not a programmer, and you find yourself spending hours fiddling with the settings of one of your WordPress plugins, it is time to work with someone who knows these plugins inside and out, so you can get back to doing what you do best.

Third Party Integrations With WordPress Plugins We Use Frequently

  • iMember 360
  • WooCommerce
  • Toolset
  • Zapier
  • PayPal
  • Mailchimp
  • Aweber
  • Constant Contact
  • Google Analytics
  • Amazon Web Services
  • ZenDesk
  • IFTTT
  • Buffer
  • Gravity Forms
  • Formidable
  • Contact form 7
  • Yoast
  • Wistia
  • YouTube
  • Vimeo
  • GetResponse
  • App.net

Do you have a complicated 3rd party integration with your website that we can help you with? Contact us today to tell us about what you’re working on.

Landing Page Design

Landing Page Design

The best landing page design has one (and only one) clear goal for the user to take. The best landing pages have simple goals:

  • Opt-in
  • Buy now
  • Share

A landing page is optimized to make the user take one action – and if you provide distracting alternatives to that one action, you dilute the effectiveness of your landing page.

Landing Page Design Best Practices

  • Only one Call-to-Action
  • No navigation bar or footer menu
  • Solution to a pain point promised in the headline
  • Test the entire sales funnel start-to-finish with a dummy user
  • A/B test the landing page design monthly

Landing Page Design Checklist

If you are designing your own landing page, ask yourself these 12 questions:

  1. Does your opening quickly offer or clearly imply a strong benefit?
  2. Is everything instantly clear? If it’s funny, clever or obscure – beware.
  3. Have you told the whole story? Unless you give every sensible reason to buy, answer obvious questions and overcome all reasonable objections, you’ll lose conversions.
  4. Is what you sell fully and clearly described?
  5. Is the tone right? Don’t be funny about serious things (e.g. charity, business or money).
  6. Do you demonstrate the benefit – give examples, quantify it, compare it to alternatives? People want to know how and why you are better.
  7. Do you prove your claim is true? Testimonials? Independent figures?
  8. Do you ask firmly enough for a reply, telling people precisely what to do? Repeat your arguments at that point.
  9. Is the coupon, order form or request to reply big enough, clear, simple and easy to use?
  10. Does your copy, when read aloud, sound like someone talking? Good!
  11. Have you shown it to someone uninvolved, preferably a likely prospect? Ask if they understand it – and if they would buy.
  12. Do you have a plan in place to regularly test and modify this page? What converts well today may not convert in six months, as technology changes.

Best Landing Page Design Inspiration

These websites are good places to go when you are designing a landing page. Browse through the best of the best, notice what really grabs your attention, and take notes on how they structure their layout or their content flow.

Recent Landing Pages Produced by Stellar Platforms:

“Caelan, I have to say….you are AMAZING!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE what you have done! I am so thrilled, Thank you a million! This is all really coming together – WOW – its like watching my dreams come to LIFE!!”

Lynn Kitchen

Sales Funnel Strategy

Sales Funnel Strategy

The best sales funnel strategy helps a stranger become a customer. That’s the purpose of your website, after all; if your website helps a stranger become a customer, it doesn’t matter how ugly it is, or what fonts you use, or what kind of CMS or fancy plugins you use. If your digital platform helps a stranger become a customer because of a solid online sales funnel strategy, your website is a win.

What is a Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel is a series of steps that communicate to your customer in the language of the different stages that your customer goes through, from discovery all the way through to purchase.

Your online sales funnel strategy is a map of all the digital infrastructures that guide a stranger through the journey to becoming your customer.

How to Make an Online Sales Funnel Strategy

There are many different ways to map your sales funnel, based on the stages that your prospective customer goes through. Three typical methods we use at Stellar Platforms to map out these stages are:

  • Actions the user takes
  • Website URLs for each stage
  • Emotional reactions that cause them to progress to the next stage

You can use any of these methods individually, but I like to look at my funnel through the lens of each of these three. The action, the page, and the emotion are all relevant pieces of each stage; by looking at the continuum of the sales funnel, from start to finish, through these frameworks, you can identify ways to smooth the transition from one stage to the next.

That’s the ultimate purpose of a sales funnel, in the end – identify and remove any friction that could keep a stranger from becoming a customer.

Stages of an Online Sales Funnel

Many digital sales funnels look like this:

  • Landing page
  • Opt-in incentive
  • Thank-you page
  • Email autoresponders
  • Sales page
  • Purchase page
  • Access page

As I said before, there are infinite variations on this framework, but this is a general the outline to get you started.

If we are building a brand new website, the pages of the online sales funnel would look like this:

Website Pages of Sales Funnel Stages

Blog – Someone clicks on a link on social media, and they end up on your website, reading an article you’ve written. This is not the place to sell to them. This is the place to gain their interest.
About – When they are interested, they go the most highly trafficked page on your website – the About page. This is where people go when they wan to know more about you, and what you do.
Subscribe – Your qualified prospects find your call-to-action intriguing, because they face the major problem that your product or service solves. They agree to let you into their inbox.
Thanks – Whatever free PDF or opt-in incentive you’ve offered is delivered to them. This is the best place for introducing yourself in a deep and meaningful way, setting the stage, letting them know how often you will email them, and how to find and follow you on social media.
Services – after a few educational emails that deliver good value, they have a hunch that they could work with you. They open an email from you about your gateway offer, they decide to research you, and they read the specifics about your rates and terms.
Checkout – This is where they buy. Please note: they do not buy from you at earlier stages in the online sales funnel, so don’t sell to them there. You should reserve your sales messages for people who have advanced far enough in your sales funnel that they know, like, and trust you.

Online Sales Funnel Platforms

While you can make a sales funnel in your own WordPress website, there are online platforms that make page creation, email integration, and lead magnet delivery a breeze.

Here are three of our favorites sales funnel creation tools:

 

clickfunnels logo square
leadpages logo square
instapage logo square

“Marketing my personal business has a new direction and focus thanks to Caelan. His talent for listening and understanding combined with his skills for painting the big picture really helps me to spend my advertising budget most effectively for getting the best results. Not only does he see the big picture from a unique perspective, he is able to map the steps to take my business in the direction that will be most beneficial for me and my clients.”

Sara Mustonen

Lead Magnet Design

Lead Magnet Design

The top of your sales funnel offers a lead magnet to incentivize people to subscribe to your email newsletter, or to create an account on your membership website. A free ebook, an mp3 download, a whitepaper, or access to the resources section of your website, are all ‘opt-in incentives’ that encourage people to exchange their email address for the valuable information that you can give them. We call them ‘lead magnets’ because they attract the leads you want to put in your funnel – if your lead magnet design process was done correctly.

Let’s face it, you can stuff any kind of lead into your sales funnel, but the leads that you want are the ones that have the highest chance of becoming your customer.

Free lead magnets are opt-in bribes.

You are building your list, and the free ebook you offer above your email subscription form is your bribe to get people to subscribe.

Be sure you are bribing the right people.

Lead magnet design checklist

  • Your lead magnet addresses a problem your customer avatar is facing right now
  • The title is clear and descriptive (and maybe a little clickbait-y)
  • The medium is digestible quickly (a 5-page report is better than a 7-hour video series)
  • Delivery of the lead magnet is automated through your email service provider
  • A professional graphic designer was either involved in the production, or was asked for their opinion about the lead magnet design
  • The lead magnet ends with a call-to-action to move to the next stage of your sales funnel

Typical Lead Magnet Ideas

Being a lead magnet creator does not mean that you have to become a copywriter, graphic designer, and sales funnel strategist all at the same time. All you have to do is offer to solve a problem that would make a stranger thank you for providing them with an easy solution to the challenge they are facing.

Here are some ideas for creating a lead magnet for your website:

  • A guide, report, or handbook converted from one of your longer blog posts
  • A cheat sheet for easy reference
  • A worksheet they can print and fill out, with questions that will give them valuable perspective on the biggest challenges or pain points their audience faces
  • A resource list, with links and descriptions
  • A video training or webinar replay you have given in the past
  • A free trial or discount code to sample your service
  • A survey, assessment, or quiz, to give them an interactive experience that leads to a customized recommendation
  • Your pricing, rates, or service directory

What Makes The Best Lead Magnet?

After studying many digital marketers and sales funnel specialists over the years, I’ve found the most successful lead magnets have these attributes:

  • The design is consistent with the overall brand strategy
  • The material is thorough and in-depth
  • There are many insider’s resources that are collected all into one place
  • They are filled with affiliate links

Affiliate marketing has a questionable reputation in online marketing, because it is so easy to do it badly. The typical smarmy salesperson who everybody wants to avoid – they can get online and get real loud with all of their affiliate links, and drive potential customers away by brazenly pushing their affiliate links on everyone.

But when affiliate marketing is done well, it’s easy and seamless, and provides a solid revenue stream that can support your business.

Your lead magnet is the best cornerstone for your affiliate marketing strategy. This is where you can collect resources that you have spent time vetting, comparing, and studying; and if you use that opportunity to suggest a resource that your target customer would love to know about, an affiliate link isn’t unexpected, it’s the right and proper use of affiliate links.

For an example of lead magnets and list building done well, read Pat Flynn’s email list strategy and get his ebook, Ebooks the Smart Way.

You can also read ‘How To Wake Up Early (And Like It)‘ by Caelan Huntress. Note the CTA at the end – it’s the entire purpose of this ebook.

 

Pin It on Pinterest