What is Content Marketing and Why Does It Matter?

In the heyday of traditional marketing, attracting and retaining customers was an intimidating task for local business owners to accomplish, especially when the inflated budgets of larger businesses made it difficult to compete. Today, there are many different avenues for business owners to interact with consumers, and social media makes it easier than ever for business owners to reach potential customers through strategic tactics like content marketing.

Content marketing, also referred to as inbound marketing, involves the creation and distribution of relevant content that provides value to your business’s target audience. Content marketing can be shared with consumers in numerous forms: infographics, ebooks, white papers, case studies, how-to guides, etc. The main purpose of content marketing is to offer consumers value by presenting a solution to their needs, thus influencing the buying cycle.


Content marketing and the buying cycle

The main difference between traditional marketing methods and content marketing tactics is how each strategy affects the buying cycle for consumers.

The benefits of pull vs. push in marketing

Traditional push marketing methods like flyers, billboards or commercials seek to influence the comparison and purchase stages of the buying cycle by promoting or offering incentives that make a product or service seem superior to alternative solutions. Content marketing, or pull tactics, aim to increase consumer awareness and provide helpful information about the product or service your business offers as a solution. The beauty of content marketing is that it may lead consumers to recognize a problem or need in their lives that they would have otherwise been unaware of. This will draw them into your business when they are ready to buy, rather than knocking on doors or cold calling to try and convince someone to buy something from you now. Utilizing content marketing tactics in your business’s strategy also introduces several benefits, many of which are long lasting.


The benefits of content marketing

Content marketing serves as a means for your business to attract, inform and engage with consumers. Here are some of the benefits that can accompany an effective strategy:

Brand awareness

Publishing valuable content will lead consumers to discover your business and product offerings as they search for solutions to the problem they are facing. By making content available to consumers, your business will communicate an awareness of consumer needs, humanizing your brand with a personality that is friendly and helpful, as well as creating the opportunity for customers to form a relationship with you.

Brand equity

Content that is relevant to the needs of consumers and offers them a valuable solution establishes your business as a thought leader in your industry, which helps build a trusting relationship with consumers. Attaining this level of credibility will lead consumers to prefer your goods and services over alternative solutions, since they are aware of the unique value proposition offered by your business: that you are the knowledgeable experts in your field.

For example: why do avid cyclists go to smaller specialty bike shops instead of a big box store that offers bikes? Because of the level of knowledge and expertise that the smaller shop offers is something that cannot be easily replicated by the bigger box stores.

This is example is similar to how content marketing can work to increase thought leadership and brand equity for your business. By sharing your expertise in the form of content, you will boost your credibility with customers. They know that they can come to you for solid advice because you have provided them with relevant, helpful information in the past.

Effective long-term results

If the content your business releases is designed to be a mix of time-sensitive and evergreen pieces, your business’s content library will still be relevant to consumers as time passes. High-traffic content will also improve search engine rankings, and the consistent release of content can serve as a continuous source of interested consumers.


Content marketing: the main sell

Content marketing is an effective strategy to interact with consumers and introduce them to your business’s brand. By providing consumers with value before they even visit your store, you are building positive relationships and connections to your brand, resulting in long-lasting customer loyalty and brand equity for your business.

Reach out to us so we can go over how we can help you implement Content Marketing for your gun shop on a manageable scale!

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5 Reasons SEO is Essential for Firearms Website Success

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a term you’ve most likely heard before. As digital marketing continues to rise, so does the contest for web visibility. If potential customers can’t find you online, you’re missing out on a huge demographic. That’s why we’ve narrowed down five important reasons to use SEO.


1. Website traffic

Traffic is the most important focus of a website other than web design. Up to 64% of website traffic comes from organic search, so if you’re not using SEO tactics, you’re not getting found. The internet is a sea of information; it’s easy for customers to get lost and distracted. Search engines find your site using crawlers that identify key phrases, then index them for users’ organic searches. If these crawlers can’t find your site, neither can potential customers. And if people don’t find your site, they’re not going to sign up for your newsletter or see your sales.

2. Competitive edge

SEO isn’t new. Most businesses are familiar with it and its importance. It’s very likely that your competitors are already using SEO, which is all the more reason for you to get on board with a strategy of your own. And if you’re focusing on local SEO, the playing field is much smaller. Local search is becoming more and more important, and finding your niche can put you ahead of competitors focusing on a broader scale. Now’s the time. The longer you wait, the more you risk other businesses cementing their positions and keywords.

3. Better rankings

When over 70% of clicks happen on the first search results page of Google, you don’t want to be past page two. That means that over 70% of users find what they’re looking for on that first page, which is why you need to use SEO to get there. Using local keywords and having up to date location information are two important steps to take to get Google to notice your site. Be aware of bounce rates, too. If your site doesn’t offer a good user experience, it won’t rank as well.

4. Mobile

Speaking of the user experience, one of the most important factors of website success is whether or not it’s mobile responsive. Responsive web design keeps your HTML and URL the same on web and mobile devices. Google favors websites that are mobile responsive, so take that into consideration when forming your SEO strategy.

5. Inbound marketing leads

SEO and inbound marketing work hand in hand. And while some inbound strategies require lots of attention, SEO requires initial setup, but can then work on its own for awhile. It’s an affordable method of bringing in business. What’s more, effective SEO brings customers to you. You really can’t go wrong.


SEO for ROI

You know why SEO is important for the success of a website and your business overall. Being found in search is one of the best ways to find new customers when they’re seeking out your products or services. While SEO is increasingly important, maintaining rankings and working to constantly push out competitors is an arduous process. If you don’t have time to stay up-to-date on Google’s algorithm changes, cleaning up meta data, keyword research and link building, consider outsourcing to someone who has this as their main focus.

Reach out to see how we can help you fine tune your SEO for gun sales

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What is Online Reputation Management?

A firearms business’s reputation used to be what they said about themselves in their advertising and the reach their customers had via word of mouth. Now, consumers are pushing out a company’s reputation and image collectively by providing real-time feedback online through review sites, social media, forums and other channels. Basically, if it is an online source and a consumer can say something about a business on it, then it is a channel where your business’s reputation should be managed.


Digital marketing and online reputation management for firearms businesses

Online reputation management is a part of a greater digital marketing strategy that works alongside review management, business listings, paid search/ads, social media management and SEO to help your business stay competitive and relevant online. While your business should be managing each of these segments of digital marketing to maintain your online presence and (consequently) offline reputation, many businesses are not. They really should: four in five consumers surveyed use search engines to find local information from multiple devices to find store address, business hours, product availability and directions.


Online reputation management: your business has options

Your business’s reputation can be affected at anytime on just about any source across the web. You can use products (SaaS), services (outsource services) or people (outsource or hire a digital marketer) to cut down on your reputation management time expenditure. Even if your business tracks and constantly checks on social media, there may be sources that your business is unaware of such as a new review site from a listing that your business never knew that existed.

Your business should weigh the pros and cons of conducting online reputation management in-house or outsourcing, but there are definite best practices when responding to reviews that your business should be aware of. Maintaining your business’s online presence is one of the most worthwhile services a digital agency or local media company can provide your business and is one of the most worthwhile services you can invest in.


Why your business’s online reputation matters

An online reputation needs to be backed by reviews and ratings by consumers. Without them, there would be no reputation to manage and quite frankly, it would appear as if no one ever visited the business.

Ready or not, consumers are talking about your business

Whether a business chooses to manage their reputation online or not, consumers are talking about their favorite and not-so-favorite businesses. If a business simply ignores their reputation online, the consequences can be detrimental.

Unmanaged negative responses can create an angry mob mentality and bad word of mouth spreads like wildfire. While a business may not realize how exactly one instance can affect their online reputation, it is possible that only one negative post on a highly ranked site can actually be what shows up near the top of a search results page when a consumer searches for that business’s name.

Consumers Control the Conversation and Everyone’s Feedback Matters
Social media is a two-way conversation — businesses can no longer broadcast the message they want people to see. There is a democratic nature to social, with brands, consumers and everyone having an equal voice in a shared space. Customers can rave about a business or let everyone know they had a terrible experience. Social networks have dramatically changed the way businesses communicate. Today, consumers can converse with brands and vice versa as if they were talking to a friend. As a result, businesses have had to become more personable than simply a business entity and manage their social presence in a manner that reflects as such.

Reputation drives conversion

What people see online matters. Approximately 74% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations—this is a huge shift in thinking that has become more prominent as time goes on. This trust in reviews translates to dollars, as customers put their money where their trust is. A Harvard Business School study found that a restaurant that sees a one star increase on Yelp will see revenues increase anywhere from five to nine per cent.

As discussed previously, many businesses find that cultivating their digital profile on their own is too time consuming. There are reputation monitoring tools that make keeping up with customers way easier, saving time and money. Whatever your business does, it is essential that you are not perceived to be ignoring your customers online. The worst thing your business can do is appear unresponsive.


What makes a good online reputation?

Being present (listed online) and having a good reputation (reviews and reputation management) go hand in hand. Not being listed on a reference site customers use is just as bad as having bad reviews on that site. Building a consistent online presence and a positive reputation is important for both consumers and search engines. Some of the most important aspects of the online footprint include:

  • number of business listings
  • consistency of business listing information (name, address, phone)
  • overall sentiment in reviews
  • frequency or current velocity of new reviews
  • overall volume of reviews
  • social activity and engagement (especially with reviewers)

Customers now view social recommendations and reviews as more authentic, expecting \\reviews to be a mirror of the actual customer experience that they would experience themselves. This means that maintaining your business’s online reputation is gaining importance as each review is a perceived snippet of what your potential customer expects to experience.


Online reputation management: the main sell

According to Google, 9 out of 10 of local searches lead to action, with more than 50% leading to sales. If businesses have a good web presence, customers will go to them rather than the competitor. Once they’re in the store, 79% of customer use their smartphones inside to look at reviews or compare prices and 74% of them end up making a purchase. Those numbers alone make the opportunity clear: online reputation management is essential for your business to get consumers in the door to make the sale.

Drop us a line to work out how we can help you with your online reputation….

 

#getalpha #wearenotsecondclasscitizens

Business Website Essentials

Telling a small business owner to “assume the perspective of your customer” is one of those classic easier said than doneproblems. It’s not for lack of trying, but owning a small business isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle. And when you put that level of passion and commitment into something, your unique familiarity with it can be tough to shake.

Yet this is the simplest way to quickly optimize your website. By deeply considering your customer’s perspective and buying journey, we can make decisions that put everything in the right place for the customer to easily and quickly complete their interaction with your business and maybe even leave a nice review to boot.

While it’s absolutely essential to have each of these elements be part of your website, the specifics of their presentation need to be in consideration of your specific customer demographics. Most notably will be the difference between information on an online store, where the priority is to drive sales, versus a traditional brick and mortar business, where the priority is to get them to visit you.


The must haves

Contact information

Much of your web traffic will be coming from customers looking to use your website as a tool to communicate with you. Whether by email, phone or in person, the information that helps them accomplish this needs to be a top priority. Placing an easily found “contact us” link in the top right corner of your website is never a bad move. But if your customers aren’t web savvy, consider putting your address, phone number and hours of operation right on the home page. Additionally, if your business location is a little off the beaten path, consider using a map application on your website to help people better understand your location.

Product information

This is a growing priority for small businesses online, as a huge number of searches now happen on mobile with the intent of “in the moment” product research, sometimes even in-store. This means that the more specific information you can have online about what you sell, the better. This may even lead to customer conversions while they are in a competitor’s store.

Keeping an up-to-date and functional product catalog online can be a lot of work, but it is most certainly worthy of consideration given the potential value. This is particularly important if your demographic skews younger and more web savvy.

Business description

Give a quick, easy-to-find snapshot of your business and history available for people interested in learning a little more about you. Keep in mind, if people are looking at this part of your website, they are likely close to buying. Make sure you put in a little marketing effort here to help seal the deal. Make it concise but include things like business history, location, relevant achievements and philosophy. It’s also not a bad idea to include customer testimonials if you have them.

Quicklinks to social channels

Social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all great tools to help foster a direct line of communication between your business and its biggest fans. Your website should prioritize getting those follows and likes as easy as possible by installing a quick link widget into the footer or header of your website. That way, no matter where you customer goes on the site they are always one click away from connecting with you on Social.

Content/media

It’s becoming more and more common to see small businesses feature active content strategies and it’s easy to see why:

  1. Content is authentic – No one likes being sold to, and content is a great way for a business to build a relationship while leaving the hard sell on the shelf.
  2. Content is made for local – A good content strategy can help a business establish itself as grounded in its local area through authentic stories that are for and about their community.
  3. Content is hyper-targeted – Based on how you answered the first three questions your website, at least a little, is likely targeting customers at a specific part of the sales funnel. Having a fully realized content strategy allows you to add balance to your site. For example, if your site is designed to drive new sales, perhaps the content can be targeted towards customer retention by adding value to those people already in the fold.

Easy content strategy win = how-to videos

These can be extremely effective and easy to produce. Plus, creating how-to videos gives you the platform to demonstrate your expertise. Double-win if it’s related to your business.


Putting it all together with design

When considering design and layout, it’s completely appropriate to look at it as an opportunity to infuse some of your business’s personality into your website’s look and feel. But heed this warning: design is where it’s most critical to consider the customer’s perspective. Too often small business owners create a website that works perfectly for themselves while failing to consider how it will work for their customers.

Here are two top level considerations when choosing a design.

Mobile functionality is king

This has to be top of mind at every stage of design. While most modern design templates are mobile functional, it’s worth taking second looks at the ones that do it best. And if you haven’t updated your website since the inception of the smartphone, you might want to think about a redesign.

Keep it simple

You may have noticed that this article really pushes the need for priorities. With that in mind, consider putting only the most crucial information on the home page. Your home page must include easy links to: contact info, product info and business description. After that, it becomes really dependent on your goals and objectives. But when considering the perspective of your customer, oftentimes less is more.

Build for speed

By keeping things simple and prioritizing mobile functionality you are likely also building for speed. But this point is critical enough that it bares repeating. Your site needs to be fast! According to a study from Forrester Consulting 40% of shoppers will wait no longer than 3 seconds of load time before abandoning a retail website. As well, Google uses load time as factor in determining your search rank so a slow site might even be keeping customers from finding you when they look online.


Final thoughts

All in all, it’s a pretty swell time to be building a website for your business. Hosting is cost effective and secure, design templates have never looked nicer, and there is plenty of great content out there to help guide you through the process. But if you are ever curious if your website is serving you well, just follow this tip from Kevin Lao at Google: take out your phone, pull up your site and ask yourself “do you like what you see?” Now go to your closest competitor’s site and ask yourself the same question. Your answer will tell you all you need to know.

SEO..or SEOMG I AM SO CONFUSED

Search Engine Optimization—or SEO—is a term that may sound scary at first, but is simple when you break it down. It’s the process of optimizing your online content (website, blog or otherwise) for search engine algorithms like Google’s. Search engine algorithms are what look at all the content on the web, and lay it out on the search engine results pages. This is where your business will get found, or be lost in the world of “second page and beyond.” Your firearms business’ SEO efforts are what determines your SERP (search engine results page) ranking, and consequently, determines how “findable” you are online to your customers.

Still confused? Basically, SEO is the process of tweaking your website, blog and other online content so that Google, Bing and other search engines will put you at the top of the search results page when customers start looking for you online.


Basic SEO terms

SERP

Stands for Search Engine Results Page. The list of results that search engines formulate and present to the user after a search is made. Your SERP rank is where your website/content appears on the list of results.

Backlink

When one webpage hyperlinks to another website; very popular in blogging and creative writing. The more backlinks your website gets, the better your SERP rank!

Keyword

A word or phrase that a consumer enters in search. Your website and content should be optimized to draw in the consumers who are searching for specific keywords. E.g “best hairdresser Texas”

Metadata

Data that tells the search engines what your web page/content is about. This helps the search engine algorithms know if your content is relevant to what the consumer is looking for.


Why does SEO matter to my firearms business?

Firearms business are often blocked when advertising or promoting their business in other ways (Facebook, Google AdWords) so SEO becomes even MORE important! Optimizing your website and blog content with the right keywords, meta data and other SEO factors will be hugely beneficial to your business.

If you play your SEO cards right, it will get your business found when customers ask Google and Bing about things relevant to your business. If you’re a Texan hairdresser, SEO can help you be found whether local Texans are searching “www.yourhairdresser.com (you)” or “best hairdresser Texas,” or even “where should I get my hair cut?”!

Here are the four biggest reasons you should care about SEO, no matter what your business is.

Traffic

If one person types in “best gun store in Toronto” into Google, and your business is at the top, then they’re likely going to click on your name. But there isn’t just one person Googling that term—there are thousands. Each person who clicks on your name from Google is another boost to your website traffic, and more potential business and sales for you! Hello SEO, hello more traffic, hello higher revenue!

Offering helpful solutions for customers

Optimizing your content for specific keywords like “reloading tips” or “best scope for my rifle” means that when a customer goes to Google to find answers to their questions, they’ll find you. Creating a name for yourself in your industry as a helpful, informative brand will improve your reputation, and get more customers flocking your way!

SEO makes marketing easier (and cheaper)

If a customer can find you at the top of Google by typing in “best gun store in Toronto” then why would you need to pay for ad space at the top of the page? SEO is what determines where your business appears on Google, so optimizing your content for the search engines just makes sense when it comes to where you spend your marketing bucks.

Don’t give business to your competitors

Still not sure why you should use SEO? Well here’s a big one—if you don’t implement SEO tactics for your business, then it’s your competitors who will be found when local customers go looking. Someone has to be at the top page of Google, right? If you’re not employing SEO tactics for your business, then it will be your competitors who show up when your potential customer turns to Google for advice and answers.


Search Engine Optimization is important to consider when creating and publishing any kind of online firearms content—whether it’s your business website, blog or otherwise. The better your business gets at optimizing your content for SEO, the more likely you are to be seen online, and the more business you’ll get to your storefront!

 

#getalpha #wearenotsecondclasscitizens

SLAYER SAVES A KITTEN

My world is complete.

Yes you heard it right, SLAYER (Jees, their assistant Tour manager actually) saved a kitten from a show in  Indianapolis

More here: http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/slayer-rescues-kitten-before-indianapolis-show/

 

#getalpha #wearenotsecondclasscitizens

Top 10 Review Websites to Get More Customer Reviews On

In the table below, U.S. Ranking, % U.S. Traffic and Average Monthly U.S. Traffic (unique visitors) data are sourced from Alexa. Businesses should strive to get business reviews on business review websites that are going concerns, review sites that people know about (and go to) and that are relatively friction-less (sites consumers have log ins or can go in easy to leave a review).

Review Website U.S Alexa Ranking Reviews Best For Avg. Monthly U.S Traffic % U.S Traffic (Total)
Google My Business 1 any business 158.03 million 34.30%
Facebook 3 any business 85.57 million 29.10%
Amazon 4 e-commerce related 85.44 million 55.40%
Yelp 52 any business 40.47 million 89.10%
Trip Advisor 88 related to food, restaurant, travel 28.27 million 53.40%
Yellowpages 402 any business 10.5 million 85.30%
BBB (Better Business Bureau) 824 any business 6.15 million 88.90%
Manta 1,002 any business 6.48 million 70.50%
Angies List 1,150 service related business 5.44 million 88.90%
Foursquare 1,561 any business, mostly restaurants 3.67 million 23.10%

Getting to know the top 10 review sites

No 1 review site: Google

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 158.03 million
US ranking (Alexa): 1
Business reviews for: any business

Google My Business is a free tool for businesses to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. Google My Business puts business data on Search, Maps and Google+. Google customer reviews show up in search and are known to bolster SEO, so they are essential to the credibility of all businesses. Your business should aim to be on Google’s snack pack in order to be readily found when consumers perform a local search.


No 2 review site: Facebook

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 85.57 million
US ranking (Alexa): 3
Business reviews for: any business

Facebook is a social networking platform where users can create profiles, upload photos and videos, send messages and keep in touch with friends, family and follow their favorite businesses and brands. Since customers are connecting more with brands online, It is pertinent that your business is actively monitoring your social media mentions on social media platforms at all times. Facebook is gaining momentum towards being one of the most popular business review sites. Most users on the site already have a Facebook account, so the process to leave a business review is relatively friction-less.


No. 3 review site: Amazon

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 85.44 million
US ranking (Alexa): 4
Business reviews for: e-commerce related transactions

Amazon is a popular go-to business review site for e-commerce products. For companies who do any amount of e-commerce, Amazon is a key source of information. While Amazon as a review website is more targeted and fitting for Amazon marketplace partners, it is a worthy site to note, especially for retailers about what customers like about certain products and how the service aspect of transactions were handled.


No. 4 review site: Yelp

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 40.47 million
US ranking (Alexa): 52
Business reviews for: any business

Yelp is a review website where users can publish reviews about local businesses. Yelp has become a name synonymous with business reviews, as the site has over 102 million reviews and counting. As the world’s largest outlet for online customer reviews grows, it might be time for all small businesses to start caring about what consumers are saying online; and more specifically, about their Yelp reviews.


No. 5 review site: TripAdvisor

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 28.27 million
US ranking (Alexa): 88
Business reviews for: any business

TripAdvisor is an travel website company where users can leave business reviews of places they’ve visited. Users can also book rooms, find flights, discover to do and reserve tables at participating restaurants. TripAdvisor operates websites internationally in over 25 countries.


No. 6 review site: Yellowpages

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 10.5 million
US ranking (Alexa): 402
Business reviews for: any business

YellowPages is an online internet yellow pages directory owned by YP. YP is a local marketing solutions provider that focuses on helping local businesses (and the communities within) grow.
Companies can manage their reviews on the review site after claiming a free business listing on their page.


No. 7 review site: Better Business Bureau

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 6.15 million
US ranking (Alexa): 824
Business reviews for: any business
The Better Business Bureau aims to help people find and recommend businesses, brands and charities they can trust (bbb.org).

Based on a business rating review system, BBB educates consumers and assists people in finding trusted businesses. The Better Business Bureau tries to protect consumers from fraudulent business or scammers. Company profiles on BBB contain a short company bio and a history of complaints made about the business, as well as an A – F rating.


No. 8 review site: Manta

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 6.48 million
US ranking (Alexa): 1,002
Business reviews for: any business

Manta is an online small business service directory, search engine and review site that provides small businesses with the information to network. The site helps small businesses connect and grow through their community where users can buy from, partner with, and connect to companies.


No. 9 review site: Angie’s List

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 5.44 million
US ranking (Alexa): 1,150
Business reviews for: service related businesses

Angie’s List is a service listing and review website that offers user-based rankings and reviews of service professionals in local areas. Because Angie’s List is a paid review site, it is known to be less filled with rambling reviews from customers and spam. Members grade companies using a report card scale from A-F on price, quality, responsiveness, punctuality, and professionalism. Angie’s List is divided by categories such as house, auto, health, pets and services.


No. 10 review site: Foursquare

Average monthly US traffic (Alexa): 3.67 million
US ranking (Alexa): 1,561
Business reviews for: any business, mostly restaurants

Foursquare is a local search and discovery service mobile app. The app helps users discover new places/businesses through other Foursquare business reviews. Users can let friends know where they are and find out where their friends are. In any case, with 55 million monthly active users, Foursquare is a powerful force to monitor customer loyalty and feedback.

 

#getalpha #wearenotsecondclasscitizens

3 SEO Tips to Improve Your Keyword Research

Have you heard that improving your SEO will help you get found online more easily? You’ve probably heard that implementing keywords into the content on your website, blog, and URL are key strategies for improving your SEO ranking. However, including the wrong keywords or too many keywords can be just as detrimental.

Although you may not always notice them, keywords play an integral role when it comes to helping a small business get found online. So let’s get to it by breaking down the long and short (tail) of it.

Do Your Own Keyword Research

Keyword research should never be a one-time commitment, but rather an ever-changing process that involves a strategy and a comprehensive understanding of your business and your industry. Including keywords that are specific to your business and industry will help to ensure that the right customers are being driven to your door rather than just any customer. Although we want to increase our customer base, we don’t want to target consumers that may not find the value in our business.

Using the Right Keywords

Short-tail keywords, or keywords composed of very generic keywords, might seem appealing because they’re searched more often than long-tail keywords, however, they’re also a lot more competitive. So, unless you’re writing content for a large organization, like Apple or Macy’s, and consumers are likely searching specifically for your product, you don’t want to enter into a sea of competitors with big brands that have even bigger pockets.

Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, may not be as frequently typed into a search engine—think, “Egg” vs. “Poached Egg with Avocado and Bechemel”. By including more long-tail keywords into the content on your page, you’ll attract a larger number of customers who are likely to search for any combination of those long-tail keywords.

Location-based keywords are keywords that directly relate to your business’s physical location. For example, if your business is a bakery in a popular neighborhood in Charlotte, NC, you’ll want to include not only Charlotte, but also the name of that specific neighborhood. By doing so, you’re more likely to target visitors in your area rather than across town who may or may not ever make it to your location.

Avoid Keyword Stuffing

Speaking of misleading customers that may not find value in your business, adding practically any keyword under the sun is referred to as keyword stuffing and is largely considered a taboo in the digital marketing world. Like with any other digital marketing rule of thumb, less is more and quality will always conquer quantity. Ideally, a website’s content should include keywords in a natural way. However, by inputting keywords into a few sentences and repeating them over and over, you’re stuffing your content with keywords. Even if they’re good keywords, it’s still too much.

Now that you’ve read through these tips, you’re ready to become an SEO expert too!

 

#getalpha #wearenotsecondclasscitizens

Big Commerce – The Natural Choice for Firearms Business

We have only been a BigCommerce Certified Partner for a short period of time, but we have learned so much, and to be honest, Shopify pushing firearms companies off their platform was one of the better things to happen to us. Not to minimize the pain and financial loss of those businesses that are still struggling. But BigCommerce offers way more than Shopify ever could at comparable or slightly higher (at the Enterprise Level) pricing.

We have a few clients on Enterprise and several on the more generic Standard, Plus and Pro subscriptions. The full range of what BigCommerce hs to offer is miles beyond what Shopify can do for you. And some of the biggest feature are not even listed. Like Freedom.

Unlike Shopify, BigCommerce doesn’t make any money off merchant processing. Their revenue stream is based on their SaaS (software as a service) platform and vendor relationships. The biggest issue with Shopify was increase per transaction rates if you didn’t use Stripe. Yes they call it Shopify Payments but it’s actually Stripe. And Stripe is overtly anti-gun.

With BigCommerce you can show up with damn near any merchant processing scheme there is. The list they support is massive and growing daily. On at least one occasion we had them onboard a processor (though it took some time) specifically for that client. Granted that client was billing millions a year and were on the high-end of the Enterprise plan, but their willingness to do business of the usually cookie cutter service offerings was refreshing. 

The other marked difference with BigCommerce is the functionality that is built in and does NOT require apps. Both BigCommerce and Shopify offer extended functionality via third parry apps, like custom shipping rates and rules (ShipperHQ), postage printing and shipping management (Shipstation and Ordoro) and other options like mapping and return authorization.

But the list of base features, even on the BigCommerce Standard package, far outreaches Shopify. At the Plus level ($79 a month USD) you get things like Customer Groups, Abandoned Cart Saver and Stored Credit cards built right in, no need for an app. At Pro, you can tack on Google Reviews, Faceted Search, a super powerful way of letting your customers search your products lists, and a custom SSL that reflects your domain, not a shared one as on Standard and Plus.

The other MAJOR reason we guide our customers to BigCommerce is something almost no one understands outside the SaaS vertical. PCI Compliance. PCI is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. The group sets and maintains credit card security standards. Regardless of how your website is bolted together, you have to meet certain criteria in order maintain a relationship with your merchant processor. BigCommerce handles all the PCI compliance issues with their merchant plugins (free) and the entire yearly process of vetting and confirming your compliance is eliminated.

 

#getalpha #wearenotsecondclasscitizens

Risk – What Flavor Do You Like?

We all accept that there is risk, certainly it’s something that those of us in the firearms sector understand as part of the business. Most times it revolves around what we do and sell, and less around how we operate.
Shopify recent policy update has left more than a few businesses in Canada and the US reeling. And for us here at Telos, it didn’t come as a surprise. We have been getting ambiguous answers from Shopify since day one and have recently been advising our clients to move off it ,both in term if risk and in terms of cost savings.

THE ROOT OF THE MATTER

So you need an ecom store. Obviously there are thousands of choices out there for solving that problem. ALL of them involve some risk, but as we have seen recently, there are risks that are very different in practice.

So just what do SaaS (Software as a Service) vendors offer to a business?

TECHNICAL SERVICES – All the geek stuff get offloaded to the provider. SSL, Security patches (or lack thereof), bandwidth, scaling up in peak times, and overall form and function of the website all happen in the background. But it’s not all roses and candy. These folks are not 100% perfect at their jobs. Shopify has regular outages that impact stores of all subscriptions rates, and you PAY for this type of convenience. In addition, many providers are following the Apple model of “we build the base and let others sell apps to add functionality. At first blush that sounds great, until you have to pay %$50 a month for some basic functionality that should really be included i the base version.

BUSINESS OPERATIONS INTEGRATION – Many options to plug into shipping, POS and other brick and mortar system exist, IF you have their hardware and software. There are connections to accounting software (via paid third-party apps) and inventory control and tracking are available, but rudimentary compared to more robust (and more complex) systems like Magento (see below)

FLEXIBILITY – Fantastic integration, but only if their system meets your needs. Often there is not a ton of flexibility when it comes to customization, and when it does, its costs money. There are thousands of templates available to change the look and feel, but again, you must have some basic code knowledge to get them to work with your changes, or you have to hire a code geek to really make it perfect.

RISK – You are, as we have seen recently, at the whim of the corporation and its policy. You have no real contract, and even a the Shopify Plus level where you negotiate your platform fee, you never see a contract that outlines what rights you have and how you are protected. ProTip – You aren’t protected, the vendor is and you are risking your livelihood on its policy.

So what is the alternative?

Self hosted options range from shared server space on GoDaddy, to dedicated servers hosted in data centers in Canada, running licensed software where you have a contract and will not be bullied around.What does this look like?

TECHNICAL SERVICES – You need the proverbial “Guy”. A third-party company, and local geek you know and trust, or combination of the two ,you need someone who can set up a server and install software, patch it, understand backups, restores, versioning and be able to respond in a reasonable amount od time when something blows up. And it will.

BUSINESS OPERATIONS INTEGRATION –  Often these self hosted systems can have complex and very robust inventory systems, as well as POS integration and third-party credit card processing options. Once it’s all plugged in and working ,you are good to go with little to no monthly payments for the functionality

FLEXIBILITY –  Where you would pat monthly for an app to give some extended functionality over the base system in SaaS, in a self hosted system (Magento, WooCommerce ,PrestaShop etc) you buy the module once and get 1-2 years of support, new version upgrades (often automatic, particularly in WordPress based systems) for free, and very little in the way of issues. Major base system upgrades however might require paying to get to the latest supported version, but overall the cost is equal or less that SaaS apps.

RISK – The risk shift from strategic to technical. You are 100% in control of your software and systems. Assuming you have hired the right “guy” or company (shameless plug) you are in control of if, when and why you upgrade. No policy changes can impact you, and you service cannot be shut for anything less than non-payment in most cases. But if the site goes down, or if there is a security breach, it’s on you.

 

So why don’t more businesses choose to go self hosted? Because its technical, and scary, and it’s easier to roll the dice with SaaS.

Until they won’t take your money anymore.

#getalpha #wearenotsecondclasscitizens

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