What is Google My Business?

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Getting your practice or business listed on Google My Business is a critical step that every advisor should consider to set yourself apart from your local competitors. It also helps provide a consistent user experience your audience receives when they are looking for you using Google. So, what is Google My Business?

Google My Business = Google Pages + Google Maps + Google Search

Google My Business is a service offered by Google that helps connect businesses and organizations to individuals. It provides a consistent user experience across all of Google’s key search related applications and across all devices like smartphones, tablets and desktops. Let’s look at each discreet component.

Google Search

You’re probably familiar with Google Search if you’ve ever tried to find something online. This is Google’s claim to fame and is still very much a primary revenue stream for them with the combination of Search and Adwords. The user experience you typically receive produces a combination of organic search results (highlighted in yellow below) and paid search results (highlighted in blue below). In this format, the search results provide you with some knowledge of what to expect for each search result. Paid search results, as the name suggests, require you to purchase that space, while the organic search results are free.

Example search result using Google Search

Example of a Google search result using “Financial Planning”

 

Google Maps

Then along came Google Maps, an application you’re also probably very familiar with if you’ve ever had to get directions to go somewhere. The ever familiar maps.google.com. Type in a search term and it visually presents little points on a map that it thinks matches your search term. However, going to www.google.com vs maps.google.com presents two very distinct experiences where one provides location context around the result.

Google maps search result

An example of a Google Maps search using “financial planning”

 

Google Pages

In November of 2011, Google launched Google Pages to help connect the online world with “businesses, organizations and other things that you care about” (Our history in depth, Google.com). When Google pages was first released, it attempted to match the same user experience as that of other social media technologies like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN. It gave organizations the capability to provide their audience and publish quick and short updates such as promotions, events, etc. It also provided them with the ability to corporately brand and personalize the Google page and provide visitors with a user experience that replicated the brand as well as key pieces of information such as their website, address and other contact information (kind of like a business card).

Macy Google+ page

Example of a Google+ Page

 

Google My Business

Google My Business is effectively the combination of all 3 of these features where the setup process begins with creating a Google Page for your organization, company or practice. By setting up your Google Page and as a result, your listing, you provide Google with key pieces of your company information that Google can leverage when it presents your company via the three aforementioned components. Namely, Google Search, Maps and Pages. Individuals using Google to find you and your business will receive a fully integrated experience no matter what device they are using and no matter from where they are performing the search query. At Veriday, we have ourselves set up in Google My Business. We have a Google Page and when performing a search for our business on Google Maps and Google Search, you receive a more useful and consistent experience.

As you will notice in the example, Veriday’s Google+ page has clear branding as well as detailed information about their address, contact information and hours of operation all within the banner at the top of the page. Below that, are the updates, articles and useful things they share with their audience to encourage additional engagement. In the Google search result, it provides a dedicated area on the right hand side showing the map, logo and contact information using the information and other assets collected when setting up the Google+ page. On the mobile experience, it provides a more targeted experience to the user and assumes that because you are on mobile, you are either looking for location and/or contact details to call. Each of these user experiences are automatically published in all three mediums by simply creating a single profile using Google My Business.

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Are you using Google My Business? Have you tried setting up a Google+ page? Share your experience by commenting below!!

Leveraging Liferay’s Scripting Console

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Recently, we were faced with a challenge. We were trying to add a new page to Liferay with a specific name friendly URL but when we went to add the page we saw an error indicating the URL was already in use.

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 9.36.41 AM

This particular site has hundreds of pages and the friendly URL didn’t appear to match any existing pages. We spent a few minutes clicking through trying to locate the conflicting page without any luck. We followed the link lead to a PDF on the site but the page name used to configure it still wasn’t obvious. We needed a better approach to solve this.

Enter Liferay’s scripting console.

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 9.39.04 AMIn version 6.0, Liferay added a scripting console to the Server Administration section of the control panel. This is a powerful tool that we frequently use during development, debugging and prototyping.  This was the perfect place to run a quick query to figure this out.

We wrote a simple groovy script. Given a friendly URL this script will return the associated page name.

import com.liferay.portal.service.LayoutLocalServiceUtil

friendlyURL = ‘/third-quarter-report’

groupId = 10182

boolean privateLayout = false;

layout1 =

LayoutLocalServiceUtil.getFriendlyURLLayout(groupId, privateLayout, friendlyURL)

out.println(layout1.getFriendlyURL() + ‘ : ‘ + layout1.getName());

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 9.58.33 AM

We ran the script, identified the conflicting page and worked with the marketing team to resolve the conflict.

Liferay’s scripting console has uses beyond simple queries. We also use it for:

  • Bulk user maintenance
  • Automating setup and configuration steps such as creating pages, users and roles
  • During development to quickly test Liferay APIs and verify results
  • As a rapid prototyping tool during development
  • Scripting repetitive operations and maintenance tasks
  • More complex queries to identify and resolve issues

The scripting console is a powerful feature within Liferay and shouldn’t be overlooked. For more information refer to:

Was this information useful? Share your comments below. 

6 SEO Pitfalls to Avoid During Your Next Website (Re)Design Part 5: Failing to consider your URL structure

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Failing to consider your URL structure is mistake #5 in Hubspot’s 6 SEO Pitfalls to Avoid During Your Next Website Re(Design).

One of the most important search engine optimization techniques is using SEO-friendly URL structures to help the indexation of your website.  A good domain name is simple and short so that visitors can easily remember it. Search engines, like users, prefer URLs that make it easy to understand what your page content is all about.

From an SEO point of view, a site’s URL structure should be:

  • Straightforward: URLs with duplicate content should have recognized URLs specified for them; there should be no confusing redirects on the site. (Search Engine Journal, 2014)
  • Meaningful: URL names should have keywords in them. Avoid numbers and punctuation marks. (Search Engine Journal, 2014)
  • Emphasis on the right URLs: SEO-wise, not all URLs on a site are of equal importance as a rule. Some even should be concealed from the search engines. Ensure the pages that should be accessible to search engines are open. (Search Engine Journal, 2014)

Separate words in your URL with a hyphen, or an underscore?

Search engines treat hyphens and underscores differently from one another. Google has made it clear that you should always use a hyphen to separate words in your URLs. Google treats a hyphen as a word separator, but treats an underscore as a word joiner. So, for example tips_for_advisors (using underscores) would be understood as tipsforadvisors. Using tips-for-advisors (hyphens) search engines can  identify the different words and return them in various combinations (ex. tips for advisors, tips, advisors) Using hyphens is better for SEO, making it easier for search engines to identify what your page is about.

Keep your URLs short and simple. Your user prefers it, and so does search engines. When it comes to choosing a good URL – if it’s good for users, it will generally be good for search engines.

Question: What is the biggest challenge you face when it comes to your SEO strategy? Share with us below.

 

Backbone.js Patterns: User notification system

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At Veriday, we have been using Backbone.js to build rich web applications for a few years now. During this period we developed different patterns to make us more efficient building apps using Backbone.js as well as to enforce certain user experience standards across our applications. In this post, we will talk about our “BaseModel” and how we use it to enforce the same user experience when it comes to messages to the end user.

A traditional Backbone.js model will usually extend Backbone.Model:

Person = Backbone.Model.extend({
        initialize: function(){
            alert("Welcome to this world");
        }
    });

The above is fine for learning and experimenting with Backbone.js, however, as your team and codebase grows you need to have a different pattern for all your application’s models.

var User = BaseModel.extend({
     defaults: {
     },
     initialize: function() {
         BaseModel.prototype.initialize.apply(this, arguments);
     }
});

In our applications, we have a model called BaseModel.js which serves exactly this purpose. When we declare a new model we extend our BaseModel. The above example shows how a “User” model is declared in Veriday’s JavaScript applications. Our BaseModel.js would extend the default Backbone.Model.

First, why should you care about this?

Before we elaborate on this, compare today’s web applications with the ones in the early 2000s. There is definitely richer experiences today across a variety of web applications. It wasn’t like that before, and the mere fact that you could do something online like pay your bills was revolutionary enough. Since the launch of Gmail on April 1st 2004, we started to see richer experiences on the web, we started seeing JavaScript toolkits and full blown frameworks to help us develop these rich experiences. This eventually led to the current JavaScript MVC style frameworks we see today from Backbone.js,  Angular.js, Ember.js, Knockout.js and many more. As JavaScript becomes more of a “first-class” citizen on the web you will start to have the need for implementing common design patterns that have, until recently, been the case only on the back-end. The front-end was an thought that got slapped on later and glued together through a myriad of tricks. So, here’s two reasons why you should care:

  1. Eventually the default Backbone.Model will no longer satisfy your needs and you will need to change it. Modifying the Backbone.js source code is not the right answer for that.
  2. Eventually you might have to introduce new behaviour to all your models. Copying and pasting this new behaviour across all your models is not the right answer for that.

How can we implement subclassing in JS?

Javascript’s inheritance model is prototypical and not class based (like Java). We can still achieve something similar through the pattern we will describe here, and some coding conventions that the team understands and most importantly follow. Even though our BaseModel.js could technically be instantiated, we never do that. The convention is that these Base*.js Models (and we have several of them) should never be instantiated, they just get extended by other instantiable models.

var User = BaseModel.extend({
     defaults: {
     },
     initialize: function() {
         BaseModel.prototype.initialize.apply(this, arguments);
     }
});

We accomplish this  through the JavaScript prototype. In the case for the “User” above, the Backbone.js initialize method for the model is responsible for calling the parent’s initialize method. This gives us the appearance of subclassing and inheritance in JavaScript. All of our models’ that initialize methods contain the:

BaseModel.prototype.initialize.apply(this,arguments)

This is so we can inherit behaviour from the BaseModel.

var BaseModel = Backbone.Model.extend({
	defaults: {
	},
	initialize: function() {
	}
});

Another real world advantage of this approach is when we introduced Backbone-Relational into our models.  We only had to modify our BaseModel and extend the RelationalModel instead like this:

var BaseModel = Backbone.RelationalModel.extend({
	defaults: {
	},
	initialize: function() {

	}
});

How to implement a global notification system in Backbone.js

By global, we mean that each developer should never have to worry about implementing this for their component.  Each component should behave the same way in terms of notifications for success and error messages and finally if/when we ever change how our notification system operates we can control that in one place across the application. This place is the BaseModel.js.

Notification

Above is an example of a success message in Digital Agent. Let’s take a look at how this works. In our BaseModel, we attach several listeners to the different Backbone. Events we would like to listen to and take an action on. Today these are:

this.on("error", this.defaultErrorHandler, this);
this.on("invalid", this.defaultValidationErrorHandler, this);
this.on("sync", this.defaultSuccessHandler, this);
this.on("saving", this.defaultPendingHandler, this);
this.on("deleting", this.defaultPendingHandler, this);

If you are familiar with Backbone.js you might be wondering about the saving and deleting events since these are not Backbone.js events. However, because we have our BaseModel in place, we are able to change some of this behaviour. For example, take a look at this snippet from our BaseModel.sync method.

sync: function(method, model, options){

				...
				var xhr = Backbone.sync(method, model, options);
				xhr.method = method;

				...

				if(method == "create" || method == "update"){
					model.trigger('saving', model, xhr, options);
				}

				else if(method == "delete") {
					model.trigger('deleting', model, xhr, options)
				}

				...

				return xhr;
			},

Basically, we overwrite the sync method with our own.  We still call the original Backbone.sync method but now we can do some other things before or after that. In this case, we trigger new events for when Backbone.js is in the process of saving or deleting something. This is more from a user experience perspective so that you can show different messages when models are being saved or deleted. Without this, you will not be able to differentiate between “sync” events which correspond to the model being synced with the server.

this.message = new Message();
...
this.messageView = new MessageView({
     model: this.message
});
...
this.message.on("change:uniqueId", this.messageView.render, this.messageView);

Also, in our BaseModel we make use of our Message view and model. These are responsible for handling messages that are returned by the server, or client side validation, or other error messages. Since we are in BaseModel.js, this.messageView is also available in all sub models for when we have a need to show the user a message.

Let’s look at the defaultSuccessHandler we wired up to the “sync” event above. We check what the method for the AJAX request was, and based on the method we show an appropriate message. Here, you also see that we use a “defaultMessages” object. This object contains some default text, however again, because it is in the BaseModel, another model is able to provide its own messages. Ex. in the BaseModel a successful save would show “Saved”, however, as you can see in the notification image above our Page model, it can provide its own message with more context around the action i.e. a page was saved.

defaultSuccessHandler: function(model, resp, options){
	...		
	//don't show a success message if we were just fetching from the server
	if(options.xhr.method == 'read'){
		return;
	}
	else if(options.xhr.method == 'create' || options.xhr.method == 'update') {
		this.message.set({
			type: 'success',
			text: this.defaultMessages.success
		});
	}
	else if(options.xhr.method == 'delete') {
		this.message.set({
			type: 'success',
			text: this.defaultMessages.deleteSuccess
		});
	}	
},

This works nicely with Backbone js validation as well since by default validation errors will trigger an “invalid” event which we will also listen to. Now we can show validation as well as errors returned from the back-end in the same way throughout the application.

This was a sneak peek into one of our favourite Backbone.js patterns at Veriday. To wrap this post up:

  1. Always extend your own base model instead of the Backbone.Model. Thank us when your code base crosses  30,000 lines of Javascript and you need to make a big change to all your models.
  2. If you need to overwrite Backbone.js behaviour, always do that in your BaseModel, BaseCollection, or BaseView.

Found this blog post useful? Leave us a note below!

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and why do I need it?

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These days, it is tough getting noticed on the web.   As most people have discovered, it is not enough to just have a website or web presence. People are often questioning why they are not receiving traffic, why they are not being found online or why their website is showing up on page 15 of Google search results. It all boils down to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)…

So, just what is this Search Engine Optimization (SEO) thing and what does it do? Simply put, SEO is all of the things you do to your website to help it rank higher in search engines. It is the practice of maximizing the number of visitors to your website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in search engine results. The ultimate goal for SEO would be to get to page one, and ideally to position one.

To put this into context, just think about the way you search the Internet. When you are looking for information on a specific topic, one of your first instincts is to go to Google because it is the fastest and easiest way. Once you’ve inputted your search terms, you’re likely to search through the links on the first or second page of results because they are the most relevant to what you are looking for. This is the point of Search Engine Optimization, to try and get your site ranked as highly as possible on search engines. As a general rule of thumb, websites that appear higher in the search results page will receive more traffic, and in return, more business.

A common practice for Internet users is to click a website on the 1st or 2nd page of search results. Hubspot reports that 75% of people do not scroll beyond the first page of Google. Why build a website that no one can find? For this reason, it is important to constantly keep SEO in mind when creating a website.

So, how does SEO work? SEO works by finding certain keyword phrases or conversational questions that your target audience enters in search engines and by matching those phrases with the products or services you offer on your website. seoWorks has outlined some of the key elements that effect the SEO of your website:

On your website

  • Targeting keywords that your target audience might search
  • Matching relevant content to target these keywords
  • Constantly creating new content to target these keywords
  • Website infrastructure and architecture

Off your website

  • Developing on-theme incoming links
  • Having a relevant and active social media presence
  • Creating citations about you
  • At least half of your SEO results are influenced by elements outside of your control

One of the best SEO strategies is considered to be high quality, relevant and informative content with researched keywords naturally inserted into the text. Google rewards websites that are continuously posting new, relevant and interesting content.

Gaining top rankings can take a very long time. Just because you follow all of the best practices for SEO, does not mean you will be found on the first couple of pages. You cannot set up optimization strategies for your website once and leave it untouched. SEO is a continuous process that requires constant and well-maintained efforts. We’ve only just scratched the surface here.

Looking to (re)design your website with SEO in mind? Learn about the 6 SEO Pitfalls to Avoid during your next re(design).

Are you interested in learning more about the complex world of SEO? If so, leave us a comment below and we’ll be sure to address your questions in our upcoming articles.

6 SEO Pitfalls to Avoid During Your Next Website (Re)Design Part 4: Failing to identify (and include) commonly searched keywords

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Failing to identify (and include) commonly searched keywords is mistake #4 in Hubspot’s 6 SEO Pitfalls to Avoid During Your Next Website (Re)Design.

Keyword research is one of the most important and valuable parts of doing SEO right. Keyword research is about identifying which keywords and phrases are being used, in search engines, by your potential customers to find the products/and or services that you are providing on your website. It is the most important step to drive targeted traffic to your site, and it will help you decipher what topics you should write about and what phrases you should use while writing. If done correctly, it provides a road a road map for building your website and developing content.

Hubspot has provided an exercise for how to establish a keyword list:

  1. Make a list of important topics based on what you know about your business and what topics you’d ideally like to rank for.
  2. Fill in those topic buckets with keywords and phrases that you think are important for your website to rank for in search engine results.
  3. Check to make sure you have a mix of short and long tail keywords in each bucket (great for long term goals and short term wins)
  4. Research related search terms (scroll to the bottom of Google’s results and you’ll notice some suggestions for searches related to your original search)

After completing these steps, you will have a list of keywords and phrases that will help you focus on the right content and topics for your website. Building your business website around your keyword research can provide leverage from which you can further build your SEO strategy to continuously improve your search engine ranking.

In short, researching commonly searched keywords before your website design is a crucial first step in the process for the following reasons:

  • Keyword research reveals your target market
  • Keyword research informs your content
  • Keyword research will inform how you write your content

Do you have your own methods and tricks to identifying your website’s keywords? We’d love to hear about them. Share your tips and tricks below or drop us a line if you have any questions about your next website project.

 

Rich Liferay Applications using Backbone.js and Jersey (Part 2)

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In part 1 of this series, we described how Veriday builds rich Liferay portlets using Backbone.js. If you missed the first part or are unsure how to integrate Backbone.js into your Liferay then it will be helpful to read Part 1 first.The approach we describe in part 2 allows your team to be highly efficient and iterative by nature while building Liferay portlets (or any web-based software in general). On Digital Agent, we break our teams into groups of 2-3 developers. Usually the ratio of front-end to back-end is 1:1, but in some cases it could also go to 2:1, depending on complexity.

How does this approach improve our team’s agility and efficiency?

This approach will allow both front-end developers and back-end developers to proceed with their work in parallel with zero time wasted waiting on each other to finish their portion.  This allows the other developer to begin working on their section.

JSON as an interface

This requirement is important because it allows the whole team to proceed with their work and tackle each challenge in the most productive way, rather than stitching some scaffolding for the purposes of the development team being able to build.

The first step is for the team to agree on the JSON contract between the front-end team and the back-end team. Here we answer questions such as: 1) what data is needed for this interface and 2) what should the data look like? We always start with what the end product of the front-end experience should be and then work on how to get that data returned in the format that the JSON contract specified.

The Backbone Model & Collection

Below is a code snippet from one of a Backbone model for a “Store”.

define([.. ],
function(..){
     var Store = BaseModel.extend({
         urlRoot: "/stores/",
         getOwner: function(){
               return this.get("owner");
         },
      ....

From the above model we can see that the end point for this model is “/stores”. The corresponding stores collection is:

define(['models/Store'],
    function(Store){
        var Stores = Backbone.Collection.extend({
            model: Store,
            urlRoot: "/stores/",
            initialize: function() { ...

The Jersey End Point

The corresponding collection for stores also has the same endpoint “stores”.

@Path("/stores")
    public class StoreWebservice {
        @Resource(name = "storeService")
        private StoreService storeService;
        @GET
        @Produces(MediaType.APPLICATION_JSON)
        @PreAuthorize("hasRole('Store Owner')")
        public List<StoreDto> get(@Context SecurityContext context) {
            List<StoreDto> result = getStoreService().getAllStores();
            return result;
        }
...

The Jersey web service above defines the corresponding “/stores” endpoint that our Backbone.js model and collections points at. You can also see that the StoreWebservice has access to a “storeService”. This is where different business services can be injected into our JSON API. These other services can also be Liferay services, if needed. A typical pattern we use is to not directly call Liferay services from our web services. We typically wrap Liferay services within our own utility service to ensure Liferay service calls are contained instead of being present all over your application. We also follow this pattern in the front-end where we wrap Liferay Javascript methods with our own JavaScript utility object that contains these calls.

The list of “StoreDTO” that is returned is basically the POJO representation of the Backbone.js model Store.js we showed above.  The JSON object behind Store.js and what StoreDTO.java represents is your “JSON as an interface” contract that our front-end and back-end developers agree on before proceeding.

So, how does this increase team productivity?

At this point, our application is nicely broken up into layers in which people can work in without having to wait for others to complete their section. After agreeing on the JSON interface, a typical sprint will progress where the developers working on the back-end can proceed with implementing the new services and data access methods that will extract the required data. The front-end developers will proceed with creating the Backbone.js models, collections (ex. Store.js and Stores.js), Jersey Webservice (ex. Stojrewebservice) and the Java DTOs (ex. Store.java). The front-end developers will even stub out the different methods of the Jersey Webservice, even just hardcode a valid response.

 @GET
 @Produces(MediaType.APPLICATION_JSON)
 @PreAuthorize("hasRole('Store Owner')")
 public List<StoreDto> get(@Context SecurityContext context) {
     List<StoreDto> result = new ArrayList<StoreDto>();
     StoreDto store1 = new StoreDto();
     store1.setName("My Store");
     store1.setAddress("5450 Explorer Drive, Mississauga");
     store1.setHours("8am-5pm every day except weekends");
     StoreDto store2 = new StoreDto();
     store2.setName("New Store");
     store2.setAddress("100 Main Street West, Hamilton");
     store2.setHours("24/7");

     result.add(store1);
     result.add(store2);

     return result;
 }

At this point, our team can proceed with building out their own areas of the application with little dependency on each other’s components, early in on the sprint.  We push the integration towards the end of the 2 week sprint where we now have iterated a few times over the front-end and back-end and have ironed out any unforeseen challenges. At this point, what is left is for our developers is to wire up the methods that the front-end team defined, in their Jersey classes, to the actual business services that were implemented.

The approach is not perfect but it definetely helps productivity from day 1. The approach allows us to have developers who are passionate about the front-end focus on the front-end, and those who love working on the back-end focus on the back-end. Even our full stack developers can take full advantage of this approach.

Being able to build applications in this style is also a testament to Liferay’s flexibility. Don’t be afraid to bring your own experience to your Liferay stack!

4 Secrets to Writing Effective Value Propositions for Financial Advisors

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As both a marketing and sales professional, one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to create and articulate in my career has been either my own personal or my company’s value proposition. It’s definitely not a feat to be underestimated and it is something that is often over engineered to a point that can be confusing to some readers. I reviewed many value propositions for financial advisors and provided advice and consulting to a number of advisors looking for more differentiation.

Typically, the value proposition lives on the home page of a website, your Twitter profile, LinkedIN company page, your company’s brochure and practically anywhere where you expect to acquire exposure to an audience who knows nothing about who you are or what you do. The primary goal of your value proposition should be to convert your reader. What do I mean by convert? Well, it means converting your reader from being a complete stranger to someone who is willing to take another step towards trusting you and eventually spending money with you (which is the ultimate goal). This could involve clicking on something else on your website, flipping the page of your brochure, scrolling down the rest of your Twitter feed, or reading an article that you either shared or published. These are all considered conversions.

With that goal in mind, here are 4 common areas I tend to talk about surrounding value propositions for financial advisors at the point when advisors are either creating it or considering re-writing it.

Is it relevant to your target audience?

Many value propositions for financial advisors tend to have too much of a focus on the actual advisor or firm. It’s important to describe who you are and what you do, but realistically, that comes at a later step. Keeping in mind the goal of capturing and enticing the reader just enough to convert, the first few words of your value proposition should contain some information as to how you help your reader solve problems. It’s always good to remember that your business exists because it helps solve your clients’ problems. Some questions you can ask yourself to help get you thinking of a reader focused solution statement:

  • What are the top 3 problems you are helping your clients’ solve?
  • If you left your clients tomorrow and never replaced you, what would happen to them in a month, 6 months or a year?

How does your audience benefit from using your products or services?

Another key component to your value proposition should contain one or more key benefits that you provide. A lot of people writing their value proposition statements for the first time tend to fall into the trap of writing about features vs. benefits. For example, the statement, “We provide families with sustainable investment strategies” is a features statement. A “sustainable investment strategy” is a service or an offering. It’s not quite a benefit in the context of the example I provided. How about this one? “We help families achieve financial freedom”. This is clearly more in the direction of a benefits statement. “Financial freedom” isn’t something you can offer “out of the box” but you can implement specific strategies that can help families achieve that goal. One exercise I like to use with my clients to help them with a benefits statement is a fill in the blanks exercise:

  • Fill In The Blanks: The greatest challenge I solve for my clients is __________. By solving this challenge they can __________.

Tip: After writing a benefits statement, ask yourself the question “Why?” until you get to a point where the answer to the question becomes almost philosophical. Let’s take the previous example:

  1. We provide families with sustainable investment strategies. Why?
  2. So they can save enough money. Why?
  3. So they can achieve financial freedom. Why?
  4. So they can live without worrying about debt. Why?
  5. So they can live happily ever after. <– philosophical point of achievement!

Can your audience easily understand your communication style?

There’s many reasons to use common language in such a key part of your marketing material. For websites, using common language will help with your search engine results. Why? Because if you’re using language that your clients or your target audience don’t commonly use, chances are, they won’t be using that language to located your website. The reasons why you would use common language from a marketing and writing standpoint is very analogous. The system and combinations of words we use is how we communicate with other people within our circles of influence. Using words that are not typically in your audience’s vernacular can cause you to lose their attention.

Length

As marketers, one key consideration of any attention grabbing content is our audience’s attention span which happens to be 8 seconds. Keeping your value proposition short and simple are key to a successful conversion.

If you’d like some feedback or help on your existing value proposition, drop me a line!

Question: What are some of the best or worst value propositions for financial advisors you’ve ever read online or seen in your daily life?

 

book_button_contentwriting

Responsive Website Design: You are losing business without it

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The game has changed. Consumers now expect their online experience to be consistent no matter what device they are on.

Responsive website design refers to a website designed to adapt to any device a visitor is using. It is a single website that intelligently adapts to the screen the visitor is on without compromising functionality or aesthetics. With the increasing amount of Internet traffic coming from mobile devices, it has become clear that responsive design is no longer a trend, but a must for any website.

Need reasons why responsive design is a wise investment for your business and all businesses, of any size, and any industry? Look no further…

Mobile Web Growth

The world is going mobile and so are our websites. Imagine if movies were only available in the dimensions they played in the theatre.  How would this affect your experience watching a movie at home?  The same can be said for a user accessing your website on their mobile if it is not responsive.

Worldwide, mobile traffic has doubled between 2012 and 2013.  Hubspot reports that in 2014, mobile devices will account for 25% of global Internet traffic and by 2015 mobile Internet usage is predicted to overtake desktop Internet usage.  Not only are people using their mobile for social networking, checking and sending email, and surfing the website, they are also making purchases from their devices.  By 2016, revenue from mobile content is predicted to reach $65 billion.

Your website is likely receiving a high portion of mobile users and given it isn’t responsive, nor has a mobile version, that’s a lot of visitors who are receiving sub-optimal experiences.  According to Hubspot, if a user lands on your website on their mobile and is frustrated or doesn’t see what they are looking for, there is a 61% change they will leave immediately and go to another website (most likely a competitor).

Mobile is growing and isn’t going to slow down any time soon.  If you don’t have a responsive website design, you are losing business to someone that does.

Recommended by Google

Google is the main search engine for many users, and has 92% market share in mobile search engine. Pierre Far, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, announced that Google recommends responsive web design as the primary mobile configuration. Having one single URL makes it easier for Google bot to index and organize one version of the site (Hubspot, 2014).

If Google is recommending something that is sure to help with your SEO, I’d say it’s probably a wise idea to listen.

Increase sales with a better & faster user experience

An effortless online experience is key to a visitor coming back.  Responsive design allows your visitor to browse your website with ease placing emphasis on designing for the user.

Responsive website design provides users with a better and faster user experience. When a user has to wait for a page to load, there’s a high change they will leave your site before it opens on their mobile phones. Responsive design eliminates the need for site redirects, improving the overall speed of the site, allowing users to get their information quickly.

Responsive design removes some of the barriers that having multiple sites can present such as performance and consistent look and feel. It allows your website to adapt to the visitors’ screen automatically, presents your content in a user-friendly format and does a better job of converting visitors into customers.

Ready for current and future devices

A responsive website will automatically adapt no matter what new technology is thrown our way, whether it be a new screen size or new tablet dimension.

Responsive design is one of the most effective ways to ensure every visitor has the best possible user experience.  It offers visitors an optimized experience regardless of their choice of device.  If you don’t have a responsive website, you are losing business to someone that does.

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It is still an emerging practice, so it’s natural that you may have some questions, and that’s what we are here for.  We are always happy to discuss, just drop us a line.

Has your website been converted to responsive design?  If you haven’t, what is holding you back?  If you have, have you seen benefits from the change?  We’d love to hear about your experience.

6 SEO Pitfalls to Avoid During Your Next Website (Re)Design Part 3: Not doing an audit of your existing site

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Mistake #3 of Hubspot’s 6 SEO Pitfalls to Avoid During Your Next Website (Re)Design is Not doing an audit of your existing site.

If you are redesigning your website, make sure you take the time to examine your current site to see what is working and what is not. If it’s working, keep doing it. If it’s not, this is your chance to figure out where the opportunities lie to help your site rank better in search engines.

There are many reasons why you would conduct an audit of your existing site. Maybe you are not getting as much traffic as you hoped for. Or, maybe you are getting traffic but visitors don’t seem to be engaged in what you’re selling them. Perhaps your website is old and neglected and you need to identify what pages need to be totally revamped, or removed. Regardless of why you are redesigning your website, a properly conducted audit will help you to identify what content delivers better results and what content may be hurting your website. The audit will help you to establish how popular your content is and if it is meeting your visitor’s expectations. For example, a high bounce rate or low time spent on a website might indicate that visitors aren’t engaged with your content, and leave your site right away.

Below are some key metrics you may want to consider when auditing your website:

  • Number of visits/visitors/unique visitors
  • Bounce rate
  • Average time visitors spend on your site
  • How many new vs. returning visitors does the website achieve
  • Top performing keywords (in terms of rank, traffic, and lead generation)
  • Number of inbound linking domains
  • Total number of total pages indexed
  • Total number of pages that receive traffic
  • Top landing pages
  • Content review – do the main pages of the site have enough content? Which pages are receiving the most traffic? Which pages are visitors spending the most time on?

A website audit is the first step in the path to redesigning a website. This process will provide you with the insight and context you need to make informed design decisions. An audit is not necessarily about finding what is wrong with your site, but rather to find a list of things that can be changed to help make your site rank better in search engines.

Looking to redesign your website but aren’t sure where to start? That’s what we’re here for!