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A Better User Experience = Better B2B SEO

Pages with infinite scroll present a fatal flaw when it comes to B2B SEO.

As we’ve mentioned from time to time, this is not your father’s B2B SEO.

Search engine algorithms and SEO practices have changed dramatically over the years, and “just” having good content is no longer enough.

One of the major changes is the fact that the way people interact with your website now affects how the site itself is ranked by the search engines.

Search engines, Google in particular, have begun using “engagement” as a secondary factor that influences a page’s search engine ranking for any specific term.

Search engines usually measure engagement by how long a search engine user stays on a particular page. If someone clicks on a link and then clicks immediately back to the list of results, the search engines assume the page didn’t provide the required information and view that page as having lower engagement. If someone clicks on a link and stays on the page before returning to the search engine, that page is seen as being more useful and having better engagement.

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Internet Changes Challenge Sites to be Better

If you are not adhering to best practices or if your site is not up to date on the latest requirements, then your site will be penalized.

 “The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change” - Heraclitus


Well, isn’t that the truth? When looking back over the years, change has certainly been the only constant in every aspect of the web and Internet marketing. Not only has there been continuous change in appearance, technology, SEO practices and device platforms, but many of these developments have happened relatively quickly.  

Sometimes, keeping up with these changes can become overwhelming because successful Internet marketing is such a moving target, which often leads to additional costs and time investments. But, one thing that has been proven over time is that through all of this change, good things have happened. Internet marketing has evolved for the better and has become an invaluable and necessary tool for conducting business.

So, what are some of these changes? What are the benefits? And, why is it so important to embrace change?

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Industrial SEO: Does your Website Content Appeal to Your Industrial Buyers?

The answer is quite simple: Industrial purchases typically present a longer sale cycle and the buyers need more detail.... In other words: Images compel, content sells.

Over that last several years there’s been an apparent shift in website design from a traditional text-driven layout to a more image-heavy format.   I guess many are buying into the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. 

People love pictures!  This strategy works great for consumer-based websites, where consumers buy with emotion, the brand is well known, the sale is just a click away or a quick drive to the nearest big box retailer.

So why are industrial and manufacturing companies failing with this new design approach?  The answer is quite simple: Industrial purchases typically present a longer sale cycle and the buyers need more detail.  Images as the main selling feature work best for consumer-oriented sales.  

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Three Costly Mistakes to Avoid when Developing Your Website

It’s easy to let the cost of any project – including a new website – get out of hand. But a few simple precautions can prevent such a disaster. Below are three notable mistakes to avoid during the website development process to help you remain within your website design budget.

1. Including decision-makers too late in the process

Putting off the purchase of an SEO package will save you money now, but you will be losing out on the necessary promotion of your website and on opportunities for business in the future.

Starting with the decision to purchase a design-and-SEO package all the way through the website launch, it is necessary to include all decision-makers who have any say in your company’s website. Through many steps of the development process, you will be asked for sign-offs and approvals. Be sure to consult all of the decision-makers before approving each of these steps and before getting back your web developer with edit requests.

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Pilot Fish celebrates 20th anniversary of Internet marketing excellence

We were there at
the forefront and
continue to offer
our clients SEO
expertise derived
from many years of
practical experience.

My, how time flies when you’re having fun!  Pilot Fish is celebrating the 20th anniversary of our parent company, Polysort LLC, founded in 1995 as the first online portal for the plastics and rubber industry.

I’m proud to say that I was one of the portal’s founding members, along with other former staffers from trade publication Plastics News.

We felt that the Internet was the perfect medium to build an industry resource that, in comparison to print, would free us from the limitations of deadlines and space. 

It also created the need for a different business model than reliance on advertising revenue.

Very few companies had websites in 1995, so helping plastics and rubber companies build their online presence became our revenue model,which exists to this day.

Our original site, www.polysort.com, continues to provide an extensive directory of plastics and rubber companies, including raw material companies, machinery companies, processors and related services.

Pilot Fish became our website development and SEO arm, providing Internet marketing services not only to plastics and rubber companies, but also to other industrial businesses in a variety of markets, including medical, packaging, woodworking, construction products, chemical, machinery and more.    

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Why it Might be Time to Redesign Your Website

Saying goodbye to an awful, outdated, ugly website is easy. If you can’t bear the looks of your site because the style is outdated or because the structure has fallen apart, making the decision to redesign is an obvious one. The hard part is saying goodbye to a website that you still actually like. But just because you still like your website, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s still functioning the way it should to achieve the best results.

So if you’re hanging on to a likable, but aging, website, here are some of the things you might be overlooking:

Promoting a new website is a great opportunity to reach out to your customers.
  • Your website technology is no longer current.
    Sure, not all of the latest technologies are going to be the perfect fit for your company, but taking the time to review what’s available and what will give you the best return on investment might not be a bad idea. For instance, if your visitors are viewing your site from a variety of devices, switching to responsive design (where the size of your website adapts to any device, large or small) might be a great investment for your company.
  • The style of your site is looking a little dated.
    It’s kind of like having a favorite “go-to” pair of jeans that you’ve had in your wardrobe for a while. There is a reason you bought them in the first place, and there is a reason you’ve been wearing them for so long. They fit you just right, and they are comfortable. Sure, you think they look fine, but they might be the reason your friends refuse to be seen with you in public. The same might be true of your website. You think it looks fine, and you’re used to it. But, others might be thinking that it’s time for you to say “Out with the old and in with the new.” Because, unlike that old pair of jeans, no matter how long you wait, those old website styles won’t be coming back around.
  • Your site has accumulated obsolete elements and features.
    Over time, you’ve added a few elements here and a few features there that are adding up and are making your site appear cluttered. Redesigning your site will give you an opportunity to reorganize everything that has been added since the last design was created. A new design will also allow you to restructure your navigation and will help to restore the balance of your website as a whole.
  • Your Search Engine Optimization has fallen by the wayside.
    Of course, you don’t have to redesign your website in order to adopt new ways of improving your SEO, but if you haven’t had the chance to keep up, this is a great opportunity to revamp this aspect of your site as well.
  • A new user experience is a great way to engage your audience.
    Promoting a new website is a great opportunity to reach out to your customers. You can gauge their interest by promoting the new site through email, blogs, press releases and social media and inviting them to view the new site once it has been launched. You can encourage additional interaction by asking for feedback on the new site.

If you’re still having a hard time letting go of your current website, please keep in mind that fresh ideas can be applied to many of the components that you like, making them brand new again.

Do you think you’re ready for a website redesign?  Contact Pilot Fish at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104.

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Website Design: Managing TMI

Have you ever visited a website with the single purpose of purchasing a product, only to find that the website was so overloaded with information and so convoluted that you couldn’t figure out where to even begin your search?

I recently visited a very popular website with the purpose of updating some of my computer software.  When arriving at the home page, I found that the site was overwhelmingly packed with information. Too much information. There were so many images, so many navigation buttons and drop-downs (53 links under the first drop-down to be exact), and so many levels of hierarchy (font sizes, colors, anomalies, etc.) that my eyes immediately went crossed.

Every other page of the site was equally overwhelming and, frankly, annoying. If the product I was about to purchase wasn’t a necessity or if it was a product that I could have purchased elsewhere, I would have bailed immediately upon arriving at the homepage. I really thought that such a popular site would have been set up with a much simpler design and at least a trace of organization. Boy, was I wrong.

Ask your customers if your site is easy to use, whether they are able to quickly find what they are looking for and what can be improved for a better user experience.

After a lot of time and frustration, I was finally able to purchase what I needed. But this was no thanks to the website. I actually had to contact the company directly to get the answers to all of my questions. The website was no help to me at all.

After leaving the site, I needed a nap. I thought, “What a shame.”  I am pretty sure the website included everything that I needed — somewhere.  But the way the information was organized made it impossible to sift through and hard to even look at.

Of course, it wouldn’t be very productive to just complain about these problems without offering solutions that could possibly be useful to our clients. So I’ve since returned to the site to critique it and to decide what I would do differently to reorganize and rework the site to make the user experience more efficient and more pleasant. (Note: The name of the company will remain anonymous to protect the not-so-innocent.)

So, here is what I have come up with:

Problem:
Scattered information/poor sense of hierarchy

Solution:
Visitors should know where to look first, second, third, and so on. The first thing that you should see should be the most important element on the page. With the proper placement, sizing and color of page elements, this can be achieved, no matter how much information you have to share.  Delete irrelevant information.  After doing so, if you are still left with a lot of material, that’s OK, just make sure it is properly organized with the order of importance being a priority.

Problem:
Unruly navigation – 53 drop-down links under the first navigation button? Are you kidding me?

Solution:
Simplify your navigation. It sounds pretty obvious, but having too many buttons is a very common problem. If you think you have too many navigation buttons or drop-down menus, adopt a good system for organizing your buttons, such as breaking those navigations up into groups (a top nav, a side nav, etc.). Or try using sub-page navigations.

Make sure the buttons are easy to read and easy to click on. Avoid using multiple tiers of drop-down menus that are often very difficult to maneuver. (As you try to very carefully navigate your mouse across and down and across again, your mouse falls off the edge of a button and the drop-down disappears and you’re back to square one. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Ugh.)

Include a site map on your website and/or a search box so visitors can type in what they need and quickly arrive at their destination.

Problem:
Trouble finding and/or purchasing a product

Solution:
This is also directly related to hierarchy and/or navigation. Whether you have one product or service or 100 products and services, make sure there is always an easy way to find the product and description and a direct route to the final sale (getting there with as few clicks as possible). Perhaps it’s as simple as placing a “Buy Now” button next to your product image or a phone number on each page where customers can contact you. Instead of a wild goose chase to the product and checkout, make finding and purchasing a product easy and as simple of a process as possible.

One last suggestion would be to take some time to evaluate your own site. Think about the sites that you find easiest to utilize and what it is that makes those sites so user-friendly. Compare those sites to your own. Ask your customers if your site is easy to use, whether they are able to quickly find what they are looking for and what can be improved for a better user experience.

If you suspect your website is suffering from TMI, contact Pilot Fish at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104 for a professional website evaluation.

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20 Questions to Ask Before Starting a B2B Website Redesign

If you've been involved in the design of your company's website, you probably already know how difficult it can be to convey the type of website design you want.

Website design is a matter of personal taste. What one person finds attractive and professional, you may not and vice versa. Oftentimes, what you want is a matter of "I'll know it when I see it," but unless your website designer is a mind reader, that's not enough information to assure you'll get what you visualized in your own head.

Below is a list of 20 questions to help you solidify in your own mind and communicate to your website designer the look and feel you believe would best represent your company.

Website Redesign Questions

  1. Do you prefer website designs that contain many different colors or designs that use fewer colors?
  2. Do you prefer bright colors or muted colors?
  3. Does your company have specific corporate colors? PMS Colors?
  4. Do you prefer website designs that have white backgrounds behind the text or colored backgrounds behind the text?
  5. Do you prefer sites with black type for the main text or those with colored type for the main text?
  6. Do you have any font preferences?
  7. Do you prefer website designs with a horizontal layout or a vertical layout?
  8. Regarding navigation, which button locations do you prefer - horizontal across the top, down the left or the right side, in blocks, or a combination of some horizontal and some vertical?
  9. Do you want a straightforward rendering of the logo, or would prefer something with more color gradation or artistic treatment?
  10. Does your company have a motto or tagline that should be incorporated into the design?
  11. If yes, do you prefer the site tagline in a straightforward, headline-style format or do you prefer a more stylized format?
  12. Some sites have faded terms related to their businesses embedded in images- Do you like this technique?
  13. Do you prefer sites with actual product images or those with stock photographs that evoke specific responses, such as a sense of dependability or professionalism?
  14. Do you prefer website designs with straightforward, realistic photographs of products or those that contain artistically altered images of products?
  15. Do you prefer to have your product images on the left side, along the top or down the right side?
  16. Are there any logos for industry quality, certification programs or association memberships that should be part of the site's design?
  17. Do you want your site to incorporate additional media, like slide shows or YouTube videos?
  18. Does your company have social media accounts that you would like to have linked from your site? 
  19. Who are your primary competitors?  Is there anything you like or don’t like about their sites?
  20. Do you have any favorite sites that do something well that could be incorporated on your company site?   
  21. Do you have any marketing materials you would like to have the site complement for brand continuity?

For assistance with your website redesign, contact Pilot Fish at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104.

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