How To Come Up With Great Content Ideas For Your Website Or Blog

One of the biggest challenges our clients face when dealing with content marketing, content creation, blogging and the like is figuring out how to come up with topics to write about. Despite most of our clients being true experts of their fields, they still don’t regularly provide content that helps to fill voids within their industry. This is sometimes due to a true “lack of ideas” or often the result of believing their knowledge is “common sense” and therefore not worthy of further discussion or exploration.

But what is elementary to you, is NOT elementary to us, your potential customer. As a plumber, you know the best angle to insure my main sewer line easily transports my homes waste out of my home and into the city sewer line, but I sure as hell don’t. Even better, if I were to stumble upon an article where you explain this aspect of plumbing to me, in a way I understand and in a voice I relate to, that is going to go a long way towards earning my trust, and future business.

This topic is important to me, and would relate to it because my home did in fact have an improperly sloped sewer line that was responsible for transporting waste from my home to the city lines outside, and it’s poor slope resulted in what my wife and I call “The Shit Storm of 2009”.

Content creation is a challenge for everyone, but one simple tweak to the way you consider new ideas is all that is needed to open up the flood gates. You will here many talk about free writing, and researching other industry related blogs, and watch YouTube videos, sure, all very good ways to come up with ideas.  I have employed them all at one point or another.  Being that this “practice what we preach” series is supposed to teach “easily actionable” strategies, I’m going really, really simple here…

So what’s the best way to develop new ideas for useful content for your website or blog? Put yourself in your customers (or potential customers) shoes and ask yourself the questions you think they should be asking.

To make this easier, some of you already have an FAQ’s page. Start there.  Take each topic, write a custom page of content or blog post about it, explaining the “why” or the “how” of the question in as much detail as you can muster.  Maybe it only ends up being 3 paragraphs, or maybe you luck out and come up with 30 paragraphs, a few images, charts and graphs.

Even better, keep the FAQ’s in place, and link from each of the quick hit Q&A’s into the individual posts that further elaborate, allowing for quicker indexing by Google, and a nice little internal link scheme.

Examples, if you provide security software for doctor’s offices, some questions that might need answering could be…

  • How does your software keep our patient data safe?
  • What are the risks involved in not taking action to keep our patient data safe?
  • What are some real life examples of patient data being compromised?

If you’re a contractor, let’s say a landscaper…

  • Why should we trust you anymore than your competitors?
  • What jobs have you done that would give me a good idea of what you could do for our home?
    This question could result in 3 or 4 different pages of content, as you can write about and show examples for homes of like size and neighborhood. Showing someone in a $130,000 house pics of only your projects completed for $500,000 houses isn’t necessarily the best way to pitch and attract them.
  • What equipment do you use?

If you’re a restaurant…

  • What kind of events do you cater?
    Another example of a topic that can branch off into multiple pages of content, each geared towards further explaining each type of catering niche you service, showers, team parties, family reunions and so on.

And the list goes on.  In my case today, I decided to try and provide a practical answer to the question,

“How the hell do I come up with content ideas for my website/blog?”

The answer:  Figure out what questions your customers are (or should be) asking, and answer them, in detail, and make the presentation worth of their time. Add nice pictures, include supporting data, include charts (people especially love pie charts…mmmmm…pie).

I learned from Kevin Costner that “if you build it, he will come”.  I think in our case we could say, “if you write it, and write it well, they will come”.

If you consistently add new, quality content to your website, it is almost guaranteed to get you some new traffic, and sometimes you’ll luck into huge swells of traffic that can provide temporary, and sometimes permanent, boosts in leads and revenue generation.

In closing, if you provide clean up services for someone who’s main sewer line dropped off the wall and spilled all of the waste that was backed up into their basement, maybe you should write an article titled, How We Can Rescue Your Basement From A Shit Storm. That is an piece I’d be willing to read.

One of the biggest challenges our clients face when dealing with content marketing, content creation, blogging and the like is figuring out how to come up with topics to write about. Despite most of our clients being true experts of their fields, they still don’t regularly provide content that helps to fill voids within their industry. […]

Beef Up Your Websites Copy, Increase Your Rank

Today’s “Practice What We Preach” search marketing tip is one of the easiest we will cover. I mean really simple stuff here.

We see far too many clients skimping on the “content”. Granted, we are to some degree guilty of this ourselves. Everyone knows the cobbler’s kids have no shoes, and we have certainly fallen victim to that sickness over the years. So busy taking care of our clients, we sometimes forgot to take care of ourselves, as in our own website.

Those days are now far behind us, and one of the first things we started doing was improving both the quality of copy, and the amount of copy on every service page within our website.

So this tip is something that is once again, very simple, and easy for any business owner to attack themselves. IMPROVE AND ADD TO YOUR WEBSITES COPY/TEXT. Make sure that your page is informative. Make sure that the copy is readable and the presentation attractive. Don’t write copy trying to fool or spam Google. Write truly engaging copy that informs your visitors what it is you’re all about, while being intelligent about your wording so you can in fact get those needed “keyword hits” mixed in.

Today for instance, I further optimized some copy on our Miva Design services page, and I added new copy that consisted of 460 words, and 2,675 characters. I worked in a couple more keyword mentions in a very natural, not spammy way. Not huge in the general scheme of things, but I’ll follow up in a week or two and will provide some insight into what that did for us from a ranking perspective for terms relating to Miva. I also added a couple of blog posts at the bottom that also touched on Miva with the aim at making my site in general a bit more “relevant” as it pertains to Miva.

Through today’s work, my goal was to slightly improve our rankings for terms relating to Miva that we currently rank on the first page for, but down towards the bottom. I’m thinking that the simpletag edits, mixed with the text optimizations and the added 460 words should be enough to give us a slight boost, maybe jumping us up a position or two.

For posterity, here’s where we were at prior to my edits, and note, I won’t do anything more, other than maybe add another section or two between now and coming back to update this post.

Rankings for some targeted terms as of 8/3/16…

Miva Design – #7
Miva Designer – #6
Miva Web Design – #9
Miva Web Designer – #10
Miva Developer – #18

Moral of the story, beef up your content. Our goal here is to slowly but surely build each of our service pages into near books about their topics. Content is back to being king again. But the key is that the content must be high quality. The days of fooling google with a shit ton of spammy text have passed, but that doesn’t mean that a boat load of high-quality, readable and useful information won’t be highly rewarded. The fact is, it will be.

Today’s “Practice What We Preach” search marketing tip is one of the easiest we will cover. I mean really simple stuff here. We see far too many clients skimping on the “content”. Granted, we are to some degree guilty of this ourselves. Everyone knows the cobbler’s kids have no shoes, and we have certainly fallen […]

Improve Your Adwords Quality Score, Decrease Your CPC

If you run your own Google Adwords campaign, you’ve probably come across the “Quality Score” that gets assigned to each keyword within an ad group. But many aren’t fully aware of how important this number is to their campaign, and more importantly their wallet.

What is the Adwords Quality Score For?

Google’s Adwords Quality Score is a dynamic number assigned to each keyword in your campaign that helps to determine your ad rank and that keyword terms cost per click (CPC).

What does a high or low Adwords Quality Score mean for your campaign?

A higher quality score typically translates into a better performing ad through increased impressions, increased clicks and decreased cost-per-click. That correlation seems pretty universal and the research and stats we’ve poured through prove time and again that optimizing quality score isn’t just worth considering. It’s crazy not to work to improve it.

In almost all cases where we have improved an ads quality score from say 5 to 7, we have seen a decrease in average cost per click.  In one case in particular, on a keyword term of our own, improving the quality score from 5 to 8 for a single term resulted in that terms average CPC dropping from $5.73 per click, down to $4.67.

What factors determine your Adwords Quality Score?

  1. Click Through Rate – A keywords click-through-rate (CTR) is one part of the puzzle that determines quality score. The higher the CTR, the the better your quality score. This is great news because you should already be trying to optimize the CTR for every keyword you bid on anyway.  If you aren’t, you best get to it, because no you know that not only does improving your CTR get you more traffic, but it can actually help in making that traffic more affordable.
  2. Ad Relevancy – The more relevant your ad text/copy is to the keyword term, the better.  I’ll provide a real world example below, and some tips.
  3. Landing Page Content – both the relevance of the content and copy, and the overall reputation and trust Google puts in said page play a big roll in determining a keyword terms quality score.

How To Quickly & Easily Improve Your Adwords Quality Score

Improving your AdWords Quality Score is actually pretty easy. If you consider these three aspects of your campaign, and improve upon your keyword terms, Click-through-rate, ad relevancy and landing page content, you will see an increase in your quality score, and a decrease in your average cost-per-click.  It really is that simple.  So here’s how to get your hands dirty…

(1)  Breaking your campaigns into smaller, more targeted ad groups

When I first set up a campaign, I often go the quick and dirty route.  I create a campaign, I create an ad group or two, and I load each up with a ton of keywords.  That is all well and good, but if you sort any of your campaigns by quality score, highest to lowest, you will notice the top few ads will likely show you a 7 or an 8 if you’re doing it right, and then you’ll see 6’s, 5’s and 4’s appear as you scroll down the list.

What To Do?  Simply break your campaign up into smaller ad groups, with each ad group’s ads doing a better job of using the keyword terms you’re targeting within the ad copy.  It’s that simple.  Instead of 2 or 3 ad groups, you break it up into 7, 8, even 10 ad groups, each one targeting a smaller group of terms that better relate.

The Goal?  To make sure that the ad title and copy in each group very closely match/mirror the keywords in that group.

(2)  Improve your Click-Through-Rate by playing with bids and your average position

In its organic search listings, CTR is actually used as a ranking factor. The thought behind it is that they want to reward search listings that are most often clicked, assuming that if they are being clicked, they must be doing something right.  The same holds true in Adwords. The higher your CTR, the more money Google makes, so they obviously have vested interest in serving up the ads that get clicked most often.

That’s where improving your CTR comes into play.  Yes, a higher quality score means a higher CTR, but the reverse is also true.  As you improve your CTR without consideration of your quality score, the quality score will also get a boost.

What To Do? Simply spend time playing with your bids, and ad copy with the goal being to improve your CTR.  You should be doing this anyway to optimize the number of clicks you get through a campaign, but the added benefit is that doing so will also slowly but surely decrease your average CPC.

The Goal?  Spend time making sure that you’re always trying to find ways to improve your CTR. NOTE, that being #1 for a keyword term isn’t always best.  We’ve found that sometimes being #1 is a necessity, and other times have found that holding the #2 or #3 position for a keyword term is superior to being #1.  It depends on the keyword term and you won’t know until you’ve tried all of the various placements.

(3)  Improve your each ad groups landing page relevancy making sure the targeted keywords are intelligently and legibly worked into the landing page’s copy.

This one is also pretty simple, and the strategy should be similar to what you do with the ad copy.  I like to actually work first with getting the highest quality score I can on the Adwords side first, by improving ad copy, breaking up and better targeting my ad group to keyword relationships and so on. Then once that’s done, and I have a quality score of say 6 or 7, I’ll then go through and will determine if I need to (a) improve the landing page’s copy to better target keyword terms in my ad group or (b) do I need to create a totally new landing page for each individual ad group.  Sometimes I can get amazing results from just updating page copy, but other times a whole new landing page is needed.  It depends on the competition and how many variations you’re targeting.

So that is it. I have been optimizing the crap out of both our own, and our clients AdWords campaigns for the past two or three months and the results have been nothing short of amazing. It’s something that is easy enough to knock out on your own, but as always, should you find yourself needing help, or just not having the time, you can always hire us on to do it for you.

 

If you run your own Google Adwords campaign, you’ve probably come across the “Quality Score” that gets assigned to each keyword within an ad group. But many aren’t fully aware of how important this number is to their campaign, and more importantly their wallet. What is the Adwords Quality Score For? Google’s Adwords Quality Score is […]

Practice What We Preach Series

I am famous for NOT practicing what I preach. This holds true with my kids, with lacrosse coaching and in business.

Example, as a lacrosse coach I would constantly badger my players about shooting form, constantly reinforcing shooting overhand. The “why” of it is simple, “You’ll hit the cage more often, and see that shot you took there just now, you missed.” However, as a player, I was proficient enough as a scorer to not do that at all. I scored goals side-arm, behind-the-back, underhand, a couple between the legs, even one-handed. I once scored four goals in a club game, all four a different variety of behind-the-back. I also scored ten goals in a single college game off just fifteen shots and I’d wager that five or six were scored using a non-traditional shooting form. While it feels great to brag, there is actually a larger point to all of this. Relax I’m getting there.

Bringing it home with this example, as the owner of AarcMediaGroup.com, I found an amazing niche in the early days developing ecommerce websites using the Miva Merchant platform (now known as Miva, I like what they did there). Even better, I found a single keyword term, that while expensive, converted like a gang buster, and I rode that wave for a good 5 or 6 years. In that time we pretty much lived off of that single keyword term and client referrals for lead generation and revenue. It was marvelous.

HOWEVER, by around 2010, that keyword terms use started to decline drastically so I scrambled to improve our adwords ads for the variations we were also bidding on. In the end it seemed the keyword combos we were living off of simply stopped being searched. We’re lucky to see 100 impressions per month nowadays for that campaign in total and maybe we’ll end up with 10 to 25 clicks depending on the month.

The problem here was I wasn’t “practicing what I preached” to my clients all the time. I wasn’t making sure to optimize all of our advertising resources for the simple fact I didn’t have to, and the result come 2012 was we hadn’t grown our revenue since 2010, something that continued up to 2014. Then I finally decided to break myself out of the marketing myopia I had fallen into and put into action the strategies that we successfully use for our clients every day.

So my goal with this series is to share this experience with any and all that care to read along and maybe even try out the strategies I’m about to lay out. All of them will be easy to act upon, and most can be employed by you, yourself and you.

And as always, feel free to farm these tasks out to us should you decide you want to “leave it to the experts” as I outlined in a blog post last week.

So without further burning your valuable time, here is the first tip in this marketing series, “A Quick And Dirty Way To Decrease Your Average Cost-Per-Click”.

I am famous for NOT practicing what I preach. This holds true with my kids, with lacrosse coaching and in business. Example, as a lacrosse coach I would constantly badger my players about shooting form, constantly reinforcing shooting overhand. The “why” of it is simple, “You’ll hit the cage more often, and see that shot […]

3 Reasons You Should Hire A Professional Web Designer

Everyone loves a good list, and I love the chance at being able to write a piece that can act as a subtle (not subtle) sales pitch, while also explaining the perils of trying to be your own webmaster. So here is a list of why you should be hiring a professional web designer, or more specifically, my company.

Before I go on, let me make one thing clear. When I talk below about clients messing up their websites, or clients work not being fit for public view, I’m not talking about tasks like adding/editing products to an ecommerce site, or simple text/copy edits to text on your services page.  There are all sorts of website-related tasks that clients can actually do better than a pro because you know your product/service better than anyone.  But when it comes down to it these scenarios are few and far between, even if only because everything you can do, we can do “faster”.

1.  Being Your Own Webmaster Is A Huge Waste Of Your Time.

Every minute you spend working on a task that could just as easily be delegated is a huge waste of your time. I get it, as a business owner you know that you can perform almost every task on your plate better than anyone you employ. However, and this is a big HOWEVER, you are not better than a professional web designer at updating your website, especially where the look and feel is in play. Not only that, what takes you three hours, takes us 15 minutes to an hour, tops.

If my clients could get $40 back for every hour wasted staring at a computer screen trying to figure something website-related on their own, how much money would they have? I use $40 per hour because that is what a good chunk of small business owners make per hour when averaged out over a 50 hour work week.  You really aren’t “saving” yourself money by working on your own website. You’re really just watering down your hourly rate.  If you really did the math, you’d see the light, and you’d stop spinning your wheels.

Example, you spend 3 hours making updates to your website. You make $40 per hour when all is said and done.  You just paid yourself $120 for your brilliant webmaster skills. We could have completed the same work in a single hour, and most likely would have done a better job at a cost to you of $50.  Hell, even if it still took us two hours, we still would have been cheaper than hiring yourself.

THIS SHOULD BE A NO-BRAINER!!!

Another illustration.  You need to hire a landscaper to beautify the outside of your office. You decide to let your friend bid on the job.  His bid comes in at $12,000 to maintain your property for the year. Only problem is you are only his second customer and despite the work quality being sufficient, he has no proven track record in the industry.

Enter Green Thumb Landscaping LLC. They have 20 years of experience and a list of clients that include some very successful businesses that have beautifully maintained properties, with some being your close competitors.  Their bid is $5,000 to provide the exact same service over the same time frame and you know that the work they do is top notch.

Who do you hire in this scenario?  If you say you’d still hire your buddy, you’re lying your ass off, or you are doing so well for yourself that money means almost nothing.

2.  You Maintain Your Site. We Would Grow Your Site.

A good website is never really finished. The problem with managing your own website? You are often just maintaining the status quo. You’re not constantly improving, upgrading and trading old technologies for new, adding new content and constantly updating, tweaking, analyzing and further updating. A true web developer will do all of these things.

The idea being that your website needs to grow. Not unlike a huge, glob monster with hundreds of tentacles that never stop reaching, constantly searching for the next victims it will feed on, in all directions, so it can continue to grow, and must continue to feed…. Sorry about that, I blacked out there for a minute… What I mean is, the day you stopped trying to improve and build upon your websites content and technology, that’s the day you lost. Search engines reward content, activity and fresh ideas that grow because they are worthy of a share.  Most small business owners are either not capable, or just don’t have the time to grow their site, at least not in a manner that leaves nothing left to considered and that will ever gain any real traction either socially or via organic search results.

Another example, you want to build a sky scraper. Do you hire the large firm that has built three or four high-rise buildings in the past decade, or do you higher smaller company that has never built anything larger than five levels?

The goal of every business is to become an industry leader, yet as it pertains to a web presence, many are content with half-assing, and sometimes don’t even try that hard.

In today’s world, your website is usually a customers first introduction to your company.  HOWEVER, if your website doesn’t include high-quality, and to some degree, perfected content, that is useful as well as beautiful, they aren’t going to find you in the first place.  Google rewards a website with rankings only where said website is deemed worthy, or in rarer cases, where there is just no competition.  If you don’t give someone good reason to visit your website, they won’t.  Your pitch needs to be informative and needs to offer something that your competitors doesn’t. That “something” might be more information than others offer, your own voice as an expert, humor, boasts about your company that can’t be disputed.

If you’re not working towards constantly improving upon your current content and voice within your industry, while all the while introducing high-quality new content, you are at best leaving money on the table, at worst you’re setting yourself up to fail.

3. Don’t Shit Where You Eat

This one is always the “elephant in the room” between clients and me.  But I’m going to tell you what your cronies won’t.  And I say this with good intentions.  Here goes…

Usually, the things you add to your website, on your own, stick out. As in, they sometimes look a bit rough and in some cases they look downright terrible.

If you could be objective for just a minute, you’d admit it. That new section you added to your home page the other day isn’t really looking all that hot. In fact, it looks terrible, and now it’s one of the first things a potential client or customer sees upon landing on your website. Sure, you spent four hours trying to figure out how to get that section up. Even though it hurts your pride to admit it, you did yourself wrong, first by wasting time trying to be a web designer, and then by pretending what you did was good enough to live on your website.

The honest-to-goodness truth is basic tasks aided by a good CMS system are fine to handle on your own, if that is you’re willing to pay yourself and the numbers work out in your favor. Everything else should really be handled those best suited to handle said tasks.

Your website is the face of your business online. And as such, it helps you generate the revenue that allows you to eat. Even an animal knows you don’t shit where you eat.



If you’re serious about wanting a professional website, and about managing your own time effectively, you’d farm out at least a portion of your website related management tasks to a professional. 
If you really want a list of 5 reasons to hire a professional web designer or webmaster, you can hit the google machine.

And while you’re at it, you might as well farm them out to us.  I’ll make it easy, click here to see what we can do for you.

Everyone loves a good list, and I love the chance at being able to write a piece that can act as a subtle (not subtle) sales pitch, while also explaining the perils of trying to be your own webmaster. So here is a list of why you should be hiring a professional web designer, or […]

SEO Is LIke A Cool Old Building

SEO. It’s something that isn’t often understood, or at least not understood well, yet it has become a necessary evil for every business that wants to succeed online.

I like to say, “search marketing is like a cool old building”.  Actually, I’ve never said that and just thought it up right now. To be totally honest, I first found the picture, and then I came up with the title after.

But I digress…

How is search marketing like a cool old building?

When built with a solid foundation, using tried and true search marketing and content strategies, your efforts will continue to stand for a long while.  A buildings frame is the most important part of the structure. A building with a well built frame will continue to stand long after it’s interior and exterior are re-worked.

Search marketing is often a poetically ugly mess. There is certainly order with all search marketing campaigns, but when dealing with small businesses, and often tight budgets, you sometimes have to get dirty, and sometimes have to thrive among disorder to get the most out of your clients budget.  The same goes for an old building.  They are often ugly, but photographers aplenty love taking pictures of them because there is beauty in the chaos of decay.

It’s never too late to improve upon your past search marketing efforts (or lack thereof). No matter what you have done in the past, it’s never too late to start doing things right. Or if you’re already doing things right, there are always new strategies popping up and new ways to reach customers that you are always busy “upgrading”. Same goes for an old building.  As long as the foundation is solid, there is always room for improvement.  Many abandoned buildings are now being put to good use either for business or living.

It can all collapse on you if you don’t take care of it over time.  If you don’t continue to evolve your search marketing strategies and make sure that you’re taking care of #3 above, then your past efforts (or again, lack of efforts), eventually it will all be lost. We have seen many a client that did very well from 2000 to 2010 online due to lack of competition, ease with which you could rank well off old strategies, and in the past six years, their inaction and myopic views have devastated their online businesses and overall revenue.

People have shit all over it. Yes, the sad truth about old abandoned buildings, is while they often make for great art & photography, they are also often filled with human (and animal) excrement.  The same is true for search marketing.  Our industry is often not trusted by those that need us most.  Small business owners are already dealing with tight budgets where the slightest misstep can often take more than a year to recover from.  One bad search marketing hire can sour a potential client for years.

SEO. It’s something that isn’t often understood, or at least not understood well, yet it has become a necessary evil for every business that wants to succeed online. I like to say, “search marketing is like a cool old building”.  Actually, I’ve never said that and just thought it up right now. To be totally […]

Our Top E-Commerce Platforms For 2016

I always marvel at the various “top ecommerce platform” blog posts I see floating around, and I can’t help but feel that more often than not, said writer doesn’t really know what the hell they are talking about.

So it’s time the world is blessed with my list of the top ecommerce platforms as of July 22, 2016. I’m not going to go into the specific features of each platform, as you should visit their website and experience their pitch yourself…

Miva (formerly Miva Merchant)

Many are going to scratch their head wondering who and what “Miva” is. To put it simply, it is the best ecommerce available, period. End of story. Drop the mic. For those familiar with Miva and its almost 20 year history, this wasn’t always the case. I’ve been working with Miva for about 16 years now and it’s always been my go-to platform. Back in the old days it was easy to design around, it was affordable for any budget and it had everything you needed to run an online store.

The newest version, Miva 9, is by far one of the most advanced and scalable ecommerce platforms ever created. They have used the past 20 years wisely and the fruit of their labor is a glorious thing to behold.

The only caveat with Miva is the price.  It used to be crazy-affordable with entry level sites running just $50 per month for hosting and the platform, but once the Miva higher-ups realized their platform really was superior to all others, the finally decided to charge for it.  You can still get an entry level store for $79.95 per month, but their pricing model is based on your store’s revenue, so it goes from $79.95 per month to $249.95 for over $100k in revenue and up to $749.95 per month for over $500k. Once your revenue hits 7-figures it’s $1,495 per month.  Very pricey once you get over $100k to be certain, but WAY, WAY worth it if you can afford it.

Visit The Miva Website

WooCommerce

Some would dispute my second favorite platform, but the reality is that for many, if not most of our clients WooCommerce is perfect.  It’s affordable, hosting packages with WooCommerce through us start at $15 per month and come with support for the platform to make sure everything is running properly. And even better, it’s an add-on to one of the most widely used and powerful website management platforms on the market, WordPress.

If a feature isn’t built in, there is most always a free plugin available.  When in a pinch, developers, designers, cheap theme’s, free plugins, you name it, they’re available.

Visit The WooCommerce Website

Magento

I hate putting Magento here. Honestly, I hate Magento. Don’t get me wrong, it’s actually a very capable and scalable platform. That’s why it is by far the most widely used. But it’s a mess, it’s a pain in the butt, and it’s a resource whore. Yes, I just called Magento a whore.

It comes in at #3 for me, because due to its popularity, we are forced to use it where clients demand.  I hate it, but we’re good with it. It’s benefits are many. Due to it being so widely used, it has an enormous development community, so there are both free and paid plugins available. And out-of-box it’s already a pretty complete solution so there aren’t a whole lot of things you need to add to it anyway. And like WooCommerce, there are tons of already pre-developed themes you can implement allowing almost anyone the ability to easily throw up a quality store.

The big downside is it’s a convoluted mess.  You will find developers all over that dispute that and say people like me just don’t know what we’re doing.  The reality is for our clients, Magento is just a terrible fit.  To do Magento right takes enormous amounts of time.  For platforms like Miva and WooCommerce, that isn’t the case.  They are more equipped and optimized out-of-box and therefore cost a lot less to get to market.

Shopify

I’m a guy that likes to push my clients into “hosted” solutions.  Hosting your own platform without help is a bad idea.  So platforms like Shopify and Miva are safe bets.  Shopify is great because in terms of “ease of use” it takes the top spot.  Even if you have very little knowledge of how to set up an online store, Shopify is easy enough that you’ll be able to get through it. Their support staff is also excellent at helping brick and mortar stores get online.

From a price standpoint, they are right in the middle. It’s cheaper than Miva to a degree, but it’s much pricier than WooCommerce.

So if you’re new to ecommerce, and have $29 per month in the budget for a quality platform, Shopify is for you.

I always marvel at the various “top ecommerce platform” blog posts I see floating around, and I can’t help but feel that more often than not, said writer doesn’t really know what the hell they are talking about. So it’s time the world is blessed with my list of the top ecommerce platforms as of […]

Miva Faceted/Filtered Search System

We’ve had a couple of clients that were in need of a “faceted/filtered” search system, and both happened to use Miva which doesn’t happen to include this feature out-of-box. It will soon be added, probably within the next year or less, but at the time we were forced to custom build this feature.

In the case of Spill911.com, one of our newer clients, they were already using a service called SearchSpring to add this functionality to their site.  The problem, it’s pricey, as in over $300 per month pricey.  Let me throw out that I have no idea how their price structure works, but many of our clients seemed to be paying $299 per month and that was for a base-level service.

The other problem, the Spill911 integration was terrible for their SEO efforts.  The products on every category page were being drawn into the site in a manner that resulted in the search engines not being able to see the actual products living on the category pages.

So, to save them money we custom built a solution using a mix of the EmporiumPlus Power Search module, and a bunch of custom coding.  The end result, a superior search solution, that is far more SEO friendly, and that performs almost identical to what they were using SearchSpring for.  With the added benefit of saving them $299 per month as our solution is built into their site and adds nothing monetarily to the mix outside of the development cost.

We’ve also integrated this very same feature on GoldCountrySports.com except in their case, the system built is a beast, and allows them to include up to 3 different filters on each category page.

blog-miva-faceted-search-spill-911

Contact us if you’re interested in having us build a similar system for you.

 

We’ve had a couple of clients that were in need of a “faceted/filtered” search system, and both happened to use Miva which doesn’t happen to include this feature out-of-box. It will soon be added, probably within the next year or less, but at the time we were forced to custom build this feature. In the […]

Local Search Marketing Tips – The Basics

1. Give Yourself a Chance, Optimize For Your Area

The most common mistake we see are sites simply not mentioning where they are from, other than maybe having their address on their contact us page. This is a huge mistake. The easiest quick fixes, (a) include your address and local phone number in your websites global footer, aka, at the bottom of every page, (b) include your address on your contact page, include directions from surrounding areas, with a small text blurb on the site for each region you serve and (c) optimize pages for terms relating to your business name, the products and services you offer and your location, where relevant.

The bottom line, some of the easiest traffic you can get, can come from your local area if you try for it. And even better, it converts better than almost all other traffic. At least covering the basics will get your foot in the door.

2. Business Search & Review Tools Work, Get Listed & Linked

Business search and review sites, apps and tools actually have a huge following and your goal should be to find every site out there that someone could possibly stumble upon while trying to find a business like yours and get listed. Services like Yelp, YP, SuperPages and the linke are obvious choices.

The best thing you can do is search for the terms you want to rank for, and you will find many of them will be local business directories, often from some very legit sources, so seek these types of sites out, and get free listings wherever possible.

3. Engage In Social Media, Interact Locally

Make sure you are at least rocking Facebook and Twitter. And make sure you are interacting with your local community. Both platforms allow you to use paid ads to target very specific people in very specific places, so at worst, you can pay to gain followers. Or you can simply interact with the thousands of locals in your area that use social media, and naturally gain a following. That is always your best bet.

1. Give Yourself a Chance, Optimize For Your Area The most common mistake we see are sites simply not mentioning where they are from, other than maybe having their address on their contact us page. This is a huge mistake. The easiest quick fixes, (a) include your address and local phone number in your websites […]

Why We Love MODX & Use It Whenever Possible

MODX is a great content manager for websites of just about any size, yet many have never heard of this dependable open source CMS. There are many reasons I use MODX for every project I’m able, including on the new AarcMediaGroup.com website that you are browsing right now. Allow me to share…

Total Control of Design & Layout
MODX is a PHP-based CMS, however you need little to no experience with PHP to use MODX. If you are good with HTML, CSS and blending them to make a beautiful site, you can build that beautiful site with MODX without barely having to use your brain and its valuable power. You drop “template tags” into your HTML to draw in elements like your global header, page content, custom fields (known as Template Variables in MODX).

It Has Everything You Need, & Nothing You Don’t
Above, I mention how easy it is to totally control all aspects of the design using MODX, and that’s due to it’s simplicity. It doesn’t come with a million bells and whistles like WordPress. It’s lightweight, and out-of-box has everything you need to power your website, even if you aren’t a true developer. HOWEVER, for PHP ninja’s, there is quite literally nothing you can’t do with MODX. Whether you need a five page informational site, or a 20,000 page enterprise-level giant, MODX is an excellent solution. There are also a wealth of very well developed “extras” that make extending MODX easy as clicking “install”.

getResources, My Favorite MODX Extra
Anyone familiar with MODX is also familiar with getResources and Jason Coward who originally released it in 2009. getResources is what powers this blog in fact. It is simple to use thanks to its amazing documentation. It’s a must have for every MODX project.

Choose Your Favorite Rich Text Editor (If That’s Your Thing)
I personally hate rich text editors and web-based WYSIWYG editors, but with MODX, you can choose between two of the best, and install is only a single click away. Available to you is the famous CKEditor (formerly known as the FCKEditor, and for you young folks, no I’m not kidding) as well as the TinyMCE editor. Both have strengths and weaknesses, but they are so easy to deploy, you can test them both and see which you like better.

1-Click Install
Installing MODX is easy, even if you have to do a manual install, HOWEVER, on our servers that come with Softaculous, installing MODX only takes about 20 seconds after logging into your hosting cPanel. Granted, our servers have 60+ software items that can be installed that easily, but MODX is my favorite among them.

Never Do Anything Twice
I try to live by the “never do anything twice” motto, and thanks to an extra for MODX called PackMan, I don’t have to. I have 5 or 6 full MODX installs backed up using PackMan allowing me a much more advanced starting point for new projects, which are pretty much fully developed sites with place holder content, already themed, ready for me to begin customizing.

MODX is a great content manager for websites of just about any size, yet many have never heard of this dependable open source CMS. There are many reasons I use MODX for every project I’m able, including on the new AarcMediaGroup.com website that you are browsing right now. Allow me to share… Total Control of […]

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646-685-3563

sales@aarcmediagroup.com

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