Search Engine Optimization

Unresponsive Websites Prevent Marketers From Reaching Vy.

Google Wants Responsive Web Design

Google is forcing all digital advertisers to become multimedia conscious

Aviation companies are subject to lots of external forces — weather, traffic, regulations, fuel price increases, pilot shortages, labor disputes etc. Now, they have another issue to deal with – Google. The problem is Google has the power to hurt your aviation business by stifling your online visibility to your target audience. Less visibility means less awareness and less awareness – well, you get the idea.

What’s Google doing that is a concern for aviation companies?

Google announced that they were giving all their advertising clients until April 21st of this year to make their websites and other digital marketing platforms “responsive.”

What are responsive websites? They’re websites designed to look great no matter what device you view them on, from older CRT monitors to the new widescreen LEDs, including iPads, iPhones and Android tablets and smart phones. Websites and other marketing messages based on unresponsive designs only look good on larger desktop screens and when they are viewed on cell-phone-sized screens they either look terrible or they shrink so much they become illegible.

What happens if you’re “unresponsive” to Google’s new regulations?

Google will begin to penalize their clients whose websites are unresponsive by downgrading their SEO rankings on mobile devices. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is a process used to improve how high a website appears in the search results found in Google (as well as Bing and Yahoo). That means a search term that used to put your website at the top of Google’s search rankings may now sink you to a lower altitude on the rankings if your website has an “unresponsive” design.

Remember, Google is first and foremost a search engine.  It is designed to search the web for requested search topics and bring a list of appropriate websites back to you. In the process, advertisers related to your search topic will appear at the top and right hand column of your search results. They appear in a pecking order relative to how much they bid for top position AND by the appropriateness of the content they provide (including if the website is responsive or not).

Naturally, it’s up to the advertiser to make sure his or her messaging is clear and intriguing, but if Google penalizes you for not having the proper responsive programming, your company is going to get a lower position even if you bid higher than a competitor.

That’s because now only the responsive websites will go to the top of the list when a search is done on a mobile device. Furthermore, better designed websites will get preference over poorer designed ones, too, because the better designs will be easier to read, easier to navigate and will create more clicks and dollars for Google.

Not Just For Google AdWords Customers

Google’s responsive website mandate is not limited to those who use Google AdWords. Non-responsive websites will also be affected in Google’s organic (non-paid) results on mobile devices. And while Google has stated that this latest change will limited to mobile devices, don’t be surprised if lacking a responsive website doesn’t negatively impact your SEO ranking on desktop computers in the near future.

Why aviation companies should be concerned:

In case you haven’t noticed, the web is in a constant state of flux and change. What was all the rage yesterday is old news today. The introduction of smart phones back in 2007 caused a paradigm shift in digital marketing.  Seven years into this change the effects are beginning to become seismic.  Here are some of the facts you should know:

  • The number of smart phone users will surpass 2 billion by the end of 2015 and by 2018 half the world’s cell phones will be “smart;” this year alone mobile traffic is up 3.5%
  • Smart phone users are impatient: 74% of them will only wait 5 seconds for a website to load
  • 72% of data users use smart phones when traveling; 64% when dining; 63% in online stores
  • 57% of users do not recommend non-mobile-friendly websites to other users.

All of this is bad news if your website is unresponsive.  The good news is that there are pre-programmed design templates as well as plenty of designers who can update your website and make it responsive to the navigational features and format requirements of mobile devices.

Your Problem is really Google’s Problem. Their solution? You fix it!

For those who wonder how Google makes its money, the answer is simple: advertising. In the world of digital advertising, dollars are generated by the number of clicks an ad message generates. Basically when you advertise on Google and a member of your target audience clicks on the ad’s interactive button, it takes you to an online store where you can purchase the product or service advertised.

The problem for Google is the amount of money advertisers have been willing to pay per click has been declining for the past several years. Part of the reason for the decline in pricing is because of mobile ads.

As more consumers turn to mobile devices for their information, Google clients who don’t adhere to mobile formats do not come across clearly or attractively. Worse yet, because they find the advertising and product information inferior they turn to methods other than Google to find information and buy online.

Google is partially responsible for this situation because in their eagerness to maintain clients, they originally told clients not to worry about creating separate campaigns for mobile. Google users continued to use the same online stores they always had. These stores, however, were not very easy to use on mobile devices. This resulted in fewer transactions and ultimately less revenue for Google.

Google’s current solution to the problem is to make their all clients change their websites to responsive designs. That puts the onus and the cost on the advertisers, not Google.

Why should you have to play it Google’s way?

Regardless of whether there are other ways to buy online, Google still commands the lion share of online searches and is the search portal where most consumers begin information mining. If you’re an advertiser you still want Google to find you that key prospect.

Furthermore, from a logic point of view, why would you not want your website to be the best it can be? Without being ready for mobile, companies risk not reaching their best potential audience.

With mobile trending upward and desktop downward, it is simply a matter of math.

Why Aviation Companies should accommodate Google’s demands now.

Many aviation companies are service companies such as charter airlines, airframe and engine rebuilders, and flight schools. These kinds of businesses rely on customers who are looking for information on the web. The power of Google taps interested customers every second of every day.

Because aviation is a niche business, search engine advertising serves it very well.

Keeping in step with the mobile trends should be a no brainer for aviation much the same way glass cockpits and GPS systems make flying easier and more reliable.

Get some professional help before it is too late.

Regardless of whether Google is making you modernize your digital marketing or not, it’s simply the smart thing to do. There’s lots of help out there to help you make the transition, including professional marketing communications companies like Advertising Marketing Consulting to make the transition to mobile-friendly advertising easier.

Marketing is like flying, the more you stay current, better off you are. 

 

Dazzling Websites that Don’t Sell!

Sports Car

Looking good isn’t good enough just like this car won’t work for a family. Make sure your website looks good, but functions even better.

I just got a call from an aviation parts distributor unhappy with their website.

They spent quite a bit of money redesigning the site, but had not noticed an appreciable increase in traffic or inquiries. Even worse, when the company president went to show a customer the website on his iPad, the only thing that came up was a blank rectangle.

“On the laptop, the website certainly looked great!” commented the president. I agreed the site was well-done – nice graphics, animation, and photography, but unfortunately, it was created in Flash, which as you may know, is not supported by Apple’s iPhone or iPad. (More about Flash later.)

This particular company’s website was a delight to look at. The whole focus was to make a dazzling impression at first glance, but just like a Lamborghini may look great in your garage, it’s not the ideal car for stop-and-go commuting.

Function Over Beauty:  Websites Need to do More than Just Look Good

Your website should be built only after a comprehensive audit and analysis has been done. There should be clear objectives of what you want your website to accomplish and how it should do it.

Some basic considerations are:

  • Attracting visitors. This may include search engine optimization, advertising, social media, email marketing, etc.
  • Deliver a compelling sales message. How are you different or better than your competitors and why they should buy from you?
  • Answer frequently asked questions. Information that provides clear answers to likely questions about your products or services.
  • Establish credibility. Information, sources, media, and testimonials that establish your credentials, authority and reliability of your business, products, or services.
  • Ability to collect information. A means to collect basic contact information from potential customers – a free newsletter, report, or some other incentive to provide contact information.

Additional features for your website:

  • E-commerce capability. Provide an easy and intuitive way for customers to purchase products or services.
  • Customer service. Provide ways for existing customers, for instructions, answers to questions, a forum, support, etc.
  • Reasons for customers to keep coming back. Provide additional information of interest to your customers, a blog with comments, a referral or incentive program, or another means of staying connected after the sale.

Once you have the basics done, you can work on the design. Trade the dazzling and stunning for a website that works.

See Paula Williams’ post about websites that don’t sell

Steve Jobs vs Adobe’s Flash

Steve Jobs took a big gamble by when he chose to not support Adobe’s Flash technology.

“Flash is a spaghetti-ball piece of technology that has lousy performance and really bad security problems,” Jobs said, according to biographer Walter Isaacson.

R.I.R. and Flash

Steve Jobs was right.

Under Jobs, the iPhone became the industry’s leading smartphone and the iPad emerged to virtually dominate the tablet market. While more phones run Google’s Android software (many of them promoting their Flash compatibility), no products captured the public’s imagination and attention, quite like the iPhone.

So when Jobs blasted Adobe’s Flash technology, people listened. He called it “buggy,” a battery hog, and a product created by lazy developers.

“Allowing Flash to be ported across platforms means things get dumbed down to the lowest common denominator,” Jobs said, according to Isaacson. “We spend lots of effort to make our platform better and the developer doesn’t get any benefit if Adobe only works with functions that every platform has.”

Although Jobs did not live to see it, he was vindicated in his assessment as Adobe announced in November following his death, that Adobe will abandoned its Flash initiative for mobile devices.

Apple put its support behind HTML5 as the preferred web platform to provide multimedia experience on smartphones and tablets, insisting it provides the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms. Apple’s support is a big reason why HTML5 now universally supported on most major mobile devices.

Steve Jobs was confident in his decision then, and vindicated in his decision not to support the ubiquitous Adobe Flash. Now the rest of us mere technological mortals know full well, Jobs was right. And as always, his goal was function and design, and not forfeit one for the other.

Search Engine Optimization Tip #2: Don’t Delay Integrating SEO Into Your Website

SEO lets your business get found!

SEO lets your business get found!

Building or revamping a website can be an arduous task, as there are many aspects to address: finding a designer, choosing designs, colors, functionality, hosting options, creating content, hiring someone to write content, program, etc. Often search engine optimization is last on the list, if on that must-do list at all.

Make Search Engine Optimization a Priority

While you’re focused on getting your website up and running, don’t let SEO become a rainy-day task to be put off until later. Later may never come, and you will soon wonder why people are not visiting your new and improved site.

If an objective of your website is to drive traffic from search engines, meaning a search on Google, Yahoo, Ask or Bing culminates with your website high on the list of results, then SEO must be a mandatory part of your initial planning.

It is easy to spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours developing a decent website, but what will it matter if no one can find you? Regardless of how fabulous and functional your new site is, the effort will be futile if search engines cannot index your website.

What is Indexing?

Search engines develop automated programs, called robots or spiders that crawl the web searching for content. These automated programs follow links from one web page or website to another, continuously seeking new content. When new material is discovered, the programs index, or save, all information found. Then, when a prospective customer types words or phrases into a search engine, the matching information saved is reported in the results page.

Your overriding goal should be to have your website appear first and foremost in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) the person sees on their browser.

How high your website appears in the search results depends on how relevant your website’s information is to algorithms and programming factors used to rank the comparable importance of your website within the web universe. That rank is impacted by as many as a hundred factors that search engines keep top-secret. It’d be easier obtaining the Coke recipe than cracking the search engine algorithms and programming.

7 Pitfalls to Avoid When Optimizing Your Website:

  1. Hiring a writer who doesn’t understand SEO. Content is king. If your content doesn’t support the search terms that drive traffic to your site, you’ll end up having to rewrite the text later, costing more time and money.
  2. Hiring a web designer who only works in Flash. Search engines cannot index content of Flash sites, regardless of how fancy, flashy and innovative they appear. This is a major disadvantage, and will probably result in your complete site being recoded in search engine friendly HTML.
  3. Hiring a programmer who uses Ajax or other code language that search engines can’t read and don’t recognize.
  4. Not including basic page titles, descriptions and keywords in your websites meta-tags. This is SEO 101, but you’d be amazed how many websites don’t incorporate this key information.
  5. Going the do-it-yourself route and using free templates offered by your hosting service to build your website. Many times these use frame architecture, which again search engines can’t read.
  6. If you’re hiring a SEO firm, check them out.  Get someone reputable with proven results.
  7. As mentioned in a previous SEO blog tip, stay away from SEO firms that promise results that seem too good to be true. They may be using use “Black Hat” SEO methods that may deliver short-term results, but cost you more in the long-run.

Search Engine Optimization Tip #3: Don’t obsess over meta-tags, focus on content

SEO tip #3: Focus on ContentIf you’re new to search engine optimization specifically for the aviation industry, then you probably have no idea what a meta-tag is, or the rest of the SEO jargon such as SERP, page rank, crawling, or spiders.

Here are some explanations about SEO and its terminology:

Meta-tags are bits of code embedded in a section of web pages called the head. This section contains the code to help browsers render your web page correctly. In addition, information in this section helps search engines understand what content is contained in your website. The three primary meta-tags are the page title, keywords and description.

Crawling for Keywords

In the mid-90s two popular search engines at the time, Infoseek (now defunct) and AltaVista (owned by Yahoo!), first popularized the keywords tag, used to determine what topic and content each website page provided. However, spammers began gaming the system by stuffing meta-tags with keywords containing no relevance to the website’s content, and hence meta-tag importance was diminished in determining how high a website would rank in search results.

Content is King

In terms of search engine rankings, content reigns supreme. If you want your aviation website appear to high in search rankings results for specific keywords and phrases common in your industry, then they must appear within the content of your website.

How often keywords appear and how they fit into your overall business message is exactly where a SEO professional can provide real benefit. These professionals can accurately choreograph where and when specific keywords are placed, so that your aviatin business can be found by potential customers searching for you.

When you provide valuable content for your specific demographic, whether light craft, manufacturing, service, and/or charter air travel, readers will recognize this and return to your site as the authoritative source for their needs. Providing consistent, valuable content will establish you as a leader in your industry, and provide a reliable source when customers are ready to purchase.

An Opportunity to Promote Your Aviation Business

The main purpose of keyword meta-tags is to support content in search results. The description meta-tag has little impact in how well your website is ranked, but does provide an important function: search engines display the text of description meta-tags under the page title in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Instead of repeating keywords with boring copy, use this opportunity to sell and differentiate your company from other websites on search engine results page (SERP).  As in any advertising sales message, making a creative, compelling argument for your business will do wonders for the amount of web traffic generated from search engines.

Search Engine Optimization Tip #1: Beware of SEO companies that use spam to promote themselves

Snake Oil Remedy

Beware of SEO firms making big promises

I am amazed at the vast number of emails I get from SEO companies promising to get my aviation marketing website on page 1 of Google. These firms must not be doing their homework because my website is already on page 1.

Many times , these so called SEO experts who spam your inbox are snake-oil salesmen reincarnated, using unethical techniques to drive up search rankings. If you’re a novice to search engine optimization, you may be tempted to contact one of these firms – especially those who offer an enticing ploy of not charging until they achieve a target search objective. The problem is that in search engine optimization there is the right way (“White Hat” methods) to achieve good search rankings, and the wrong way (“Black Hat” methods).

Black Hat Methods Can Get You Blacklisted

SEO firms that employ “black hat” methods such as keyword stuffing, hidden text, cloaked and doorway pages, link farming, and blog spamming, can indeed improve your search rankings short-term, but these techniques violate search engine terms of service, putting your website at risk of being banned. Search algorithms identify these SEO tricks and will eventually blacklist your site from future searches, keeping potential customers from being able to find you. It happens every day, and quite often business don’t even realize it until much later.

More money to reinstate your site’s SEO status and integrity

One day your aviation business website appears on page 1 of Google and you happily pay the charlatan’s SEO fee; the next day, your website has been “blacklisted” and doesn’t appear on any search engine. Now that great deal is going to cost you more money, time and resources to correct the damage done.

The first clue a SEO firm may be unscrupulous is the fact they promote themselves via unsolicited emails; if they market their own company by using unethical spam techniques, how ethical will they be in their SEO practices to promote your aviation company? Not very.

In choosing a search engine optimization firm, you want a firm who has a proven track record of results and satisfied customers. It’s always a good idea to check a firm’s background and ask for references.