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          Search engine optimization (SEO) helps businesses drive visits to their website through organic search traffic. Given that the top organic search results receive a third of the clicks, a decline in ranking could be detrimental for your business. Implementing SEO best practices on your website will help to ensure that your web content is seen by as many potential customers as possible. The more visitors you have, the better your chances are of converting those visits into sales!

          Local search engine optimization (SEO) helps local businesses gain visibility by optimizing their local business listings for local search. A business that leverages local SEO will include its address, phone number, local opening times, and exact location in the form of a local citation. The goal is to rank for local searches which are usually performed by people in a specific geographical region looking for a business near them.

          We typically see results within the first 30 to 60 days, but when it comes to SEO, there are many factors at play. It's important to remember that SEO is a long-term strategy and results may not come as fast at you wish.

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          Digital advertising uses the internet to send advertisements to customers who are online through different websites and social media platforms like Google, Bing, LinkedIn and Facebook.

          The price for Google Ads management depends on the monthly ad spend. For accounts with $1,000 in monthly ad spend, the price is $550/month. Between $1,000 and $5,000 a month in ad spend, the price is $950/month. For $5,000 to $10,000 a month in ad spend, the price is $2,000/month. For more than $10,000 a month in ad spend, the price is $4,500/month.

          The price for Social Media Ads management depends on the monthly ad spend. For accounts with $1,000 in monthly ad spend, the price is $550/month. Between $1,000 and $5,000 a month in ad spend, the price is $950/month. For $5,000 to $10,000 a month in ad spend, the price is $2,000/month. For more than $10,000 a month in ad spend, the price is $4,500/month.

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          This depends on the complexity and size of a redesign and if eCommerce is needed. On average, it takes around 14-18 weeks from the web design intensive stage to launch.

          If your website experiences the following issues: it’s not responsive on all devices, has a slow loading speed, the design appears old and tired, users don’t spend long on the site, sales are stagnant, or your business is going through a rebranding - your website needs a redesign to boost your brand awareness and sales.

          Sometimes there’s no need to rebuild a website. Minor edits, refreshing page content and images, or restructuring page layout for SEO best practices can boost traffic and sales.

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          Semantic search launched in 2013 with the release of Google's Hummingbird update. Since then, Google's search engine has become more complex. The integration of machine learning, with RankBrain, and NLP, with BERT, has enabled the search engine to better understand the context of a query and deliver more personalized and targeted results. Semantic SEO is the process of creating machine-readable content using structured data and linked open data to help search engines better understand your content.

          On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines. On-page SEO refers to both the content and HTML source code of a page that can be optimized, as opposed to off-page SEO which refers to links and other external signals. From meta tags to page content, website structure, and HTML, on-page optimization services are focused on making your website more visible to search engines.

          Structured data refers to any organized data that conforms to a certain format, such as information in a relational database. When information is highly structured and predictable, search engines can more easily organize and display it in creative ways. Structured data involves using a piece of code that is laid out in a specific format easily understood by search engines. The search engines read the code and use it to display search results in a more dynamic way.

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          An SEO agency has experts in different areas of search engine optimization that may be out of the realm of your marketing team's abilities. SEO can be very complex and time-consuming. Furthermore, as search engine algorithms change it can be difficult to stay current on the latest ranking factors and strategies for improving online visibility. You will likely see a greater return on investment and better results from using a professional SEO agency than you would from tackling this on your own.

          As a digital marketing agency, SMA Marketing provides products and services in four areas: SEO, Local SEO, Digital Advertising, and Web Design

          We focus on building authentic, long-lasting relationships with our clients. We’re goal oriented and results driven and believe in doing good and making a difference in the world.

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What is Visual Hierarchy in Web Design?

What is Visual Hierarchy? 

An efficient and smart web design requires cohesive, clear visual aids so that the visitor has quick and easy access to what they are looking for. Visual hierarchy in web design refers to the arrangement or presentation of elements in a way that implies importance and influences the order in which the human eye perceives what it sees. The theory behind it is that the human brain has “innate organizing tendencies that structure individual elements, shapes or forms into a coherent, organized whole.”

It’s important to note that in web design, visual hierarchy needs to work in conjunction with functionality. In other words, form and function need to work in perfect harmony. If a website only has beautiful aesthetics but lacks functionality, the visitor has no way to answer CTAs or purchase a product and will move on to a competitor’s site that meets their needs.

How To Create a Strong Visual Hierarchy

When your visual hierarchy game for your B2B web design is strong, you’re able to lead the users to create the right visual cues in your website. Generally, this begins with a strong understanding of your target user’s preferences and desires. To wit:

  • Users nowadays put a premium on recognition above recall, which means that you need your content to be easy to scan and skim through, rather than for your target users to have to read back and forth just to remember or take note of certain pieces of information.
  • Users react fast whenever they see a new web design or interface. Hence the need for you to leave that positive mark within a few milliseconds to your website visitors, so they don’t end up leaving your website.
  • Users’ eyes are tailored to follow predictable reading paths, much like how they read a book.

We’ve Come a Long Way 

On August 6, 1991, the first web page went live. Created by British Scientist, Tim Berners-Lee, the web page was dedicated to the World Wide Web Project, “aiming to give universal access to a large universe of documents.” The single page consisted of lines of text and blue hyperlinks.

Throughout the 1990s, many companies started to create their own hand-coded HTML websites using a wide array of colors, hyperlinks, and flash animation. There was a fervor for adding as much information as possible to a page with no rhyme or reason to the design layout. These early websites had a lot going on with a collage of competing images, mismatched colors, fonts, and content. To get an idea of a common 1990s web design, check out this older site which is still live today. The lack of visual hierarchy in this incoherent design leaves the visitor unsure of where to look first!

The F-Pattern 

When our eyes scan a website, the images and content at the top of the hierarchy grab our attention first. Studies have shown that we read in an F-shaped scanning pattern on the internet. We tend to choose the path of least resistance, so we quickly look over images and content to get the information we want. When we do this, our eyes scan from the top left-hand side of a web page and then move to the right, then down the left side looking for visual cues, and then right again, but we read a little bit less across the right each time we scan down the page. A well-executed web design places the most important information within an F-pattern, allowing the reader to scan the images and catch keywords in a matter of seconds.

An example of a well-executed F-shaped scanning pattern incorporated into the design. This homepage seamlessly guides the viewer along using clear communication and keywords within the top of the hierarchy:

Web Design F Pattern example

The Hero Image

Another popular and effective use of visual hierarchy is to place a large image, called the “hero image” above the fold. The name came from the term “hero prop” which is used in the film world and refers to any object intended to be held or used by the main actor. The web design world picked up on the name ‚Äòhero’ and along came the “hero image” which has grown in popularity and size – it can take up a lot of the homepage real estate. It is the first visual element a visitor sees, displaying a clear overview of the site’s most important content.

While the hero image has taken the website design world by storm, it’s interesting to note the resemblance to traditional newspaper layouts. Think about the front page of a newspaper. It typically has a high-contrast image, a large, attention-grabbing headline followed by the story. The hero image design follows a visual hierarchy that has been in use for centuries.

Newspaper Image like Website Hero Image

6 Tips for Incorporating Visual Hierarchy 

When designing a site, here are the key elements to consider when following visual hierarchy:

  1. Size ~ Large elements attract attention
  2. Color ~ Bright colors attract attention
  3. Contrast – Dramatically contrasting colors will catch the eye easily
  4. Alignment ~ Space between elements attracts more attention
  5. Whitespace ~ The eye is attracted to elements with more space around them
  6. Texture and style ~ Rich textures attract more attention than flat ones

Since design trends always seem to circle back, will we return to the chaotic web designs of the 90s? Let’s hope not! Many of the early sites did not have a coherent, clear arrangement of images or presentation. It has been exciting to watch the evolution of web design and the importance that visual hierarchy plays in creating a good or bad design.

When designing a website, it’s important to consider key factors such as visual hierarchy, functionality, and SEO. This is when it’s best to consider hiring a professional. Are you ready to make improvements to your website? Follow our 10-Point Checklist to get started.

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