What You Should Know About the Latest Design Trends for 2018

If you own a website, or even several websites, it’s a good idea you know and understand the design changes that have been happening over the last couple of years.

We’re talking about how a change in technology, and change in how people use your website, are directly affecting shifts in design.

Website design as it was a few years ago, has changed to meet a whole new type of user, mostly the mobile device user. In fact, mobile devices have changed the way many big company websites are designed, such as Apple and Microsoft, who made it far easier for their customers to navigate and find what they are looking for.

Many design changes seem to have been driven by mobile devices. In other words, these changes had to take place for mobile users to be able to navigate websites on small screens. If you want to see what we mean, find an old online website that isn’t designed for mobile use, and try to navigate it. If it has lots of menu items, and even menu dropdowns, you will find it unfriendly as you try to see those tiny buttons and find what you are looking for.

The changes that do make it easier, and give a great experience are things like; better use of negative space, using bold and expressive typography instead of heavy loading images that eat up bandwidth for the user, using cinemagraphs instead of static images or full blown videos.

There are some other cutting-edge design tricks like scroll triggered animation such as the new Mac Pro on Apple’s website.

Another thing you can do is create a website application hybrid. A good example for this would be Pinterest. When going to the Pinterest website, users are asked if they want to download the application because ‘Pinterest is best viewed with our application’. And applications are amazing because they can learn and react to each user’s preferences and styles. And of course, Facebook is also another example of taking the desktop website and converting it to an interactive application.

Other things like Intelligent Conversation Bots who can answer questions like: what your store hours are, or what your prices are. You would simply type in the URL where you want to go, and then have a conversation with a virtual helper on that website. It’s fairly high tech stuff that you will likely see more of soon. You will want to take advantage of these new design changes because they will ultimately drive more conversions, and you will have happier customers.

Want us to take a look at your website to see if it’s optimized for a great user experience no matter what device your visitors are using?

Contact us now at bradley@contractor.media for an evaluation, and get your website fully optimized.

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Say Hello to the Future. Get a Virtual Storefront. Open 24/7.

The information age can be glorious. It gives customers nearly limitless information when trying to make a purchase decision, and it gives business owners like you new and exciting ways to reach those customers. It also makes it of the utmost importance to have a solidified and well-crafted website to make your case to potential customers.

Yes, your website is your virtual storefront. Open 24/7.

Not sure where to start? We can help.

Your website needs to sell you and these six things are proven to do that in the most efficient way.

1. The way that your product or service navigation is organized must be primarily based on your potential customer’s needs, and not based on, say, alphabetization.

2. With featured products or services, you can quickly direct your customer to what they are most likely to need. If the weather is heating up, make sure you don’t feature coats. Make educated guesses to showcase what’s hot for each season.

3. A product or service catalog makes sure your customers know exactly what you offer. It allows them to search through and identify what aspects of your product or service that fit your needs.

4. For each product listing, make sure you identify the benefits, features and product specifications. By ensuring you answer all the customer’s questions, you help them arrive at the “yes!” more quickly.

5. FAQs are found on almost every website. Whether they’re questions about shipping times or your return policy, you want to make sure anything a customer may wonder about is clearly spelled out.

6. Testimonials take advantage of the fact that customers trust their peers more than almost anything else when it comes to buying a good or service. If you have happy customers, make sure you utilize that to sell yourself or your products to new clientele.

Feeling overwhelmed? We’re here to help!

Send us an email at bradley@contractor.media to learn more about what we can do for you!

How to Find a Content Writer Who Can Spin Your Blog Into Gold



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Writing’s really hard. Even people who do it for a living admit that. Not only do you have to know how to string together sentences that keep people’s attention, but you have to make some sort of blasted “point” out of the whole thing. It’s maddening!

All silliness aside, content writing and blog writing are really complex acts that can appear deceptively simple on the surface. Structure and rhetorical knowledge can help make your point clear, but you also need to be engaging. Add SEO best practices to the mix, and you have even more issues to deal with.

Getting it right takes either a lot of practice or a lot of time spent revising. Even a business owner who happens to be an excellent writer will need help making it all happen on a deadline.

So that’s when you turn to outside help. It can be a freelance writer or a content marketing agency, but the goal is to find a writer (or several) who can meet your guidelines and turn things in on time.

Locating a writer like that is exactly as hard as it sounds! Luckily, there are five tips you can use to make your search easier and ensure you find just the writer you’re looking for.

Always Request Samples and a Trial Draft

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You can find great writers you enjoy working with no matter where you turn as long as you follow one simple rule: check out their writing before you commit. That means requesting samples of their prior work. It also means paying them to write a first draft of what you need that you may or may not ever use.

That’s right: you’re likely going to have to invest in crummy writing to find your diamond in the rough. Ideally, you’re paying several writers at the same time to write the same prompt or a similar one, so you can compare the talents of each person.

While it may seem like money down the drain to receive samples you won’t ever use, it’s better than the alternative of hiring a writer for a multi-blog project only to find out they aren’t a good fit.

Also, be very specific about the types of samples you request. You may wish to see live, published blogs, since these prove that a writer’s work actually gets used. Be warned, though: many freelancers are also ghost writers. You are either going to have to take their word for it that a sample with someone else’s byline is their work, or you will have to go through the effort of contacting the client and hoping they will reveal who wrote their blogs.

If someone sends you samples that you like but that don’t quite hit the mark, ask for more work! Far too many bloggers get passed up not because their samples weren’t good, but simply because they couldn’t read the mind of the job offerer as to what they were looking for.

Avoid Typical Job Listing Sites Since You Get What You Pay For

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In the business world, quality and convenience don’t typically mix. If you want to find a patio chair at the same place you buy your kids’ breakfast cereal, you are going to have to lower your standards on how long that chair will last.

Similarly, if you go to the absolute first place you think of when looking to find your content writer, you’re going to end up with low quality.

The biggest problem? Labor pools from non-native English speakers. They may charge just a few cents a word, but their end product will likely be riddled with broken grammar and be all but incomprehensible. Since Google specifically recommends that you use proper spelling and grammar, having an unreadable blog likely works against your SEO and branding goals.

So as a rule, skip Craigslist, Monster and Indeed unless you really don’t know where else to turn. Definitely don’t just Google “content writer” and hire a person or company that ranks first. You want to know that you can get a decent level of quality, and sifting through the bargain bin is not a good place to find it.

Hunt Down Content Writers in the Spaces Where the Pros Lurk

Some of you are going to be frustrated by the above tip. “If I can’t just look for a content writer on Monster or Craigslist, where should I go?”

Well, our vocal and hypothetical friend, there are several specialty project-related websites where you can find freelancers:

  • ProBloggerProBlogger is dedicated to writers and editors, and it also has an amazing community of professionals. Posting your listing costs money, but you’re highly likely to get responses from mid- to high-level talent.
  • WriterAccess—WriterAccess straddles the line between full-service referral agencies we’ll mention below and simpler job listing sites. The site does a handy job of organizing writers by experience and quality, however, and you do get a personal account manager in the upper tiers.
  • Contently—Contently acts as a broker to find you the perfect writing talent or team for your project needs. Yes, that’s as expensive as it sounds, which is why the platform is mainly aimed at enterprises with larger content budgets.
  • Upwork—The world’s largest freelancer platform happens to be quite picky about letting job-takers aboard. That means you have access to a higher caliber of writers. Note that Upwork also allows agencies to apply to your project offers by default.
  • Guru—Guru is far less choosy about who it lets on its platform, so you will end up with applicants that may not have the firmest grasp of English. Nevertheless, the platform makes a name for itself by having an integrated project management and payment system.

There are dozens—if not hundreds—of other websites like these where you can post project listings and track down decent writers. These are just the top ones you might want to consider during your hunt.

However, you definitely don’t want to overlook your best option: getting referrals.

Ask Fellow Professionals for Referrals

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Referrals are always your best source of freelance writer leads for a few reasons.

First, the best writers out there aren’t actively posting on or looking through job boards. They’re hard at work, hammering out content for their clients. But they may be persuaded to take on a larger workload if the details and the price are right.

Secondly, you can get personal testimonials from people you know and trust. Someone who can appear like a perfect fit online could turn out to be awful with deadlines or bad at following instructions.

Since not every business engages in content marketing, start by asking people whether they have a regular SEO or blogging contract. If the answer is “yes,” follow up by seeing what agency or writer they work with.

If their answer is “no,” then you may have to do some probing. Don’t be afraid of reaching out to a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend, though. Not every company works with content writers, but those who do will likely have strong opinions about who to recommend or avoid.

Track Down Popular Writers from Their Online Work

If you have the budget for working with a top-caliber freelancer, then the place you should start your search is on publication sites rather than a job board.

Start by taking a second to look back at enjoyable industry niche articles you’ve shared or read recently. Keep an eye out for pieces that get a high level of shares and don’t have controversial pushback from commenters. Then, simply find the writer’s byline.

Make a list of several authors using this method. Research to see if they have their own personal website and whether they are accepting freelance contracts. If they are looking for work, reach out to them with a “pitch” for your project needs. Preferably, this pitch includes an offer, details on the level of depth the work will require and a rough timeline for everything to be completed.

Since making a name for yourself as a professional writer these days is tough, expect some sticker shock if they reply! But if quality is really what you’re after, you can likely find a way to work long-term with someone whose reputation and published work you admire.

Work With a Reputable Content Marketing and SEO Agency

All of the tips above pertain to finding an individual, but you also have the option of hiring a content marketing agency to satisfy your SEO needs.

The same rules above apply: pay for samples, avoid bargain bin job listings and look for referrals. But your search should be easier, considering marketing agencies often do a decent job at marketing themselves!

Plus, you can work with several writers at once and have the security of a guaranteed contract. That means you aren’t left hanging if your writer leaves the project; you can simply work with someone else in the agency. You also have access to scale, meaning you can get a higher volume of projects accomplished at once that would normally take a single writer weeks.

In the end, the search for your content writer is all about finding a good fit and knowing where to look. If you fail at first, don’t get frustrated! There are tens of thousands of writers out there who can do good work but don’t have enough of it right now.

Good luck!

How to Find a Content Writer Who Can Spin Your Blog Into Gold originally published by Contractor Media

Your Business Website is Your Foundation for All of Your Digital Marketing

Any smart online digital marketer will tell you that your website is the most important aspect of any successful online business. And any successful website covers every angle when it comes to the customer’s journey on finding exactly what they need, whether that be a product or service that the business is offering. Do it wrong, and that customer will go to another website where that business is doing it right.

So what are the things that every successful digital marketing hub has? Well for starters, this is the place where the business begins to build its’ brand and reputation. And everything that involves the brand should be here such the core message or mission statement of the company, the source of the business information including the location, the management, the employees, and the expertise of the business team that is building this brand.

Of course, your business might be different, and you may have a small team offering products or services. Or it may be just you offering a product

In this case, you would build up on why your product is better, or where your service is better than ‘company-x.’ Building your brand all starts here on your web property.

But this is just the beginning of having a solid foundation for your ‘digital marketing hub’. A good way to look at this is from a customer or visitor standpoint. Does your website have everything that the customer needs including answering questions about the product or service that you offer?

Do you have complete product or service guides online, and are those guides being regularly updated? And do you have product guides and tutorials setup for buying customers?

Many online businesses have different products or offer different services, and those could include customer education, or supplying how-to guides.

Having lead generation is another important aspect along with being able to find that business on social networks. This is important because many businesses use these social networks like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to keep their customer base updated on new products or services that the company offers. And there is so much more.

If after reading all this, you must feel overwhelmed, don’t worry. We can guide you through the process of making sure your website is fully utilized for your business, and it’s optimized to increase conversions.

Send an email now to bradley@contractor.media and let us know how we can help you today.

Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?

Just about everyone has some sort of mobile device, be it a tablet, smartphone or laptop.These people are also searching for a business that offers your services. If your site does not function properly on their variety of devices, they won’t waste time trying to make it work.

Test your web pages for mobile-friendliness here: https://search.google.com/search-console/mobile-friendly

A mobile website is one that has been designed to be responsive. This means the site can detect what kind of mobile device it is being viewed on. It then adapts itself to fit and function properly on the device.

Here are 5 reasons why you should have a mobile site:

1. Social media shares are huge on mobile devices because they are so easy to do. Your content, pictures, and videos will get shared more often because your website is readily accessible on mobile devices.

2. Google favors mobile-friendly sites in the search engines. That means they rank mobile-friendly sites higher.

3. A mobile-friendly site means more opportunity for sales. If the visitor’s experience on your site is fast and straightforward and NOT clumsy and difficult, of course, you will have a better chance of a sale.

4. Users on mobile are bigger buyers! Why? Because more often than not they quickly browse for what they want, checking for info before buying.

5. And finally, the most important reason is that most people now have a mobile device or two. Why ignore the majority of your customers?

Reach out to us if your website has mobile issues. Visit our website: https://contractor.media/5days.

15 Strategies to Boost Your Website’s Conversion Rate

Is a low website conversion rate getting in the way of your business’s success? Here are 15 of our tips to optimize your conversion rate:

1. Find your value proposition. What is it that makes you different from your competitors? Why are you the best choice? Whatever it is, make it central.

2. Have a clear headline. Your headline is the first thing your customers will see on your landing page. Make sure it’s easy to understand and gets your point across.

3. Feature your phone number prominently. Make it easy to find and use a big font to let them know you are accessible.

4. Add a video. A 2-3 min video that explains benefits and features or shows your product in action will capture the attention of your site visitors.

5. Get rid of those cheesy stock photos. Stock photos may be high quality, but they look fake, damaging your credibility.

6. Reduce required form fields. Don’t make your customers put in any more information than the bare minimum of what you need to know. The less work they have to do, the more likely they are to do it.

7. Put your Call-to-Action (CTA) above the fold. Your site visitors should be able to see it without scrolling down.

8. Use a CTA button instead of a link. Text links can be hard to spot. Using a button makes your CTA stand out.

9. Use a contrasting color for your CTA button. Make your CTA button even more visible by choosing a color that contrasts with the rest of your website’s color scheme.

10. Utilize your CTA button’s text. Instead of a plain old “submit,” use your button text to tell your visitors what to expect after they click that button with text like “get started!”

11. Create urgency. Limited-time incentives give your customers a reason to take action now.

12. Display “real” testimonials. Show that your testimonials aren’t fake by using full names and pictures.

13. Display your award badges. Show off any honors you’ve gotten to add wow factor.

14. Add trust badges. Boast about the great reviews you’ve gotten on sites like Yelp, Facebook, or the Better Business Bureau.

15. Add a live chat feature. Live chat support adds value.

We understand that business owners like you are pressed for time. We’re here to help! Contact us today.

Does Your SEO Speak to Voice Search Users?



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Hello! Is this thing on? We just wanted to make sure you heard us loud and clear when we said: “Voice search is the most significant development to hit SEO since Google debuted.”

That may sound like a hot take, but statistics describing the growing usage of voice search resoundingly back it up. Twenty percent of all online searches in 2016 were voice searches, according to a Mary Meeker report. Comscore predicts that half of all searches will be made through voice commands by 2020.

Searching using a voice function instead of a keyboard has huge ramifications for your organization’s SEO strategy. For starters, usually only one result is brought up, meaning you have to know exactly what it takes to earn that coveted spot. Secondly, the technical SEO best practices that make you more likely to rank in voice search are fairly different from the typical approach.

Don’t worry, though, because we’re here to break it all down for you. You’ll learn how and why people use voice search to gain insight on how you can meet their needs, and then you’ll learn how to implement voice search SEO best practices that can help boost your rank. Let’s get talkin’!

How Do People Use Voice Search in 2018?

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The first rule of SEO is to always put the search user’s need for information over your need to rank.

Sure, you can climb the ranks the cheap way using grey hat SEO tactics, but those gains won’t last. Inevitably, Google, Bing and Alexa will change how their algorithm works and knock you back down. But if you consider the user’s needs foremost, you have a better chance at staying on top even when big search engine changes come through the pipes.

So, since it pays to know how and why people use voice search so you can meet their needs, here are a few interesting facts about voice search.

Firstly, the home is where the majority of consumers make their voice search queries. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 43 percent of people say they most frequently use the feature in their home, versus 36 percent who use it mostly in their car and 19 percent who say they most often use it “on the go.”

This statistic tells you two things:

  1. Those 90 million smart speakers sold annually are changing the way we interact with devices, opening new channels and opportunities that didn’t exist just a few years ago.
  2. The idea that people are mostly going to be using voice search as a hands-free option in their car is partially untrue. Voice search has a number of other benefits that compel people to use it beyond just driving without distraction.

What are the benefits hinted at in No. 2? While 61 percent of people do agree that searching using voice commands is “useful when hands/vision” are occupied, 30 percent say that it leads to “faster results.” Twenty-four percent say they have “difficulty typing on certain devices” and 12 percent say they want “to avoid confusing menus.” Twenty-two percent say they use voice search because it’s “fun/cool,” so those suspicious that it’s a novelty are fairly correct.

These insights paint a broader picture of how and why people use voice search, though. Namely: they want quick answers, and they don’t feel like they need to actually touch a device to get them.

In response to these needs, the gist of all the voice search SEO tips below is this: give people easy access to the information they want, and you’re more likely to rank.

So, how do you accomplish that goal? Here are some of those voice search tips in detail.

Focus on Semantically Related Keywords Over Exact Query Matches

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Take a moment to think about how you would speak an online search query out loud versus how you would type it.

When we type, we often want to be get our query as specific as possible while using the fewest possible words. So, we might write something like “best laptop backpack” to find out which bag is most worth buying, and then we’ll likely click around or search again to find the best deal on said backpack.

But when we talk, we want to be specific without using awkward words or phrasings. As a result, we naturally gravitate towards strings of simple, descriptive words that may seem like a long phrase but that are easy to say out loud. We also want to avoid pulling up results that do a different action than we intended, since we can’t click or navigate as easily.

For example, we might say, “Siri, what is the best laptop backpack according to reviews?” Or, if we already know what we want, we might say, “Ok Google, find laptop backpacks by North Face under $200 near me.”

According to Google, 70 percent of voice queries the company handles use natural language, which means actual sentences rather than jumbles of words. One self-study by a smart speaker user found that the average word count of their queries was four.

In response to these trends, your keyword strategy should be less about shoehorning an exact match keyword in and more about covering all of the bases of your topic. Try to include phrases that you might think are things people would ask about your topic or product. Think more about long tail queries in sentence form, and try to include these in a natural way.

Also, get straight to the information. Emphasize the six big question words: when, what, who, why, where and how.

If you think you’re better off adopting the old SEO strategy of making a new content page for each query type, think again. According to Backlinko, very few voice query results have exact keyword matches in their titles, meaning context is more important than verbatim matches.

Write Good, In-Depth Content, but Use Pithy, Quotable Phrases

Referring again to Backlinko’s study, the average voice search result was only 29 words in length. Yet, the average word count of a voice search result page was 2,312 words!

That may sound frustratingly paradoxical. Why go through all the trouble of writing thousands of words about something if a search engine’s just going to yank out a tiny sliver of that?

The answer is that the best content often covers several bases, as we suggested above. They go in-depth, explore lots of angles and reveal lots of information. A voice query, however, only needs a small part of that information. Accordingly, content that has voice results pulled from it tends to have pithy, quotable phrases.

So, as an example, this article will be well over 1,500 words by the time we’re done. If we wanted to offer up a voice assistant a juicy quote to sum up the answer to “what is voice search SEO?” we would say:

Voice search SEO is a strategy for ranking highly on voice searches using natural-sounding content that’s packed with information and focused on search intent.

Google may not grab that answer, but here’s hoping!

Because quotable “sound bites” are the preferred information to pull results from, FAQ (frequently asked questions) absolutely rule for improving your voice search rank. To make these pages, you can source common questions about your industry or your business from the following:

  • Google’s “Other People Searched” and “Searches Related to ___” suggestions
  • Long-tail keyword suggestions from keyword planning tools
  • AnswerThePublic.com
  • Your own customers! Write down questions as you hear them, or look to resources like emails, feedback forms or HR reports.

Don’t Neglect Bing, Which Has a Bigger Share of Voice Search than Google!

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Bing has always been mentioned second to Google—or not at all—when it comes to search engine optimization discussions. That makes sense in a text-based world, where Google handles an estimated 75 percent to 90 percent of all written queries.

The voice assistant world has changed everything though! Some of the most popular devices pull their search results from Microsoft’s Bing or Yahoo platform. These include:

  • iPhones and other Siri-enabled Apple products
  • Microsoft computers and mobile devices
  • Microsoft Xbox One gaming consoles
  • Amazon Alexa devices
  • Connected cars powered by Alexa, including all BMW, Mini, Toyota, Lexus, Volvo and others.

So, pretty much any device that doesn’t run Android or doesn’t have a Google logo on it will be using Bing!

Luckily, Bing SEO isn’t that different from Google SEO. You just need to ensure that you have the tools to perform analytics on your Bing results and display your content properly in their search page.

Other Voice Search SEO Tips

The information above covers the basic essentials of voice search SEO, but here are a few more helpful tidbits before we send you on your way:

  • 70 percent of Google Home results use HTTPS instead of HTTP, so get your certificate!
  • Authoritative domains tend to earn more results, so try to earn backlinks (ethically) through guest posting and social media amplification.
  • The best-performing content tends to have high social media engagement, especially Facebook shares.
  • Aim for a 9th grade reading level so your content is easy for a voice assistant to parse and read out loud.
  • Earning a featured snippet makes you more likely to rank, but Schema markup isn’t necessarily important.

Beyond these tips, simply focus on creating great content that answers people’s questions quickly, and you could see improved voice search results!

Of course, it never hurts to create a more vigorous strategy and test whether your voice search optimization worked as intended. If you want to work with a voice SEO expert to help you get in good with the likes of Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google, then get in touch with us today!

Does Your SEO Speak to Voice Search Users? originally published by Contractor Media