Website and Marketing Help Tips Keep updated with Website and Marketing Help Tips information. en-us Website and Marketing Help Tips Advancing Our Support: More People, More Accessibility 2018 has been a pretty amazing year for us- weve won a couple of awards, hired some talented new people, and started rolling out the technology and products that will make it easier for both of us to manage the success of your digital marketing strategy. What does this mean for you?

We're Doing More to Meet Your Expectations

A huge part of ensuring your strategys success is agreeing on what success means for your business month-over-month and year-over-year. For our new clients, it starts with agreeing on expectations, deliverables, and what data we use to measure success.

For those reasons and more, we are excited to introduce our most recent hire, Grant Kravitz, HLMs VP of Delivery. Grant brings to the HLM team 20 years of experience building strong client relationships with some of the most recognized Fortune 500 companies, such as Sony PlayStation, eBay, Kellogg's, Disney, Nestle, and Taco Bell. His primary focus is to ensure our team meets your needs and expectations, and that we have a clear and consistent delivery of service, products, and support that meets HLMs high standards.

We're Doing More for Customer Support

Early 2019, we will be rolling out a new support section in your Performance Dashboard. What does this mean for you? More accessibility! Right now, we have an amazing customer support team who answers your questions by phone and email. In 2019, youll still be able to call or email us for support, but this new portal provides one more way to get the support you need. Simply click open your HLM Performance Dashboard any time, day or night, and submit your request online. Youll be able to monitor the status of all your requests (phoned in, emailed, or online) as well as access FAQs and other helpful articles, all in one convenient location. Keeping you informed is just one way for us all to be on the same page.

When you partner with HLM, you not only get an entire team of experienced, data-driven, marketing professionals, you get a digital marketing company that continually invests in the teams and technology to ensure your success.

About High Level Marketing

At High Level Marketing, our number one goal is to help you grow your business. That means providing you with the tools and education to understand your market and your options. We've invested thousands of hours developing the technology and resources to ensure the strategy we recommend can drive more traffic to your site and convert more visitors into qualified leads. Stop wishing your website did more for you. Contact HLM and...

Let's Talk About Your Business!

The Best Halloween Costume for Business this Year Halloween, the time of year we get to dress up for a party or two and disguise ourselves as someone (or something) were not. And its fun to play the part, too. But everyone participating in Halloween activities knows the real you is under the costume. No one expects you to be able to cast a spell, or have superhuman strength, or rule the universe.

But what happens when you portray your business as something its not? Nearly every week I hear at least one of the requests below (and several others) from small business owners:

  • I want my website to make my business look bigger.
  • My photos arent good enough, can you pick a stock image?
  • My office (or vehicles) arent that attractive, can we show something else?

These types of requests are asking us to put a costume on your business. Even if you have the best intentions to grow your business, or you can do the things the stock photo is showing, or you want to avoid showing the real you, this kind of misrepresentation of your business can be dangerous.

Dont pretend to be something youre not. Theyll find out eventually.

This is the new age of business. People no longer expect perfection. What they crave is authenticity. A real company they can trust. And that means putting the real you out there. Stock photos look fake, an About page without an owner, group, or business photo looks fake, and a website that shares the same content as other similar companies, you guessed it...looks fake. And guess what, even if your

able to fool a potential customer into giving you their contact info because your website makes you look bigger, when it comes time to deliver, your customer will figure it out. Its only a matter of time. Worse yet, trying to look bigger than you are might actually turn away great customers who are looking for a company exactly your size.

If youre a duck, quack like one.

Youre better off showing your real self, the data proves it. An o.k. picture of your trucks, office, or crew, taken with your cellphone, will outperform the best stock images out there. Potential customers wont bounce because your pictures are a little blurry or a little dark. They will appreciate seeing exactly who will show up at their door to help them out. Youll be setting the right expectations; your customers will be choosing you for the right reasons, and because everyone is in alignment, everyone will experience greater satisfaction.

This Halloween, dress up, be something youre not for a night, and have a blast! But for your business, keep it real, be authentic, and show people how great your business really is. The best business Halloween costume this year is being true to your brand. You might not win a costume contest, but youll certainly win over customers.

About High Level Marketing

At High Level Marketing, the primary goal behind everything we do is educating and empowering small business owners like you to understand your options in an effort to make the best marketing decisions that will help grow your business. We develop effective digital marketing campaigns that drive traffic and convert leads. Stop losing leads to your competitors...

Let's Talk About Your Business!

Bye, Bye, Google+ By now, you may have heard Googles decision to discontinue Google+. Google+ was launched seven years ago in an effort to create its own social networking site. With it came the Google+ and +1 buttons you see on most websites created or updated between 2011 and 2018, including the ones built here at HLM.

Google + and SEO

Like any new app, Google experienced high user engagement. For a while, it seemed Google was favoring conversations on active Google+ users by promoting them in search results. Google+ was favored over Google Places (now known as Google My Business.) And, for a while, with Search Plus Your World, your search results were personalized by including results based on what your Google+ Friends searched. However, as Google stopped pushing Google+, user engagement declined. In fact, 90% of todays sessions on Google+ for the consumer sees less than a 5-second engagement.

What does this mean for your business?

  • If you are an HLM client, your SEO and SEO strategy will not be affected.
  • Over the next 10 months, Google will begin to discontinue Google+, until its final day sometime in August 2019.
  • Over the next 10 months, Google will be providing detailed information about the process, including ways to download or migrate your personal or business data.
  • During this transition, HLM will be first be testing replacements for Google+ buttons on websites. Once the data is in on the best replacement strategy, we will be updating your website.

About High Level Marketing

At High Level Marketing, our primary goal is to help you grow your business. Pulse on the Industry is our monthly publication reviewing a relevant industry topic that could impact your business. Keeping you informed about industry and market trends is just one way we enable you to stay in control of your digital marketing efforts. When you partner with High Level Marketing, youre not left to figure out what your next step should be. We help you keep on top of the trends, understand your market, and make important decisions to connect with more customers and get more leads.

Let's Talk About Your Business!

Partners in Data: A Different Kind of Team High Level Marketing is more than an SEO company. We are your digital marketing partner -- arming you with the data, strategy, and support you need to make informed marketing decisions that will grow your business. Using technology and data analytics, we evaluate the competitors in your market and identify opportunities for ranking above them in Google, Bing, and other search engines and provide the insights to you in one easy to understand performance dashboard.

Every member of our team is your trusted resource

We take our partnership seriously. For the past 10 years, weve taken a client-centric approach for creating customized websites and SEO solutions that support our clients' business growth goals. Through that experience, weve learned that every client is different and so are their needs. As a true marketing partner, we make it our business to understand yours. Each member of your HLM team will have a thorough knowledge of your market, your goals, and your unique challenges, so we can all work together to ensure your needs are met.

Taking SEO to the next level

Recently we added an experienced Digital Data Analyst to our SEO team.

What does this mean for our clients?

  • Our websites and SEO strategies will constantly be aligning with Google's ever-changing algorithms
  • Our clients' performance dashboards will display the data most relevant to growing their businesses
  • We will be collecting data by industries and markets, allowing us to be more predictive in our recommendations
  • We can offer custom reporting that will allow us to monitor or test just about anything

Improving your SEO performance

Search engine optimization is a marathon, not a sprint. Our data experts must continually keep an eye on industry news, take search engine changes and updates into account and be experts at using data to its full potential.

Its important to monitor your website usability, traffic sources, visitor profiles, and conversion statistics. We use tools like Google Analytics and our own Footprint™ technology to mine your data and explore the depths of your digital performance to measure and track the success of your business SEO strategy.

What we do

Measure: Collect and measure the right data
Analyze: Turn your data into actionable insights that drive revenue-making decisions
Optimize: Increase your conversion and provide your customers with the best experience

What we track

  1. Search engine referrals
  2. Visits referred by specific terms and phrases
  3. Conversion rates for pages, forms, and phone calls
  4. Page visits by search engines
  5. And a lot more

With the tools and technology available today, we can measure just about anything. And if you want to compete online, it's important to partner with a digital marketing company that uses technology and data to drive decisions. As we continue to invest in our digital partnerships, our customers will benefit from the data we collect and analyze not just from their own businesses, but for their entire industry. Keeping you ahead of your competitors; that's just one more way High Level Marketing helps you grow your business.

About High Level Marketing

At High Level Marketing, the primary goal behind everything we do is educating and empowering small business owners like you to understand your options in an effort to make the best marketing decisions. We develop effective digital marketing campaigns that drive traffic and convert leads. Stop losing leads to your competitors and...

Let's Talk About Your Business!

How UX is Evolving and Why It Matters to Your Business By: Chris Ditty, Creative Director

Looking back over the history of how we (High Level Marketing) create blog articles- online nuggets of information that are intended to be helpful to those researching a particular topic- I realized that our approach is similar to most other brands, companies, and organizations- informative, but not always personal.

Now, thats not always a bad thing, as most of the people finding and reading our articles are looking for professional insight on the topics we choose to share our insights and thoughts about. That being said, in consideration of this article, "How UX is Evolving and Why It Matters to Your Business", it occurred to me that one of the most critical aspects of how UX (User eXperience) is evolving is in delivering a more personalized 'experience to our (and your) clients and customers.

Its no secret that the technology we rely on and use every day is evolving at a pace thats almost impossible to keep up with! For many of us, we grew up in an era where phones were heavy, clunky metal shells with a rotary dial (or buttons, if you were lucky!) that were incredibly satisfying to slam down when hanging up on someone. Cell phones, social media and 'apps simply didnt exist. The experiences we had with big brands and local businesses was entirely personal. Whether in-person or over the phone, our interactions with everyone from an HVAC technician, Plumber or Roofer, to purchasing food and basic household goods were all ultimately done face-to-face with someone else.

What Ive always found fascinating is that todays technology arose as a means of making our lives easier, more productive, and for the most part, better all around. Ironically, the more technology continues to evolve, the more personally disconnected we all seem to become. Yes, you can always catch up with family and friends via a quick text, or shoot them an occasional message on any of the numerous social media channels there now are. Heck, we can now shop for everything from groceries and clothing to home goods and vehicles without ever having to formally speak to another human being, let alone interact with them in person! At the end of the day though, technology has fundamentally challenged and changed our 'experiences with others.

So, Why Does This All Matter to You and Your Business?

For the last 30+ years, designers and engineers have struggled to make software and the devices they run on as easy and intuitive to use as their physical counterparts. Today, its now the reverse- physical experiences are struggling to catch up to digital. Right now, AI (Artificial Intelligence) is taking off- so much so that it is now changing the way people interact with their devices. As a result, this now means the way businesses interact with their target market (your target market) will have to evolve as well.

While many businesses, especially the majority of small businesses that make up the backbone of our economy, are struggling to simply be found online and maintain a respectable website that appeals to their target audience, the reality is that were looking at a not so distant future in which a touchless conversational interface becomes the norm.

Consider Apples new iPhone X, for example. It no longer requires pin codes or even a touch ID. iPhone X users can now simply look at their smartphone to turn it on. The less we use our screens, the more well start to see them disappear as technology continues to evolve towards greater convenience and less clutter.

Today, there are now smart home 'hubs like Alexa, which only require a simple verbal command to launch a personalized routine, like, "Alexa, good morning," to turn on your living room lights, adjust your homes temperature, brew your coffee and tune your TV to the morning news. Theres also Microsofts Cortana, who, just like any actual assistant, has a notebook (albeit a virtual one) to track what she knows about you to evolve and do her job of organizing your life and helping you access the information you need online, better.

Ready or not, the next evolution in technology- less action required from us humans and more independence on the part of machines- is here. And just in case you doubt that assertion, the reality is that we already have Siri, Google Assistant, Tay, Cortana, Alexa and the next generation of AI interfaces gaining more autonomy in an effort to continue making our lives 'easier.

Just two short years ago (in 2016), Google claimed that 20 percent of mobile queries were voice search. By 2020, it is predicted that half of all searches wont require a screen at all.

How Conversational User Interfaces Are Changing the User Experience

As a business owner, stakeholder, or anyone else invested in the success of your business, the real question is, "where will customer expectations be thanks to the growth of voice-activated searches, and how will you meet these expectations?" Adjusting to this new technology is about more than just creating voice-friendly keywords- Its about shifting the perspective on your customers UX.

While doing my due diligence and researching a variety of studies and resources on this topic, I came across a fantastic article in a recent issue of Adweek magazine that I felt did a stellar job of discussing the evolution of user experience. As a result, I wanted to share of a couple of excerpts exactly as they were written, as me trying to paraphrase them wouldnt do them any justice...

"In an omnichannel world, the user experience starts long before customers put their hands on the product or download the app. It encompasses everything from advertising and website design to social media, retail displays, packing, [...] the help they receive from a salesperson, or a chatbot and the subject line on the emailed receipt.

'When people think about Adidas [for example], they dont think, 'Heres Adidas the shoe, heres Adidas the box, heres Adidas the app, heres Adidas the retail experience, [...] theyre just thinking, "This is Adidas."

Managing all of that is an enormous challenge, and few brands are doing a consistently good job of it, says Kevin Kearney, VP of Product for global design firm Elephant.

'Part of the reason is that brands have never had to manage so many touch points before, which often involves multiple internal teams and external agencies that, lets be honest, arent always talking to each other, Kerney says. 'Were constantly coordinating across business units and asking questions like, "Is the team running the Facebook account handling support? Whos determining the hashtag strategy on Instagram and what does that tie to? Why are the point-of-purchase screens in channel not aligned with whats on the websites product page, and why is that messaging completely disconnected from the current advertising campaign?"

Another common problem with UX design is that brands put too much emphasis on visual elements and not enough on the experience theyre actually providing, says Andrew Hogan, Senior Analyst on Experience Design and Interfaces for Forrester Research.

'They get really focused on User Interface (UI) design, like what color the buttons on the mobile app should be, Hogan says. 'They dont actually get at the deeper stuff, like whether this product is good or useful in any real way.

In addition to all of that, keeping up with the frenetic pace of technological change is a challenge for everyone, says Jonathan Goldmacher, Managing Director for the New York office for Business Transformation firm Valtech.

'So much of the space is continuing to evolve with things like voice, augmented and virtual reality, its difficult to say anybody is doing it amazingly, he says. 'But theyre doing good jobs in parts of it."

From User Interface (UI) to Conversational Interface (CI)

While a typical user interface (UI) includes all of the visual elements that we interact with when communicating with a device- buttons, icons, pictures, etc., Conversational Interfaces (CI) refer to those interfaces that react and respond to human conversational language. In other words, rather than communicating with a device via traditional keyboard commands or clicking icons as most of us do now, we will be interacting with our devices as if we were speaking to another person.

Existing CIs include chat-boxes, which involve typed communication, and voice assistants, which are the screenless, touchless variety that consumers are continuing to fall in love with. More importantly, Conversational Interfaces can work with any device, from traditional desktop computers to modern smartwatches. They can even connect 'smart electronics like home security systems, lighting, and your TV. At the same time, they can also connect with any app or social media platform, as well as certain retail sites, as Amazon has now made possible through their Alexa-based devices.

At the end of the day, what this all means to us- as business owners trying to improve the overall experience with our brands- is that we need to be paying more attention to how our clients and customers are interacting with this technology.

A More Fluid and Audible UX

Again, whether we are ready for this evolution or not, Conversational Interfaces will continue to change the user experience in a variety of ways. The most important of which is that they are encouraging people to be more engaged with their devices, and they are ushering in a more hands-off experience- meaning voice, which is opening the proverbial doors for more audio-driven content.

Todays consumers dont just use; they RELY on their smartphones, smartwatches, and other devices to help facilitate their everyday life and work, from checking the weather to scheduling appointments. With voice assistants, all of this happens with a few words, versus having to tap a couple of icons, type, swipe, and/or push. This makes relying on our personal devices to get things done even more intuitive and easier than ever.

What this all boils down to is that the more consumers use voice AI to accomplish small tasks, the more businesses like us (and you!) are going to find innovative and useful ways to integrate our products or services into this new evolution of consumer-brand interaction, such as...

  • Ordering a product
  • Sending a customer service request
  • Upgrading software
  • Scheduling an appointment
  • Renewing a subscription
  • Listening to online reviews -- having a voice assistant transcribe online reviews
  • Posting a video
  • Sharing a link

In terms of what this means to your digital marketing strategy, the shift to Conversational Interfaces will likely impact everything from content marketing to SEO. For example...

  • Instead of reading a blog post on a website, people may opt to listen to it being read by their voice assistant while driving to work. How will this change the way blogs are written?
  • Will podcasts take a more prominent content role as consumers grow accustomed to hands-off interaction? How will podcast content change to offer the more direct, to-the-point answers that consumers are looking for?
  • Will emails, like other written content, be listened to rather than read? Will Conversational Interfaces be able to sift through the content a user may find relevant, clearing their inboxes for them? How will this change email marketing?
  • Search will change even more. Keywords will need to be better aligned with voice search queries, and SEO strategies are necessarily going to evolve to be focused more on more concise answers to direct questions.

Tell Me Again Why This All Matters to Me and My Business

A positive user experience is also an emotional one. UX is not just about how things look and feel; its about how those details make your customers feel about your brand.

Delivering a more personal experience isnt just about how we leverage technology- its about genuinely understanding our target market, caring about their needs and wants, and treating them the way they want to be treated. For all of us at HLM, and for me personally, this starts with taking a more 'conversational approach in our writing. Hence me including my name as the author of this article and 'talking to you directly throughout the entirety of it.

Whether you read this on a desktop or listened to it being read to you by Alexa or any of her friends, I hope that you will have learned something new while enjoying a positive experience with High Level Marketing!

How Do You Optimize Your Companys Website For Conversational User Interfaces? Give HLM a Call!

Lets face it, as technologies and the way people use them continue to evolve, successfully marketing your business in todays world can be a monumental challenge.

At High Level Marketing, the sole purpose behind everything we do is empowering small business owners like you to leverage todays technologies to best position your brand in front of the very people who are looking for the services you offer and more importantly, drive them to call YOU instead of your competitors.

Weve worked with numerous businesses of almost every kind throughout the U.S. to develop effective websites and digital marketing strategies that drive traffic and convert leads! Check out our portfolio or contact us today for a FREE initial strategy session.

Let's Talk About Your Business!
Wed love to help!

Choosing the Right Vendors for Your Small Business Carefully selecting and managing vendors is an essential function of running any small business. The best practices are based on building trust and solid relationships. When choosing a supplier, think about how your business relationship will fare short-term and for the long haul.

Decisions, decisions

Why do owners choose one vendor over another?

Cost - Service and product costs are not the only concepts to consider. The cost to your bottom line, the cost of not trusting the vendor and the cost of partnering with a company with a bad reputation are all worth examining.

Capability - Vendor expertise is vitally important. Smart suppliers know the trends in their industry and can bring that knowledge to you. Vet suppliers who offer the latest, most advanced products and services, and have made the investment in well-trained employees.

Communication - Vendors should communicate clearly, regularly and honestly -- without being too aggressive. Expect transparency and excellent communication (good, bad or indifferent) on a consistent basis.

Character - Quantifying a companys character lies within its reputation. What appears when you search online for a vendor is just as important as signing a contract. Hire suppliers with a solid history of positive reviews and business longevity. More importantly, look for vendors that have a track record of "doing the right thing."

Gameplan guidelines

Define your objectives, milestones and expectations - Many growing businesses select vendors based on cost alone because every dollar counts. However, consider other aspects like reliability and owner availability when making your decision.

Do your research - Collect information on several vendors and narrow the vendor field by asking questions. Does their business have a professional website. Do their company values align with yours? Does a human answer the phone when you call?

Get referrals - Professional referrals can steer you away from trouble and direct you to companies with good local reputations.

Consider location - Stop by the vendors place of business. Shipping costs drop and face-to-face meetings are more convenient when vendors are local.

Establish good communication - Keep the lines of communication open and ensure that the contract, price and timeline work for both parties. You should always know exactly what youre paying for.

Monitor performance - This is particularly important in the beginning stages of the relationship. Until the working relationship is well-established, monitor the vendors performance to make sure it upholds the terms of the contract.

Productive post-mortem

Ask these questions before hiring again

  • What did you like best about working with the vendor?
  • What made you select them in the first place?
  • How flexible was the vendor with regard to process or changes?
  • Did they communicate status and risks in a timely manner?
  • Were there any hiccups on the project or things to be aware of or manage closely?
  • Are there any individuals that worked on the project that you wouldnt choose to work with in the future?
  • Did the vendor go above and beyond in any way?
  • Were there any unforeseen benefits in working with them?
  • Were there any hidden or surprise costs either before or after the project?
  • What are the vendors biggest strengths and weaknesses?
  • Would use you them again for a future project?

Choosing vendors is an important part of your businesss success. Vendors can turn into partners, and help small businesses grow into big businesses. If you havent already, make selecting reliable and stable vendors part of your overall growth plan. Your business will thank you for it!

As a 'vendor ourselves, we take pride in exceeding expectations, and strive to go above and beyond for each client every day. To learn more about High Level Marketings digital marketing packages, contact us today!

About High Level Marketing

At High Level Marketing, the primary goal behind everything we do is educating and empowering small business owners like you to understand your options in an effort to make the best marketing decisions that will help grow your business. We develop effective digital marketing campaigns that drive traffic and convert leads. Stop losing leads to your competitors...

Let's Talk About Your Business!

The Increasing Importance of Customer Reviews As a business owner (or the point person responsible for managing your companys marketing efforts), it should be no secret that your companys reputation is its most valuable asset. What people say about your business matters, and that's especially true when it comes to what people are saying and sharing about your business online.

Sadly, too many small businesses dont make review management a priority. They often think because they serve a localized base of customers that what people are saying about them online is irrelevant. However, this couldnt be further from the truth!

Lets be clear... Online reviews of your business are EXTREMELY important! According to a 2014 Survey of Local Customers by BrightLocal...

  • 88% of respondents read/used reviews to determine the quality of a local business; an overwhelming majority of respondents, 93%, said they checked reviews before dining or shopping. This means no matter how good your website is, or how compelling your offering, your customers will seek out other opinions. Having a strategy to earn, manage, and respond to reviews is a must.
  • 85% of respondents to the BrightLocal survey read up to 10 different reviews while researching their purchase, pointing to the fact that customers arent blindly accepting the first review they read, but triangulating the feedback they find to get the real story behind a business. (That ought to be encouraging for businesses, as it means one terrible review is unlikely to sink you. But shoppers do weigh reviews heavily.)
  • 88% of respondents said they trusted online reviews as much as theyd trust a personal recommendation (overwhelmingly the most trusted form of advertising by consumers, according to Nielsens Trust in Advertising Report), though the caveat is that reviews had to be authentic, and there had to be enough of them to make a judgment call.

The single most important takeaway here is that what people say about your business online matters... A LOT! It could very well be the difference between whether they choose to work with you or call on one of your competitors.

First, Understand That Not All Reviews Are Equal

I know what youre thinking... its obvious that positive reviews are a good thing and negative reviews are a bad thing. However, something to consider as a small business owner is that having no reviews at all can also have a negative impact on your businesss ability to attract new customers. Todays consumers are much more tech-savvy than ever, so when the average person is glued to his or her smartphone on a daily basis, you can bet your last dollar that theyre Googling your business before using it, especially if theyve never heard of you before.

The big problem with having few to no reviews is that finding little to no information tells them that youre either a new business with no social support or worse... people care so little about you that youre not even on their radar. However, just a few positive reviews can reassure potential customers that youre worth checking out!

Bottom line, lots of honest, authentic reviews means people trust your business, which in turn is a great marketing tool that has real power to attract new customers.

You Know You Need Reviews, But... Dont Fake It!

Not having any reviews doesnt mean you should fall into the trap of buying or creating fake reviews. Its fairly easy to spot a series of made-up comments, as they tend to be overly descriptive and written in a way that just sounds, well... fake.

95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they dont see any bad scores. If youre called out with fake reviews, the damage to your business may be irreparable. Nobody likes a liar, so dont make yourself out to be one.

Lets Talk About Negative Reviews For a Minute

Did you know that businesses risk losing 22% of consumers who would have bought from them when there is a negative review? This is based off just one poor review! If you have three or more negative reviews, the chance of losing customers jumps to nearly 67%. Four or more negative reviews can turn as many as 86% of your potential customers away. Think about that for a minute- It only takes a handful of negative reviews to deter 86% of prospective customers from contacting you.

The reality is that bad reviews can negate all the time, money and energy you put into building a successful business. This is why its so important to take care of your customers! One upset customer leaving a negative review can open the floodgates for many others to add their two cents. Taking care of your customers and providing exceptional service will pay dividends in attracting new customers.

If you are faced with negative reviews, the single best course of action is to tackle them head-on in a genuine effort to improve your service. Research suggests when retailers replied to negative reviews on social media and online review sites, a third of those customers either deleted their original negative review or replaced it with a positive review. In fact, if a business resolves a negative review quickly and efficiently, 95% of unhappy customers will return to your business.

Positive Reviews Can Turn Interested Searchers Into Customers

A study by Search Engine Land in 2014 found that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. The study also found that 68% of consumers say that positive reviews improve the trustworthiness of a local business. Based on this information, its obvious positive reviews can bring customers to your business who are ready and willing to buy. But for the sake of being thorough, here are few additional statistics that will help reinforce the importance of cultivating more positive reviews for your business...

  • 92% of consumers now read online reviews
  • Only 8% of consumers never search for a business online
  • 40% of consumers form an opinion after reading just one to three reviews
  • 73% of consumers form an opinion after reading up to six reviews
  • 88% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to ten reviews
  • 94% of consumers would use a business with a 4-star rating
  • 57% of consumers would use a business with a 3-star rating
  • Only 14% of consumers would consider using a business with a one or two-star rating
  • 30% of consumers assume online reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews
  • Reviews produce an average of 18% uplift in sales

And just in case you doubt the power of Yelp...

  • There are 26, 830 reviews posted every minute by Yelp users

Why Online Reviews Matter for Local SEO

According to MOZ's Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, online reviews now make up 10% of Google and the other search engines algorithms as they evaluate a given site to determine how it will rank in relevant search results. That being said, its more important than ever to make sure youre encouraging your customers to leave positive reviews, as well as address any negative reviews you receive as quickly as possible. At the end of the day, reviews matter more than you realize, so be sure to make managing them a priority for your business!

Fast forward to the end of 2018, and the reality is that the experiences and opinions expressed on review sites like Google, Yelp, Angies List, and even Facebook can mean the difference between success and failure, especially if you are in the food, hospitality or residential service industries.

How Do You Ensure Your Customers Are Happy and Wont Leave Negative Reviews? Give HLM a Call!

If nothing else, we hope this post has opened your eyes to the need to develop a strategy for responding to online reviews. When managed well, reviews can be a huge business generator, as well as key indicators of areas your business is succeeding in and areas where improvement is needed.

At High Level Marketing, the sole purpose behind everything we do is empowering small business owners like you to leverage todays technologies to best position your brand in front of the very people who are looking for the services you offer and more importantly, drive them to call YOU instead of your competitors.

Weve worked with numerous businesses of almost every kind throughout the U.S. to develop effective websites and digital marketing strategies that drive traffic and convert leads! Check out our portfolio, or contact us today for a FREE strategy session.

Let's Talk About Your Business!
Wed love to help!


All stats sourced from, BrightLocal, Business2community, Bazaarvoice, webrepublic, reprevive, Econsultancy, business2community, Reevoo and Social Media Today

Google PageSpeed Optimization Google PageSpeed Insights reports on the real-world performance of a page for mobile and desktop devices and provides suggestions on how that page may be improved. PageSpeed Insights evaluates how well a page follows common performance best practices and computes a score from 0-100 that estimates its performance.

PageSpeed Insights indicate the "speed optimization" of a page, not the actual load time. Render-blocking resources like JavaScript (controls dynamic content, multimedia, and animated images) and CSS (controls the look and feel of a web page) are the most common reasons for slow loading websites. And if your website is slow, not only are you hurting your search engine ranking, you are losing customers and revenue as well.

A page with slow speed might have a high optimization score because it has a low number of render-blocking resources. On the other hand, a fast page might have a low optimization score because it has a high number of render-blocking resources.

Scores are different for mobile phones and desktop computers. Now that Google is using the mobile version of a site to "rank" it in search results, it is important that the mobile experience is optimized for 4G LTE connections.

High Level Marketing PageSpeed Optimization

Google PageSpeed Insights is part of High Level Marketings core SEO and website creation process. Your HLM team will be using PageSpeed Insights to increase the speed of your site, resulting in improved SEO and real-world performance.

Great PageSpeed scores have every possible element lightened to increase the speed of the website. However, doing this may decrease website functionality on videos, navigation, images or banners.

Good PageSpeed scores do not compromise optimization. Website components (images, HTML, and CSS) are improved, allowing the website to work properly.

Poor PageSpeed scores generally occur in older websites or those with large images. Usually, considerable modification and/or a mobile-friendly redesign are required to increase your score.

Common Issues

Images and multimedia tend to be the largest files on any website. With high-definition displays common on most desktops and current mobile phones, having hi-res images is crucial.

HLM uses a server-side compression system that makes image files smaller without compromising visual clarity. In other words, all images on MYCE sites are already optimized!

When you see notices from Google about images, remember that their testing tool can recommend a smaller file, but cannot tell if that image file looks worse after being compressed.

The examples below show a severely compressed image and a hi-res image.
HLM will optimize images for speed, but never reduce quality.

Analytics Tracking
For analytics tracking to function properly, the specific files that "talk" to Google analytics and the marketing dashboard cannot be compressed (also known as "minified").

While these may show in your PageSpeed report, they have very little effect on total PageSpeed score. The three files that would likely appear in your report are:

  1. Analytics.js: Googles original analytics tracking code. This file should not be minified to ensure proper functionality.

  2. Gtag.js: Googles newer analytics tracking code. Functionally, no different than analytics.js. Similarly, this file should not be minified.

  3. Tracker.js: Your marketing dashboards tracking code. This code is based on the Google tracking codes and populates the marketing dashboard.

Caching for External Modules

External modules include any advanced functionality required by your website. Excessive users or traffic congestion on the servers where these elements are hosted can cause slow-downs on your site. Some commonly used elements that can influence site scores are:

  • Google Maps

  • Social Plugins - Facebook "Like" buttons, Twitter feed integration, and similar

  • Web Fonts - Custom fonts are usually hosted by Google and are loaded externally

  • Chat boxes - All chat boxes require a back-and-forth between the provider and your site

  • Angies list and BBB badges - Per Angies List / BBB requirements, these need to be loaded via Javascript

  • Wait List and Scheduling Plugins - Any third-party scheduling plugins, from Open Table to MindBody, can increase load times

  • Autoplay Videos - Vimeo and Youtube, if autoplayed, can slow down a website because they have to download multimedia before the page fully loads

To find out more about Google PageSpeed Optimization, Contact HLM today!

About High Level Marketing

At High Level Marketing, the primary goal behind everything we do is educating and empowering small business owners like you to understand your options in an effort to make the best marketing decisions that will help grow your business. We develop effective digital marketing campaigns that drive traffic and convert leads. Stop losing leads to your competitors...

Let's Talk About Your Business!

Alexa, Where's My Business? Amazon sold over 20 million Alexas in 2017, and by 2019, the voice recognition market will be a $600 million dollar industry according to a report from Technavio. While consumers still use search engines, they are increasingly using voice assistants (like Amazons Alexa and Apple's Siri) to guide them to the goods and services they need.

Voice search optimization

Optimizing for local search is more important than ever. With over one billion voice searches across devices per month, your business should get involved and focus on voice search optimization techniques -- because something as simple as inaccurate business listing information will cost you customers.

If you have a brick and mortar location, you already know how important it is to rank in local search results. Most voice searches are location specific and users often opt for voice search when looking for a product, shop or service near them. Voice search optimized business listings rank higher in local and "near me" voice searches. 50% of local mobile searches lead to a store visit within 24 hours. Accurate and complete location listings will increase your chances of being found when a voice search is done pertaining to your local business, location or business category.

HLMs comprehensive citation management

High Level Marketing has managed thousands of local listings for our clients over the years and our team keeps a close eye on important developments that will improve your businesss online ranking.

We update all of your local business listings for your companys physical locations, and ensure each listing of your business is accurate and complete across Google, Yelp, Bing, Apple Maps, and other relevant sources.

Our FootprintTM Core70 citation technology maintains the quality and consistency of your local business listings by continually monitoring your data on the top tier local directories. Our technology creates new citations, builds industry contextual citations, provides data cleansing, prevents online listing hijacking, and a whole lot more. HLMs Core70 increases and maintains your business credibility with search engines and expands your citation network while ensuring that your local listings are voice search optimized.

HLM Core70 management checklist:

  • Claims and manages critical listings belonging to your organization.
  • Audits your locations listings across search, maps and business directories for accuracy.
  • Identifies discrepancies and missing data, and corrects all mistakes.
  • Pushes correct location data to search engines and social platforms.
  • Prevents fly-by-night competitors from hijacking your listings.
  • Gets you voice search eligible for Amazons Alexa.

Make sure your business information is accurate across local listings (citations) to give prospects access to the correct name, address, and phone number (NAP). AI and voice search technologies continue to develop, but voice assistants like Alexa, are only as good as the data that you provide.

Lets ensure your business is voice search optimized and getting found online! Contact HLM today to find out more about HLMs Core70 services.

About High Level Marketing

At High Level Marketing, the primary goal behind everything we do is educating and empowering small business owners like you to understand your options in an effort to make the best marketing decisions that will help grow your business. We develop effective digital marketing campaigns that drive traffic and convert leads. Stop losing leads to your competitors...

Let's Talk About Your Business!

High Level Marketing Named One of Inc. 5000's Fastest Growing Companies For the second time, High Level Marketing is recognized on the Inc. 5000 List of America's Fastest Growing Companies

High Level Marketing (HLM) has been named to the 2018 Inc. 5000 list -- the most prestigious ranking of the nation's fastest-growing, private companies. Companies such as Microsoft, Dell, Domino's Pizza, Pandora, Timberland, LinkedIn, Yelp, Zillow, and many other well-known brands gained their first national exposure as honorees of the Inc. 5000.

"We are honored to be recognized for a second year as one of the fastest-growing companies in America," said Wes Mathews, Chief Executive Officer at HLM, a leading Michigan digital marketing firm. "Our success is the combination of a hard-working, talented team and innovative solutions that fill an ever-evolving need in the digital marketing space. We're so thankful for our clients, staff and industry partners. They are the reason we are able to offer both exceptional service and innovative solutions."

The Inc. 5000 list celebrates entrepreneurial success, leadership and innovation. The Inc. 5000's aggregate revenue was $206.2 billion in 2017. HLM's revenue grew at 80% and the company added nearly 20 jobs over a three-year span. High Level Marketing partners with Michigans small businesses on everything from SEO campaigns to paid search and social initiatives to bespoke website experiences. Our team brings every aspect of the process under one roof for a cohesive and innovative approach. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a game-changing investment -- if you choose the right digital marketing firm.

HLM's award-winning team thrives on staying ahead of the pack as leaders in the SEO industry. With our custom designed websites, you won't find anything off-the-shelf here. Whether you're looking to start a new project or redesigning an existing website, you can count on HLM, Detroit's best web design company.

For more information about HLM, visit

Media Contact: Shelly Conway, Director of Marketing,

888-717-4249, 7031 Orchard Lake Rd, Ste 301, West Bloomfield, MI 48322.

For the full list of Inc. 5000 winners, visit

SOURCE High Level Marketing

The Importance of Online Reputation Management It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.
-- Warren Buffet

Owning your companys online reputation can be difficult. With news articles, employee and customer review sites, and social media, its very easy to have a negative presence online without even realizing it. Its important to manage what consumers see about your business. So you should aim to develop a positive and consistent online presence.

Your brand is online whether you like it or not

Even in 2018, offline businesses come online for the first time and have no idea what potential disasters lurk in the shadows of the internet. Companies who dont understand the importance of reputation management usually ask this dangerous question, "What the heck is an online reputation?" Negligence of your online reputation puts your company at risk and jeopardizes your credibility.

Thinking that your brand won't be online simply because you don't want to be, is a big mistake. The truth is that Google and other companies are indexing businesses and brands of all sizes, whether they like it or not. Without an online presence or management system, your reputation can spiral. With sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and PissedConsumer growing in reach every day, what are you losing by not watching your own brand reviews? If your customers are searching for you and you aren't online, they are going to find false and incorrect information about your company -- or worse, your competitors!

The power of a positive reputation

Customers research what they need before deciding on a business -- which means they will likely look at your businesss reviews and online reputation. Considering that 92% of people hesitate to do business with companies with less than four out of five stars, your reviews are certainly worth your attention. 74% of consumers credit positive reviews with making them trust a local business more. 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Even if you offer a top-notch product or service, if your brand has a negative online reputation, your business may suffer. So what consumers see about your business in regards to your online reputation is extremely important.

Your rep affects your rank

Google rewards the most popular and prominent companies within their market areas. Which means your business should be among the most talked about, patronized and recommended on the internet to get the highly coveted page one placement. If you are ranking in the three map listings on the homepage of Google and you have 20 five-star reviews, while the other businesses have two four-star reviews, you can bet that your business will be getting the call. Alternatively, Google may banish your website into the abyss if you maintain a negative online reputation.

Managing your reputation with positive feedback along with a solid SEO campaign has a higher chance of getting a page one placement. One of the reasons why many business owners hire professional marketers is because of the need to address customer reviews. Managing ratings and reviews proactively, and answering and managing the negative and positive reviews is imperative to rank in search results.

Fixing your online reputation

Now that you know how important online reputation is for your business, what can you do about it? Here are two simple ways to stay ahead of your online reputation:

  • Review Management: Be sure to continuously monitor all of your social media accounts and review sites and respond to reviews as they come in.

  • Manage Your Local Listings: Make sure your business information is accurate across local listings and review sites like Google and Yelp to give prospects access to the correct name, address, and phone number (NAP). Claim and verify your business with Google to build your businesss credibility and help potential customers find out more about you online.

Enter FootprintTM Core70 Citation Technology

HLMs FootprintTM Core70 citation technology maintains the quality and consistency of your local business listings by continually monitoring your data on the top tier local directories. Our technology creates new citations, builds industry contextual citations, provides data cleansing, prevents online listing hijacking, and a whole lot more. HLMs Core70 increases and maintains your business credibility with search engines and expands your citation network while ensuring that your local listings are voice search optimized.

HLM Core70 management checklist:

  • Claims and manages critical listings belonging to your organization.
  • Audits your locations listings across search, maps and business directories for accuracy.
  • Identifies discrepancies and missing data, and corrects all mistakes.
  • Pushes correct location data to search engines and social platforms.
  • Prevents fly-by-night competitors from hijacking your listings.
  • Gets you voice search eligible for Amazons Alexa.

Your online reputation is a dynamic part of your business, subject to change at any time. As long as you are monitoring your online reputation, you can use the power of the web to your business benefit. Take action today before your reputation is out of your hands!

Want to know more about Online Reputation Management (ORM)? Contact HLM today!

About High Level Marketing

At High Level Marketing, the primary goal behind everything we do is educating and empowering small business owners like you to understand your options in an effort to make the best marketing decisions that will help grow your business. We develop effective digital marketing campaigns that drive traffic and convert leads. Stop losing leads to your competitors...

Let's Talk About Your Business!

The Ideal Number of Images to Use in a Website How Many Images is Too Many?

Lets face it, images and pictures are an essential part of any good website. They give the website owner an opportunity to share visual examples of their product (or work if theyre a service-based company) and they help visitors better connect with their brand. At the same time, high-quality images can make an okay site look outstanding, and poor quality images can make a great site look terrible.

At the end of the day though, the number one question were often answering or advising our clients on is "how many images should I include in the gallery (or portfolio) of my site?" While the optimal number of images included in a site depends on the nature of the business, its important to understand that too many images can be just as bad as not enough.

Not enough images is pretty self-explanatory, as visitors to your site will be frustrated that theyre not able to view any good examples of your product or work. However, too many images can be equally frustrating, as A) it can significantly slow the load time of your website, and B) it can overwhelm visitors, both of which will ultimately result in a poor user experience, a high bounce rate, and a high probability of lower rankings in relative search results.

The 3 Most Important Goals to Remember With Images

1. Give Context to Your Messaging and Content

As soon as a visitor lands on your website, they should immediately know what you do and who you do it for. While a clear and strong value proposition is critical to quickly telling visitors WHAT you do and/or WHY they should trust you, the pictures and images used throughout your site are there to visually reinforce your message.

Another way to look at pictures and images is to recognize that they give context to the words and messaging youre trying to convey. For example, a banner message for a high-end kitchen remodeler might read...

"We dont just design and build amazing kitchens, we create award-winning spaces for family and friends to connect over food and fun!"

While that message may sound pretty clear by itself, it becomes even more powerful when supported by a great image (or whats often referred to as a 'Hero shot), as it provides a clear 'visual for what that statement means. And if were being honest, people are often drawn to pictures more quickly than theyre drawn to words, so its important to make sure youre using the right image to support your message.

So, while the right image can help support a clear, coherent message to visitors, the important thing to remember here is that any images used must have a purpose. Theres no point overloading a visitor with numerous images when one really strong image is all thats needed.

2. Show Enough Examples to Reinforce Your Message, But Dont Overdo It

This idea is arguably the single most difficult judgement call for most business owners, especially those in service-oriented trades like Remodelers, Home Builders, and other 'building-related contractors.

We get it. Youre proud of your work and you want to show prospects what youre capable of. However, if you want your website to show up in the top of search results, remember that the 'load time or 'page speed of your website is one of many key factors the search engines now consider when indexing your site. Given that images are defined by their file size, the more images you include in your site, the longer it will take a browser to render those images, which ultimately results in more time required for your site to load.

Aside from the negative impact a lot of images can have on your websites load time, theres also the negative experience too many images can have on your prospects.

Its no secret... peoples attention span (in general) is significantly shorter than it ever used to be. And with the advent of mobile devices, our ability to focus on anything has been dwindled down to mere seconds. As a result, especially as it applies to service-oriented businesses, visitors to your website arent looking to view an entire library of your work. They simply want to see enough to know that you do great work and can be trusted with whatever project theyre considering you for.

Sharing too many images on your site will not only slow your site down and have a negative impact on your rankings, it will also frustrate your visitors by virtue of overwhelming them with too many things to look at. And when people feel overwhelmed, their instinct is to hit the back button to find something that is more easily digestible. This is a condition known as 'decision fatigue, and yes, its real.

3. Goals First, Design Second

Before you even think about what images you want to share on your website, its important to think about how the images you use support what you want your visitors to do. What are the primary, secondary and tertiary goals of each page?

  • Sign up for a newsletter?
  • Visit your 'Services page?
  • Read your blog articles for tips and insights?
  • Contact you for more information or request a quote / consultation? NOTE: this is typically the number goal for most B2C (Business to Consumer) websites!

Whatever the goal is that you want your visitors to complete, make sure the images youre showcasing are there to support it. The key takeaway here is to NOT use more images than are necessary!

HLM Marketing Tip: One of the easiest and most effective ways to showcase a large gallery of images is to leverage a resource designed specifically for that like Pinterest, Instagram and Houzz. Most people visit a ton of websites for ideas every day, so you should always be looking for opportunities to get your brand in front of them while creating additional opportunities to drive them back to your website.

So, What is the Ideal Number of Images to Use in YOUR Website?

As mentioned above, this depends on the nature of your business and what visitors to your site need to see in order to feel comfortable and confident that YOUR services are the best solution for them. Heres a couple of scenarios to consider...

If youre a local tree trimming service, the reality is that very few visitors to your site are there because they have a ton of money burning a hole in their pocket and they thought itd be fun to trim their trees. Nine times out of ten, most visitors are on your site because they have an immediate need. For example, maybe they have a tree, or a portion of a tree, that has broke and fallen on their home. Or maybe they have branches that are dangerously close to a power line and they need to get them trimmed before they take their power line down and create a dangerous situation for their family and neighbors.

Whatever the scenario, those visitors are looking at your site because they have an immediate need. In short, these prospects are not concerned about being able to see a gallery of other trees youve trimmed. Their primary concern is whether you can get out to their home when they need you, and if they can trust you to do great work at a reasonable cost.

Point being, unless your tree service company specializes in ornamental tree trimming, theres no need to incorporate more images than are necessary to reflect that youre honest, trustworthy, and dependable.

What About Other Industries?

Based on over ten years of experience designing, building and managing websites for over 1,100 clients throughout the U.S., and being able to regularly assess actual data relative to how visitors are engaging with our customers sites, below are some image guidelines weve identified for a few of the more common service-oriented markets our clients operate within...



Aside from headshots or professional images of each attorney in your firm, people who need an attorney arent interested in pictures. Their primary concern is your track record of success representing clients with similar issues.


INDUSTRY: Builder, Carpentry, Construction, Remodeling, Landscaping


Prospects want to know what youre capable of and that you can deliver finished work that is high-quality. As a result, showcasing pictures of your work is essential to establishing a certain level of trust with someone whos never worked with you before. However, you dont need to showcase a million pictures of everything youve done. Most visitors will only need to see 3-5 pictures of approximately 5 different projects (15-25 images total) youve completed for other clients in order to get a strong impression that you do great work.

If you want to show off more projects youve done, you can then leverage additional resources like Pinterest, Instagram and/or Houzz to share additional examples. This can actually work more to your advantage, as most people in the top of the sales funnel (those who are simply looking for ideas and inspiration) use platforms like this before narrowing in on who they want to work with.


INDUSTRY: Dental, Cosmetic Surgery


It should be no surprise that any healthcare and/or medical discipline that exists to maintain and/or improve a persons physical appearance should include images as examples of what you can do. However, it doesnt take a gallery of 100+ photos to convey that you produce great results! Again, most people only need 3-5 examples of a given procedure to recognize the quality of your work.


INDUSTRY: Electrical, HVAC, Plumbing


Aside from headshots or professional images of your team, people who need a service specialist arent interested in pictures. Their primary concern is whether you can do the job and/or perform the repair they need you to perform, and whether they can trust you to be on-time and not overcharge them. In short, prospects searching for a reputable trade professional are often more concerned with the number of reviews you have and what they say about working with you than any pictures you may share.




Roofing is often a tricky industry to determine whether an image gallery is really necessary. However, when you put yourself in your customers shoes, you understand that having a certain type and number of images is important.

When it comes to repairs, for example, being able to showcase a few before/after images can really help to establish trust and confidence that you deliver great work. At the same time, replacing an entire roof is NOT cheap, so prospects can benefit from seeing additional before/after examples of your work.

While a roof is largely functional, it also makes up a huge part of the visual attraction of any home. That being said, having great photos that demonstrate just how much of a visual improvement a new roof can make will go a long way in building trust and confidence in someone who is about to make a major investment. But again, most people dont need more than 3-5 photos of 3-5 different projects (9-25 photos total) to see that they can trust you with their home.


INDUSTRY: Industrial Services, Manufacturing


Whether your company provides industrial cleaning services, repairs complex robotics, or manufactures equipment used in other manufacturing processes, pictures are key to communicating what you do and why your services and/or products are superior to your competition. However, as with many of the industries listed above, you dont need to showcase every picture of every project youve ever done.

The key here is showcasing just enough visuals to help visitors to your site recognize that youre a reputable resource they can trust. As it applies to Industrial Services, youll likely only need a handful of examples to convey your skills and attention to detail. However, businesses that manufacture equipment used in other manufacturing processes will likely need to showcase 2-4 images of each product they build. Again, the key here is showcasing just enough for a business owner and/or plant manager to see that your product is the right fit for their respective business.

At the End of the Day...

DON'T neglect the rest of your site

DON'T overload the gallery

DON'T use more than one slideshow gallery per page

So as it applies to the original topic of discussion, "How many images is too many?", there is no hard rule or specific number of images any one of us can say is the perfect amount. The real takeaway here is understanding that there is an art to showcasing images within a website and finding the best balance of images and information to support what your prospects are looking for so they feel compelled to contact you and not your competitors.

Interested in learning more about the many ways HLM can help you improve the visibility and user experience of your companys website?

Let's Talk About Your Business!

Wed love to help!