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Marketing Strategies

9 best web design agencies for small to medium business websites



We know that selecting a partner for your website redesign or maintenance is no easy task.

You are putting your brand in the hands of someone else, and you need to know they can be trusted; that they are the right fit for you.

We are often asked to share information about who we consider other great web design agencies.

While we love to work with companies on their website, we also recognize that we may not always be the best partner for every potential client.

We have a few friends in the industry that we often refer work to and trust to keep those referrals happy.

If you are looking to compare different potential providers for designing a new website for your small to medium-sized business, make sure you take a look at the players on this list.

Our goal is to help you find the best-fit partner for you as you embark upon your web redesign journey.

1. Media Junction

Media Junction is a great fit for small- to medium-sized website project budgets. They work on both the HubSpot CMS as well as WordPress, and even work with clients on small projects that might not be a full redesign.

The agency prides itself on being a diverse group of passionate visionaries, techies, nerds, and forward-thinkers who love what they do. They believe that a beautiful website is purposeful — it understands user goals, speaks in their voice, and works flawlessly on any device. They have a strong focus on creating a unique process for each client, rather than following a single process across the board.

2. Web Canopy Studio


Web Canopy Studio is a design-forward firm that focuses primarily on the HubSpot CMS, and even has built some templates which are available for purchase in the HubSpot Marketplace.

As a company, the agency believes they must always set the bar, not simply try to reach it. They embrace the creative and out-of-the-box, and aren’t afraid to try new things. Their team focuses strongly on user experience (UX) and improving user satisfaction through utility, ease of use, and interaction with your website.

3. Digital Surgeons


Digital Surgeons is a website and application design firm based out of New York and Connecticut. As one of our neighbors in our current HQ office space, we know the team and their work quite well.

The company prides itself on being a digital demand consultancy that exists to drive brands, businesses, and their teams forward. They create unique and award-winning website experiences by partnering with organizations who share their passion and work with them to make their ideas a reality.

4. Mindtrust


Mindtrust is a firm that boasts a huge network of high-end freelancers and specialists for those truly specific requests. They are a great fit for really specific functionality requests that need to be custom-developed.

Because they work on such specialized projects, for each client they tap into their consortium of the world’s top analysts, creative directors, technologists, marketers, project managers, designers, and developers to assemble an all-star team. They believe in crafting a custom process for each project and producing top quality work.

5. LyntonWeb


LyntonWeb specializes in building complex integrations between HubSpot and other platforms. They are a great fit if you are looking to build a specific integration to power your website.

As an agency whose team consists of HubSpot professional developers and designers with decades of experience, they are ready to help you build or integrate with various other platforms you might need. The team at Lynton focuses on building websites that attract, nurture, and convert leads.

6. Element Three


Element Three is a full-service agency that builds websites as part of a larger piece of your marketing pie. They specialize in branding and are a great fit if you are looking at updating your overall brand along with your website.

As a firm, they believe in taking a holistic approach. They consider who your audience is, what your business is trying to achieve, and how they can take your brand to the next level through seamless digital experiences for your users. For Element Three, it’s all about fulfilling the dozens of competing objectives you want your site to achieve and then providing your users with a smooth, captivating experience.

7. Digital Retail Partners


Digital Retail Partners specializes in creating cohesive brand experiences and is specifically a great fit if you are looking to create a Shopify e-commerce website.

The team is specifically built to provide clients a diverse design and marketing skillset. They have been designing highly visible marketing campaigns and design programs for clients within the fashion and lifestyle industry for over a decade, with a specialization in helping retailers and brands transition to e-commerce and launch digital destinations.

8. Socially Savvy Studio


For small WordPress websites on a budget, Socially Savvy Studio is a great choice.

They specialize in creating websites on smaller budgets and specifically look for how you can integrate your website with your social media presence. Founder Jess Nana is passionate about taking the frustrations out of marketing so that business owners can get back to building their business and growing their dreams.

9. Sydcon


Sydcon is a custom development firm based in Chicago. They specialize in building custom e-commerce websites for companies that need something more than “out of the box” e-commerce platforms.

If you are finding yourself struggling with any of these factors that may signal you need a custom e-commerce solution — and Sydcon may be a great fit:

  • Highly unique or custom-built products
  • Increased security requirements
  • Inventory management or automation
  • Specialized promotion rules or discounts

Sydcon’s philosophy is to work hand-in-hand with business leaders to determine the best custom software solutions to fit their needs. They believe in a collaborative approach to creating custom solutions and help partners articulate their vision.

Final thoughts

So, here are nine companies to consider if you’re thinking about building a website for your SMB.

As you embark upon your journey, you may also want to take a look at some of these great resources: 

Finally, we thought you’d like to know a little about our process for approaching website redesigns, should you be comparing different firms. And, if you do feel like we are the right fit for you after learning about our process, we’d love to chat!

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Marketing Strategies

FTC takes action against false reviews, but how many more are out there?



When it comes to e-commerce, online reviews can make or break a sale — and make or break a business. According to the e-commerce consulting firm Pattern, when a product rating goes up by one star on Amazon, the sales increase by 26%, proving how incredibly powerful reviews are.

One thing that is becoming a major issue is the number of fake reviews that are added to help promote products on most major online retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and more. With so many fake reviews, it can be extremely hard for consumers to tell which reviews are genuine, making it a difficult issue for the Federal Trade Commission to regulate.

Why are we talking about this now?

This issue has come into the light again due to the recent settlement with Sunday Riley Skincare, a cosmetics company. The FTC has alleged that between November 2015 and April 2018, company employees were posting reviews of the company’s products on Sephora using fake accounts. The company’s chief executive, Sunday Riley, also encouraged employees to create fake accounts to dislike negative reviews in an effort the get them removed.

Even with the recent settlement with Sunday Riley Skincare, Sephora still has the company’s products on its website. In an email to the New York Times, Sephora says “they do not believe the actions at Sunday Riley are representative of our brands or the countless hours our clients have spent sharing their authentic product experiences with us.”

What the company has done is removed certain reviews for Sunday Riley that seemed suspicious, including reviews that were left the same day the account was created.

Sunday Riley isn’t the only company that’s being called out for posting fake reviews. Lifestyle Lift, a cosmetic surgery company was also caught by the FTC for having employees post fake reviews. Other companies like VIP Deals and Legacy Learning Systems have been fined for paying people to leave positive reviews.

The punishment should fit the crime

Sunday Riley will face civil penalties if it’s caught creating fake reviews again, but for now, the company will not have to pay any fines since it’s difficult for officials to tell how many sales were driven by the fake reviews.

With the punishment being far from severe, it’s easy for other companies to look at this example and think, why shouldn’t we do that — especially if it will increase sales and is difficult to punish?

Luckily for consumers and for businesses that follow ethical business practices, there are some companies like Fakespot, which help detect fake or paid-for reviews. They work with companies like Amazon, Sephora, and Best Buy to make sure that consumers are seeing authentic reviews on their sites, but it’s hard to remove every single suspicious review.

Amazon is also taking its own steps to stop fake reviews from being posted by making its community guidelines a bit tougher, including changing its terms to not allow incentivized reviews unless they come from Amazon’s Vine Program.

Amazon’s steps to stop fake reviews may help, but companies are still finding ways to get around the stricter community guidelines without Amazon knowing, like offering refunds via PayPal, mailing something a couple of weeks later, or offering a gift card for a review.

With companies going behind its back, it’s hard for Amazon to get a complete handle on the situation without help from the FTC, who also struggles to stay on top of the fake review epidemic.

If you’re in the e-commerce space, it’s important to remember that trust and authenticity are key for strong business practices, and when you have trust built with your prospects and customers you‘ll be able to maintain strong sales.

Having steady revenue rather than small boosts in sales from false advertising will amount to more overall profit for your company.

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Marketing Strategies

The Local Algorithm: Relevance, Proximity, and Prominence



Posted by MaryBowling

How does Google decide what goes into the local pack? It doesn’t have to be a black box — there’s logic behind the order. In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, renowned local SEO expert Mary Bowling lays out the three factors that drive Google’s local algorithm and local rankings in a simple and concise way anyone can understand.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hi, Moz fans. This is Mary Bowling from Ignitor Digital, and today I want to talk to you about the local algorithm. I’d like to make this as simple as possible for people to understand, because I think it’s a very confusing thing for a lot of SEOs who don’t do this every day.

The local algorithm has always been based on relevance, prominence, and proximity

1. Relevance

For relevance, what the algorithm is asking is, “Does this business do or sell or have the attributes that the searcher is looking for?” That’s pretty simple. So that gives us all these businesses over here that might be relevant. For prominence, the algorithm is asking, “Which businesses are the most popular and the most well regarded in their local market area?”

2. Proximity

For proximity, the question really is, “Is the business close enough to the searcher to be considered to be a good answer for this query?” This is what trips people up. This is what really defines the local algorithm — proximity. So I’m going to try to explain that in very simple terms here today.

Let’s say we have a searcher in a particular location, and she’s really hungry today and she wants some egg rolls. So her query is egg rolls. If she were to ask for egg rolls near me, these businesses are the ones that the algorithm would favor.

3. Prominence

They are the closest to her, and Google would rank them most likely by their prominence. If she were to ask for something in a particular place, let’s say this is a downtown area and she asked for egg rolls downtown because she didn’t want to be away from work too long, then the algorithm is actually going to favor the businesses that sell egg rolls in the downtown area even though that’s further away from where the searcher is.

If she were to ask for egg rolls open now, there might be a business here and a business here and a business here that are open now, and they would be the ones that the algorithm would consider. So relevance is kicking in on the query. If she were to ask for the cheapest egg rolls, that might be here and here.

If she were to ask for the best egg rolls, that might be very, very far away, or it could be a combination of all kinds of locations. So you really need to think of proximity as a fluid thing. It’s like a rubber band, and depending on… 

  • the query
  • the searcher’s location
  • the relevance to the query
  • and the prominence of the business 

….is what Google is going to show in that local pack.

I hope that makes it much clearer to those of you who haven’t understood the Local Algorithm. If you have some comments or suggestions, please make them below and thanks for listening.

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Marketing Strategies

The Plain-English Guide to Semantic Search in 2020



Like many kids, when I was younger, I used to spend Christmas Eve eagerly awaiting the morning when I’d run downstairs and see a mountain of presents to unwrap.

I imagine search engine optimizers feel the same way when the news hits of a new Google algorithm update.

While Google makes updates every day — an average of almost 9 per day — most of these are minor updates. Occasionally, Google will roll out a major update like RankBrain or Hummingbird.

One feature that Google has been working on in its algorithm updates is the use of semantic search, which is how Google contextually understands a user’s question.

As a marketer, understanding these updates is important in order to rank higher on search engines. New updates usually mean you’ll need to come up with new strategies for your blog and messaging.

Below, we’ll review what semantic search is, how it works, and how it impacts you as a digital marketer.

For example, this is how search engines know if you’re looking up Apple the company as opposed to Apple the fruit. It creates a better user experience and weeds out low-quality content using black hat SEO methods, like keyword stuffing.

So, how does it work?

With LSI, the search engine will analyze how data sets relate to each other. Essentially, search engines match the concept and synonyms and interpret natural language to understand the context of a search and deliver personalized results.

For instance, in the example below, Google understands what the related searches are for “Gilmore Girls.” It knows that if I’m searching for “Gilmore Girls,” I might be interested in looking up the cast, the new Netflix series, or the theme song. This is semantic search in action.

Search engines will analyze related topics including people, places, things, concepts, or ideas. In the example below, when I searched for “Emma Stone,” it pulled up related news stories, her social media, a short biography, movies she’s done, and previous castmates. Anything that could provide value or be of use to me is readily available on the first results page.

Semantic search for Emma Stone shows related interests.

How Does Semantic Search Impact SEO?

Semantic search impacts anyone working in search engine optimization. For example, your SEO strategies will be molded by this algorithm.

To see if a piece is optimized for semantic search, you’ll want to answer questions like:

  • Is your copy optimized for voice search?
  • Is it conversational?
  • Do you include synonyms of the topic?
  • Does your copy expand on related topics that might be of interest to the user?
  • Does your copy answer your audience’s questions directly?

These become important questions because search engines are looking for these elements to decide where you rank on the results page.

So, how can you optimize your copy to rank higher on search engines?

1. Understand user intent.

When you do your keyword research, try to understand why a user is searching for something. What are they really asking? Before you write any content, you need to understand what your user really wants to know.

2. Provide value.

Ultimately, your content should provide value for your audience. You can forget about all the on-page and off-page SEO tactics, if your content isn’t valuable. It won’t mean anything if people don’t want to read it. With new algorithms and updates, Google can tell if your content provides value.

3. Answer user questions directly.

Once you’ve brainstormed a topic to write about and done your keyword research, look up commonly asked questions that are associated with your topic. Then, answer those questions succinctly and directly. This will help you show up in those featured snippet boxes. Plus, answering your reader’s questions is valuable to them and takes user intent into consideration.

4. Use colloquial language.

When you’re writing a blog post, be sure to use natural language and include synonyms and related content. This helps users understand your content and makes it easy to read. Additionally, natural language is an excellent way to optimize for voice search. With the rise of voice search, people are asking long-form questions in a conversational manner. Plus, this will help avoid keyword stuffing.

5. Build credibility and authority.

Lastly, you always want to build your credibility and authority. The higher your authority, the higher you’ll rank. To build credibility, work on creating a brand, writing blog posts, being active on social media, and providing value to your audience.

Overall, semantic search helps search engines provide personalized search results and a better user experience. Want to learn more about SEO? Click here for our ultimate guide.

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