How Is Your Firm Impacted – Mobile and Tablet Usage Surpassed Desktop Usage in October 2016

Did the sky just fall on your old, non-responsive website?

Making the rounds this past week was the announcement from StatCounter Global Stats that for the first time, mobile and tablet usage combined to exceed website usage on desktops/laptops. That is “kind of a big deal.” DEFINITELY. But, before you start scrambling and thinking that your website is trash and needs to be completely redesigned to only be optimal for pocket-sized viewing, here are five things to remember.

  1. This data takes into account broad website usage all across the web, all across the globe. As their data shows, usage in the USA is very different from usage in India. The most important factor in website design is knowing your user/target audience.
  2. Remember the type of information your website is traveled for. The vast majority of architecture firm websites see about 3 pages visited per user, unless they are heavy content producers with active blogs. What are your top pieces of content, and why? Are they pieces of content easily digestible on a small screen? If not, you may not only want to focus on responsive design, but also examine your content practices.
  3. Social media is a large traffic driver and makes up for a significant portion of mobile traffic.In fact, for 90% of our clients, social media is their top referral traffic source. In addition to brushing up your website, be sure your social media accounts are active and focused on driving people to your best content.
  4. View this data through the lens of our industry. It is true that mobile is increasingly important, but are people spending twenty minutes at a time viewing your architecture firm’s portfolio on their iphone? Likely not. If you are prioritizing your mobile and tablet layout, take into account the likely reason that someone would visit your site on their phone. Need some reinforcement for your assumptions? Check your Google Analytics for top pages with an added filter to see which ones are the top mobile performers.
  5. Give a high priority to a well-organized homepage. There is a lot to be said for a beautiful first impression, but remember that your homepage needs to be more than a pretty splash page for a number of reasons – SEO and user experience being two of them. Bring at least a little bit of content on to your homepage that may be useful to a mobile user like contact info or the latest blog posts so they won’t have to sift through expandable menus so much.

 

Top Five Myths about SEO in the A/E Industry

Long ago, SEO had a mystique. It was new and technical and allowed anybody to take the lead in search results. It sometimes even led to deceptive practices like hidden keywords in the background or in the footer of your web pages. My how times have changed though, and having an optimized website isn’t about chunking a bunch of metadata into your source code any longer. Search engines are smarter and our understanding of SEO has evolved, especially for service firms like those of us in the A/E industry. In order to help clear up some confusion, we pulled together a Top Five Myths about SEO in the A/E Industry for you!

Myth 1 – SEO can be done in a bubble

It can’t, not well anyway. Search Engine Optimization has ties to almost every major question at the foundation of your business and marketing plan when it’s done properly. In order for it to be successful for any sustainable amount of time, there has to be a strategy behind it and that strategy has to rely on other marketing efforts, social media and valuable content. That’s why when firms ask us if we do SEO, our answer is typically a bit complicated.

Myth 2 – SEO requires no effort from staff

This is a great follow up to the point above. Often firms hire an SEO company thinking, “All I want is to be at the top when somebody Googles best architecture firm. Done, send me the bill.” Firm leadership later gets frustrated to find out it isn’t that simple and realistically, that’s not even what they need. At a minimum, significant time should be invested up front to determine what terms are even relevant for the firm. Beyond that, however, the to-do list for firm principals, subject matter experts and marketing staff could continue to grow because if you multiply any number by zero, you still get zero. You can’t optimize what doesn’t exist, so firms with small websites and very little content will always struggle to outperform others who invest time in writing.

Myth 3 – SEO is a silver bullet

Many firms contact us with the hopes that if they achieve the Holy Grail of SEO status – First organic result on Google – that their work is done and the leads will just roll in. Unfortunately, neither of those is true. The work is not done, because rankings change every day. Leads also don’t just roll in because of your Google ranking; potential clients have to find what they’re looking for after they click through to take the next step.

Myth 4 – SEO winning = First place

Who doesn’t want to be number one? But we’re not talking about “also ran” or participation trophies. Increased traffic, improved awareness and eventual conversions are the ACTUAL goals behind any SEO effort. Seeing your A/E firm show up in the number one spot may feel great, but looking at analytics and monitoring your traffic are the only way to know if your efforts are successful. And then what? Increased traffic doesn’t equal a new contract for your firm unless you convert – which isn’t about SEO, it’s about marketing and BD.

Myth 5 – SEO firms are a rip-off

I’ve honestly lost count of how many clients and potential clients have called us to say they paid an SEO firm for nothing, zero results. This post may sound a little anti-SEO, but that’s not at all the intention. The point is, you wouldn’t take your car to the shop to get the brakes fixed then be upset with the mechanic for not putting gas in your car every week or two afterwards. Search Engine Optimization is a task you can take care of on your own or pay for (one-time fee or ongoing retainer), but it should only be one portion of your architecture firm’s marketing strategy and without putting a little gas in the tank yourself, your car is only going to get so far.

Using Google’s Keyword Planner to Better Understand SEO

We’re excited to announce the first in our new series of brief video tips for architects and engineers. We’re looking forward to posting a number of short, helpful videos highlighting online tools and tricks that can help firms improve their marketing, online presence and SEO.

Today’s video is focused on understanding a little more about what it means to optimize your site for searches based on looking at the what people are actually searching for! We are taking a look at Google’s Keyword Planner tool and highlighting how simple word choice changes make big impacts on search results and your architecture firm’s SEO strategy! Have questions? Leave them in the comments and we’ll address them or post more videos!

Five Architecture Marketing Trends that Won’t Change in 2015

It’s a new year and that means it’s time for content creators all across the world wide web to forecast what the new trends and expectations will be for the architecture and design world! If you haven’t seen all of the posts, here’s one, here’s another on construction growth, here’s a color forecast, and well…here’s one about chunky knitting in interiors.

What does that mean for us? Will it be more of the same in 2015 or a brave new world? We decided to create a post about trends in architecture marketing also – but not in a “we’re predicting the future” kind of way. So, here are:

Five Architecture Marketing Trends that Won’t Change in 2015

  1. Your Marketing Will Require Time from Senior/Billable People
    Marketing for your firm can’t sit on cruise control and it can’t rest solely on the shoulders of ‘others’. Regardless of the size of your firm, effective marketing for architecture and engineering firms requires the involvement of senior team members with technical or design background. This is because marketing in 2015, just like in 2014, is not about a catchy headline and pretty picture, nor does it rely on proposals – it must come from authentic knowledge and expertise that is then packaged, presented and disseminated to a particular client-type.
  2. Chasing Funding Will Leave You Out of Breath
    This is a tough point to argue for many senior professionals. However, if the last few years of industry activity have told us (and our clients) anything, it has been that building a focused marketing platform on the basis of your expertise, your passion and your strategic goals is much more successful than chasing market trends and budget projections. The same will be true moving forward. This is not to say you should ignore market forecasts, but chasing a big budget all the way to a client that you’ve never talked to before is rarely effective.
  3. Data Is STILL Important
    Marketing decisions can no longer be made based on what used to happen or what we THINK used to happen. Perhaps one of the best things about marketing in 2014 was that the data got even better! SEO is more accurate and authentic than ever before. Increased online efforts mean increased metrics of everything. Advertising can be purchased for $20 and we can be sure that it’s seen by 1,000 people before we spend the next $20. Views, visits, followers, downloads, leads…pretty much everything we do can be tracked as we kick off 2015. The challenge moving forward for architecture and engineering firms is to continue to refine the data and make the connections between data sets more sophisticated.
  4. So Is Your Website
    We can’t talk about marketing, we can’t talk about data, we can’t talk about getting press, we can’t talk about referrals…without talking about your website. In 2014 we finally started to see a drop-off in firms and new clients saying, “We’re embarrassed by our website. It’s something we put together ten years ago just as a placeholder and it’s been limping along ever since.” The same will be true this year. Your website is crucial and DOES in fact lead to new business, help close the deal with referrals and much, much more. 2015 will continue to be more of the same – clients will use the web to inform their buying decisions.
  5. Competition Will Continue to Increase
    …but not really. Firms are trending smaller and a large number of professionals started their own firms/design businesses over the last five to ten years (for a variety of reasons – layoffs, lack of career advancement, design control). This trend will stick around in 2015. However, there are a few factors that make the increased number of firms irrelevant when it comes to your firm winning work. First, the more focused you are on the appropriate target market, the more clear the buying decision will be for your clients. Your messaging, your marketing, your portfolio and your SEO will all eliminate a majority of the clutter from being seen as legitimate competition if they’re all done in concert. Additionally, what we’ve seen in many of the new firms is a break from the traditional “architecture-only” service model. A lot of new architecture firms aren’t necessarily practicing architecture at all, but are looking to apply their expertise as consultants, property investors, industrial designers, etc. This means the concept of who is and is not a competitor has been completely reframed within the industry.

So what will it be for your firm in 2015? How will your marketing improve given the ever-changing landscape of the rest of the industry?