When I think of Allentown, I’m often reminded of a song from Billy Joel from my childhood: “Living Here in Allentown”. It pictured the plight of the many of my parent’s generation who lived through the deindustrialization of the economy that hit Allentown as well as where I grew up, Pittsburgh.
Like Pittsburgh, the Allentown of today is much different than the Allentown of the late 20th Century. Allentown is experiencing a revival based on health care, transportation, and some high tech.
Bridgeworks, supported by the Allentown Economic Development Corporation, has played a role in this transition by helping support start-ups and new ventures with incubator support. Lehigh University has also played an integral role in helping fuel Bridgeworks with new ideas.
There has been a lot of new development in the downtown area and around the Lehigh river, which was spurred by state funding. Allentown is gentrifying, and like all other post industrial gentrifying regions, businesses face a unique challenge of choosing between the old and new or trying to support both.
The marketing challenges in Allentown are more about differentiation and awareness. An amazing website, when used effectively, can help either one.
For a web design to be successful, it needs to be fast & responsive to do well on mobile, and intuitive so users find what they need quickly.
I remember as a kid the five second rule. If food fell on the floor, it was still ok to eat it if was on the ground for less than five seconds.
Turns out that germs are more forgiving than mobile users. There is not broad agreement, but it seems they follow the under three second rule.
If a page takes over 3 seconds to load, mobile users bounce as the Pingdom chart below suggests.
SEMRush gauges page speed using a 1 second rule. I would argue they are closer. My personal experience suggests that the widow has continued to narrow.
Search engines grade your speed as part of your ranking. Therefore, page speed is an important factor in search engine optimization.
The root cause of most speed issues is the content management system (CMS) that you choose for your website.
In plain English, these are programs such as WordPress and Wix. These programs have three parts.
The browser has to fetch the data and the full theme in order to render the page. After the browser parses the content, it has to sort through all of the themes features to see which to use. This causes delays in loading, which is typically called render blocking CCS.
With all these disadvantages, you might ask why someone would choose a CMS. A CMS is user friendly. They are faster to build, easier to maintain, and simpler to update. You do not need to understand coding or even basic HTML or CSS commands to get great looking results.
The key issue with the theme. Every theme carries a set of instructions called cascading style sheets (CSS), which tell the browser how the page should look. It will load your content onto the screen following these instructions.
According to Best Designs, original graphics are the most successful.
“Original graphics make up 40% of all successful visual content that accomplishes marketing goals, but 43% of marketers struggle with the consistent production of captivating visuals.”
Since we are communicating one message, the artwork that supports it must work very hard to support the message. This is where local market know-how can really help. Original photos and images of your business in Allentown interacting with your neighborhood can add value.
It also helps with when your calls to action focus on local events in and around Allentown or at your business location.
Every email, no matter how trivial, should have a call to action. This is where all the hard work above pays off. If we omit one, we just wasted resources that could have been spent more cost effectively.
We cover email list building in great detail in our post on small business email marketing. Again, we will just hit the highlights here as it pertains to Allentown. Every neighborhood has summer fairs. While these were severely impacted by COVID, in our post COVID world they should roar back with a vengeance. It would be smart to see if you could piggy-back off one or more of them.
Incentives, deals, free trials, and samples are all great options when developing your calls to action. See if you can partner with your neighbors to create a shared promotion. This way one shopper in Allentown has two or more places to visit while out in the neighborhood.
The marketing challenges in Allentown are more about differentiation and awareness. Local digital marketing, when used effectively, can help either one.
If your developer helps you set up your tracking codes and other third party integrations, then you can minimize any issues those create.
The beauty of a custom build is there is no trade-off between speed and quality. When you factor in the lost revenue from bounces and poor conversion that a slower site creates, the investment generally pays for itself.
It does not matter that much which theme you choose. All will need some modification to be to pull you out of the 20-40s on Google Page Speed Insights.
There are three common options.
Users expect the same level of user experience (UX) regardless of device. This is simply the bare minimum of performance.
Custom builds are generally designed for mobile first. They are first designed to work on mobile, then scaled for desktop, not the other way around.
There are several very good themes across CMS providers that can provide a seamless UX experience. However, they require some quality control.
These are not generally built mobile first. Therefore the first issue is image sizing. If you let the theme do it, it can cost you on performance. Therefore, you will want to be mindful of these pitfalls if you go this route.
The key challenge with any design is that it is so easy to lost in the visual and aesthetics that we lose track of why people come to a site.
Fundamentally, a website is a communication tool. If we lose sight of this purpose, the performance in terms of dwell time, bounce, or conversion will suffer.
In fact, when users were asked what they valued most in a website they chose finding information by a 7 to 1 margin.
A separate report showed 60% users left because they could find what they needed.
For a great web design, it should excel in three key areas.
If you're thinking about finding help in Allentown for your small business, here are the things to keep in mind.
Aside from all the general tips above, here are some specific actions you can take based on the three key elements of local search algorithms:
All of this assumes that you have completed your keyword research and developed your keyword list. If you have not, this section will be more effective once you do. Please see our previous post on digital marketing in Allentown and then come back.
Go through your keywords list and select those which are good descriptors of your business. If it were me, I would use something like “digital marketing agency”, “seo services”, for example. Then make a list of the neighborhoods you service, for example “seo services Lehigh Valley”.
Now comes the harder part, that is frankly a bit tedious. For each combination, see if you can create a somewhat unique post that’s 500-1000 words for that keyword. For us, it is a post like this. I try to write a post that helps my potential clients learn something or do something they didn’t know they could.
Now, this is the good part. If you do write quality posts for these keywords, you will be raising your prominence. Google knows that all these neighborhoods are in or near Allentown. So, for each good post you write, you help raise your prominence on a given topic in a given location.
Prominence is also helped by the basic techniques I mentioned earlier, such as being a part of local business groups, e.g. the Allentown Economic Development Corporation or Lehigh University. Any local listing helps.
This is why I like the blog technique because it hits all three key areas. If your keyword is a descriptor of what you do and the neighborhood is one you serve, it is highly likely that you will score points on relevance.
Finding the right SEO for your small business in a neighborhood like Allentown can be a crucial way to get your company noticed online.