Saturday, March 28, 2015

Three Reasons Leaders Can’t Keep an Open Mind

 

Image courtesy of (Ambro) / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
 

Let’s face facts, many individuals in corporate leadership positions have created the illusion for themselves that their ideas alone are the best and their word on every subject within their sphere of influence is final, no matter what — even though evidence to the contrary can be staring them right in the face, and/or other people could be shouting the truth at them all day long. But in their minds it doesn’t matter. They will do what they want, no matter what, because they are the boss and, to their line of thinking, that makes them automatically correct. Every professional in business today
(regardless of industry) has at least one story of an encounter with a peer, manager, or executive that behaved this way, and many professionals unfortunately face this situation on a daily basis.
That brings us to what is one of the most important, yet difficult to achieve, aspects of management and leadership in general — keeping an open mind. Unfortunately, this concept is utterly disregarded by many individuals in leadership positions throughout the corporate world today.

The reasons for this disregard can be somewhat varied, so let’s take a look at a few of the major points that feed this issue:

The Quest for Glory
All people in the workforce want to have shining moments in their careers, times where they achieved greatness. However, during the pursuit, many individuals put their blinders on, get caught up in the chase, and only see what their contributions can bring to table, pushing everyone else aside so they themselves can take center stage.

In the corporate world’s current climate of the “me, me, only me” mentality, facing the fact that they do not have all the best answers or solutions is very disconcerting for the person involved — it shatters the illusion of self-perfection that they have built up within their own mind. So, in order to avoid facing that reality, they live in absolute denial of the truth, causing everyone around them to suffer for their delusions.

Power Corrupts
As the old adage goes – it’s very easy for the power of leadership to go to a person’s head – however, that can only occur if it is allowed to happen. So, when professionals have their egos in check, this trap can be avoided.

How? Well, in order to achieve this, a conscious choice must be made to ensure they really listen and contemplate other possibilities when they are presented. True leaders must continuously bear in mind that just because they are in a management position does not mean that they always have the best ideas or solutions. Learning early on that swallowing the pride and being open to new perspectives allows professionals to broaden not only their own horizons, but that of their respective companies as well.

Those that master and maintain this perspective will ultimately become very formidable individuals, not only in business, but in life as well.

The Fear of Inadequacy
Another major reason many individuals in leadership positions have difficulty keeping an open mind is, quite simply, fear. This fear manifests itself in the mind so that when managers/leaders feel that if they do not present the best ideas and solutions at all times; it will make them appear weak or incompetent to their departments, peers and upper management.

However, the reverse is actually true. By being a tyrant and closing their minds to other possibilities, it makes the leader in question appear, rigid, unyielding, and unapproachable. That perspective then has a domino effect which spreads like wildfire among other members of the organization. People will begin to avoid the manager in question at all costs, and/or keep themselves at arm’s-length in every encounter to minimize contact. Not a very productive scenario at all.

Every person in business should work to ensure that this fear does not control their thought processes
.
Maintaining Perspective
In summary, all business professionals should strive to be open to suggestions from their peers, team members, and subordinates. Keep the ego in check by facing the fact that no one person can know it all, no matter what level their position is within the hierarchy.

When good, viable options are presented by others, be sincerely grateful for the input and tell those individual(s) who presented the options that they are appreciated. That action will demonstrate to the other members of the organization that their perspectives matter, which has an extremely positive effect overall.

This in turn will also go a long way toward expanding a person’s own opportunities for growth and advancement, not to mention that it will place a professional on the path of true leadership, and help avoid the self-destruction of egocentric behavior.


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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Share the Wealth: Equity Crowdfunding

 If you've ever wanted to buy a piece of a private business that holds golden promise, or sell off some of yours, your wish may be getting closer. The equity crowdfunding bandwagon is rolling. Slowly. And only state-by-state. New Jersey recently became the latest to approve legislation designed to give start-ups and emerging small business owners more access to private capital through the investing public.

Equity crowdfunding allows businesses to sell a portion of their business on the Internet, however, the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) has stringent rules that require investors to be accredited, meaning they must have a net worth of more than $1 million or annual income greater than $200,000 in the last two years.

Since the business world has been waiting for rules that will allow them to sell equity in their business to the general public, New Jersey (and other states) are jumping ahead of Title III of the Jobs Act, which was signed into law nearly three years ago, to allow residents to solicit up to $1 million in private investment from unaccredited investors. Think of it as an online version of Shark Tank (the venture capital TV show), but everybody can play.


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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How To Generate More Leads with LinkedIn

Think Strategy Not Tactics to Generate More Leads with LinkedIn

 
LinkedIn

Strategy is the biggest difference between a B2B sales and marketing team that drives demand and enjoys consistent sales leads and revenue opportunities and one that just has a presence and lots of connections that they are not engaged with.

I’m sorry to say, but most sales and marketing leaders on LinkedIn do not have a strategy. They have a shopping list of tactics that need to be completed. But, there’s no cohesive strategy.
There’s no thought behind the connections they’re making. There’s no thought on what happens after that connection is made — how are they’re going to turn that prospect into a client? There’s no thought about the content they’re posting and how it’s going to position them (if they did, they wouldn’t be posting reminders on the LinkedIn content platform that do not differentiate them). There’s no thought about the discussions they’re creating and how they’re going to get prospects to move from the discussions to their blog to learn more. And, there’s no thought about what happens next once they get prospects to their blog. There is no strategy for integrating LinkedIn into their everyday sales and marketing activities and programs.

The Strategies Sales and Marketing Leaders Need to Think About When Engaging on LinkedIn

1. Your Social Media Presence Strategy
Look at your LinkedIn profile. Did you really take a strategic approach to creating your LinkedIn profile? I bet you your profile is not a case study driven marketing tool and that it’s simply a cover letter and resume that talks about your sales achievements (which only shows that you care about making the sale instead of providing value and building a real relationship). I bet you that you’re not speaking to different targeted audiences with different needs and showing your value to them. It’s because you took a tactical approach rather than a strategic approach.

If you treat your profile as a cover letter and resume, you’re missing a prime lead generation opportunity. Brynne Tillman from Social Sales Link points out that prospects don’t care about what you’ve done—they want to know how you can help them. To convey your worth, find out what kind of value your prospects are looking for and optimize your LinkedIn profile to woo them.

2. Your Thought Leadership Strategy
Many sales and marketing professionals are using LinkedIn groups as a newsfeed for their blog posts that are mostly reminders. They’re just using the LinkedIn publishing platform as another place to put their blog posts. So they’re just pushing out content instead of having a strategy to use content to pull prospects in. You need to plan out what type of content you can provide that will have decision makers thinking twice about the approaches they’re taking. You have to think about the discussions that you can create that makes you stand out as a thought leader. You have to think about whether the content inspires prospects to want to take further action and if the content is relevant, and who is it really relevant for.

3. An Intelligent Prospecting Strategy
Take a good look at your connections and see how many of them are “long shot hopefuls” that can possibly introduce you to so and so. If you’re like many sales and marketing leaders that we have helped, then most of your connections are irrelevant to your business because you were focused on quantity instead of quality. You’re taking a scattershot approach hoping that someone can help you instead of focusing your time and energy on the key decision makers and influencers that can positively affect your bottom line. Your intelligent prospecting strategy should be defining who your main and secondary prospects and influencers are and a strategy to get them to open their closed doors – and keep them open.

4 . Community Building and Engagement Strategy
It’s not about how many connections you make or followers you have on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. It’s about how many people you reach and engage. The best way to engage is to create a social media community. Inside my LinkedIn group, Get Help with Linked Strategies, I’m interacting with 400-plus sales and marketing leaders through regular content and discussions. One of my technology company clients has a community of more than 900 decision makers from companies like Walgreens, Dannon, Target, Walt Disney Store, Pfizer and many others.

Remember, B2B buyers are looking for quick access to trusted experts and relevant content that helps them with their business issues. Your custom, niche LinkedIn community is the perfect way to give your buyers what they are looking for. Because my client with the 900-plus group members was giving their buyers what they want, they received more RFPs.

So you need a strategy for how you’re going to build your community and how you’re going to keep prospects active in your community so you can build a relationship with them.

5. Lead Generation and Lead Engagement Strategy
For most of the prospects you connect with on LinkedIn and other social media platforms, they don’t realize how and why they need you yet. You need to nurture these connections and provide them with relevant content (which gets them to raise their hand. You need a strategy for how you’re going to use case studies, white papers, third-party research that supports your claims. You need a strategy on how you’ll use webinars, webcasts and other thought leadership content that piques your prospects’ curiosity and gets them wanting to talk to you about their options.

You need a strategy for how you’re going to intrigue prospects enough that they are curious on how you achieved results. Then you need a strategy for how you’re going to move them into your pipeline and how are you going to get them to engage further with you.

Now, I just scratched the surface. Start with my ideas and then dig deeper. Really get strategic on how you use LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Stop just completing a list of tasks.


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Monday, March 16, 2015

How to Fix Duplicate Content Issues & Use the Canonical Tag Correctly

 

SEO tactics

The term “canonical” sounds rather religious, don’t you think? Actually, “canon” has been used to refer to the authenticity of an author’s work, and this is how it’s used in the context of SEO. Since early 2009, search engines have supported the use of the canonical tag as a means of sifting duplicate content out of the sites they present to their users.

Despite that, the canonical tag (Syntax: <link rel=”canonical” href= “http://URL.com”/>) isn’t being as utilized as it should in this day and age. The reluctance of using this extremely convenient tag is usually due to users not understanding the term canonical or its purpose in the grand scheme of things.

Using the canonical tag is proper SEO practice and should be done when possible to ensure that the popularity of your pages don’t get diluted.


A Guide To Explaining The Canonical Tag
The canonical tag isn’t a single-fix for all your SEO problems. It focuses on a specific problem: that of duplicate content and diluted popularity. Generally speaking, most users don’t write duplicate pages for their content. These are usually an automatically generated collection of URL’s that the web hosting service provides in order to minimize traffic bottlenecks. Among these pages are:

Multiple URLs for the Same Page: The main offenders of this particular problem are e-commerce sites that have different pages for each option selected for a particular product.

Session ID URLs: These are usually thrown up by the system in order to compensate for cookies or other tracking URL types.

Mirrored Secure Pages: Search engines see HTTP, HTTPS and WWW pages as separate and distinct entities and crawl each one separately.

URL Case: Uppercase and lowercase spelling for web pages are usually directed to the same final page, but this is not always the case.

Mobile Versions: Mobile versions of a page can be crawled as a separate version of the page, even though it contains the exact same content as the original.

Country Specific URLs: Another problem e-commerce sites face since they might have the same content throughout the page but change the country for currency purposes.

These aren’t usually duplicate content that is written by the content producer, simply different URL’s that give the same content. Search engines don’t see them that way and instead store these pages as duplicates. In cases such as these, the canonical tag should be used in order to identify what page is the original. This makes life easier for the search engine which translates into better SEO practice for your site.

How to Use the Canonical Tag
The Canonical tag requires some forethought before you apply it to any particular situation.

Basically, what you’re trying to do is to tell a search engine that this web page is the preferred one. To this end, you will create a canonical tag inside the <head> data for that page, using the URL that is your primary landing page. You will need to include this in all duplicate pages to ensure that the canonical tag is effective.

6 Typical Misuses of the Canonical Tag
The canonical tag is a powerful tool, but just like any tool it can be underutilized or applied wrongly. In order to avoid misusing the canonical tag, you should be wary of the following missteps.

1) Using the Home Page as the Preferred Site. There may be occasions where your home page would be the preferred location to direct search engines to, but these occasions are few in number. When you use the canonical tag, you tell a search engine to avoid crawling that page because you have one that’s more relevant. By redirecting all crawls to your home page you run the risk of having none of your other pages referenced.

2) Having More than One Canonical Tag. Each canonical tag fits into the <head> section of a page. As stated before, this tag allows you to redirect the crawls from a search engine to a particular page, thereby avoiding having that page listed as duplicate content. If you specify more than a single canonical tag in your <head> section, all of those tags will be ignored and you’ll find yourself back at square one.

3) Placing the Canonical Tag in the Wrong Place. The <head> area of a page is where the canonical tag is supposed to go (along with the relevant page the search engine is supposed to crawl instead). By placing it in the <body> section of the page you circumvent its relevancy and make it powerless to do the job it is supposed to. If a canonical tag finds its way into the body of a page, it is simply ignored.

4) Using Canonical Tags with Multiple Pages. When you have a situation where multiple pages are necessary, it can become quite difficult to sort your SEO out. Ideally, the prev and next tags should be used instead of the canonical tag for these pages. The best practice would be to redirect search engines to index a “View All” page where the results are put together on a single page for ease of use.

5) Using Canonical Tags in Featured Content. Featured content usually makes up the backbone of your site. It is wise to avoid using the canonical tag in these featured pages since it is possible that the page may be ignored, making you lose out on traffic from your features.

6) Using Canonical Tags over Redirects. 301 redirects and canonical tags function more or less the same way, so that you may be tempted to use them interchangeably. This is not a good idea. Search engines treat redirects and canonical tags as the same thing, but redirects channel all traffic to a particular page whilst canonical tags do not. 301 redirects are the preferred method for fixing your site if the structure has changed whereas canonical tags should be used to deal with the problem of duplicate content. These are completely different problems and should be dealt with separately.

Used Rightly, The Canonical Tag Can Help You
The canonical tag is a useful and versatile tool that can help your SEO strategy if used properly. The hard part is ensuring that it does what it’s supposed to. You can only ensure that your canonical tags work properly if you understand how the tag works and when it should be used. Once you work that out it’s simply a matter of implementing it properly on your own pages. The canonical tag is an SEO staple and should be used when appropriate to increase your site’s reach and decrease the problem of duplicate content across your site.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

How to Manage Overpayments: Paying Back Patients & Payers

 

How to Handle Overpayments at Your Practice
 
 
Sometimes a medical practice gets reimbursed too much money for services provided, which leads to an overpayment. The insurance carrier usually makes the overpayment, but sometimes patients pay too much for a particular service too. In either case, promptly return the overpayment to the appropriate person or payer.
 
If a patient pays more than required, notify them as soon as you discover the overpayment. A practice often can handle the overpayment in more than one way, but the provider cannot legally hold on to the money indefinitely.

Patient Overpayments

Let’s say a patient came in to a dermatologist’s office visit and paid their co-pay. During the encounter, the provider removes a mole, which is considered surgery and doesn’t require a co-pay. That turns the co-pay into an overpayment.
 
Once the practice realizes the co-pay should not have been collected, they can do one of two things:
1. Notify the patient of the overpayment. If the patient plans on returning, the office can suggest that the overpayment be applied as a credit toward the next visit. If the patient doesn’t want to apply the money toward a future visit, you must return the overpayment.
 
2. Immediately send the patient a check for the overpaid amount with a note explaining the overpayment.
 
In any case, a provider cannot just keep the overpayment – that is illegal.
 
Payer Overpayments

If an insurance carrier pays more than expected, first determine if it is truly an overpayment. Call the carrier and ask them to explain how they determined their payment amount and if they processed the claim correctly.
 
If the payer confirms that they made an overpayment, they should reprocess the claim to show correct payment and send a request for the provider to return the overpayment.
 
Sometimes the payer will just ask the provider to return the overpayment over the telephone. In this case, it’s sometimes wise to ask them to request the money back with a written explanation. When you receive the written request, attach a check for the overpayment to the request and mail them to the address indicated on the request. If they don’t provide a specific address, send it to the claims department address but indicate “Attn: Overpayments” on the envelope.
 
If you receive a payment from an insurance carrier and the entire payment is wrong or not rightfully owed to the provider, write “void” on the check. Then return it to the insurance carrier with an explanation of why the payment was not due. For example, if they provided payment for a patient not seen by the provider, write “void” on the check and attach a note saying, “This patient was not seen in our office.”
 
When It’s Not an Overpayment

If the payer states during the call that they processed the claim correctly and there was no overpayment, then you need to investigate further.
 
Sometimes a patient has two insurance plans. The primary plan allows a certain amount, makes payment, and then the secondary insurance processes the claim. A credit balance results when the secondary payer allows and pays a higher amount than the primary insurance carrier.
 
This credit balance is not actually an overpayment. The amount contractually adjusted off from the primary insurance carrier was more than needed, based on the secondary insurance carrier’s payment. Therefore, there is not a true overpayment and no money needs to be returned. The patient’s balance just needs to be adjusted to offset the credit.
 
Sometimes a patient’s secondary insurance carrier is privately purchased insurance. They do not always follow the same guidelines as other insurance carriers. Often, they ignore the amount paid by the primary and make payment as if no other insurance is involved, resulting in overpayment.
If that happens, the overpayment amount belongs to the patient because he or she purchased the other insurance plan. Again, the provider cannot just keep the money and the provider cannot collect more than was billed out for services.
 
Never ignore possible overpayments. Always follow these steps: determine if it is a true overpayment, determine whom the overpayment needs to be returned to, and then do what is necessary to return it.
 
And remember: only credit overpayment amounts to future visit charges with the patient’s permission.
 
How does your practice handle overpayments? Leave your advice in the comments section below.
 

Medical Practice Supplies

 

Friday, March 13, 2015

SEO Copywriting Strategies For the New Google Era

 

SEO Targeting
 

Feb. 23, 2011. April 24, 2012. Aug. 20, 2013. Do you have any idea what happened on these dates in SEO history? Maybe not, but the impact of these three monumental changes have collectively ushered website owners into a new Google era. If you’re still writing SEO copy the way you did in 2010 or before, I can honestly say, you’re in trouble.

From the beginning of search engine time (around 1999), there has been one core SEO copywriting strategy: match the keyphrases searchers type into the Google query box exactly and put them on your Web pages.

“The more the better!” was the common cry of copywriters and do-it-yourself website owners and that worked fine… for a while. But, since the release of all the animals in the Google zoo (Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird), SEO copywriting has made a 180-degree shift.

For the last four years, the Google has been heavily pushing the limits of understanding natural language. Yes, you still need to use keyphrases when you write copy, but we’ve gone far beyond that now. The “balance” that SEO copywriters have always talked about has taken a hard dip down in favor of the customers/searchers. So much so, in fact, that those still using outdated keyword optimization strategies are probably seeing some decreased rankings at this point. Are you?

What’s Changed

There have been a lot of adjustments thus far. We don’t have room to mention everything in a simple blog post, but here are the primary transformations that have taken place.
  1. Shoving keywords/phrases into every possible placeon your Web page or blog post should be replaced with using exact-match keyphrases sparingly. In place of the old method, use the individual keywords within the phrases throughout your copy.
  2. Write for customers with a sprinkling of keywords and phrases.Google does a much better job these days of understanding what pages are about with just a little nudge to point them in the right direction.
  3. Optimizing for keywords/phrases only is a thing of the past.With Google’s ability to relate copy and keywords to synonyms, they have become a vital part of SEO copywriting.

Who’s Doing What?

Here are some great examples of updated SEO copywriting.

rosetta-1

RED Arrow = exact-match keyphrase
GREEN Arrow = use of individual word from keyphrase
BLACK Arrow = synonym

As you can see, this website uses the exact-match keyphrase “learn French” three times. The rest of the time it uses individual words (just French or just learn) plus synonyms.

stubby

The site above uses the exact-match, primary keyphrase twice (eco dry highlighter) then makes use of single keywords “highlighter” and “eco” on their own. In addition to the synonyms of “no plastics, no ink solvents and no volatile organic compounds” this page could have also used “earth-friendly” or “environmentally friendly” in the copy.

bird

This bird feeder site did a good job with its wind spinner page. The phrase “animated dragonfly wind spinner” was used three times (I would have only used it twice myself). Then the words “dragonfly” and “spinner” were worked in. The synonym “d├ęcor” was added for good measure.
That gives you a few examples of how these basics are being successfully implemented. This is what Google is looking for these days as far as search engine content goes.

exclaim

If you’re still using outdated SEO copywriting techniques, you could be harming your chances of ranking high. Unfortunately, this is a practice I see almost every day.

The process of getting your content up-to-date with the latest SEO copywriting techniques isn’t complicated or time-consuming. In fact, the more sophisticated Google’s algorithm becomes, the easier it is to write great keyword-optimized copy.


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How to Prepare Your Site for Google’s Mobile-Friendliness Ranking

 

mobile1


Knowing that websites should be mobile-friendly is nothing new. With more people than ever accessing the Internet from smartphones and other mobile devices, brands that have wanted to be able to connect with the largest audience possible understood that a site should be mobile-friendly for the highest degree of success.

However, many have waited to take action on it in a serious way. With Google’s latest announcement, that may no longer be an option. Beginning April 21, sites that want to rank higher in search results must be mobile friendly; it’s as simple as that.

The Announcement
Google’s news release on Thursday, February 26 came in two parts.

First, there will be more mobile-friendly websites than ever before in standard search results. This is happening because the search giant is officially converting mobile-friendliness into a ranking signal. In the past, Google has labeled mobile-friendly sites in search results. On April 21, instead of merely being labeled as mobile-friendly, sites that are configured for mobile devices will actually rank higher than those that are not.

Second, there will be more apps and app-related content in search results. Google will be using information from indexed apps as factors in ranking for users who have the apps in question installed. For users who use apps on a regular basis, it will be a nice change of pace. For those that don’t, there will not be much of a difference.

What it Means for Your Website
Put simply, the announcement means that if your website is not mobile friendly – as in, works as well on a mobile device as on a full screen – your rankings are about to suffer the consequences. In the past, it was sufficient to limit images and to check how a standard site looked on a smaller screen. Now, each website will be put to the test prior to being displayed and ranked accordingly. Google claims that the changes will be “significant.”

The time to act is now. Following are steps you can take today to ensure your website is up to the test on April 21.

Create a Mobile-Friendly Website
This is a given. If you have yet to act on creating a mobile-friendly website, get started today. 34% of Internet users are using mobile devices, so, even if Google’s change wasn’t around the corner, this would still be a good idea.

You have multiple options that include:
  • A responsive site. Existing websites can be redone so that all objects on the screen remain the same but change in how they are viewed based on the browser width of the visitor.
  • An adaptive site. In this case, the website’s URL stays the same but the server sends different code to the viewer depending on which device is in use.
  • A separate site. Generally, separate sites are hosted on different domains or folders. They work parallel to standard sites and redirect mobile users to the mobile version of the website.

Choosing the right option for your site is essential. Generally, working with a web designer with experience creating mobile sites is a good first option. Because a change like this takes time, it’s best to act quickly to get started.

Test Your Website
Google isn’t leaving webmasters out in the cold with the large-scale changes that are currently underway. Instead, they’ve created a “mobile-friendly test” tool that allows them to type in a URL and to see the results. The test is designed to analyze URLS and to report if the page has a mobile-friendly design or not.

If a page is deemed “mobile-friendly” a green message will appear that congratulates the webmaster, along with a screen shot that shows how Googlebot sees the page.

mobile-ready-1

If a website is not mobile-friendly, a red error message will appear along with reasons why the site is not considered mobile friendly. A demonstration shows how the site appears on mobile devices and options populate for making changes.

mobile-ready-2

As a companion to the mobile-friendly test, Google users can also use Webmaster Tools to get a list of mobile usability issues for a given site through a mobile usability report.

Act on Changes
The changes suggested in Google’s mobile-friendly test aren’t suggestions that set users up for failure. They’re designed to help all users succeed. If there are problems that show with your site, simply act to remedy them.

Google provides options for making existing sites mobile-friendly with 3rd party software, technical suggestions for making a site mobile-friendly with an SEO guide as a companion and working with professionals to see the project through.

Pay Attention to Google’s Guidelines
Have questions about what makes a site mobile friendly in Google’s eyes? Wonder no more. A guide has been created that shows the top three considerations that set a mobile-friendly site apart from one that is not. They include:

1. The Site is Easy for Customers and Visitors
Visitors to any given website should be able to complete their objectives without encountering any barriers regardless of the device being used. To do this, consider the purpose of your website and look at ways to streamline the process, from initial visit to desired conversion.

2. Common Tasks can be Completed without Difficulty
Google believes that mobile sites should be prioritized; the most important and common tasks should take priority. Supporting the most important tasks is a measure – in Google’s eyes – of how efficient a website is. Consistency in interfaces and unified experiences across all platforms is of the utmost importance.

3. Themes are Responsive
According to the same guide referenced above, responsive designs may take priority over other forms of mobile-friendly website. This means that sites that use the same URL and code regardless of the visitor’s device and responds accordingly could rank higher than others.

Google’s latest announcement seems to focus on customer experience, which should be a top priority for all websites. Pay attention to the tips above and make sure your website is ready for the changes that are coming on April 21.


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