Content Rules Everything Around Me (C.R.E.A.M.)

Content Rules Everything Around Me

In any SEO related research you find these days, having good content is still one of the most important aspects of search engine optimization. As the phrase goes–content is king–or as I like to put it, “C.R.E.A.M, get the money (dollar dollar bill, ya’ll).”

But what makes good content for SEO? Does Google favor long or short copy? How hard should we work to get our keywords placed in the content? Where do video and images fit in?

We’re going to outline some of the best practices to use in the creation of quality content for your site.

Write for your audience – The first rule of content is that it has to be compelling.

In order to place your article in the “high-quality content” box, it needs to have relevance and value. So, pay attention to your desired audience, write for that audience, and write something that offers substance; that is unique and useful.

Focus on writing naturally. Don’t worry about how your content will rank with Google; worry about how it will rank with your readers. As they say, “Follow your heart, and the money will come later.” They do say that, right?

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Keywords – Going with our earlier statements about writing naturally, it only makes sense that keywords should appear naturally.

It is officially safe to say that ‘keyword density’ is a defunct concept. We don’t want to get in the habit of trying to stuff keywords into our content in ways that appear forced or unnatural.

That said, there are legitimate ways to get keywords into your content naturally and effectively. You can start with keyword research. There are a number of online tools you can use for your keyword research (try Google AdWords Keyword Tool, Google Trends, Wordtracker Free Keyword Suggestion Tool, just to name a few).

Our goal should be to optimize our keywords for what is actually being searched. For instance, let’s say you own a surf school and you want your next blog to be about surfer etiquette. If ‘how to avoid other surfers’ is a more commonly used search query than ‘surfer etiquette,’ you might want to consider using the more commonly used term.

Also, using related keywords and grammatical variations can make your content more relevant for search engines.

Don’t Fear the Long Tail – Shorter keywords can be super competitive.

Try inserting long-tail keywords from your keyword research. Those longer related terms can be much easier to rank. They also tend to have higher traffic quality, as those visitors will have greater motivation and are more likely to convert.

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Show off that big brain of yours – We’re seeing evidence that articles that are more in depth get more likes and shares than shorter, more superficial articles.

We’re also seeing that the average site that ranks on page one of Google has more than 2,000 words. Let’s take advantage of this by getting in depth with our content.

Share your knowledge and expertise and provide real insight in your content creation. Even if your content is longer, if you’re staying on topic with your expertise, your readers will be more engaged. The more you inform your audience, the more likely they are to share your information.

Sharing is Caring – Sharing your content via social media will definitely get you traffic.

The more ‘shares’ you get, the more likely that Google will recognize your content as relevant and popular. So blast it over your all of your social media channels, encourage your friends and family to share it (as long as they do it from their own computers. Google reads IP addresses), and do the work to find industry influencers, forums, blogs and newsletters who will be willing to share your content.

Don’t neglect your title tags and meta descriptions – Without getting too technical, I’ll explain what title tags and meta descriptions are for the uninitiated. A title tag is, simply put, the title of the document or web page. It’s meant to be an accurate description of a site’s content. It also creates value in the search engine results pages.

Meta descriptions are HTML attributes that also describe the content of a site, but can be much longer than title tags. Meta descriptions should also contain your highest-ranking keywords. Work with your tech guy to optimize your title tags and meta descriptions to make it easier for Google to find and categorize you (you want this). 

Go With Google

Go with God… I mean, Google – If you don’t have a Google Plus business page at this point, you’re behind the curve. Google Plus is going to play a larger role in SEO. In addition, Google will be introducing Author Rank, which will begin ranking authors and not just the sites that host their content.

Once you get your page set up and verified, and build your AuthorRank (and actively update your page), your content will gain an extra shot of authority, no matter where you post it.

Creating content can be awesomely fun. Staying informed with the latest SEO trends, and focusing on a few key initiatives isn’t particularly time-consuming, but it can yield awesome results, and take your content to that place only reserved for rock stars and fighter pilots.

If you have any questions regarding content creation, or would like to know more about the impact it can have on your rankings, please email or call us, and we will be happy to answer your questions.

Your Mobile SEO Campaign Questions Answered

Mobile SEO 101… class is in session.

Your Mobile SEO Campaign Questions

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been consulting many clients on mobile SEO campaigns. There’s a number of questions that continue to come up as it pertains to the setup. Similar to SEO campaign setups for desktop there are a few items which need to be addressed.

1. Keyword research 

2. Website Architecture 

3. Content

4. Link Building

Below we expand on how to perform each for a mobile SEO campaign. For speed and efficiency (important in mobile) let’s assume you know the questions already. What follows are simply the answers.

Keyword Research for Mobile SEO

First, let’s take a look using a couple of our tools.

Google Adwords Keyword Planner – Here you see a screenshot of Google’s keyword planner trend analysis for the keyword “Mobile SEO”. The blue bar graph in May shows that there was a TOTAL (across all devices) of 720 searches in the month of May with 52 searches specifically from Mobile.

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SEMRush – Has settings for running keyword queries however it appears to be pulling the Google Keyword Tool anyways.

Mobile Keyword Reseach

SEMRush can also track rankings in mobile SERPS

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Website Architecture for Mobile SEO

There are three ways to construct a website for mobile. The number one consideration for all methods is SPEED! How fast can we have the site render? 

>> Responsive Design – This appears to be the golden boy of options for building a website for mobile, largely because it provides one URL for both Desktop and Mobile.

Pros: Much easier to maintain, one URL for all devices, and no need for device detection.

Cons: Can be extremely slow to load for mobile devices.

>> Separate site for Mobile – There are three different ways to host them on a different site:

m.example.com – Sub-Domain

example.mobi – Separate Domain

example.com/mobile – Sub-Folder

Myth debunked around separate URLs: We hear lots of complaints about duplicate content as a result of different URLs sharing the same content. The easy solution is ensuring the correct directional annotation is setup.

From Google Webmaster tools:

Annotation in the HTML

On the desktop page (http://www.example.com/page-1), add:

and on the mobile page (http://m.example.com/page-1), the required annotation should be:

This rel=”canonical” tag on the mobile URL pointing to the desktop page is required.

Pros of separate domain: Options for mobile specific content

Cons: Higher cost, higher possibilities for error, if not annotated correctly can have issues with duplicate content.

>> Dynamic Serving –  Using one URL you can dynamically serve the mobile version of the site based on the user agent. 

Pros: One URL for all devices, possibility for mobile specific content

Cons: Complex to set up and costly.

Again the recommendation on which one to go with should obviously be based on time, labor, cost, but most importantly SPEED!

Speed

Content for Mobile SEO

When talking about content in this context, we are speaking about the text content (Titles, H1s, Alt Tags, Boilerplate) that are used to target keywords. The content that is served on the desktop can be the same as what’s served on the mobile version of the site. You just need to make sure to use the annotations listed above if the website is using a separate site for mobile or dynamic serving. 

Link Building for Mobile SEO

There is a handful of sites where you can list the mobile version of your site. You can find 125 directories specific to mobile by clicking here. In general a website’s ability to rank in mobile SERPs will be contingent on its backlink strength in desktop SERPs. Value and trust are typically passed from the desktop version to the mobile version of the site.

If you having issues with the mobile version of your website please reach out when we will do a free consultation.  

Building a Social Media Audience for Ecommerce

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There’s an antiquated saying which applies here: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him share your Facebook content. The other one that comes to mind is, I could fish for you and feed you today, or I can teach you to add followers and you can go get them yourself.

There’s a lot to unpack there, so let all that wisdom sink in… Okay, long enough.  

Let’s assume you are a business owner, and you’re sold on social media for your business. We’ll call you “Bob.” You’ve set up your page, but you need to get people to follow your business.

Your hope is that not only will they follow your page, they’ll endlessly like, favorite, reply, @mention, circle, and pin your content until the cows some home. The question on your mind is “how do I build up my followers?”

That’s not the question you should be asking, Bob. We’ll come back to what you should be asking in a minute… Bob.

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Followers, as the name implies, are people who would follow you about. In this case, we are talking about following you in social circles. There was existed, once upon a time, a world where you could get users to follow you on a channel and those users would see everything you posted. People were on social media a lot because it was new and they were not-yet-jaded.

Then came the masses and what followed them was the algorithms. Nowadays nobody has time to read their feed endlessly, even with the help of algorithms, and what users do read they tend to skim.

But back to our question, Bob.

Channel depending, you may decide that the best way to build your followership is to engage in what is commonly referred to as, “buying likes.” For a fee, you can navigate to a site where there is cloud software which promises to pay you in kind with X-number of followers in exchange for your hard-earned Bitcoins. 

So let’s say you decide to invest. For $9.99 you can get 1000 followers, but for $29.99 you can get 5000. The obvious deal is the mere thirty dollar investment to become the most popular kid in school. From a business standpoint, everything is above board. You give them your credit card info, and they compensate you with the promised minions.

At first, you are super-excited about your newfound popularity. You blast Facebook with your new follower number, sheepishly thanking all of your followers for their loyalty. Your REAL friends, the ones who’ve been following your new venture, wonder if maybe they shouldn’t have made that investment you asked them for last year.

Good for you Bob. Looks like you’re doing okay.

But then all your super-stardom unravels. You notice after the first few posts you make that very few people engage what you are posting. In fact, on Facebook, the total reach of your posts starts to nosedive.

Frantically you go to your channel insights to do some research of your new peeps and find that many of them aren’t even in your area. In fact, they aren’t in your country! Most of them are in Indonesia, and parts unknown, where click farms have been set up to pay users to like your page.  

Not these sort of minions.

Not these sort of minions…

You got exactly what you paid for Bob: followers. Sort of. They’re technically following you, but not really.

Let’s stop clamoring for followers like your follower count was the equivalent to that lift kit on your pickup truck. You can stop trying to cover up for smaller things in your life by getting bigger things elsewhere.

Rather than measure the success of your social media audience on the sheer number of people following your page, start to measure your success on the number of people that are engaging your content. 

Bob, don’t add followers. Add Engagers.

Move like the tortoise, not the hare.

The tortoise route to getting this done is through your posts. Posts which are properly labeled with keywords, hashtags, and descriptions that engage the casual observer, will over time build your followership. [READ: OVER TIME]

There are other above board tactics which will build your army faster, but you should carefully consider the outcome of any technique you apply.

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You add engagers by tempering your follower build with wisdom.

For example, an easy way to add followers on Twitter is to go and follow a bunch of users from your business account. This will get you nearly automatic followbacks at a 10-40% ratio. Some people follow back as a rule.

A smarter way to accomplish this same tactic would be to get very specific about who you follow. In short, follow people who would be interested in what you have to say. Follow those that could potentially be customers. Follow engagers.

For Facebook, the tactic is a little different. After you get all your friends and family to follow your business, you will need to buy engagers on Facebook if you really want to build up your audience.

The great thing about Facebook is you can get very specific about who those people are and where they are. The bad part is that you will likely have to buy them. Buy them right, and they will engage your content. And about your family and friends, the same rule applies. Don’t just add warm bodies.

Google+ functions a bit like Twitter, but with different daily restrictions. You can use a tool like Circloscope to navigate around those restrictions, but the same rules apply. If you just add warm bodies, that’s what you’ll get in return.

Pinterest and Instagram are also followback platforms. The only real exceptions are the aforementioned Facebook and LinkedIn.

The network for professionals is a grassroots engager-build. LinkedIn users will engage your company’s LinkedIn page when your brand has become more of a household name. Think brands like Apple, Virgin, or Coca-Cola. 

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So now you know… You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t teach him to fish from it. And, you can corral followers to your business page like cows to a pasture, but you can’t make them eat all the hay. Never mind. All you need to remember from this is one concept: Don’t add followers. Add engagers. The rest of the work is getting in there and engaging them. 

You got this one… Bob.

If you don’t, we can help. This is just one aspect of what we do with your social media channels. We add engagers, feed them relevant content and engage them wherever we can.

Content for SEO: Find Your Voice

Find Your VoiceYou have a voice…so speak up

Whether you are a brand, a business, a blog… you need a voice. What will you provide your readers with and why will they read it? How will you present yourself? Consider your brand’s voice before writing any type of content. Spending some time finding your voice is worth your attention and effort. THIS is how you will truly connect with your readers and build a community around your blog. Some tips to finding your voice:

Some tips to finding your voice:

  1. Describe yourself in three words. Does your written work reveal this about you?
  2. Ask yourself, “Is this how I talk”? Be yourself when you write. Reveal your personality
  3. Make a list of six blogs or magazines you read. Study them and discover what the connecting link is that makes them your favorites
  4. Free-write.
  5. Read your last couple of posts. Ask yourself if this is something YOU would read. And did you enjoy writing it?
  6. Outline who your demographic is. Who is your ideal reader (age, marital status, hobbies, goals)? 

Once you find your voice, continue to develop it. Your blog’s voice should remain consistent with the language you use in your other marketing tactics. Keeping it cohesive from post to post will help build your brand and will emphasize the message you are sending. This will help in laying a solid foundation for the long-term growth of your blog. Still struggling? Read this guide to finding your voice.

How will you chose the content you will present to your readers? Besides relevancy, what is key? 

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Your content must be engaging and purposeful. Everything you publicly post is an expansion of what your brand represents so make it good! Be a point of reference, be a resource. Write helpful and useful articles. And remember what matters to your readers. If your blog is about creating a small garden, write about how to care for small size perennials and annuals. A post on how to plant a tree may be irrelevant since you would not normally plant a tree in a small garden. Speak about creative space-saving tips for garden tools, pots and other equipment rather than a review of the latest in lawnmower technology. Do not forget to consider what matters to them! 

Use tools to find content that is trending.

So you may still need some more inspiration for content. Remember, you can still have an original voice while following trends. Following trends is not a bad thing and in terms of content, it is a good thing! You just have to share it in your own voice. Here are a couple useful and simple tools to find content that is trending.

Google Alerts is basic and free. It will help you monitor the web for specific information that is supplied by you, and delivers the results to your inbox. You create your alert by adding your business name, keywords, selecting your source, region and specifying how often you would like notifications. 

Google Alerts

How is this helpful? In this case, we want to find content that is trending. When you add your keywords to Google Alerts you will be notified on what is being published about that specific subject. So, let’s say you’ve added your garden blog keywords: small gardens, tiny garden design, and mini garden maintenance; then you will be notified on all articles being published on these keywords.

So now what?

You want to collect these articles, monitor how much they are being shared. Who’s the audience, who’s commenting? Specifically, what topic is coming up over and over…is it small garden design, or is it which space-saving veggies to plant? This should help get the creative juices flowing and get you brainstorming.

Buzzsumo

Next up, Buzzsumo content alerts. Like Google Alerts, this tool lets you set up custom alerts to notify you whenever someone mentions a specified keyword. This is a big help when it comes to searching for topics that are current. However, Buzzsumo is a bit more advanced than Google Alerts. You can be more specific with your search and results are more streamlined. You can specify whether the alert should monitor the brand or keyword mention in the title, article text or both. You can also get notifications in real time.

The most useful feature here is the social share threshold, allowing you a detailed insight to the highest performing content and who is sharing it. You have the ability to start networking right from the Buzzsumo platform. If you see that @TinyGardenSpaces just posted an article about landscaping that was shared 800 times on Facebook, well then you may want to follow @TinyGardenSpaces on Twitter, Facebook, and all their other channels.  You may get a follow back. And you just may be able to start and build your audience too! 

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So, now you have your voice, your content, and your tools. These are the main components you will need for putting your work and personality out there and to start to build a strong following. This will take some time, so be committed! There are plenty of other tools available so stay updated and do your research. Happy writing!

Google PPC Support Alternative Tools

Google Support making you crazy-

If you manage your own Adwords account or are an agency managing one for a client you have probably spoken to Google Adwords support team. The support specialists are here to solve your questions by dialing an 866 number and being directed to the correct department. Once you have reached a specialist you are able to ask any questions pertaining to your client and they will assist you with instructions and dig further into your account. This is a free resource that is available to anyone with a Google account (Adwords, Analytics or My Business).

Working on multiple accounts we often speak to Google support on a weekly basis regarding accounts and questions. Recently we have noticed the decline of expertise on these calls. In the past, the majority of specialist could walk you through and answer your questions or troubleshoot your account but over the last six months we have seen a drastic decline. We’ve found ourselves waiting as many as 20-minutes just to be handed over to a specialist that asks “how can I help you?” and then puts you on hold to search the support section of Adwords. 

However, if you do receive a specialist that can answer all your questions and assist you at a reasonable time make sure to ask all your questions and request an email. By requesting an e-mail, you can send over any follow-up or further questions you may have in the future.

Over the last several months, we have questioned specialist on why the decline in support and they don’t have a direct answer only to the fact there is a higher demand. So has Google lowered their standards? Why do we have to be put on hold and listen to answers we have already read online or have them tell us they will call back but never do?

For example, a call was made in relation to Google Merchant Center and a problem with a feed being under review for longer than 24-hours. The rep said let me dig into this and we will contact you and let you know. After 11-days and several follow up emails sent to them we received a response that linked back to the help section where we first started.  We replied back to them asking if this was the only information they could provide and never heard back. 

Throughout our experience of working with specialists over the phone and via email, you have to wonder if there is a high turnover rate or Google has let their qualifications for employees lower?

Does a customer that is paying Google to run ads on our site deserve to have top-notch support or is it something of the past? The fact is we will never know.  Although we cannot rely on Google 100% for all our questions and quick responses there are other resources and tips you can utilize.  

Below is a list of tips and resources you can use to help find answers to your Adwords, Analytics or any other Google channel: 

Google Implementation Team

This is a great resource to use when you have questions and need assistance with implementing tracking or scripts onto your site or via Google Tag Manager. However, you have to call Google support first to set up a call.

Tip – Make sure when you call you skip explaining the issue and directly request an appointment with the Implementation team. The support specialist will create one for you. 

Answering Questions in Your Account 

The Google support section online – A great resource for basic questions in the account. Try looking here before calling support (It will probably be quicker).

Google Adwords community forum – A useful place to search, review and/or post questions that you may have. Within the community, there are many others similar to you that could have posted in the past and others have answered. Check it out here.

Tip – search for your question directly and you may see several results.

PPC Chat on Twitter – This is a great place to meet and ask others questions and support related to paid search. Here you can post questions or difficulties you are having and you will see quick replies from users around the world.

Ultimately, we have to find our answers somehow to continue with our account and obtain our goals in the account. If you have exhausted your efforts or need one more resource contact DEP Online Marketing Agency. Allow us to answer all your questions and look for new opportunities while managing your account. 

Social Media Tools For Everyone

The Fish Specials

Time versus ROI

Your greatest pain point with social media is time. For most business owners, they know they need to be on social media in some capacity, but simply lack the resources to create profiles, and manage them. And then there’s the whole question of which channels to use for your business? Obviously there’s a lot to talk about on the subject… for bottom line P&L operators, the most important question they want to have answered is “what’s the ROI?”

However you measure ROI, you’re going to want to go into the battle armed with some power tools. Here’s a list, some of which we use, and some of which we’ve tested but haven’t found a use for yet. 

Managing Followers

If your plan is to just set up your channels, invite your family and friends to follow, post some cool content, and hope users come in droves to follow you, you are going to find yourself quickly disappointed. You will need a plan to increase your followers, and it will help to have some tools to accomplish this feat. Outside Facebook* there are tools for most channels, which help you manage your followers.

A word on Facebook.

Here, watch this video on Facebook.

The Twitters

imgresFollowerwonk is an extension of the MOZ network, specifically for managing Twitter. It allows you to look at who you are following that is not following you back, as well as the opposite. You can make your cuts or adds as you see fit, but they must be done user-by-user, and if you go too fast you’ll get a message from Followerwonk telling you to “slow down or Twitter will get mad.” It’s pretty funny actually, but to the folks at Twitter it’s no joke. They really don’t want you managing your followers in bulk. Followerwonk also has a nice feature where you can analyze another user’s tweets, follows, and followers. We use this tab for finding like audiences.

The downside to Followerwonk? It’s free unless you want all the features, in which case you will pay for the MOZ pro account starting at $99 per month. The free version isn’t really what you need to make a difference. Chances are you’re going to pay the $99 if you like it. Every month. The silver lining is you will get all the MOZ Pro tools for SEO along with you subscription.

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 1.57.08 PMSocial Bro works similar to Followerwonk but doesn’t require you to have a MOZ account. For small companies, it may be the better alternative. Our experience using it is limited at this point, but we may use this tool more in the future as Social Bro allows more bulk actions, similar to Circloscope for Google+. It also offers helpful tools for best posting times, monitoring (beta as of this writing) and integrating your Google Analytics. Plans go from $0 for two accounts and 5000 social contacts to $149 for forty accounts and 200,000 contacts. They will also custom tailor a plan for really big dawgs.

The downside to Social Bro? This platform has so much functionality, we found all the dials and levers a little much at first. Presumably that feeling goes away with aptitude, so not really a downside then.

Google+ is not dead.

With the recent addition of the collections feature to Google+, the crew at Google is not making any indication that they intend to close shop on their social media platform. Some panicked when they pulled hangouts last year, but nobody flinched when Facebook separated Messenger from there IOS app. Rest assured, you haven’t seen the last of Google+. At DEP, we are big fans of leveraging all that Google+ offers for the right clients. Here are some tools you can use to get the most out of the channel.

cshpCircloscope is a browser extension for Chrome, which means you’ll not be able to use it unless you use have Chrome installed. To report “it’s worth it,” doesn’t even begin to capture the value. $47 is the exact annual spend you incur if you want to get past the free version (recommended) or $178 if you are one of the aforementioned big dawgs. Once you install the extension on your browser you will access the app by clicking the browser button. Circloscope will allow you to add users to circles from the profiles of other users, and communities. For better or worse, you can add large groups of people to circles at a time, up to 5000 circled folks. Past 5000 and Google+ has a problem with your social behavior. No worries, you can go back through your list of circles and dump the rotten eggs, by sorting out non-followers, those who are not active, and even blue-heads. You can keep peeling back who you follow until you have pristine lists of contacts. Google+ users will follow you back at about a 10-30% rate.

The downside to Circloscope? It’s easy to get carried away and add large groups of people with the hope they follow your business back. While that may seem like a win at first, the goal with followers is to acquire those would engage your posts. People who manage their social media profiles like robots, following back every Tom, Dick, and Harry may have no long-term value to your strategy.  

circlecount3Circlecount is an SAAS tool for measuring one’s influence on Google+. You can also measure the influence of your business page. It has a nice interface for metrics, tracking your circled by count over time and the individual performances of your posts. You can also look up which Google+ pages are ranked on top, rising the fastest and have the best engagement.  

The downside to Circlecount? It may not be worth the time you spend on it. We find most of the data on here interesting, but outside the metrics on our client’s pages, we haven’t been able to leverage the information for anything measurable yet. This is one to play with and then think about how you can use it to your advantage later. Email us when you do, or better yet follow us on Google+, and message us there.

Pictures are worth a thousand likes 

canva-circle-logoThe first thing you’re going to need for any content plan, besides something to talk about, is pictures to illustrate your points. Unless you’re shooting video, blogs, your site, and your posts will go much further with pictures. If you are using Pinterest, your pictures will take center stage. Canva is a lovely tool for creating high definition photo files in a myriad of sizes. Signing up for Canva is free, but if you want to use their photos you will pay $1.00 per file. You can also import your own pictures and vectors for free. Once your creation is done, it will save in your designs, and you can then download it if you want. 

Bringing it all together 

hootsuite-logoHootsuite is the low-cost, no-muss, no-fuss application with which all social media managers should start. From single-unit managers to massive enterprise operations, no tool gets more usage than Hootsuite. At DEP, we’ve worked with Sprout Social and Meet Edgar (still being developed) but went back to Hootsuite on both occasions. For our money, Sprout Social didn’t offer much more than Hootsuite, and for so much more in cost.

So just what do these social media management (SMM) tools all do? They help you organize your posts and allow you to manage multiple channels in one place, both with monitoring and with outreach. Sounds great, right? 

It is, really, but there are some things to consider before you go posting away to all your channels twenty times a day. While Hootsuite will allow you to post to Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn Company Pages all in one fell post, and will even tell you how many characters put you over the 140 Twitter-barrier, you shouldn’t always do that. Your followers on your respective channels are likely different crowds, but some of them will follow you in more than one place, and they will feel your non-individualized posting is a little spammy. 

Facebook users will typically not click on links that take them outside the channel, but if your links are owl.ly links, as the standard Hootsuite shortened URLs appear, you can almost guarantee they won’t click it. On Facebook, you will get more clicks to your blog (for example) if they can see the whole URL, but if you try that stuff on Twitter you will run out of characters really fast. 

Emojicide

Hashtags are allowed just about everywhere these days, but outside Twitter and Instagram they can be perceived as weird. So, in other words, you can’t just send the same content with the same caption on every channel, not if you want to make your time spent worth it. We have, however, found that some posts are okay to syndicate in this way: news articles with photos do just fine, and stand-alone photos too. 

The downside to Hootsuite? The monitoring UI for Hootsuite isn’t quite what we are looking for. We are in the market for a monitoring system that works something like Google Alerts or Social Mention but in a feedy-type way. If you know of one you like, please let us know. We are all ears. (IMO) All of the SMMs offer analytics, and all fall short of getting us what our clients want to see, regardless of the cost. 

Monitoring and Analytics

Hootsuite also offers monitoring of your channels, much like the other SMMs out there, and analytics for end of month reporting. We’ve utilized reporting from Hootsuite and Sprout Social in the past but have been pulling data from the native apps more than anywhere else, and plotting them on in a spreadsheet. All the pretty graphs and pie-charts in most SMM don’t add up to much when there are big gaps in the data. It seems not all of the social media channels have API’s which play nice for analytics.  

logoCyfe is nice little tool for putting together your own analytics sheet and pulls data from many places. You can customize as you see fit, adding widgets for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. We used it for several months, but, in the long run, felt it was still missing some critical analysis tools like year-over-prior data, and some of the functionality we’ve grown accustomed to with Google Analytics. Assuming you know how to use Google Analytics, or Piwik, you will find that between that data and the data from your native apps you can get better details and historical data.

Ultimately, it’s going to come down to how much time you can put into your channels. Most of our social media clients simply don’t have the resources to install a full or part-time team member in charge of managing their profiles, even with tools. They also aren’t sure how to measure success. It stands to reason: social media is still a young beast. Even the best in Social Media Management are struggling to measure ROI, but if you want us to take a look and tell you what we can do, you’ve already found us. You just have to ask for help. Conversation and advice are free. We get paid when you put us in charge. Let us help you now.

Mobile PPC – Is it the Way to Go?

Mobile is everywhere and pretty much everyone is on smartphones browsing, reading, shopping etc. In this day and age, mobile PPC has become a frequent conversation when discussing marketing strategies. So if everyone is using it and talking about it – is it really for you?

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Let’s consider some strong data

PureClick, a leading click fraud detection company, and partner of ours, ran a test on two of the largest ad networks to determine the quality of users clicking on mobile ads. They created a doorman where the user had to confirm that they wanted to visit the site.

The test included 4,868 paid clicks with the following highlights:

  •     *1,946 spend less than 4 seconds on the landing page
  •     *1,058 spent more than 5 minutes  (outside the staleness window)
  •     *Only 222 clicks came from real people intending to click the confirmation and continue onto the site.

This means only 4.7% of visitors confirmed that they wanted to visit the site verse as much as 80% of intent from clicks on paid search. 

Looking at the test results mobile PPC may not be the right way to go. Spending money on non-quality clicks or real intended people is a waste of time. 

Additionally, considering the do’s and don’t’s of mobile PPC you see that the average CPC is higher than desktops due to the smaller amount of space and high competition. Does your company really have a need for mobile PPC? Does your company create an immediate need or is a local business near buy? 

If so, create a mobile campaign and test it for yourself. We recommend testing with PureClick where you can measure the intent of your users coming through mobile. 

Below are a few tips when running a mobile PPC test:

  1. Have a mobile friendly site
  2. Create a campaign only for mobile
  3. Make sure your landing pages are effective (simple & easy to convert)
  4. Fast site load time
  5. Effective & simple ad copy
  6. Clear call to action

If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment and/or contact us.

Google is Rewarding Mobile SEO Efforts.

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Mobile SEO is recently a very popular subject and for many good reasons.

More and more people are shopping on their mobile devices. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it allows you to multitask. Buying the dream dress, while getting a haircut, or booking your next holiday, while being stuck on the train with your face in someone else’s armpit has never been easier. 

The numbers of mobile searches are growing year after year, and it’s no longer acceptable for any reputable business to ignore it.

So it only makes sense that the businesses that made the greatest amount of effort in optimizing their websites for mobile users are now being rewarded in the google ranking game. If you’re worried that you may be too late in this game, it appears there is some good news. Google will most likely reprocess new mobile-friendly pages quickly, within 72-hours from the changes being applied. 

So the latest google algorithm, launched on the 21st of April, referred to by many SEO experts and webmasters as #mobilegeddon, did not take us by surprise at DEP. It was a long time coming, and we’ve been recommending getting mobile friendly sites launched by our clients for over five years.

If you are not 100% sure if your site needs a mobile update, Google offers this handy tool to determine whether your site is currently seen as optimized for mobile or it needs some work done:

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You’ll get a small ranking boost in the search engines over sites that are not mobile friendly, on mobile searches. All your pages, including your blog, should be optimized, not only your home page. If done correctly, you have nothing to worry about.

How do you qualify to show a mobile friendly label for your web pages?

Google said it recommends the following criteria: 

  • Avoid software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash.
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming.
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom, design it for ‘the fat finger’.
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped.
  • Don’t use pop-ups either, It can be difficult and frustrating to try and close these on a mobile device. This might lead to a high bounce rate. 

Soon, you can say goodbye to seeing URLs when searching your mobile phone. On April 17th, Google announced its plan to replace the once-standard domain name with the real name of the website on all mobile searches. This update will give mobile searchers the ability to understand what a site is about more quickly, even before clicking to open its contents.

In the future, as mobile trends and technologies evolve, the algorithm is likely to evolve and change again. We can already predict, that the next logical step would be to get your mobile version of the site up to speed, to ensure quicker loading time for better user experience.

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If you have any questions in regards to updating your mobile version of the site, or would like to know more about the impact it may have on your rankings, please email or call us, and we will be happy to give you some answers.

Don’t Go Social. Go Mocial

Okay, so I made that word up. There’s no such thing and I don’t expect anyone to start calling Social Media on Mobile devices Mocial anytime soon. To be fair to me, Shakespeare contributed thousands of words to the English language, and I think I’m getting really, really close to his level. Yup.

Enough about me. I want to set up the next couple of blogs you’ll be seeing from us in May, or as we always call it “Mobile May.” Actually, we’ve never called it that. That’s officially the first time, but rest assured you were here to experience it. Don’t you feel extraordinary?

The next couple of weeks we are going to get right down to the soft chewy core of the question that has plagued e-commerce sites since AOL. You’ve been asking “How the heck does mobile really impact my e-commerce site?” We’re gonna try to tackle that questions this month. In fact, we’re gonna try to take it down Office Space style.

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Next week you will hear from Gosia in our SEO department, and the week after that from Kristina in PPC, but to kick things off today I am going to talk about it from the most exciting corner of internet marketing (because I say so, and I’m creating the first blog): Social Media. 

[Trumpets]

This past week, no rush, I finally got around to reviewing the 367-page report from We Are Social for 2015. We Are Social took a very deep dive, as they are wont to do every year, into every corner of Social Media. They covered 30-countries in this version, spanning the entire globe, sampling the best possible data. I’ll spare you the whole show and smack you in the face with this one super-important slide:

 

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“Whatever do you mean by showing me that?” you ask? Let me ‘splain. No, there’s too much. Let me sum up: 60% the people online are actively using social media channels. 80% of those people are accessing their social media account via mobile. 

Social Media channels are no longer ancillary avenues of the internet.They are the freeways through which most users are navigating. We know this because it’s been beaten into our heads every blog we read. That, and the fact that we need to solve for mobile. Why? Because the access ramps for those freeways are the proliferation of mobile devices. If your site content does not cater to those platforms, then you may not be dead in the water now, but you may find your company dog-paddling like it was an Olympic sport very soon.

Let’s talk a little about what all this means to you…

If you are like most of us who receive some income from online, other than online gambling, you spend a percentage of your time reviewing Google Analytics or Piwik at some point in your month. Like many, your brand is on a couple social channels, but nobody in your company is specifically assigned to manage your profiles. In fact, some of those profiles haven’t been set up yet.

 

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When you look into your analytics it’s no surprise that social media is somewhere at the bottom. You don’t see an ROI so it’s right where you expect to see it. Organic Search comes out on top as your strongest downline, and then in some order based on how your budgets work, referrals, direct, paid search, and good old social media hang on for dear life.

What you may not be discovering in your deep dive is how social is affecting your organic search. You can see the line item for search, but you can’t measure how that tweet you sent out [or, sad face, DIDN’T send out] last month is playing into Google’s algorithm. What you definitely won’t see is how mobile platforms, where users are not engaging your brand for one reason or another, are also affecting your organic results, negatively.

 

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What you definitely won’t see is how the average person in the united States spends almost two-and-a-half hours per day on social media channels. That’s about 17-hours a week, or or about 75-hours per month that you’re brand isn’t making its mark. Seventy-five hours. That’s nearly every episode of Mad Men through season six. Every month!

  

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Okay, so you get it. People are on social media, and they access it primarily through their mobile devices. So what? Social Media is for mom and pop spots, restaurants, and brick and night clubs. You’re Coca-Cola and don’t need the press. Except if you were Coca-cola you would have nearly 6-million combined followers across Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn (5,700,953 to be exact). Is this horse dead yet?

You gotta be on social media. Not because it’s the next hot thing, but because it’s the next hot thing. Social media isn’t the freeway of the internet. It’s the skin the internet is sliding into. Think AOL, but not so Monopoly-like, and way more fun to use. Social Media is the internet, and mobile is how people get there.

Okay, the horse is nearly dead. Hang in there. What does mobile have to do with all of this? A lot.

Let’s create a persona: “Barb” Let’s say she’s a forty-something mom, who works teaching in the school district. Despite her distaste for the increased prevalence of these things in the classroom, she’s just purchased her first iPhone. Actually, her daughter who’s fresh out of college made her buy it because she hated that old flip Mom was carting around. Not to mention she wants to be able to text Mom from time to time.

Barb doesn’t really know about all this technology, but after her daughter spends some time showing her around the new iPhone, she really likes pushing the buttons and opening apps. She especially like this new Pinterest app. There are recipes, and photos of the beach, and some annoying fitness photos, but by the end of day one she has a profile and her first couple of boards set-up.

Barb doesn’t really know about all this technology, but after her daughter spends some time showing her around the new iPhone, she really likes pushing the buttons and opening apps. She especially like this new Pinterest app. There are recipes, and photos of the beach, and some annoying fitness photos, but by the end of day one she has a profile and her first couple of boards set-up.

She also downloads the app for Facebook, since she already had an account, but now she has an easy access point to use it. All the time. In fact, suddenly she find herself overlooking the occasional smartphone in the classroom, not because she’s really okay with it, but because she knows the kids won’t say anything when she spends their test time pinning recipes, and updating her Facebook status. She’s never been so active on Facebook before. In fact, she’s never been online so much before.

MOM 

This is happening all over the place. It has been for a long time, and not just in the developed world, but in the darkest corners of the not-yet-developed world. People who were otherwise not online, other than work email, and the occasional desktop search, are finding themselves increasingly online, and it’s all through the magic of mobile. What’s more is their interface with the online world is the size of one hand. 

Your site looks fine. Don’t worry. You were way ahead of the mobilegeddon disaster by two-years. No sweat. The problem isn’t how your site looks to Barb. The problem is she never sees it. There are no off-ramps from her freeway to your site. You’re barely on Facebook, with sparse content that isn’t optimized for the platform, and you have nothing on Pinterest. 

You think you’re online because from your perspective, you ARE online, and you’re right. You are. But to someone like Barbara, and there are a lot of Barbs out there, online is a world only filtered through her Pinterest boards and her Facebook feed from her mobile device. It’s not only what she spends all her free time searching, it’s also what she talks about at lunch, and when her daughter video-phones her: “Did you see what so-and-so posted today?” Barb is 50% of the U.S. population.

 

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So what do you do with this information? You can go on as you have been, and let the chips fall where they may. At some point you will, be talking about what your company is doing to leverage social media channels through mobile. Or you can get started today. Hire an in-house social media manager, and direct that person to solve for mobile, or you can contact us. We can help. 

I know. This whole thing was a pitch. Gross, right? But maybe not. Maybe what gross is all the money you’re leaving on the table by being the last one to the game. It’s time to get Mocial. Catchy, eh?

 

Social Media: Three Questions You Must Ask

Let’s start with the obvious. It’s not when and where to post? These are important questions, truly, but they are ancillary to what is most important. If you don’t first answer these three questions, then all of your perfect posts, at all the perfect times, will land on blind eyes and deaf ears. The success of your strategy comes down these things; your company’s most important social media considerations: Who are your customers? Where are they hanging out?, and What do they need right now?

Who is your customer?

The golden funnel in business leads to one happy ending: a customer [Read: Money.] Finding that customer is the nut marketing has sought to crack since Neanderthals sold stones to Homo-Sapiens. [Pretty sure I just made that up.]

This should be easy, right? After all, you know your customer. He comes in all the time. You just need legions of him. But then sometimes his wife comes in. And there’s that other guy who’s so different. Alright, so maybe your customer could be many different people. Maybe it will be easier to figure out who he or she is by determining where they hang out.

Where are your customers hanging out?

Let’s build our answer on the following presumption. Fans of reading aren’t all coffee drinkers, but people who enjoy coffee often apt to read. Not 100% of the time, but I stand a pretty good chance of finding a few book-lovers at the local Starbucks.

FollowersAlong this logic-line, carpenters hang out at the mill, actors spend their time in theatres, and lawyers chase ambulances. What is the proverbial ambulance your customers will chase? With Social Media, we’re not looking for a physical location. Where are they online? Who are they already following?

We will find your customers following existing trade magazines, business partners, or even behind enemy lines. From there we can start trying to get their attention with hashtags, posts they would dig, and in some cases we can just follow them. If they dig your thang, then they’ll follow back, usually at a rate of 10-40%.

Getting them to dig your thang is not likely going to be with product shots. We need those, but more importantly, we need to figure out what they really need. It’s not enough to tell people you have cars for sale. If you’ve branded correctly, as in Mike’s Used Cars, they already know.

People want to know how buying a car on your lot will be the experience they’re looking for. And the answer isn’t telling them that you’re the best in town, or that you sell the most. In Social Media, that’s the fastest way to tell your potential customer to unfollow, and block you. It’s not how you get them to your party.

That’s how you should think about your social media channels, as little social gatherings. What are you serving for hors devours? Bad appetizers can quickly destroy a party. 

Let’s pull the bus over

What do they need right now?

So what are the best companies doing for their followers? Here are a few examples from Loud Door’s August 2014 Study of the most powerful brands in social media:

  • Costco (1.2 million fans): Deals on items consumers need.
  • Ziploc (1.5 million fans): Holiday recipes like cakes encrusted with peppermint sticks crushed in Ziploc bags? Crafts and holiday decorations stored in . . . you guessed it . . . Ziploc containers.
  • St. Jude Children’s Hospital (1.7 million fans): Photos of children getting better.
  • Medela (247,000 fans): Baby photos and information to support breastfeeding.
  • Tide (over 4 million Facebook fans): Featuring the Scott twins, also known as the Property Brothers. Focused on clothes that can get really dirty like military, janitorial, construction and firefighting uniforms.
  • Reese’s Candy Company (12 million fans): Interesting desserts incorporating Reese’s products. Peanut information.

Notice a pattern? It’s beautiful like peanut butter and chocolate. There is a meeting point of providing followers what they need, without giving away the store, and always leading them back to your product.If it’s really something they need, then you won’t have to sell them.

When the followers of St Jude’s talk to someone in the real world who needs a doctor, they say “The people at St Jude’s really seem to care.” When the followers of Medela talk to expecting mothers, they ask if they follow Medela? Why? Because they are the first thing that comes to mind. Your followers will go out and sell your brand for you.

So what is it? What do they need right now, and how can you give it to them? How do you find out? Maybe you know. This comes down to understanding where your product falls, in the needs, or the desire category.

Let’s not split too many hairs on what exactly is a need versus what is considered a desire. For arguments sake, if it’s a need, as is the case with Costco’s products, then maybe all they need is to know what you have on sale. If it’s a desire, like Reese’s, then maybe all they need is an excuse to indulge.

Every product is going to offer a slightly different opportunity to close this gap. Doing this well is the artistry of social media. Mastery of that starts and ends with how well you answer the three questions.

Still stuck? We would be happy to look over your social media channels for free, and tell you what you could do to improve your strategy. We’re here when you need us.