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? 

Bookstore

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! 

Buzzsumo2

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.

why you need mobile seo by DEP copy

 

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:

 

digital-social-mobile-in-2015-6-638

 

“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!

  

don-draper-shrug

 

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. 

2015 Social Media Kill List

I’m having a hard time accepting that the first quarter of 2015 is over. It seems like I was just putting up Christmas lights. My inability to accept this fact is due to the following blog, which I found. It’s mine. I drafted it, originally, to go out as my January 1st call to arms. Now three months have passed and I am only partially on plan, probably because I never posted the blog. This, therefore, is my public admission, and best stab at getting on track. Hey, I never claimed to be perfect.

I’ve reworked it to be my plan for the rest of 2015 so it’s still relevant. For better or worse the concepts were as valid then as they are today.

———- 

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I am a social media manager. 

I won’t call myself: maven, guru, ninja, or any of the other abused epithets. My job is already cool. It doesn’t need a title to make it cooler. I get paid to surf social media, read blogs, make comments, write articles, and post pictures.

BlockbusterMoncton

It’s like the grown-up version of working at Blockbusters. [Kids: People used rent something called VHS… never mind.] 

My job might be fun, but one thing’s for certain. It ain’t easy. As with all jobs, there’s an aspect of the work which stinks. Measuring success is easiest when talking dollars, or leads, or even click-through-rates. Getting the results I care about is also a challenge.

Clients like metrics… especially if they’re tied to people, and their wallets. I speak from authority when I report: nobody cares about increasing engagement scores.

It’s as much work to sell clients on the value of engagement scores as it is increasing those very scores.

“Those of us who run in social media circles know that we are the redheaded stepchildren of internet marketing.” Tweet This

Those of us who run in social media circles know that we are the redheaded stepchildren of internet marketing. We stand on the shoulders of platforms, sandwiched between paid advertising, and SEO.

We are the plug and play network wizards who front like we work on Madison Avenue circa ’72.

And yet, our work counts. It’s needed. Otherwise it wouldn’t exist. If CEOs and company owners had the leisure time to surf Pinterest and post Instagram photos, then they likely wouldn’t be CEOs and owners. To all of my social media people out there: you matter. Solidarity. But, I believe we can be better. I can definitely be better.  

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Here’s my loose plan for the rest of 2015:

  1. I will listen better.
  2. I will get my clients more engaged.
  3. And I will be a community leader.

The importance of listening isn’t such an easy concept to grasp, and so difficult to execute.   

It seems even the most talented of us get a little caught up in all our importance. We know communication is about two things, and someday we’ll get good at the listening part, promise. For now there’s just so much cool stuff we want to share with the world. 

So for the rest of 2015 I am taking a cue from Toyota, and doing a better job of active listening. It’s not enough to observe conversations, and it’s really not cool to constantly twist them into pitches, but it is cool to offer intelligent contributions. It’s even cooler to share the things others are sharing. 

My clients will not take a back seat on their social media profiles. 

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When I started this I wanted to be the full service social media provider. “Don’t worry… we’ll take care of everything.” Why not? We can manage all the unfun work. We can run the campaigns, time the posts, find the content, and measure the results. But, followers need to hear from the CEO, even if it’s at the hands of the CEO’s assistant, who’s taking dictation.

Richard Branson is my personal hero. By 2016 my clients will be so sick of Branson, and Virgin, they’ll be signing up for the Mars mission. If you want to see an example of a CEO who gets social media, follow this man. Do everything he does.

It’s true. Clients don’t have time to listen, or post fifty-thousand times a day, but they can step in from time-to-time, reshare super cool company posts, and throw in their two cents. They can make time to be the flesh and blood leaders of their organizations. They have to if they want to play the hottest game in marketing. I am committed to dragging them kicking and screaming if I have to.

594px-5.3.10RichardBransonByDavidShankboneBeing involved in community is as relevant in the virtual world as it is in the real world. 

Community involvement, as I’m figuring out, goes beyond joining social media groups on LinkedIn and Google+. I also have to engage with posts in these arenas, daily, hourly, and every moment of the day. I’ve found almost immediate value with starting my own communities, or groups related to my clients businesses.

Yes, I know… they’re like chatrooms 2.0, but they are the places where conversations are all migrating. I’m the sort of guy who doesn’t waste time; I head straight to the kitchen at any house party. Everybody will be there sooner or later and I want to be near the fridge. I will do the same with social media groups.

Alright. That’s my plan for the rest of 2015. I would love to hear from you if you think I’m way off base. The only way any of us social media students has learned is through trial, (much) error, and the advice of others… even they are really SEO nerds.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Have a great second quarter!

-Damon Mitchell, Social Media Warlock for DEP

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Disavow for the SEO Mind

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Your job as an SEO mind is to use common sense, and knowledge to interpret Google’s message without over reacting out of fear. You know when you are doing things that are good for your brand and what makes business sense in a partnership don’t you? In our blog on the Penguin Update we discusses many of the mistakes that can get you out of favor with Google. Some of them are mistakes that you have made, and some of them are out of your control, this is life, this is online marketing. Learn from your mistakes and learn how to protect yourself while dealing with them. The best part of it is, Google is willing to help with the Disavow tool. However, don’t take advantage of Google’s kindness. This isn’t a get out of jail for free card, and the tool should be handled with extreme care and used as a last resort. Here are the steps you need to take in order to use it properly.

  • Evaluation
    • The first step for any new client is to review their external backlinks. A quick scan should be pretty telling. We typically pull links from three sources.  Ahrefs, OSE, and WMT, and look for these obvious problem areas:
  • Over-optimized anchor text
    • Hint: Listing twelve keywords in a blog and linking back to your home page is not a good thing. 
  • Domain Name
    • Hint: Sites that have the words, SEO, FREE, LINK, POKER, Directory, will lead you on a path to nowhere and fast.
  • Relevancy
    • Hint: If you have to ask yourself, is this site relevant? It is more than likely not.
  • Additional Hints
    • Remove all links that are questionable, despite no follow or follow tag.
    • Remove all questionable broken links
    • Use Citation flow of .7 or above and a DA of 50 or above as your judgment of any additional questionable links.
    • If you are seeing any of these sites in your quick scan. It is time to get up close and personal. At DEP we believe strongly in the machete approach when reviewing the links. We trim with precise aggression.   

For the entire disavow process, we use Remoovem. It scan’s several sources for you automatically, and allows you one free upload of an excel file for any additional links you want to evaluate. In addition, it makes the overall disavow process much simpler due to the fact that it provides contacts to the sites you want to disavow, template messages, and tracks numbers of outreach emails automatically. When your outreach is complete, it will also create the disavow list needed for submission. In all honesty,we couldn’t imagine doing a Disavow without it. 

Contacting Sites

Google recommends contacting sites a min. of 3 times. They want to make you work for fixing your mistakes.  We send these over a 10 day period, with 2 days between each email. Here are some rules to live by

  • Emails should be professional, friendly, and contain all necessary information for the webmaster to easily identify the link you want removed.  The easier you make the task on them, the more likely they are to accommodate.  Each email you send of the three, should get progressively more urgent, but never threatening.  
  • Emails should be sent from a client’s server for continuity.
  • Make sure you remove websites from your outreach list as they respond or remove the requested link. 
  • If someone request you pay for link removal, kindly tell them that you will just proceed to the use of the disavow tool.

File Creation

If you are not going to use software like Remoovem you need to follow the following steps to provide the correct disavow file for submission:

  • The Disavow File should start with a statement of your removal requests with a “#” for each statement. 
    • #We have manually contacted each of the these sites 3 times between 0ctober 10th 2014 – October 20th, 2014, but were un able to have them removed by their webmasters.  We have records of all our requests.
  • It should be a text file (txt), and encoded in UTF-8.
  • Each line should only contain one domain
    • Format for submission is “domain: xyzabc.com”
    • www., or http:// is not required
  •  When you choose to update your file with additional requests, bear in mind that this will replace your old request.  It will remain visible in the tool regardless if the file has been accepted or not.

File Submission

When you’re ready to submit your disavow the process is simple.

  • Log in to your Google account
  • Go to the Disavow Tool
  • Select your site
  • Click “Disavow Links”
  • Choose the file you created
  • Click “Submit”

Penguin 3.0 Finally Drops…What to look for?

pengiun

The little bird that can’t fly finally drops for the white hat SEO community to reap 12 months of hard work cleaning up negligent work of other HACK SEO companies.

After 12 long months of waiting for the next Penguin update, it finally arrived on October 20th. A full list of Penguin updates can be found here

Here are dates of all Penguin releases:

  • Penguin 1.0 on April 24, 2012 (impacting ~3.1% of queries)
  • Penguin 1.1 on May 26, 2012 (impacting less than 0.1%)
  • Penguin 1.2 on October 5, 2012 (impacting ~0.3% of queries)
  • Penguin 2.0 on May 22, 2013 (impacting 2.3% of queries)
  • Penguin 2.1 on Oct. 4, 2013 (impacting around 1% of queries)
  • Penguin 3.0 on October 17, 2014 (impacting around 1% of queries)

**Source : Search Engine Land

If you’ve been affected by this penalty, you are likely in one of two camps:

1. A business that previously employed a SEO firm who used ill advised practices of building backlinks through any number of ways: link wheels, blog networks, heavy usage of keyword rich anchors, mass directory submissions, etc.

2. A business that has been hacked or attacked by a negative SEO campaigns. 

At Downtown eCommerce we’ve been helping clients in both camps. Over the last 18 months we’ve brought on 3 different clients in camp one that were hammered by Pengiun 2.0 and 2.1 as result of a previous SEO firms efforts. 

Recently, we brought on another client who’s rankings, and thus traffic, were decimated by their WordPress site getting hacked. How exactly did we identify the issue? Combing through their back link profile we found a laundry list of backlinks that had absolutely no correlation to their business. A complete list is below: 

# of Domains

Anchor Text

77

wholesale nfl jerseys

71

louis vuitton handbags

67

ugg boots on sale

67

wholesale jerseys

65

ugg boots sale

62

louis vuitton wallets

61

louis vuitton outlet

60

cheap ugg boots

58

cheap jerseys

It’s safe to say our client wasn’t in the multi facet business of selling NFL jerseys, Uggs boots, and Louie Vuitton bags. 

For the better part of last year our team spent endless hours cleaning up the backlink profiles for these clients. A detailed explanation of that process, and our results, will be the next blog post from our resident link building manager Corey

In the interim, if you feel you’ve been hit by this recent update. We’d recommend you do the following:

1. Check your keyword rankings and look for the following:

>>Have a large number of keywords dropped off page 1 of Google?

>>Are those same keywords still ranking in Bing but not in Google?

2. Check your organic search traffic in Google Analytics and do the following comparisons:

>>Month over month comparison…is there a major dip in traffic for October vs. September

>>YTD year over year comparison…is there a major dip in traffic for October 2014 vs. October 2013

3. Check out your backlink profile in Ahrefs or Open Site Explorer and look for the following:

>>Look for unusual anchor text in your top links. I.E. The glaring example above should help illustrate what we’re talking about.

>>Look at the types of referring domains linking to your site. Are there a large amount of domains linking to your site that are completely irrelevant to your business?

If you can answer yes to a few of these items, it’s likely you have a big problem. We can help, please give us a call or drop us an email for a free consultation.