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Drive More Traffic – AND REVENUE – with Social Media

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Last week, I had a friend who posted some amazing underwater shots and images taken from his surfing expedition in Costa Rica. It spurred a string of admirable comments asking how he took the pictures and what equipment he used.

“Amazing shot, dude! Who took that?!”Social Media Business

After all, he’s no professional photographer.  My surf buddy then linked to the GoPro Hero3+ and explained some of its awesome features, like the waterproof case and the ability to take pictures up to 30 frames per second.

I shared his pictures with my friends. And from there, one of my friends shared my post and linked to the mighty camera’s webpage with the comment: “Want.”

Not only did this spark a positive discussion for the product, two purchases were made within the next week from friends who saw the post and decided to do the research.  These two friends didn’t know my surf buddy, but were connected twice removed, in a six degrees of Kevin Bacon sort of way.

This is the power of social media.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get these people to want to share your brand?

This Kevin Bacon social power is undeniable and far reaching.  Facebook is one of the most popular with 1.19 billion monthly active users as of September 2013. Potential customers are monitoring mentions and conversations of your brand. And they are doing more of the work of generating traffic than ever before.

“It’s an unpredictable social game—stories I think people will share languish, and stories I wouldn’t personally share flourish. In fact, some of HyperVocal’s most shared stories didn’t even start on our own Facebook page, they just started bouncing around Facebook without our push.” Slade Sohmer, editor-in-chief, HyperVocal

According to the 2013 State of Digital Marketing report Webmarketing123, more marketers at both B2C and B2B companies report they are not only generating awareness and leads from social media campaigns, but that those leads are converting into customers.Why does social media matter for business?

However, there’s been some concern over the latest Facebook algorithm update in regards to how much of our message is actually getting seen.  In an effort to combat ‘spammy’ posts, Facebook made the News Feed alteration. Also meant to avoid duplicate content and to match members’ actions and preferences, this update reinforces the need for high quality and original content.

Facebook updated the algorithm to surface more “high quality” content from news organizations. Facebook is a constantly shifting target, the only thing constant about Facebook is change.

Today’s Facebook is more book, than face.

I’m not going to stop writing it. Focus on content and support with images!

Their change is in response to user feedback in hopes to minimize the “spammy” company content. “Like-baiting” is one such spammy method that was found as being 15% less relevant that stories that achieve the same type of engagement organically.

Many complained that we missed seeing our friends’ posts and that they were getting buried by random company advertisements.

“Like-baiting” is when a post explicitly asks News Feed readers to like, comment or share the post in order to get additional distribution beyond what the post would normally receive.

From Facebook:

The improvement we are making today better detects these stories and helps ensure that they are not shown more prominently in News Feed than more relevant stories from friends and other Pages. This update will not impact Pages that are genuinely trying to encourage discussion among their fans, and focuses initially on Pages that frequently post explicitly asking for Likes, Comments and Shares.

Facebook is also measuring “spammy links”, those links that may try to trick people into clicking through to a website with only ads or content/images that are continuously sent. Much like Google wants to give you the best possible website (content), Facebook is aiming to deliver quality content/images and more of what people want to see on the social network.

This isn’t necessarily all bad news. And what’s better? There is now a strong “Reddit” effect on Facebook regarding organic sharing on personal pages. If your content is good, the rest will take care of itself.

What can you do to increase your social currency?

1.  Showcase your product doing something out-of-the-ordinary, unexpected, or extreme.

By finding your product’s inner remarkability and by making people appear to be insiders, you may be able to use social to your advantage and generate what every company loves – buzz.

Snapple, the soft drink company, rolled out with an ingenious marketing strategy of inserting remarkable facts under their bottle caps. The facts are so unbelievable that the first thing many people do is share them with a friend.

2.    I’ll say it again: deliver quality content (and imagery!).

If we’re doing our job to deliver compelling content, we shouldn’t have to beg people to share content.” Micah Grimes, social media editor, ABC News

Impressions are earned through social media when search engines recognize the content is shared and highly relevant to a keyword.

People love to share their opinions with others. It’s the reason social networks have exploded these past few years. The more you post quality content, engage and share on social media, the better your search results will be.

And it can help you build a larger, more loyal customer base.

Work it. Own it.

You don’t have to be Kevin Bacon to get your story out or find new customers.

People are talking about your products whether you realize it or not.  Don’t just be part of the conversation.  Own a part of the conversation and develop brand advocates.

How Infographics Can Increase Branding & Traffic

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

While there is no denying that words are an exceedingly powerful tool in creating a brand or driving relevant traffic to your site, they are but a piece in the overall marketing equation. Why does your brain crave infographics? As humans, we are very visual creatures. And in today’s society of online A.D.D., marketers need to be clever and savvy in how they grab the attention of potential customers. thumb---infographic

While the digital form of infographics is relatively recent, explaining an idea in image form is nothing new. Infographics are the smart new digital way of communicating ideas, data and knowledge.

Did you know the world’s information is currently doubling every two years? It’s no wonder people experience information overload.

The use of visualized information has increased drastically.

  • 9900% on the internet (since 2007)
  • 142% in newspapers (between 1985 & 1994)

From 2010 to 2012, infographic search volumes have increased over 800%.

In 2013, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, Gareth Cook, was brought in to edit the first volume of The Best American Infographics.

So, why do infographics work?

  1. We live in the information age: In one day, we create 1.5 billion pieces of content, 140 million tweets and 2 million videos. But we have less and less time and attention spans to read and take in as much content as we want. Most people decide to stay or leave a site in just 2-4 seconds. With infographics, it’s much more likely your content will be remembered.
  2. We are Visual: An infographic collects data, organizes it, and turns this information into an easy to understand visual. A well-researched and designed infographic empowers readers by breaking down complex ideas into visual groupings. Stunning images or well-designed charts simply make a bigger impression.
  3. Demonstrate & Convince: Want to learn how to do the Moon Walk? You could read about it, but it would be a lot easier to view an infographic with step-by-step pictures. An infographic also can easily tell a story, behind the statistics of just about anything you can think of. They make it easy to understand even complex concepts.
  4. Brand Awareness: Infographics have company logos embedded for instant brand awareness. And built on the same principles of content marketing components, it should tell a good brand story.
  5. Earn Links: Because of the visual appeal, infographics are easily shareable on all social profiles. They allow sites in niche industries with minimal natural linkage to earn links from other markets. Infographics can provide global coverage, at a much smaller cost, than print media ever could.
  6. Become an Authority: The research required for an infographic will help you become the expert in the topic or industry.
  7. Measurable Results: Infographics are meant to go viral. Good infographics equal enhanced search visibility and increased SEO. Infographics offer quick measurable results from social shares, backlinks and traffic.infographic---infographic-200px

Some fantastic examples:

  • 50 Years of Space Exploration: Massive infographic that displays the last 50 years of space exploration. Designed by Sean McNaughton and Samuel Velasco for National Geographic.
  • Grand Mosque: This is an infographic press release from the Gulf News (Dubai)

Information has to be digestible for it to go viral. Generate a unique connection with visitors with creatively designed, animated and educational infographics. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

 

Eye Popping Landing Pages

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Why do you update your website, create quality content, post in social channels and optimize your pages?  You not only want visitors to your website, but ultimately an increase in sales and profits, right? Once they arrive on your page after your carefully crafted search optimization, you want a landing page that converts.landing page thumbnail

Landing pages are a concise and customized web page specifically designed to capture a visitor’s information through a lead-capture form. Landing pages allow you to target your audience, offer them something of value and convert a higher percentage of visitors into leads. Oh, and all the while, capturing their information.

Key Components of an Effective Landing Page:

1.    Headline: You only get one chance to make a great first impression. A great landing page headline sums up the offer and grabs the visitor’s attention. It’s crucial that it clearly demonstrates what a visitor will get from the page. Supporting headline: Your main headline should be short and succinct. So, your supporting headline give you the opportunity to extend and support the main headline.
2.    Copy & White Space: Bullet points can be used to demonstrate clear takeaways and benefits and are easier to digest. This should also include a reinforcement statement and keywords that you think your potential customers are searching for. What is your unique selling proposition?  Also include social proof, like customer testimonials, statistics of your product or service or awards from reputable organizations.
3.    Hidden Site Navigation: Choices should be minimal on landing pages. Attention should be focused on one offer.
4.    Image: A picture is worth a thousand words. Use this help visitors gain a better understanding of what you are offering and/or selling. Also called the “hero shot”, the use of images or a video will make the page more visually appealing.  Specifically, using an image with a person makes your business more relatable and personable.
5.    Lead-Capture/Conversion Form: Also called a Call-To-Action (CTA), this encourages people to try or purchase your product. Make the CTA bold and easy to find, and make sure it’s above the fold.
6.    Social Sharing Icons: You want more leads, don’t you?  Make it easy for your visitors to share the offer with their friends and community.

Some other tips?

–    Color matters – Most B2B companies find success with blues, whites and grays. Not convinced? Test!Landing Pages Infographic

–    Eye direction matters – Did you know there’s a natural pattern to the path most users’ eyes follow on a page? Eye tracking provides loads of great data about how people engage with your landing page. According to EyeTools.com, an individual eye path, called a heat map, looks like little more than a totally random smattering of points, or hot spots, scattered over the page. If a heat map demonstrates that readers’ eyes are focusing on unimportant areas of a page, it’s time to alter the design.

The biggest reason your business should consider a landing page is that it can increase your conversion rate.

Online advertising that uses landing pages typically sees a conversion rate improvement of at least 25%. Testing can double this number. Source: Omniture

What is a landing pages purpose? In 2006, Seth listed 5 overarching reasons why landing pages exist. These reasons still hold true:

1.    Get a visitor to purchase your product or service
2.    Get a visitor to refer or tell a friend
3.    Get a visitor to click to go to another page
4.    Get a visitor to give contact information & permission for you to follow up
5.    Get a visitor to comment or give feedback

Below are 5 benefits from utilizing landing pages:

1.    They are simple to create: If you have a website built, then you likely already have all the key elements you need to build out a 1 page landing page. You may need a new graphic and some slightly different copy, but the skeleton is already there.
2.    Capturing user information: By optimizing landing pages to fill out a form, you can analyze the data and have a baseline of information about that lead before reaching out.
3.    Tailor to the promotion: Direct visitors to a page that highlights exactly how the product or service will help them.
4.    More conversion opportunities: A conversion happens when a visitor comes to your website and decides to buy a product. The more landing pages you have on your site, the more opportunity you have to convert visitors in to leads. And of course, the SEO benefit can’t be ignored as the landing pages also get indexed in search.
5.    A/B Testing: Creating multiple landing pages and tracking the performance can increase goal completions and conversions. Try different copy, pictures or placements of arrows (or no arrows), different color buttons and CTA placement on the page.

Not all visitors are the same, except that every visitor coming to your landing page has a problem that needs solving or is in need of information. What is your premise and emotional hook?  Make sure you are maintaining ad message momentum. It’s easier for your visitors to find the offer they are looking for on a landing page, with one offer, than on a cluttered website home page.

Where are you sending your traffic?

“Landing pages are the new direct marketing, and everyone with a website is a direct marketer.” ~Seth Godin

Hashtags: Keeping Up with the Conversation

Friday, February 21st, 2014

In 1988 hashtags were firstly used on a platform named Internet Relay Chat. It was one of the first protocols on the Internet that was used to send messages in real time. For most, it was an afterthought on our telephone keypads and then a way to ensure your voicemail was delivered. Now, the pound sign is a typographical symbol with lofty ambitions.thumb---hashtag

Six years ago, Twitter’s users invented what’s now known as the hashtag and has found its way into commercials, football games and even spoken language. In 2007, developer Chris Messina proposed, in a tweet, that Twitter begin grouping topics using the hash symbol.  The pound sign (or hash) turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link.

So, why are hashtags now a big part of our society?

The role of business in society is all encompassing and social media has forever changed the way we communicate.  Hashtags are the little links that brings it all together.

The social scene is massive and often overwhelming. The hashtag adds clarity and direction and allows for wordplay, humor and sometimes, even poetry. Their flexible and versatile and it improves the chance that other Twitter users will find your tweet in targeted Twitter searches.

Those who can adapt to society around them tend to be the ones who evolve and create new ideas. Will hashtags soon become an official piece of #punctuation in formal writing?

We’re taught at an early age, with cognitive development, in preschool and beyond, that social interaction is crucial. Social networks and hashtags particularly, create influence and an opportunity to learn and find information. #RealTimeLearning.infographic---hashtag-200px

The hashtag gives the writer the opportunity to sarcastically undermine their own tweet. Can I answer my own questions with hashtags? #Yes. Be thoughtful and choose relevant hashtags.

Here are a couple of examples:

Shoulder pads make me look awesome. #kidding

Need to go to #NYC for a wedding. Advice on #CheapTravel?

So why should your business care about hashtags?

Hashtags imply categorization, classification and commentary. Deliver metaphors in just a word or two.

Hashtags like #SMB or #smallbiz are great to seek information, resources and current news of the small business variety. The #marketing and #sales hashtag contains a lot of business-related content. Use a branded hashtag if you have a very specific message to convey.

Curious which hashtags are trending across social media? Hashtags.org tells you which tags are hot in real time. Third parties like Webstagram provide helpful breakdowns of the trendiest hashtags.

Language has evolved before and will inevitably evolve again.  Will your business keep up with the conversation?

Blogging for Business

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” thumb---blogging

In today’s online world, blogging allows you to engage your target audience, attract new customers & establish credibility.

With the release of Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, frequent, fresh, high-quality content is critical for increasing your website’s ranking.

Blogging is one of the easiest ways to improve your organic search performance because every time you write a new post, you create a new URL for your site.  Every new URL is a brand new opportunity for your website to be ranked in search. Building rich content means more traffic. And fresh content is still a key to beating out your competitors in the search engine results page. Search engines are looking for active websites on a particular searched term or topic.

Make sure you create UNIQUE content.

Search engines will penalize you for duplicate content, which is content also found on other sites.  In your blog posts, it’s important to use keywords that you want to rank for.

infographic---blogging-200px

Blogging allows you to build your brand as an expert. Display your talent and knowledge in articles that demonstrate why someone should hire you or purchase your product. Build trust with consistent, honest and helpful content. Blogs provide another source to deepen the connection with your customer. Customers want to feel they have a personal connection with your company. Today’s marketer helps customers solve a problem or find a great solution.

What’s a cool side effect of blogging? The process encourages you to stop and think deeper.

Create content that’s creative and interesting. Ask yourself, would you want to read it and share it with your network?

Search engine algorithms can detect if a blog provides a good user experience. Utilize tagging features and make sure the author, title and publish date are easily identifiable.  With the increasing number of people accessing information on mobile phones, it’s important that your blog is viewable on mobile devises.  Make it responsive!  If your blog isn’t responsive to mobile and tablet devices, readers are more likely to find similar information on another site. Include social sharing icons so that search engines and potential readers or customers can recognize which articles are popular.

  • Make it unique
  • Make it optimized
  • Make it responsive
  • Make it social
  • Make it creative

From Fortune 500 companies to smaller shops, millions are utilizing blogging because it provides endless opportunities for your website to rank in search.

Blogging helps you stand out among your competitors. Just ask Google.

Why Your Business Can’t Ignore Mobile Social Media

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

I’ve always considered myself to be a social creature. And I’m not the only one. It should be no surprise that the social advertising market is projected to grow to $11 billion by 2017. That’s $11 billion, with a “b”. Well-executed mobile strategies will offer the biggest payoffs for savvy marketers. thumb---mobile-social-media

Did you know that almost eight in ten (78%) of consumers say that the posts made by the brands they follow on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook influence their purchases?

66% of those who shop online more than twice per week say that they would be more inclined to shop at a brick and mortar store if they offered mobile checkout facilities. And according emarketer.com, in 2015, mobile advertising (on Facebook and Twitter) will account for 55.3% of ad revenue vs. online advertising.

Last year, social networking surpassed gaming as the most-engaged mobile activity. According to Business Insider, three of the world’s 10 largest social networks are mobile messaging apps — namely, WhatsApp, LINE, and WeChat. Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter are becoming mobile-based.

Mobile has changed consumer behavior and the way we communicate.

Here’s the proof:

  • Facebook mobile is the largest source of social traffic. Facebook reached 1.16 billion monthly active users at the end of the second quarter this year. As of September 2013, 874 million people used Facebook’s mobile app, up by 45% from the year before. According to Shareaholic’s Social Media Traffic Report (October 2013), publishers saw average referral traffic from Facebook mobile grow 253% between September 2012 and September 2013.Mobile Social Media Infographic
  • With more than three-quarters of monthly active users visiting on mobile devices, Twitter has even said (via their blog) that Twitter was born mobile. The average Twitter user follows five or more brands.
  • Google+ is the fourth most popular smartphone app globally, trailing behind Google Maps, Facebook and YouTube.
  • Geo-targeting can pinpoint the exact whereabouts of your customers so you can deliver relevant ads. The ability to leverage smartphone users’ GPS to deliver an ad relevant to their location increases relevancy.
  • 40% of YouTube video plays in the U.S. now come from mobile.
  • 30% of frequent online shoppers, purchasing online more than twice per week, use Pinterest to discover new products. Mobile Pinterest usage increased 60x last year.
  • Instagram is growing in popularity with 18% of cell phone owners using the photo-sharing application. Photo and video sharing have become commonplace in daily life. Use this mobile medium through events and contests, encouraging people to post images from an event location or share insider product images to create a buzz and excitement around your brand.
  • Mobile pageviews on LinkedIn are up 250% in 2013.

People and companies alike want to share their lives and their products and services. Your customers are connected and savvy. Mobile allows for instantaneous connections and stronger relationships. If you haven’t already, put mobile at the heart of every social campaign.

The future of communication is in the palm of your hand. And the future is now.

Branding Basics: Set Yourself Apart from the Start

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Any business owner will tell you that in order to build awareness, connection, and trust, it requires consistent interactions. Your brand is no exception. thumb---branding

A brand is a multidimensional medium that can be your greatest differentiator and competitive edge. Branding is fundamental. Your brand is your promise to your customer. What you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy. Branding promotes recognition.

A company’s brand can be key to its success.

So, where do you start?

1.    Do Your Research: Who is most likely to buy your product? Set a specific, actionable goal. Include a clear vision statement that outlines an aspirational view of the impact you plan to make on the business world.

2.    Claim Your Name: Distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy. This means the URL, the Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social channel URL’s, as well. Go to GoDaddy.com and make a list, because your favorite may not be available in all channels.

3.    Make it Simple: The name should be short and memorable. What are the core features and benefits of your products or services? Define why your customers should buy your product and identify with your brand.  Answer what can be easily seen and measured: price, quality, service and features. Simplicity is the cornerstone of a good brand. Colors and language should all be considered from everything to logo design to the content on the website.Business Branding Infographic

4.    Differentiate Yourself: No one likes a copycat. You want to set yourself apart from competitors. Branding should explain, in tone and visuals, how you’re different from them. Make sure you’ve got something interesting, relevant, and memorable to say.

5.    Use Emotion: Consider a spokesperson. Potential customers will typically connect with a person more so than with a brand. Take Flo from Progressive or the gecko from Geico. A good brand connects with people at an emotional level.

6.    Be Consistent: A company should have a consistent look-and-feel.  Create consistent and engaging content in order to educate people about your brand and products so they get to know you, like you and trust you.

7.    Market Yourself: It’s not enough to claim your name anymore. Engage in social media and be a part of the conversation. Here, you can use emotion and humanize your brand. This also means fully integrating social media onto your site. You’ll look savvy and increase connectivity at the same time.  And who doesn’t like a company that’s in the know?

8.    Monitor Your Reputation: Start by setting up a Google Alert, which allow users to select keywords to track and to receive e-mail updates whenever they appear on the Web. And services like Viralheat detect whether a post is positive, negative, or neutral. If you don’t have time, consider hiring a digital marketing agency.

Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, because it’s a company’s face to the world. It requires passion, vision and courage.  And smart branding allowed the company to clearly communicate a change in direction or new era for the company, while continuing to build its reputation.

PPA Partners Website Launch – A Case Study

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

If you’ve been in business for any period of time, you know how important it is to have an online presence.  The internet is the world’s new market place.  But what if you needed a website launched fast and you don’t have months to wait for your site to be live?

The following are just some of the steps that need to be considered when launching a website.

PPA Partners logo

  • Navigation and wire frame

  • Color scheme and branding

  • Content

  • What about social media links?

  • Google Analytics should be installed

  • Title Tags and Meta Data

  • Install a favicon: this brands the tab in the user’s browser

  • Adding a sitemap

  • Testing: cross-browser checks

An established renewable energy consulting company recently came to Graphtek wanting an updated, clean and professional looking site. PPA Partners works to implement an energy generation strategy and financing options for projects and companies.

One of the numerous projects they were working on was The Center for Solar Energy in collaboration Texas A&M University-Central Texas. Graphtek worked with PPA Partners to develop a website for this project, which is a research and development facility that when completed, will be the largest in the world.

PPA Partners wanted to have a new site up and running by the launch of the CSE project. They had a good amount of press for the launch and wanted to make sure their new site was up and running to display the type of work they do to other potential clients.

Graphtek had all of the client assets (which is key!) and the Graphtek team started design on Tuesday June 25th 2013. The client hired a copy writer for the content (who worked to complete it over that weekend) and PPA Partners was designed, content inputted, programmed and live by the end of the day on July 1st.  This included a live news article feed from green technology companies. Great job Nicole!

That’s 5 business days, from start to finish!

At Graphtek Interactive, we work with our clients in optimizing the best approach to a website launch to give your investment the best chance for success.

5 Reasons to Hire a Digital Marketing Agency

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

You’ve decided you need help with marketing your product or service and you’ve joined millions who know that digital marketing is a more cost effective and valued way to reach qualified customers. Digital agencies come in many shapes and sizes, from high end global clients, to boutique and specialty agencies.

Imagine that a sudden rain storm has flooded your backyard and is starting to seep into your newly carpeted game room. Instincts tell you to grab some towels and prepare for the impending stream of sludge.  You wouldn’t think to fix the broken pipe that has released the deluge, so you call an expert not only to fix the problem, but to design something that will work during future storms. Think of a digital marketing agency not only as your plumber, but as your house architect, construction contractor, handy man, real estate agent and property manager.

According to 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends research, put together by none other than the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs, 64% say their biggest challenge is “producing enough content.”

It’s simply more efficient to engage a full service agency as your marketing partner.

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Social Media Statistics of 2013

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

We’ve reached a time where social media is no longer a novelty or trend. If you haven’t joined the bandwagon, following are some stats to prove you should. Breaking news can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube. It continues to grow as common practice, and new platforms continue to appear and have business relevance and marketing importance.social-media-stats-2013-intro-image

As of January 2013, the five largest social networks based on active monthly users were: Facebook (1 billion), YouTube (800 million) and Google+ (343 million) followed by Twitter and LinkedIn with 200 million active monthly users each. (more…)