Trendsetting for Local Marketing 2015

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20152015 is only 13 days away and if you are like most people, you haven’t even thought past what to make for the holiday party at (insert your gathering here). Well, you won’t have to think too hard because I am here to update you on what to expect for local marketing in 2015 and how to stay one step ahead.

More consumers use mobile devices for search, purchase, payment, booking and scheduling.

Consumers are becoming more comfortable with mobile payment and prefer to also book and schedule online after considering their own research and reading company reviews. Local marketers need to understand this change and progress with those who chose this option instead of more traditional markets.

Tablets are sold more than smartphones!

Mind blowing, I know. Tablets have surpassed smart phones in the consumer market this year. In a world where there are blurred lines in the functionality of these items, it is best to optimize your content and site for both.

Mobile ads are becoming more local.

With mobile ads becoming more local, it may start to make sense to budget for localized target ads on platforms such as Facebook. It does not need to take over your marketing, but a small part of your strategy should at least consider this medium and integrate with your overall strategy.

Wearable devices will become a normal thing.

                Wearable devices are still greatly in the development and tweak phase.  However, to stay ahead of the curve, ensure that you know which the industry leaders are and how your company, marketing and target audience fits within this new market. Search Engine Land cites statistics that predict an increase of $24 billion in this industry by 2018.

Social Media influences purchase decisions…duh.

                Social media has become the outlet of taste makers and trendsetters alike, so it is no surprise that when you see that amazing gadget on a Facebook post or ad, you just have to click. When Facebook friends see that Mark “likes” or “follows” a specific brand, if similar taste to Mark, will also be likely to  like  or  follow.   Social media users are looking to social media for information and inspiration on what to buy, so make your product or service the most interesting, or as useful as it can be.

Ensure your site is easily findable with a digital assistant.

                According to a study cited by Search Engine Land, 56 percent of people that own a smartphone have accessed a digital assistant to aid in local search information. Consumers have started to bypass the manual process of entering search terms directly into Google and instead enable help from Siri or Google Now. Test your site with your own smartphone to ensure your company is easily findable.

Market messages to smaller and more personal audiences.

It’s not rocket science that consumers value a more personal message. I am a huge supporter of making sure your message matches your target audience. Convey a relevant idea and pare down your message without diluting the impact. Also one really great message can create a much better impact than 3 “okay” messages. Respect that you are only a part of their overall stream of information, “Less is more- more is never more.”  Also, be willing to integrate with other companies, apps, and services in a networking mindset as your customers may be led to your product through theirs!

Direct mail is not dead!

Tried and true is always direct mail. I would like to add a digital twist to this however, suggesting that utilizing your online marketing email database and sending a personalized email offer. This is a great time for an intervention if you have not been collecting customer emails regularly. This should be included first and foremost in your 2015 strategy!

CRM integration.

                If 2014 taught us anything, then we know that reviews, as well as having a social online presence, are of great importance in representing your brand.  Expect customer relationship management tools and best practices to take precedence in 2015. Your company should be responding to the customer’s comments, reviews and questions in a timely of a manner. If you are unable to manage this, then 2015 will bring tools to that help this facet of online marketing. Better yet, use your current marketing company to help you manage. After all, Seventy-eight percent of consumers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by online reviews, according to the market research firm Ipsos.

Leverage your marketing to both retain and gain new customers!

                Marketing should always have a purpose behind the message, but there are many overlaps in messages intended to gain and retain your target audience. When creating your message consider both!

Teach your clients how to do it

As much as we love to take the wheel and manage all facets for our clients, sometimes it benefits you to teach them the basics. When responding to a review, posting something on Facebook or replying to a question, make sure to explain what you did and how you did that so your client also knows what they are doing if they would like to post, respond or simply have the knowledge. This builds trust and common bonds when you can openly communicate about the brand and its direction.

Anchor Text on Your Site

Anchor text links have been known to have a lot of ‘search engine ranking’ juice.  It is one of the search engine optimization tools that has been around for the past ten years or so and continues to have ranking leverage.

An anchor can be spotted easily in content because it is usually underlined in blue (like in the image below) although some sites and blogs have custom colored links but it will still be underlined and still will be distinct.  When looking at the source code of an anchor text link you will notice an ‘a’ in the code which represents ‘anchor’, for example, ‘Search Engine Optimization’ link on our homepage is the anchor text and the code is <a href=”search-engine-marketing/search-engine-optimization.htm”>SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION</a.

Something to keep in mind about  anchor texts is that Google will only index one of the same anchor texts if there are multiple occurrences. A great example of this is shown in the image below from Moz.

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It is always a best practice to have the link open a new window or a new tab, especially for social media platform links. We want to keep users on the site and not distract them by directing them to another platform. Recently, Bing changed their algorithm to include crawling external links on sites for added credibility. For example, if you own an auto shop and carry various brands of oil, it may be helpful to include links to the types of oil carried to add as useful information for the user. After all, it’s always about the user!

Google Looks at Mobile User Experience

mobile_searchAt the risk of sounding like my grandparents, I can remember the days when I would lug out a huge yellow directory whenever I needed to find a dry cleaner, mechanic, or florist, and flip through page after page of businesses. When I compare that to turning on my laptop, typing in a two or three word search, and getting instant results, it is truly amazing.  I mean, how easy is that? Well, as it turns out, ever since I got my new Samsung Galaxy S5 smart phone, hauling out that big ol’ laptop seems like such a hassle.

Whether you are reading about trends and statistics, or discovering it for yourself, mobile search is clearly where the buyers are when it comes to online marketing. For some time now, industry experts have been talking about how it is absolutely essential to have a website that works on mobile platforms. Not only do you want prospective customers to be able to use your website on a mobile device, you first want them to be able to find you, and Google may not even include your site in mobile search results if it is not mobile-friendly.

According to a recent Search Engine Land article, Google could soon be raising the stakes in mobile search by evaluating mobile user experience as part of its ranking algorithm. This means that having a mobile site that is functional will not be enough – it will need to also be user-friendly. Googlebot, Google’s crawling bot or spider, is capable of looking at your site the way an actual user would see it on their mobile device. When the bot renders the page, Google can see how the fonts look, what size the buttons are, as well as how the page scrolls. Based on what it sees, Google can evaluate how user-friendly the site is for mobile users compared with other mobile sites. Whether or not Google does decide to add this evaluation to their ranking algorithm in the future, remember that making sure your site’s mobile user experience is the best it can be will increase the chances of prospects using your website, and ultimately giving you the sale.

Back in the days of the aforementioned yellow directory, a common marketing strategy seemed to be naming your business to begin with the letter “A” so it would appear at the top of the list. Now, of course, things are a little more complicated.  At Upright, we are helping clients meet mobile marketing challenges with strategies like responsive website design. We work hard to stay out front as online marketing evolves, and we are here to help you get where you need to be. Give us a call to discuss your online marketing goals.

 

Is Case Sensitivity Causing your Duplicate Content?

Written by Jenn Johnson & Keely Ledebur

Would you believe just tapping that shift key to create a capital letter in your URL could be the culprit to your duplicate content issues?

If Google can find your web page using multiple versions of your URL, then you risk Google indexing all the variations (such as www.yourdomain.com/This-Page/ and www.yourdomain.com/this-page/).

Why is that an issue?  Foremost, if both URLs actually display the same page you could be in jeopardy of a duplicate content penalty.  In addition, think of the 2 pages competing against each other.   They will share all incoming links and authority while also skewing your analytics data.  You’ll save a lot of headaches by following a consistent naming convention in the development of all new pages on your site.

Some developers will never sway from the lowercase only rule while others say it’s just important to stay consistent.  Google doesn’t have a preference of case for URLs mentioning that it is not a ranking factor.  So what advice can we give you to reduce the likelihood of your URLs ending up indexed with case sensitive variations?

  1. Test your server.  Windows servers are not typically case sensitive and will display the page however a visitor types in the URL.  Linux servers will display a 404 not found page for the incorrect version of the URL.
  2. Determine a URL naming convention that you’ll use throughout the site.  Remember to be consistent with all your internal links.
  3. If you’re concerned about external links to alternate case versions of your URLs, consider creating 301 redirects to the correct version or using a URL rewrite program.
  4. Use canonicals.  Adding the tag (<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.yourdomain.com/test-page/” />) to the header of the page tells Google your preferred URL should multiple variations be found .
  5. Have a conversation with your webmaster and web development team to make certain everyone is on the same page. Communication is important in the S.E.O industry and may eliminate potential problems down the road.

If your rankings are struggling, start with the basics.  Check your URLs to see if case sensitivity may be causing the issue and devise a plan to fix the problem.

What Google Actions Could Affect You

As the biggest name in online search, Google answers more than one billion queries every day. In order to maintain their powerhouse reputation, Google is continuously tweaking their methodology, which allows them to offer the best possible search results for users while presumably keeping webmasters from “gaming the system” to gain better rankings. Website owners and SEO experts are constantly kept on their collective toes, trying to keep up with the on-going developments in order to achieve the highly coveted first page Google ranking. There are two primary ways through which Google impacts the ranking of a website – manual actions and algorithmic updates.

Not another Panda update!

Manual actions include instances in which a website is reviewed by a person on the Google Team and assessed a ranking penalty for using practices that are not in keeping with Google guidelines for SEO. Manual actions may or may not be the result of a specific complaint against the site. According to Matt Cutts, head of Google’s spam team, Google now provides notification for all nearly all manual actions.  If a manual action is taken against a website, the webmaster can request Google reconsideration. With manual actions, the Google team can typically respond a little faster, since they can see what problem led to the action. The impact of algorithmic updates may be harder to pinpoint.

Algorithmic updates occur as the result of changes automatically made to Google’s search algorithms. Google describes their algorithms as relying on more than 200 unique signals. Some of the signals you might anticipate include how frequently the search terms occur on the web page, if the terms are used in the title, and whether synonyms of the search terms are used on the page. Others are not as easy to predict.

The recent series of algorithmic actions known as Panda is getting a lot of attention these days. These updates are aimed at helping users find higher quality websites, while giving webmasters who have worked hard to create a quality site the opportunity to rank better.  Unfortunately sometimes sites are unjustly penalized, either by mistake or through an unintended misstep, causing webmasters a multitude of headaches. With over 30 Google algorithmic changes this year alone, if a webmaster does notice substantially lower rankings, it may be difficult to discern which, if any, update might have caused the drop.

Engaging in ethical SEO strategies such as building quality links and good original content should keep your website from being suspect and vulnerable to scrutiny. If you are concerned about Google actions that may affect your website, there are a few places you can go to for guidance.

  • Looking for information on the best way to keep your site in good standing? Google provides extensive webmaster guidelines to assist developers in creating websites and content that should fare well under scrutiny – whether by person or Panda.
  • Would you like to check your site’s health for potential issues with Google?  Visit Google’s Webmaster Tools page to register your website and get helpful guidance.
  • Wondering just how many Panda slaps there have been? SEO MOZ has a good comprehensive timeline review of Google algorithm change history, including all of the Panda updates.

Keeping up with the constant changes in the world of SEO is complicated and time consuming. Like many other website owners, you may have another full time job, with a host of its own complications that command your attention. Contact the knowledgeable and experienced Upright Team – we are ready to assist you with your SEO program and give you one less thing to worry about.

Upright Attends Cut & Paste Design Competition

The first Cut&Paste digital design competitionwas held in New York City in 2005. It has grown massively since. Today, preliminary rounds are held in each of 12 cities worldwide — with winners competing in the Global Championship in NYC each year.

This past Saturday, I was in attendance for the Los Angeles qualifying round of this now-famous design competition. Held in a small warehouse downtown, graphic designers and 3D animators hunched over their computers as we watched 3 speedy rounds of live graphic designing.

There were 3 teams of designers competing for just 1 spot in the championships. All 3 teams were well-spoken about their visions and calm under pressure.

Friends of Upright, Claudia and Danny joined me for the DJ set, great drinks and fun of watching graphic creations come together.

We were surprised by several twists and turns as the designs developed. With its combination of 3D animation and 2D drawings, the designers’ creative process reminded me (naively) of a special I saw on TV on the making of the Toy Story films.

Visit the winners’ circle page from the 2012 Los Angeles Cut&Paste design competition.

Is the winner’s design your favorite?

 

Shifting Trends: Mobile Apps vs. Mobile-Optimized Websites

Dr. Jakob Nielsen, often called the “father of Web usability,” remains a thought leader today as he continues to research emerging trends. Today we focus on Nielsen’s new findings on mobile usage — do people prefer using mobile apps, or visiting websites from their smartphones?

This report asserts that as of early 2012, the experience of receiving information from a mobile app is superior to visiting a website from a smartphone.

Why? Apps are flat-out easier for everybody now. Designers only need consider a few devices during app development, and all user experiences can be tested easily. The issue of hundreds of Internet browser versions and screen resolutions — making a website appear different on nearly every screen — is irrelevant. Apps are fully branded around your company, they load quickly on phones, are colorful and sound great, and require no scrolling or squinting to read.

For these reasons, today’s user prefers using mobile apps versus surfin’ from their smartphone. However, the trend is switching towards mobile websites as a preferred portal of on-the-go information. I’d recommend that you read Dr. Nielsen’s entire report for the reasons why.

Good News for You?
As mobile apps become more expensive to develop and mobile websites become faster and easier to use, the small business owner will win.

Currently, many popular apps are produced by large corporations with millions of American customers. For these app creators, the hefty pricetag of mobile app development sees an immediate return in downloads and new customers earned. But for the average business owner — with a smaller mobile market or a less consumer-focused product — an app is not beneficial, forcing the business owner to struggle to present website information for smartphone users in a universal, user-friendly format.

I look forward to the day when mobile website experiences can be simplified and sped up. Websites are accessed by all — anytime, and for free. Apps sometimes cost, require search and download time, and must release updated versions to remain useful over time. A company’s own website is still their richest, most dynamic marketing tool and the hope is that mobile technology will streamline so every user experiences a website on their smartphone in the way the web developer intended.

Tuesday Tip: Get A FASTER Website

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Do you dream of a faster website for your business? A fast-loading website:

– Earns better rankings in Google (Announcement from Google)
– Earns better ad placement when using Google Adwords paid advertising
– Improves satisfaction in site visitors (They get the info they need faster!)
– Increases the number of pages one visitor views by 25% (They’re happy, so they stay on your site longer!)
– Increases conversion rates (Happy people email you more often and make online purchases!)

To achieve these benefits, you don’t need the world’s fastest-loading website. You just need to be in the “safe zone”. These tools let you know if your website’s speed is holding you back:

  • Page Speed, an add-on for the Internet browser Firefox that evaluates webpage performance and offers improvement suggestions.
  • YSlow, a free tool from Yahoo! that suggests ways to improve website speed.
  • WebPagetest shows your website’s load performance page by page.
  • Pingbrigade tests your website’s speed as experienced by site users worldwide

If your website performs poorly in these tests, contact a friendly SEO pro at Upright Communications. We can help speed you up! Or, if you’re feeling really tech-savvy and want to improve your website’s speed yourself, read instructions here: Distilled’s Site Speed for Dummies Part 2 – How To Do It.

Multiple Domains? No Problem – We Can Help

One of our most popular blog entries ever discusses concerns while optimizing multiple domains.

Well the truth is, a lot of companies have multiple domains (URLs) to serve different portions of their business.  And this is great!

Upright has 15 years experience in helping clients with multiple business sites.  Yes there are concerns, such as with duplicate content and the handling of redirects.  Integration of multiple domains must be handled delicately.

If you’re looking for an online marketing team that knows how to technically support and creatively integrate multiple business websites…turn to Upright Communications.

We simplify the world wide web.

Online Marketers Say the Darndest Things

For this Friday Funk, the joke’s on us!  As online marketers we sometimes take ourselves too seriously– brand positioning, scalable solutions, social currency– it all loses meaning when the humor sets in.

This hilarious submit-your-own-caption website, “Things Real People Don’t Say About Advertising” is cracking us up today.  Check it out!

Some of Upright employees’ favorite lines from this site:

  • “That viral made me LOL so hard I think I’ll buy the car that was in it.”
  • “It looks like a link but it doesn’t say click here, what do I do?”
  • “I can only refer 5 friends? But the rest will be so upset…”
  • “This website’s music is great– turn it up!”