How is Your Dwell Time?


July 10th, 2014 by

Many, many factors contribute to a website’s success.  Search marketers agree that user interaction is one of those important factors, with dwell time being one of the key metrics Google utilizes to measure that interaction.

So, what is dwell time?  Most people assume it’s the amount of time a visitor spends on your website but actually Google uses a combination of session duration and bounce rate to formulate a dwell time value. While a dwell time metric is not readily accessible, we can view both session duration and bounce rate through Google Analytics with the intent to improve one or both for a better dwell time metric.

Why is it important to improve dwell time?  Studies show that sites with higher dwell times can expect to see more conversions.  Simply put, the longer a visitor stays on a site, the more likely they are to take action.  That action could be calling your company, completing a contact form, requesting a quote, or even a sale!

What should my goal or target be for dwell time?  There isn’t one right answer because all websites are different, but here’s a test you can do.  Figure the average time it takes a visitor to read a few pages of your site.  Are people sticking around that long?  If not, take some steps to improve that dwell time.

How do I keep visitors on my site longer?  When a visitor reaches your site, you want them to stay!  The most recommended method is to provide exciting, fresh, engaging content.  See our article:  Five Ways You Can Add Quality Content to Your Website.  Also be sure your website provides an exceptional user experience with an easy to follow navigational structure and highly visible calls to action.

Need more ideas?  Contact our team!

3 Ways to Beat Facebook’s Algorithm Changes


July 2nd, 2014 by

Have you noticed on a Facebook business page you manage that engagement has declined or the “people saw” numbers are lower? That is because of Facebook’s new algorithm. Facebook is on a mission to give their users what they want. In other words, they will only push out content with which they think their users will engage. The next question to pop into your brain is likely to be, “how will they determine what is engaging material?” Well, there are over 200 factors that determine which posts will be pushed out and in effect dictate how to create an engaging post. Below are three primary ways you can beat Facebook’s new algorithm.

1. Don’t “like bait”! Facebook will be able to index words such as, “like”, “comment” or “share” in the text of post. For example, text such as “hit share if you think this is funny” is considered like baiting. Facebook will recognize this and not push out the post. They are trying to give users what they want to see, rather than force content on them. Facebook looks at this component the way Google looks at spam – they sniff it out and bury it, or remove it all together.

2. Understand your audience! It has always been important to know your active public, but with the algorithm update, you are going to want to know them much better. Understanding your audience will help you better select content for your postings. Do they prefer funny posts, serious posts or politics? Understanding what works for them will help you create engaging copy without resorting to like baiting. It’s a double whammy win for the marketers!

3. Engage with your fans! This may seem like a “well, duh” to you, but engaging with your fans will help the overall posting engagement. For example, if someone commented on a recent post, be sure to stay on top of your game and like the comment right away or comment back right away. Stimulating more of a “real time” engagement with the fan will make them feel special. It will encourage them to continue to connect with your page. It is also a good idea to connect with our local businesses in your area by liking their page and material. They will normally like your page and material in return.

There you have it, social media marketing friends. While Facebook may be selecting the content it pushes out, you do not necessarily have to pay to boost a post or advertise. We are here to tell you that a little savvy goes a long way, and being savvy is what social media marketing success is all about!

If you’d like some assistance with your Facebook marketing, or any other social media marketing campaigns, give us a call!

‘Google My Business’ Wish List


June 18th, 2014 by

As many of you already know, Google has rolled out their latest My Business update.  Google has finally merged Google Plus and Google Places into one! You can now update all of your businesses in one location, plus much more.  It has seemingly done a nice job of solving issues that have been lingering since 2011 in the local realm.  However, as Mike Blumenthal, our friend and colleague, points out in his recent blog, we still would like to see even more upgrades to the platform.

Google

Here are a few wish list items that stood out to us:

Better Multiple Business Locations Management

If you have multiple pages (business locations) under management in your account, it seems a little complicated to navigate.  In fact, it takes forever to load the pages and then when it does, you can never seem to find the location you were looking for in the first place.  There is a dropdown on the top right of the page that gives you a full, ‘easy-to-access’ list, but even then, the addresses aren’t associated with the location, so you really aren’t quite sure if you’re clicking on the right place.

Better Local Analytics

Though we’ve seen an improvement in the amount of data that Google is providing to its local Dashboard users, we would still like to see better tracking of goals and conversions to a sale.  We know that Google is tracking all sorts of goodies in the update platform, so why not show us more information!

Great idea alert: Further Integration with Google Products

Mike pointed out that it would be great if there were a free or low cost way to schedule appointments directly from their My Business listing or even incorporate a tool like Google Survey for consumer analysis.

Do you have your own ideas as to what should be added to the updated Dashboard?  We’d love to hear from you!

Five Ways You Can Add Quality Content to Your Website


June 12th, 2014 by

FIVELooking for things you can do to improve your website? Think content! Here are five easy content ideas you can use to add new quality content to your website:

1. PROBLEM/SOLUTION PAGES  Real stories of the successes you have had in meeting the needs of your customers are very compelling, and give prospective clients confidence in doing business with you. While case studies are ideal, it may be difficult to develop a case study if the client is reluctant to publish application details. It may be hard to even make the time to talk to the client, who is just as busy as you. Consider a problem/solution page instead of a case study. Omit the client details and focus on your product in the client’s process:

“Our EfficNC Max eliminated the bottleneck and production on that line increased by 78%! We have applied this solution in many industries with similar results.”

2. SPOTLIGHT A PRODUCT OR SERVICE  If you offer a line of products or services, a “Product of the Month” page can be an easy, continuous source of quality content. If the spotlight product already has a page on your website, it may be somewhat dry and informational. Try taking that information and rewriting it with a different perspective:

“Users love the multiple speed settings on our EfficNC Max, because of the flexibility it provides.”

If you do not have multiple products, try a featured benefit of the month:

“Cost-efficiency is an important advantage users gain when they switch to our EfficNC Max.”

3. INDUSTRY NEW & TRENDS  To be successful in your business, you need to stay abreast of the latest developments in your industry. You can share your knowledge with your clients by adding a page to your website devoted to reporting on the latest industry news and trends. While not all of the articles you read may be of interest to your prospects,  the ones that educate readers about your industry may be valuable to your site visitors. Add these to your page by providing a brief summary of the article and a link to it. Be sure to include a closing “call to action” line that ties the information to your product:

“This most recent study from the Widget Institute shows the latest process improvements that are driving success in the widget industry. Contact us to discuss how we can help you improve your processes.”

4. PROVIDE RESOURCES  There is no better way to build trust with a prospective client than to prove to them that you are truly interested in their success. A great way to do this is to provide information and resources that will help them be successful. These can be how-to-videos, links to industry resources, easy fixes, or any other information that you can picture a client using:

DYI Maintenance Tips for Your EfficNC Max

Video Tutorial – Programming Speed on your EfficNC Max

5. ANSWER CUSTOMER QUESTIONS  Adding or expanding on the Frequently Asked Questions page of your website is one of the best ways to generate content for your website. Today’s internet-savvy buyers are looking for as much information as they can get about your product. By adding pages of content that focus on that information, you are educating your prospects, which will ultimately make them more comfortable with buying your product:

Are all of the required installation accessories included with the EfficNC Max?

What shipping and delivery options do you offer?

An important thing to remember in developing all of this content is to keep it keyword rich, without sounding unnatural or stuffed. Also, be sure that every page has a call to action, so your reader knows what to do with the information you just provided.

Are you ready to develop new content? Contact us or give us a call if you would like to brainstorm ideas or need advice on effective keyword use. The Upright Team is always here to help you make the most of your internet marketing!

Don’t Forget the Meta!


May 15th, 2014 by

A site without a Meta description is only halfway optimized. In fact, each page needs a Meta description, so don’t just focus on the homepage. The Meta descriptions are HTML tags that provide a short explanation of the contents on the web page.  Meta descriptions are used on search engine results pages, SERPs, to display a ‘teaser’ or preview of the page. You probably knew what a Meta description was and you didn’t even know it.

Here is an example:

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The arrow points to our Meta description. The reason why I am saying your site is only halfway optimized if you are not using Meta descriptions because that is what draws in the user.  It is important to spend quality time on developing the Meta descriptions. We need to shift from thinking about SEO and more about click throughs, related to the SEO industry. Let’s think more about what the user wants to see while searching.

At Upright Communications, we spend a great amount on forming the best Meta description for our clients. It is best to keep the description short and sweet following a 150 to 160 character count. Focus on keywords that are useful to the company but be careful to not keyword stuff or make it obvious. The description should be helpful for the user to better understand the page and to find what they are searching.

Email Marketing: Friend or Foe to Business?


May 8th, 2014 by

Email Marketing: Friend or Foe to Business?

I bought my mother a sweater this Christmas from a company which will remain nameless and I have thought of them every day since. Why, you may ask? Once a day I receive an email from this specific company among my other general daily emails. Every day I physically read the headline and then click to delete but even though I am deleting that company is still sending a visible daily reminder to me that I have to take action on to remove.

So the question is, why do people still sign up for these and how do they benefit the consumer and the business?

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Email is King

If you are a social media member of society, you know thatyou can see thousands of posts a day! If you also use email, you may receive a total of 100 emails in a day. The proof is in the pudding – having your content be one of 100 messages will give you a much better chance of being read and seen than being  one of 1000 scrolled through on a social media site. The majority of people own an email account and check it daily, making email an easy and FREE way to directly speak to your consumers and demographics.

Did you know you do NOT own any of your social media accounts?

If Facebook, Twitter and Google+ all closed their sites and platforms tomorrow, your photos, comments, advertisements and human connects would all be deleted without any chance of recovery. However, when you start to build an email list internally you grow an “address book” of consumers and friends of the business. Many people keep their email address for years and years where as they will often switch which social media site they frequent depending on trends and popularity.

When should I start?

Now. Last week. A YEAR AGO! You should have started yesterday, but if you haven’t jumped on the email list train then start right now! Every interaction with a customer without politely asking for an email address is a wasted opportunity for follow-up marketing. Your customer will not be offended that you would like to share tips, coupons, and offers and can always decline your invitation to join the email list.

How do I make sure I live up to the expectations?

The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” should be the mindset when sending emails to your consumers. If you received a monthly email, what would you like to see? What would pique your interest, draw you into reading emailed content and make you believe that business has your best interest in mind? A few ideas:

  • Exclusive coupons to save money on goods and services
  • Articles of interest
    • I am a firm believer that these can have NOTHING to do directly with your business, a laugh is a laugh and if it is something you think a consumer would enjoy and remember then add it! Maybe they will pass it on to a friend!
    • Updates about your community or business
      • Community events
      • New additions to goods, services, staff, community involvement, business achievements and if you would like to share, personal achievements!

How do I begin?

If you are lucky enough to have someone or a service that offers to maintain this list and the emails for you then you should utilize that and PROMOTE IT! While your account manager can maintain a list, place signs in the right places to gain the most attention and help with ideas, only you personally know and interact with your customer. With this relationship you can suggest a funny article that made you smile, brag about the business achievements and hint that you will have a booth at the charity event. Ask your account manager to include these in your email. Make sure to work with your email manager and keep an open conversation about your topics! BE INVOLVED!

The best time to suggest an email is at your point of sale. For example:

“Thank you for your business, we appreciate it. Would you be willing to share your email for our monthly newsletter that has exclusive savings, tips and updates about our business and community?”

The benefit of an email list is that it provides many advantages and opportunities to increase your business on such a personalized level so make sure you are making the most of this opportunity today!

If you have any questions contact your account manager!

 

The Heartbleed Bug – What are the facts?


April 23rd, 2014 by

Code-named “The Heartbleed Bug”, news of this serious vulnerability has been spreading rapidly through your media outlets. It’s not unlikely that you’ve heard something about it recently, and at first glance it sounds to be an incredibly large loop-hole. Warnings of the vulnerability of sensitive data with your online accounts have run rampant to a point of near mass-hysteria. Is Heartbleed actually that dangerous? The simple answer is yes, but there are caveats that lessen haze of gloom and doom surrounding it. We’ll explore the facts below and touch on some utilities and other methods for making sure your information is safe.

First, let’s figure out exactly what Heartbleed is, and why it has had so much attention. The World Wide Web is a complex network of servers and clients interconnected to share and deliver information to anyone who requests it. Some of this information is considered sensitive, and such has a level of security to protect the privacy of the owner of that information. A simple example of this type of information is a username and password for some online account. It can extend to much more sensitive information however, like your address or even a credit card. To keep your information secure all of this data is encrypted using a service called SSL or TLS. Without going into great detail, this encryption makes it so that you and only you can retrieve your information as long as you can prove you are who you are. That sounds very abstract but it’s really straightforward. You login to your account using a username and password, once that combination is verified you are given a higher level of access to retrieve information pertaining to your account. Heartbleed is a vulnerability in one of the most popular cryptographic software libraries called OpenSSL. As a user you would notice this type of encryption on a site by the typical “https://” preceding a URL. OpenSSL is the default encryption engine for Apache and nginx. According to Netcraft [http://news.netcraft.com/archives/2014/04/02/april-2014-web-server-survey.html], Apache and nginx accounts for 66% of the websites on the internet. OpenSSL extends beyond just the internet as well, including instant messaging services and email.

Crucially, the level of access that is gained through the exploit gives access to up to 64 kilobytes of memory from the server running a vulnerable OpenSSL version. Depending on what is currently stored in the memory at the time of the attack, a hacker could gain access to usernames and passwords, other form data like addresses or credit cards, or even more crucially a certificate key that would allow the hacker to decrypt all of the encrypted information being sent to and from the server. The latter means the potential for full-access to encrypted data, no matter what it is, certainly an alarming prospect. The situation is worsened by the fact that this loophole has existed in this version of OpenSSL for nearly 2 years!

Dilbert Comics

(Image credit to Dilbert.com)

So what’s the good news? The Heartbleed Bug was discovered by a group of “White Hat Hackers”. A White Hat Hacker is an individual who as a hobby or as employment on behalf of a company, attempts to hack a system in order to expose security loopholes, so that those loopholes can be closed. At this point in time there is no evidence that this vulnerability has been used by any group with malicious intent. Luckily it was found by the “good guys” so to speak, and hosts who manage servers were alerted to update their OpenSSL software in order to patch the vulnerability. There also haven’t been any indications that this loophole has been exploited in the past 2 years. Essentially, the internet dodged a bullet.

Most of the companies who manage these servers have already performed their update to OpenSSL, closing the Heartbleed loophole. This prevents an attack now or in the future, but if your server was already attacked, it’s possible that your information has already been compromised. You should take that with a grain of salt though. This type of hack would target a website where the hacker can get the most bang for their buck, for example a large site like Facebook is much more likely to be a target than a typical business website. Facebook has lots of personal information stored, where a hacker could potentially gain access to other important accounts.

Ultimately, it is very unlikely that any of your information has been compromised from this bug. If you want to ensure your information is safe there are some simple steps you can follow. First, use one of the following test utilities to test the website you are concerned about and check whether it is still vulnerable to Heartbleed. If it is still vulnerable, don’t do anything until you see that it is secured. If you are concerned nothing is being done to secure the site the only thing you can do is contact the website to check on their progress concerning Heartbleed. If the website shows as secure from Heartbleed, all you have to do is change your password. You should of course follow typical strong password recommendations. Your password should always include 1 or more symbols, 1 or more numbers, 1 or more capital letters, and be as long as possible. They also shouldn’t be anything personal or easy to guess, for example, don’t use any numbers from your birth date in a password as these are easy for anyone to find on Facebook and guess.

Heartbleed Testing Tools

Heartbleed Test

In an abundance of caution, Upright has already verified the servers that our clients websites are hosted on were patched with the new OpenSSL and affected sites passwords have been changed.

Ben Franklin, Founding Father (of Reader Driven Content)


April 11th, 2014 by

ben_franklinI have a passion for history – especially U.S. history. I also really appreciate inspiration from great content marketing success stories. You can imagine my delight this week when I read Scott Aughtmon’s Content Marketing article, featuring an example of  effective content marketing straight from early American history.

As it turns out, Benjamin Franklin was not only a founding father of the United States, he was a founding father of content marketing.  Franklin is remembered as an inventor, statesman, political theorist, and the 1st U.S. Postmaster General, but he also ran a successful printing business. Serving to promote this printing business was Franklin’s immensely popular in-house publication, Poor Richard’s Almanack, published continually from 1732 to 1758.

Almanacs were very popular at the time, so in order to be competitive, Franklin needed to deliver a publication that was especially unique and appealing.  In developing his publication, Franklin demonstrated some astute marketing instincts, which the article discusses. It was Franklin’s fresh and original approach to content that made Poor Richard’s such a widely sought after almanac.

Delivering the kind of content that will be of interest to your readers should be among your main website objectives. This sounds simple and obvious enough, but it may not be what comes naturally as you develop your material. Your website offers the perfect platform to promote yourself, but try to remember that your readers will quickly lose interest if that is all you are doing. As you draft what will go on each page, try to include some of the following:

  • Content that entertains
  • Content that inspires
  • Content that educates
  • Content that is new & noteworthy
  • Content that is worth sharing
  • Content that leaves readers wanting more

Ready to brainstorm ideas for your reader driven content? Give us a call.

The Negative Review – Face It, Embrace It


March 24th, 2014 by

Negative comments are never fun to read or deal with, much less keep on a social media or blog page. However, the way you handle negative comments is very important to your social media image. With proper handling, you can turn around a negative, and possibly even make it a positive.

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What do you do when you see a negative comment on your social media or blog page?

  1. Do NOT delete it. This just makes the brand with the negative comment suspicious. The person who wrote the comment will take notice and may write another negative comment asking what happened to the one they previously posted. Deleting the comment is as bad as a ‘no comment’ to the media.
  2. Do NOT delay! Word travels fast and even faster on the web. It won’t take long for something to go viral. Waiting can hurt more than help! Rule of thumb – try to address negative comments within an hour.
  3. Acknowledge it! Taking the ‘bigger person’ approach, be sure to respond back to the comment. This lets the negative person know that it didn’t get overlooked. Also, it lets others who see the negative comment know that it has been addressed and that you care about your customers. In your response, be certain to take a respectful approach, do not take it personally, and offer a solution!
  4. Monitor! As mentioned in #2, word travels fast. To make certain that more negativity about your brand is not being spread on the web, be certain to set up a Google Alerts account or Mention account. This way, you can go about your day while getting updates to see if there is still talk about the brand.
  5. Address it! Explain how you will work on resolving the issue and then do everything you can to follow through.
  6. Document it!  It is important to make note of the negative comments, the response & and the solution. Primarily, this is done for reference, in case it the problem happens again. You can also add this information to your company’s crisis handbook so if it happens in the future, there is a clear path to take.

We hope you don’t get any negative reviews! It is always good practice to be prepared just in case, following the  strategy above will be a great way to overcome a negative situation and turn it into a positive one!

 

Content Strategy: Make Your Website a Resource


March 21st, 2014 by

No matter what your industry, building relationships with current and prospective clients is essential in keeping business and securing new sales. If users of your goods and services look to you as a trusted industry resource, the likelihood of them turning to you when they are ready to purchase is much higher.

Your online presence gives you an excellent opportunity to be a valuable resource in your marketplace. Whether it is an industrial purchasing agent or an individual who needs new tires for the family sedan, online researchers most often begin by gathering information that will help them make an informed purchase. As an expert in your field, you have something extremely valuable to offer these folks – knowledge and experience. Think of it as offering customer service before the sale. If you have a website, you can provide this service to prospective buyers in the form of good quality website content.

A Question of Opportunity

The Content Marketing Institute recently published an article with some great ideas for using Q&A content  in a content marketing strategy. It suggests finding ideas by researching online sources for popular consumer questions showing up in social media or blogs. When you find these, you can also use the opportunity to interact on these platforms by providing answers to the questions.

Answering your prospects’ questions on a relevant online forum will be helpful, but as the Content Marketing article notes, “you’ll probably achieve the best content marketing ROI by answering questions on your own website.” A Frequently Asked Questions page/section on your website provides the perfect opportunity to do this. In addition to researching commonly asked questions online, a highly valuable resource for FAQ material will be your own sales team. They know what customers ask, and will have an excellent perspective on questions relating to your specific product line.

Making Your Website a Resource

Your website’s FAQ page does not have to be, and probably should not be, a simple list of questions. It may be most advantageous to divide it into an FAQ section based on product lines, services, instructions, or technical topics. Some frequently ask questions could even be developed into new “about” or “resource” pages. More in depth questions may benefit from the addition of visual content such as photos, diagrams, or a video. When developing your FAQ section, consider getting input or feedback from some of your best customers, who may see opportunities you’ve missed or offer valuable suggestions for improvements.

The key to developing an effective FAQ section will be making it a valuable information tool for your customers and prospects. While you will want to include a call to action on these pages, keep the sales pitch to a minimum to promote a comfortable, educational environment for visitors.

The Bottom Line: If your website is a valuable resource for your prospects, it will also be a valuable resource for growing your business.