Category Archives: Search Marketing

5 Ways to Take Your Instagram Account to the Next Level

So you’re using Instagram for your business. Good idea! Instagram, like Pinterest, is doing wonderful things visually for businesses and brands.

But to really stand out from the crowd, it’s not enough to simply snap a photo, slap a filter on it and hope for the best. In fact, this approach has the potential to harm your brand more than help it. Remember, you’re competing for “double taps” (Likes) along with professional photographers, celebrities, and brands that aren’t afraid to go to extremes.

So here are 5 ways to take your Instagram account to the next level.

  1. Include your account in your content calendar

To make the biggest impact with Instagram, always incorporate your images as a part of your regular content calendar. While one-off, spontaneous photos are always an option with the platform, having at least a general idea of the kind of content you want to post will help direct and guide your photographers throughout a week or month.

Take, for example, Saturday Night Live’s Instagram account. During the week, they take photos of the general arc of the show: first big pitch meetings, then writers working hard on sketches, then costumes and sets in progress, then celebrity rehearsal sightings. Come Saturday night, it’s all behind the scenes photos of performers running backstage, changing costumes, or joking around between sketches. All day Sunday they post follow up photos of big moments backstage, after party candids, or what performers do on their day off.

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Your business may not have a similar weekly arc, but you likely have certain sales cycles, big events or other promotional efforts that you can align content around.

  1. Use the advanced editing tools

Anyone can take any old photo and choose a filter, but to truly make photos outstanding, it behooves you to use the advanced editing tools first before using filters.

To use these tools, simply click the wrench after taking or choosing your photo from your library. Many of the adjustments available here can either fix minor flaws (low light), enhance detail, or make colors pop.

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  1. Use other apps to add a different dimension to your product or brand

If you want to add something outside the Instagram “norm” to your photos, you’ll need to edit or enhance through other apps. Aviary, Camera+, Afterlight and Snapseed bring even more advanced editing options to the table. PicStitch, WordSwag, FontCandy and Party! Party! are fun apps to bring photos together, add text or easily create .gifs. You’ll need to edit or deck out photos in these apps first, then send to Instagram.

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  1. Use video to tease other content or showcase products or services beyond stills

Instagram offers the use of up to 15 seconds of video on the platform. Some of the best uses of video are often when teasing or promoting other content (giving a short clip of a story to promote an upcoming podcast) or showcasing something that just can’t be shown in a still photo (acro yoga or hand-balancing to promote an upcoming class). Video is a powerful tool on Instagram; think carefully through how you can use video to enhance what you’re already doing with photos.

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  1. Monitor analytics

There’s no point in putting in all the work into any content without determining if it’s actually effective. While you could splurge on a robust tool like Simply Measured, some free tools can give great insights into how photos are performing on the platform. Iconosquare (formerly Statigram), is a free tool that gives insight into follower engagement, spread rate, filter and hashtag impact and account growth. You can use other tools like Klout to cross reference which content seems to be resonating best with your audience, as well.

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Once you are monitoring your Instagram content regularly, adjust your tactical approach as necessary. If fans are responding well to certain filters or hashtags add more into the mix, while phasing out content that has lower likes or engagement.

And of course, never be afraid to try something new and creative by showcasing your brand, product or service from a unique angle. Instagram users are hungry for great content to consume and tell their friends about!

5 Un-Tapped Content Resources in Your Own Business

We get it. Sometimes content creators are departments of one. Even if you have a few more on your team, constantly creating new content can be a challenge for small marketing and content departments.

Fortunately for smaller departments, it’s likely that you have untapped content resources right in your own business. Here are five you can seek out today:

  1. Your Boss

    What vision does your CEO, boss or founder have for your company this year? In five years? In ten? What did he or she dream about before taking this role or position? What does he or she believe will never change about the core values of your company?It might be difficult to get a fresh blog post from a busy supervisor or leader each week, but think of creative ways you can use your boss’ voice in your communication with your customers. Key leaders within your company likely have a bigger picture of your products or services. How can you use this picture to supplement your content?

  1. Your Co-Workers

    Whether you simply highlight your co-workers in an employee spotlight feature, or whether you identify natural content creators in other departments, your fellow employees can be a great help in your content efforts.We often conduct content ideation sessions with a cross-section of employees from the entire company. We’ve found that while marketers have their finger on the pulse of company messaging, other employees bring a unique perspective of the company based on their day to day dealings with customers, other employees or your product and service. How does your administrative assistant view the company? How about one of your repairmen who takes customer calls?

    These individuals are key components to how your company runs, and can bring ideas you may not have thought of to your content offerings.

  1. Your Customers

    We often advocate on TKGenius that you poll your customers to get content ideas, or even ask your customers to supply you with content themselves. So, how are they using your product? Are they taking photos of themselves getting a haircut in your salon? Did they recently enjoy one of your events and tell their friends about it on Social Media?Not only will your customers give you great ideas for content, they are often great content creators without even knowing it. One of our clients asks customers to submit photos of themselves or their children enjoying the brand’s snack foods, then features these customers on their Facebook page. These posts are always fun, and are often the most liked and shared on the page. All the administrator needs to do is post the photo and write a quick caption.

    Bottom line: your customers can save you time and give you the inside scoop on which content best suits them.

  1. Your History

    #tbt! Does your company keep copies of old newsletters? What about old photos, past versions of your products or old videos? All of this content can be resurrected to serve your current content efforts.For example, one of our clients has been in business for over 100 years. We regularly help them publish their vintage advertising campaigns, past photos and previous product iterations on both Social Media and their website. Customers appreciate these glimpses into the past, because they know they’re getting a quality product with a long history of success.

  1. Your Processes Your Processes

    How are your products made? Are there aspects of your production you could show customers? What about how you take calls? What part of “behind the scenes” might your customers like to know and understand? Do you have an interesting inter-office culture you could showcase? What about a specific event or charity your employees like to support?Transparency, when possible, is a powerful way to build trust with your customers. While you may not be able to show exactly how a product makes it from point A to point B, you might be able to show what it looks like when you pack a box to ship, or how a salesperson greets a customer.

    One of our clients will sometimes show through photos what a window installation looks like on a home. Customers appreciate this insight of the service because it both shows how knowledgeable our client is, and takes some of the mystery out of the service itself.

    Want more ideas on how to generate content for your business? Sign-up for our next Breakfast Bootcamp on Content Ideation!

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SMX East 2014 – The Value Part 2

SMX East LogoSMX East has come and gone and as The Value Part 1 promised in June, we’re back from the event and ready to evaluate! Our goal is to help you decide whether to attend in 2015.

Over the course of three days, I attended 12 sessions devoted to various aspects of online marketing. Fellow TKG marketer, Kyle Crocker, attended 12 separate sessions. If a third member of the TKG team would have attended, they too, could have attended 12 completely different sessions. Topics included competitive research, remarketing, keyword research, Bing advertising, link building, structured data, and more.

As a recap, here’s what we hoped to gain from attending this year:

  • Actionable Ideas
  • Latest Online Marketing Trends
  • B2B and Small Business Insights

Each item will be rated on a scale of 1-5.

Actionable Ideas (4 out of 5)

During the three days, I jotted down five full pages of notes. The more action items I can come away with, the better the show and SMX East did not disappoint! I have designated 27 bullets from my notes as needing specific action for clients. For perspective, when I attended Internet Retailer years ago, I came back with about half as many action items. Several of the sessions also included links to recommended tools, both free and paid, that assist with analytics, competitive research, and social monitoring.

Online Marketing Trends (5 out of 5)

SMX East had entire sessions devoted to specific topics online marketers should be familiar with regarding current online marketing trends. A few I really enjoyed include:

  • Structured Data
  • Hummingbird and the Google Knowledge Graph
  • Remarketing

While none of these topics are considered cutting edge overall, there are plenty of specific elements within the more broad discussions that were brand new to me.

B2B and Small Business Insights (3 out of 5)

This was the one area where SMX East was a little lacking.  There were very few examples during show targeted specifically toward B2B websites or small businesses. Instead, many of the speakers were from large agencies using examples of what they were able to accomplish with budgets much larger than a small business would be able to invest. Fortunately, many of the sessions focused on general tips and tricks that apply to any website. Principles such as keyword research, link building, and competitive analysis can be easily scaled up or down depending on resources.

Closing Thoughts

Hearing Danny Sullivan, Founding Editor of Search Engine Land, respond to questions from the audience was a highlight of the show. He’s very well respected in our industry and has his finger on the pulse of all things digital.

Overall, I recommend SMX East for anyone interested in staying sharp on the latest SEO and SEM trends. If you are responsible for digital marketing at your company, I highly recommend attending SMX East in 2015.

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5 Unique Ways to Jump Start Content Creation

Maybe you’re neck deep in creating your 2015 content calendar, or maybe you’re creating a calendar for the first time. Either way, mapping out content for six months to a year can be a daunting task (here’s hoping you’re not trying to get it done in one fell swoop!).

As you look for inspiration to plan and create your content, it’s easy to run out of ideas, especially when you are immersed in the day to day activities of your brand and business.

Here are five unique ways to jumpstart your content creation when things start to feel a little rote and routine.

  1. Move
    Research shows that movement and exercise helps boost creativity. So when was the last time you got up from your desk and walked around your office? Take time to notice things around your business that seem interesting.Are there facts about your building or physical structure your audience might find interesting? What about people in your organization that are new that you could profile? Or does your company have employees that have worked for a record amount of time? Does your business have a specific culture? Special days, holidays, or employee milestones you observe?

    Not only will getting up from your area help get the blood flowing to your brain, it will help you notice things about your business you would never see from your office.

  1. Use Your Audience
    If you are not mining your audience for content, you are missing a huge opportunity to not only connect with them, but to also create content you know will land and resonate. Informal Social Media polls, your audience’s frequently asked questions, and even more formal surveys help to give you better insight into the kind of content they want to consume.If your audience is particularly creative or active on Social Media, you can ask them to contribute their content directly to you in the form of a contest (Instagram is a great medium for this tactic), or simply as a way to highlight how they are enjoying your product or service.
  1. Mind Map
    Content Ideas - Mind Mapimage source 

    I still regularly mind map for clients, friends and even myself if I want new ideas or a new perspective on a topic or problem. Mind mapping is particularly effective if you are looking to create new categories for content.The best thing about mind mapping, though, is that it’s a simple exercise to complete on your own or with a group. If using a group, invite people outside of your content department to join you…you never know what perspectives about your business they can bring!

  1. Re-Purpose
    No need to re-invent the wheel if you already have a great cache of content. Instead, go back through some of your most popular pieces of content and determine if you can present the content again in a new and fresh way. Can a great blog post be turned into a script for a new video? Can a popular video be re-imagined into an infographic? Can an informative infographic be the basis for a new white paper?Use your imagination and see how you can present content that worked in your past as content that works in your future.
  1. Get Inspired
    That’s right, Pinterest ain’t just for weddings! Keep boards full of photos, articles and videos that inspire you. Pin what your competitors are pinning. Follow your competitors and other companies in your niche or industry.Already Pinterest addicted? Use tools like Feedly to keep tabs on industry articles, blogs and keywords. Or use your walls or whiteboards to gather great photos. And of course, don’t shy away from simply taking in a great concert, art show or inspirational video. Sometimes our brains just need a taste of someone else’s creativity to spark our own.

    Want more help creating great content for your business? Check out our upcoming Breakfast Bootcamps!

Don’t Be Content With Your Traditional Content

So what is content, anyway?

And I’m not talking about the state of peaceful happiness and satisfaction. Though, I suppose good content should support that.

Content has been the buzzword of the marketing world lately, as the businesses and brands work to better engage with their audience.

Recently I spent the better part of a week with about 2,600 marketers from around the country who are all working to get better at content marketing. Content Marketing World, a conference developed by the Content Marketing Institute, is the largest event of its kind and seeks to educate marketers and continue to advance the industry.

I could have asked each person at the conference to define content and received a different answer. In my eyes, therein lies the key to developing great content.

It comes in many different forms and is consumed in many different forms. And there isn’t one right answer in how to do it well.

Among several quotes that stuck with me from CMWorld came from Scott Stratten, the president of UnMarketing, in his keynote talk: “Sometimes content is just giving a damn.”

Well, duh, right?

As easy as it sounds, it’s really a fundamental switch from brands just talking at their audience. Or toward their audience. Or kindof near their audience. Or, let’s face it, throwing something out there and hoping it sticks with their audience.

Stratten’s keynote drove home the message that good content needs to be a dialogue between a brand and a consumer. It needs to connect with your audience on a personal level and start a meaningful dialogue that isn’t necessarily about selling your product. It comes down to understanding your customer’s needs – and remembering that your product isn’t the solution – what your product does is the solution.

Gone are the days of traditional marketing, where strategies focused on print or broadcast media. Effective marketing now needs to occur across multiple platforms, be customized to your audience and delivered fast. And, above all, it needs to be accurate.

Audiences are looking for a relevant conversation (umm, content!) about your product that means something to them. Great content can allow you to connect with your audience in a way that is practical and engaging without needing to sell them. “Every occasion isn’t a selling occasion,” Stratten said.

With my journalism background, his message particularly resonated with me because it isn’t far from that world. Marketing shouldn’t be about spin and PR. Much like journalists report the most important elements of a news story, as marketers we should report the most important elements of our brand and get that information out in a manner that is timely, effective, honest and real.

It’s as easy (and as difficult) as that.

3 SEO Benefits of Responsive Design

With more and more users accessing the internet on their smartphones and tablets, it has become increasingly important to create websites that work across a variety of devices. Because of its flexible and adaptive qualities, responsive design has quickly become the industry standard for website development.

Responsive design is not only a tool for device adaptability though; there are significant SEO benefits that result from a switch to responsive design. Here are three of the big ones:

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Google likes responsive sites
Google typically favors mobile-optimized sites, especially when those mobile users are searching for local goods and services. Because Google is the world’s largest search engine, and other search engines typically follow Google’s lead, it is a good idea to pay attention to what Google likes.

One website with one URL
From an SEO perspective, responsive sites consistently outperform separate desktop and mobile sites. With a single URL, responsive sites help reduce content duplication issues and improve SEO performance.

Reduces bounce rates
A mobile website can suffer from high bounce rates if users are unable to easily read and interact with the content. Users often get frustrated when sites are not mobile-optimized, so they leave. Responsive designs allow users to enjoy their online experience on any device, which helps reduce bounce rates.

If you would like more information about responsive design, contact the development experts at TKG . And make sure you sign up for our Breakfast Bootcamp on Oct. 16, where we’ll discuss even more SEO benefits of responsive design.

5 Ways to Generate Content Easily

Sometimes even the most experienced writers hit content roadblocks. Authoring new and original content is hard work, and after a while, the inspiration stops coming. So when your well of words dries up, and you’re desperate for new content, try out a few of these painless content generation ideas:

Get your audience to create content for you
Ask your audience to take selfies with your product or tell a story about your brand’s impact on their lives. When they share these moments on social media, it will reach your network and theirs.

Recycle old content into something new
Take an old post and rework it into something that’s relevant today. When you add #TBT to an engaging post from back in the day – voila! – You have a brand new piece of content.

Develop case studies
When you can’t think of anything new to say, go to your customers. Ask them about past experiences, and retell their stories online. Case studies help you build transparency, and are relatively painless to create.

Curate content from other trusted sources
Go to trusted news outlets or trade publications for relevant content that makes sense for your target audience. Curating content from respected sources helps build credibility, and all you have to do is post a link and your take on it.

Respond to your audience
Whether it’s on social media, in comment sections, in blog posts or through contact forms, customers are always reaching out. It takes very little effort to respond to these comments, and personal responses could help you build lasting relationships with your audience.

Trust us, these content generation techniques are painless, and they will offer a lot more value to your customers than a silly meme or cat picture. (But, we like those too. Sometimes.)

Don’t Delete Old News Articles From Your Website

SEO TipWe sometimes get questions from clients who are considering removing old news articles from their websites.

The quick answer: Don’t do it.

Why would someone want to delete an old news article? Here are some situations we’ve heard:

  • It announces an event that has already taken place
  • It mentions a person that no longer works for the company
  • It features a product or service that is no longer available or has changed
  • It features external links that contain broken links
  • It is old and therefore no one cares about it

Here’s why we do not recommend deleting older news content:

Part of the Company History

This is our response to the first three bullets. Just because the tradeshow is over doesn’t mean the article about the show needs to go away. As long as the date of the event is prominently represented in the article, there is no harm keeping the article on your website. If your news archives contain quite a few pages about tradeshows you’ve attended over the years, potential clients/customers will see you attended major industry tradeshows in the past which can help position your company as a major player in the industry.

Regarding articles featuring employees that no longer work for the company; embrace the fact that they were part of the company at the time when the article was originally written. More than likely, they helped your business and may have even interacted with your customers. If they won an award while they were working with your company, it’s okay to leave that accolade on your website. If they were part of a group of employees that volunteered in the community, the overall spirit of the article is still intact whether or not the individual is currently with the company. The exception here, of course, is if the individual left on terrible terms and could be a threat to the business. If you have legal concerns, we always recommend deferring to your legal department for guidance.

Regarding articles containing product announcements or service offerings that are no longer new or available; this is another good piece of your company’s history that should be represented online. Rather than removing the article completely, why not keep the article and add a brief note in the introduction stating that the product is no longer available and has been replaced with a new model? A link could be added to direct users to the current product which ultimately helps satisfy their need.

In research reports we have completed for clients, we’ve seen examples of users searching Google, and even a website’s own internal site search, for older product names that are no longer offered by the company. If search activity is taking place for a branded term that your company developed, your website should be the one ranking first in search engines for related searches. If it’s not your site in the search results, you’re opening the door for your competitors and others sites to occupy these valuable results.

Content Is Important for SEO

As we’ve mentioned time and time again on TKGenius, content is vital to the success of a website. Not just a few good quality landing pages, but lots of pages about a variety of topics relevant to your business. Websites with lots of valuable pages are typically viewed more favorably in search results than similar websites with fewer pages. One of the most logical locations on a website to build up content is the news section.

Let’s look at some basic numbers to further illustrate this point.

If your website contains 500 unique URLs and 200 of them are news articles, making the decision to remove the oldest 100 articles would make your website 20% smaller in terms of total pages. This would effectively reduce your website’s ability to bring organic visits by 20%. Now, we know that not all articles are going to bring in substantial traffic to a website, but a quick look at Google Analytics landing page traffic often shows a surprising number of organic visits landing on particular news articles. A really strong article written several years ago could be responsible for bringing a large amount of traffic year after year.

Content is Hard to Produce

We understand that developing a content calendar and continually writing good content is a lot of work. The best content is unique and often taking lots of planning, research, revisions and approvals to make it onto a website. Deleting an older news article cancels out all that work with the simple click of a button.

This rule expands beyond news article as well. Think long and hard about all the work you put into creating a page on your website before making the decision to delete it. Search engine algorithms are complex and if one of your news articles is relevant enough to rank on the first page of a search engine results page, it would be a shame if one day that page disappeared.

How Responsive Design Can Impact Online Marketing Efforts – in a Good Way!

this-is-the-webBy now, you have likely heard about responsive design.

Responsive design allows users on any device – desktop, smartphone or tablet – to have a good online experience regardless of screen size.

So, the question is, how does responsive design impact online marketing efforts? As marketers, we sometimes focus only on specific tasks, such as creating content, developing email campaigns and updating social media networks. The fact is that if you do not have responsive design in place, all of the online marketing strategies you want to implement will not garner your full potential results.

How much impact does mobile play into content, email, search and social media marketing today? The answer in short – a lot! Here are just a few examples:

  • 51% of emails are now opened on mobile devices
  • 60% of internet access is made on a mobile device
  • 70% of mobile searches lead to action on websites within one hour
  • 60% of social media time is spent on mobile platforms as opposed to desktop browsers

These results mean that mobile has a growing impact on online marketing efforts. People are reading content, opening emails, performing searches and engaging with brands on social media – all from their mobile devices.

Responsive design greatly affects the user experience, ultimately meaning it will support your online marketing efforts in the following ways:

  • Email Marketing – As many users are reading your emails on a mobile device, naturally you want them to be able to follow the links in your email and have no issues browsing your site on that same device.
  • Content Marketing – users will be able to read the content from their mobile device, and also be able to use the social sharing buttons to easily share the content.
  • Social Media Marketing – when users click on a promoted offer on their mobile devices, they’ll be able to purchase the promoted item just as they would on a desktop browser.
  • Search Marketing – when a user clicks on a link to your website from search results, they will be able to get to your page and consume the information they need, just as they would on a desktop.

If it isn’t already a part of your online marketing strategy, a responsively designed website should be a significant consideration moving forward. Website visitors will be able to learn about your products and services, buy your products and consume your content on any device without issues.

So adding responsive design will not only make your website visitors happy, but it will help you get more results with your online marketing efforts. That’s a win-win in my book.

Do you have a responsive design success story? Share it in the comments!

What You Need to Know About Dynamic Sitelinks

Google’s new rollout of dynamic sitelinks for ads will undoubtedly improve click-through rates to your website.

If you haven’t used them before, sitelinks are used as extensions of your ads in AdWords in order to drive users to your website. Located under the main text of the ad, they allow you to customize the text of the link to help customers to quickly find what they are searching for on your site. Since they are custom, the links can be directed to specific landing pages relating to the link’s text. Google AdWords tracks these clicks so you have specific reporting to show how well the sitelinks are performing.

As of 7/24/14, Google officially rolled out dynamic sitelinks. These are automatically generated links that will better match your website content with what people are looking for based on search activity. Added bonus: they’re free! Don’t worry though; any sitelinks you created previously are still there and working. However, they may not show if the dynamic sitelink performs substantially better.

Here’s how they will show up on a laptop and mobile device respectively:

sitelinks

See the text “Schedule a Test Drive at Joe’s Used Cars” at the bottom of the first listing? That is the dynamic sitelink.

Obviously Google is not losing out on this free deal. You will still pay for conversions, and for any clicks on the rest of the ad. The bonus for the AdWords user is that these, like regular sitelinks, can boost your click-through rate by around 10%. This is great news for anyone who did not previously set up sitelinks – your ad has just been further optimized without any effort on your part!

One thing to note is that your ads will be eligible for dynamic sitelinks if the AdWords campaign is set as to include “Search Network”, or “Search and Display.” Realistically, this addition will affect the top three ad results in a Google search, as these are typically the results that would display sitelinks before this new feature was rolled out.

If, for some reason, you do not want to have dynamic sitelinks, the option is present to have them disabled. Be sure to check out AdWords Support where you can find the form for opting out, and some general tips for sitelinks.

My advice, however, would be to absolutely take advantage of these free dynamic sitelinks that Google is offering to improve the click-through rate to your website. Let us know how it works for you!

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