Don’t Do Anything to Your Website for this One Reason

One would think that Google’s own team of experts would know how its search engine works, right?google

While they probably know how their engineers envision it working, it’s apparent that there are aspects that even these leaders in tech can’t reliably explain.

As you can see from Jon’s post regarding subdomains vs. subdirectories, real world tests don’t play out as Google says they should.

Over the years we’ve seen numerous examples where real world tests don’t always match up with stated outcomes.

Another good example is the flurry over responsive design and how it relates to search engine rankings. Our industry–TKG included–is really good playing into the hysteria. If you’ve followed the industry conversation, you’d think that all websites that are non-responsive would have been removed from Google’s index by now.

The reality is that most sites are not responsive; Google, however, still has to return relevant results to satisfy its users.

Don’t misunderstand me. I believe sites need to be responsive, but for the right reason: because human beings are accessing sites on mobile devices.

We have said for years to our clients, “Don’t do anything to your website just for Google.” If you’re doing it just because Google or your online marketing agency said so then it’s probably not the right move. Make changes to your website because it makes sense for your users and the search engines will have no choice but reward you.

Besides, it’s clear that even Google doesn’t always know how Google works.

How Can a Small Company Compete with the Giants in the World of SEO?

Search marketing has grown in popularity as online search continues to evolve from a novelty to a standard feature in our everyday lives. Almost every business, big or small and regardless of industry, has a web presence, and everybody is competing for a handful of positions at the top of search-engine results pages.competing with giants

Since larger companies already have millions of inbound links, a lengthy history of content, and a recurring base of online visitors, is it any wonder they generally appear in the top ranking positions when people search for commercial products? Regardless of what industry you’re in, you’ll always have at least one competitor who has been around longer and has allocated more budget and resources to building their visibility in the search engines.

So, how can a small company with limited experience and resources compete with that level of online domination?

Thankfully, SEO is no longer about sheer volume. It’s more about which page or website is the most relevant for the searcher.  Thus, there are several strategies that can give a small company the edge over the giant competitor.

  • Specialize in a niche – One of the best things you can do as a small company is give yourself a niche focus. If you pour all your effort into one or a handful of keywords, you’ll be able to achieve a much higher visibility than if you have a wide range of keywords and your relevance for each of them is somewhat low.
  • Leverage locality for optimization – Another way to beat the competition is by targeting a much more local audience. Local search is becoming more relevant and more important, so in today’s context, being the best widget maker in Cleveland is far better than being a so-so widget maker on a national scale. Even if your company does operate on a national, or even international level, you can still capture a niche market share and edge out your competitors in at least one key area by optimizing for a specific local area.
  • Personalize your social engagement – Aside from local search optimization, you can also increase your chances of overcoming larger competitors by stepping up the ‘personal’ factor in your brand strategy. Large companies can lose a portion of their personality once they hit a certain point in their growth, but being small and nimble can be an advantage in giving each follower a more personal experience.
  • Become a recognized content publisher – Building brand awareness, loyalty, trust and credibility requires frequent and quality content publication. Maximize the reach of the content you publish to maximize your return on investment, and be consistent with your publication schedule so you become recognized as a dependable authority.

There’s no shortcut to rise to the top of the search engine rankings, especially when there’s a giant competitor on the scene. But, with a strategy that leverages your geographic location and your agility, you can selectively overcome that giant in specific key areas. Give yourself the best odds by narrowing your topic and keyword focus and increasing your location-specific relevance.

The Rise and Fall of BlackBerry

blackberry_logo-brokenWe all remember the “CrackBerry” craze during the early 2000’s. Everywhere you went you saw both business professionals and everyday people typing away on a small device, the BlackBerry. The company had all of America in the palm of their hand, so what happened that we don’t all have Blackberries in the palm of ours? The fall of BlackBerry is still a wonder to most people. How can a company with almost 50% of the smartphone market in 2010 fall all the way to a measly 5% in just a matter of 5 years?

Blackberry was formed in 1984. Originally named Research In Motion (RIM), they worked in the market of wireless point-of–sale equipment as well as modems and pagers. RIM was the first to make the transition from pager to handheld computer and eventually to the smartphone we came to love.

In 1998 the first “BlackBerry” was launched. The name Blackberry came from the appearance of patented keyboard design which was easy for typing with thumbs. This first BlackBerry caught the attention of not only consumers but other companies such as IBM and BellSouth (which eventually became AT&T).

The craze continued to build as they launched devices slowly resembling more and more the Blackberry that commonly comes to mind when thinking of the company. With the launch of Apple’s iPhone in 2007, BlackBerry made their first mistake that lead to their fall. Co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin viewed the iPhone as a toy and not as a serious competitor, saying that consumers don’t want to type on glass when they can type on real keys. They felt as though they had secured a loyal fan base of both business professionals and everyday consumers.

BlackBerry peaked in 2010 with an estimated worth of $77 Billion and a 50% share of the smartphone market. In this year they launched their first touchscreen phone as well as their most popular phone, BlackBerry Bold.

In 2011 Apple launched the original iPad which tested the potential of the tablet market. Trying to get a piece of that market, BlackBerry made their second mistake. By assigning more engineers to work on developing a tablet of their own, the development of phones slowed. Unfortunately, their tablet, the PlayBook, was launched and instantly flopped. This started the never ending game of catch up which ultimately caused their downfall.

In addition, BlackBerry delayed the launch of their new operating system, BlackBerry 10. Originally planned to be released in 2011, it was pushed back to 2012 which didn’t actually launch until 2013. Although BlackBerry had more experience over their iOS and Android competitors in the smartphone market, with this delay they had lost their lead. By this point, Android devices were into their fourth major generation and Apple iOS was on its sixth generation of operating system.

It is currently unknown what BlackBerry plans to do. It is rumored that they are on the search for a buyer, which raises more questions. Who would buy a company that has fallen so far behind? Will the company be sold as parts or as a whole? What will the buyer plan to do with the company? All these are likely to be answered soon.

As for now, we can sit back and learn from the rise and fall of Blackberry. There are clearly more than a few things that lead to their demise but we’ll focus on a few of the big mistakes and see how they can apply to any business.

  • They ignored the competition Keeping an eye on your competitors is very important. When you don’t pay attention to what they are doing you lose track of the direction the industry is heading.
  • They didn’t focus on their bread and butter – Every business specializes in some area. In the case of BlackBerry it was their smartphones. By taking away resources from their specialty and trying to focus on another aspect (the tablet market) they fell behind and lost what made them a successful business in the first place.
  • They didn’t stay up to date – The biggest and most obvious mistake BlackBerry made was not staying up to date. They felt that they had a large and loyal fan base and didn’t have to worry about having the newest, flashiest technology and products. Meanwhile, their competitors were making large advancements. By the time BlackBerry realized this it was too late to catch up and they had lost many of their “loyal” customers. A business can never assume that they have loyal customers. By constantly striving for improvements the chance of losing client base is greatly reduced.

In all honesty, it’s sad to see a company lead an industry and rise to the top only to be taken down by a series of poor decisions. But there are lessons to learn from the misfortune of BlackBerry. Keeping an eye on the competition, focusing on what makes your business special and keeping up to date with the industry we’ve all learned to be crucial.

Is it time to update your site? Contact us with any questions and we will be happy to help you.

6 Signs It’s Time For a New Site

The speed that technology advances is getting faster and faster. Once you actually get the hang of the phone you have the next model is already out. The internet is no different. From social media to SEO, it is changing daily. Website designs change to comply with the increase in mobile traffic and incorporate social media, content needs to be changed as visitors expect more and more visual content. If you’re wondering if it’s time for a new site here are some key points to take a look at.6 signs

  1. It doesn’t work well on mobile- Many older sites don’t load correctly on mobile devices. It is often hard to read the content or difficult to navigate the site. With around 50% of site visits being on mobile devices this means if a site is not mobile friendly, users get frustrated and a site may lose about half of it’s potential visits/conversions.
  1. It’s slow- Let’s be honest, we love instant gratification. Studies show that a page with a load time of 4 seconds resulted in a 25% drop in traffic. That may seem a little crazy but when it comes to the internet we want and expect it in the blink of an eye.
  1. It’s hard to update content- Content management systems have come a long way over the years. They now make it easy for anyone to go in and change content and keep the information current without needing a whole team to edit code to update.
  1. You’ve outgrown the site you have now- This point is by no means a bad one. If your business has outgrown your site congratulations you’re running a successful company! There are different reasons you may have outgrown it. Maybe you made the original site shortly after startup and have since added more services or products. It may be more difficult to navigate the site with these added items. Or perhaps you’ve changed the image of the company or shifted the primary focus. A revamp of the site to more accurately represent the business is a great plan to continue to grow.
  1. Users aren’t converting- The whole point of having a site for your business is to generate leads or make sales. If your site isn’t getting either of these but is getting decent traffic it may be time to consider a redesign. High bounce rates, short time on site, and low page views are pretty good indicators that the time has come.  There are different reasons why users may not be converting. Poor landing pages with content that doesn’t give users the information they were looking for, a lack of calls to action, or it could simply be because there haven’t been and conversions set up.
  1. No social media- Social media has become a huge part of business. It not only helps generate leads but keeps current customers up to date on what the business is doing. If your site doesn’t have links to the company’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. you’re missing out on a great opportunity to interact with users.

If you’re having any of these issues, or if your site was made in Windows 95, it may be time to ditch it and consider a redesign. If you need some help or have any questions we are more than willing to assist you.

What I’ve Learned at TKG

I have been interning here at TKG for a little over two months. Sometimes it feels like time has flown. With just a few short weeks left I thought now would be a good time to reflect on my time here and what I’ve learned.

what ive learned_edited

With this internship brought many firsts. My first internship, I couldn’t have asked for a better company to intern with. As anyone would be, I was a little nervous to start the job. From day one each and every employee was kind and helpful. It also brought my first look into the industry. We learn all about business in school, but learning isn’t doing. The Karcher Group set a good program for a first time intern to lead me into the world of marketing and web design. Being that all my previous jobs were outdoor labor intensive jobs (such as grounds crew on a golf course) this is my first office job. For those who have worked both types of jobs you know how different they are. There was a period of adjustments and a learning curve.

Since being here I have worked on various projects ranging from social media libraries for clients to assisting in the development of a new site. With these I learned programs to complete the project including content management systems and Google Analytics and have become Google Analytic certified. With each project I find it becomes easier to know exactly what we want the end result to be and how to get there. I’ve also been able to see which parts on the industry I love and which parts maybe not so much.

They say that happy employees are hardworking employees. At The Karcher Group I’ve been able to see how true that really is. There seems to be something going on almost every day. With employees riding scooters through the office, playing foosball, darts, and pool it’s clearly a fun work environment. At a glance it may look like it is all fun and games but employees here play hard and work harder. In fact, each month an employee is elected by fellow employees and awarded the brain award for outstanding work and get to spin for various prizes from gift cards to extra vacation days. This is just one of the ways they show appreciation for the hard work put in by their employees.

As a first time intern I really had no idea what to expect. Going based off the stereotypical intern I thought I would be getting coffee and doing all the stuff around the office no one else wanted to. Within the first week I knew it was anything but a typical internship. I was already being taught programs and tools on the first day and was given projects shortly after. Although I only have a few short weeks left I have really enjoyed my time at TKG and am excited to see what I can learn in my remaining time.

Slow WordPress Site Got You Frustrated?

4 Tricks to Help Speed Up Your WordPress Site

I’ve recently visited a ton of WordPress sites that have taken forever to load and even with the page cached, repeat visits to the site were still slow. There can be many reasons why your WordPress site is slow but I want to cover 4 of what I believe to be the most important things you can do to speed up your WordPress site.

1. Resize and Compress Your Images
Image size can be a huge issue for page load speed on any site so make sure that your images are resized and compressed for web use. With today’s high resolution screens it is tempting to upload high-resolution photos. While this might be necessary in some instances make sure to think about your audience and whether or not having higher resolution photos will likely lead to a conversion.As a starting point make sure that all images are set to 72dpi (dots per inch) and if your image editor has an “export or save for web” function make sure to use that. Doing this will ensure that the image file size is compressed for the web.

2. Install a Lazy Load Plugin
Plugins such as Bj Lazy Load on a basic level allow all non-image based content such as text to be loaded and viewed before all of the images on the page have fully loaded. This ensures that large images on the page are not causing the whole page to load slowly.

3. Check the Performance of Your Plugins
Another common problem with WordPress sites is that 3rd party plugins can slow down the overall page load time. To fix this issue try using a plugin performance profiler. This is a plugin that I like to run periodically on sites to test how long each plugin is taking to load.

If you find a plugin that is running slow try looking for an alternative plugin and try it.  Note that all plugins work differently and if you remove one plugin and install another you may lose content.


This plugin does not need to be left on all of the time so after you have run your test disable the plugin so that it does not slow your site down. Simply re-activate it when you need to run another test.

4. Minimize the Number of Plugins You Use
There are often times when our sites change and we no longer need a plugin or it is a plugin that we only use sometimes. Those plugins should be deleted or deactivated when necessary. Note that removing a plugin could remove site content. For example, if you remove an SEO plugin all of your optimizations will be removed as well.


In the example above you can see that this site at one point wanted to use a Sellfire Affiliate plugin on their site but then decided not to go that route. This plugin should be deleted to help minimize the amount of content that needs to load when a user visits the site.

I hope this article gives you some tricks that you can use to help speed up your WordPress site. If you have any questions or would like to talk to someone about a new website, please contact us.

Mobilegeddon: The Results are in

April 21, 2015 will forever live in infamy in the online marketing world. This date, lovingly dubbed ‘mobilegeddon’ by those in the industry, corresponds with the day Google implemented their new algorithm that favors mobile friendly sites on mobile searches.

Think about how many times a day you Google something on your phone. This is a huge deal for websites.mobilegeddon

Google informed webmasters that they were planning to favor mobile sites on mobile searches back in February and provided resources for developers to help them make their sites mobile-friendly. This created a two month long mad dash for web developers to get their sites mobile. Some succeeded, and some did not.

It’s been a few months since April 21, so a lot of people are asking what the real impact of mobilegeddon actually is. The results seem to live up to the hype. According to a recent study done by Adobe Systems, traffic to non-mobile websites from Google mobile searches fell 12 percent in two months.

Google is not messing around. When they said mobile-friendly sites will receive preferential treatment in mobile search results, they were serious. On top of that, Google recently announced that in the US, mobile searches now outnumber desktop searches.

If you’re reading this and your site is not mobile, it might be time to consider responsive design.

Responsive design is a technology that allows your full website to be desktop, tablet and mobile friendly. You can tell if a site is responsive by decreasing your window size. If the site adjusts to the size of the browser, then it’s responsive and vice versa.

Google’s mobilegeddon aside, there’s a more important reason to go mobile: it’s great for your site’s visitors. Responsive design allows mobile users to easily use your whole site, as opposed to having a separate mobile site that is a watered down version of your desktop site.

When users find your site to be easy to use on a mobile platform, they are more likely to stay on your site longer. This should lead to more leads and conversions.

The Internet is shifting toward a mobile platform. Google and customers alike are saying catch up or be left behind.

Need help making your site responsive? Check out our website and see how TKG can help.

Five Mistakes to Avoid to Ensure Social Media Success

Today, everyone and their mother is on social media. According to We Are Social, the number of social media users exceeded 2 billion in 2014, and that number is steadily increasing by the day. Naturally, there is a lot of selling power in social media. Brands are noticing this and are taking action.

While avoiding social media all together is not your best bet (unless you’re Apple), using it incorrectly could hurt your brand more than help it. Here are five mistakes you need to avoid to keep your brand’s social media endevours successful.

  1. Not Having a Strategy
    So, your brand has a Twitter account—now what? If you’re posting random content whenever you feel like it, then you’re doing it wrong. Think about what your brand is trying to accomplish with Twitter and keep that in mind everytime you post.Consider making an editorial calendar to map out all of your posts for the coming month. Then, you can schedule your posts ahead of time—this will make your job easier and keep your social media consistent.
  1. Posting Too Much Promotional Content
    When managing a brand’s social media, marketers tend to lose sight of what social media is all about—fun interaction. By simply putting out your brand’s main talking points and products, you’re not correctly utilizing social media.Finding a balance between engaging and promotional content is key. Try tweeting about a trending hashtag or replying to a tweet in a witty and humerous way. Humanizing your brand will encourage the most social media interaction.
  1. Being Impersonal
    We’ve all heard the auto-responses-gone-wrong horror stories (cough, cough American Airlines), but the lesson to take away here is to always respond in a personal manner.Auto-responses that don’t entirely make sense are hurting your brand. When replying on social media, it is important to display human characteristics like humor or empathy.
  1. Picking the Wrong Channels
    Before you create an Instagram account, for example, you need to ask yourself why your brand should be on Instagram. If the answer is because everyone else is doing it, you might want to do some reevaluating.If your brand does not rely on visuals, then Instagram might not be for you. Think about your brand in the context of the various social medias and choose the ones that make the most sense for your brand.
  1. Not Doing Your Homework
    On July 4, 2014, American Apparel decided to post on Tumblr to commemorate the America’s independence. This seemingly harmless act turned into a PR nightmare of epic proportions.Whoever made the post mistook the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion for a firework (don’t ask me how). You can imagine the backlash that ensued. Before you post, make sure what your posting is appropriate and the image you plan to use is what you think it is.challenger explosion

What it all comes down to is keeping in mind that social media is meant to be fun. Promotional content is not fun for you or your followers. Keep them engaged and entertained. This will humanize your brand and make it more approachable. So, have a strategy, pick your channels appropriately, engage in interaction, do your homework and, most importantly, have fun!

Need help with your social media strategy? We can help. Contact us to see how we can help grow your brand’s social media.

#ALLinCLE: Three Things Brands can Learn from the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Social Media Usage During the Playoffs

Cavs blog post imageThe 2015 NBA season was a fun ride for Cleveland fans. Although the Finals didn’t turn out the way we hoped, there is still plenty of room for hope looking forward to the 2015-2016 season.

While the 2015 NBA playoffs gave fans a chance to watch LeBron James and company play basketball at the highest level, another part of the Cavs’ organization had a chance to shine—the social media team.

Whether it was Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, the Cavs were all over social media during the playoffs. Fans saw the playoffs through an entirely new lens made possible by effective use of social media.

Believe it or not, your brand can learn from what the Cavaliers’ social media team did during the playoffs. I understand you’re probably not in a business as glamorous as professional basketball, but there are plenty of things to take away from the Cavs’ social media success to help your brand.

Use of Hashtags

#ALLinCLE. This was everywhere during the playoffs. It was seen on t-shirts, rally towels, billboards and in almost every Cavs social post. The hashtag received so much notoriety that when people used it during the NBA Finals, Twitter automatically added a Cavs logo to the end.

Keep in mind that your brand is probably not going to have the luxury of Twitter adding your logo to your hashtag, but creating a hashtag and promoting it correctly will still pay social media dividends.

Let’s say your company is hosting a walkathon to raise money for a special cause. You could come up with a creative hashtag to use in all of your posts about the event. You should also include the hashtag on the event’s marketing materials such as posters and ads. This will encourage people to use your hashtag when posting about the walkathon.

If enough people use your hashtag in your area, it will start to trend and attract more tweets and potentially local news coverage.

Give Your Followers Something Unique

On game days, the Cavs would post pictures and videos from inside Quicken Loans Arena hours before fans were even allowed in. Their followers were treated to an inside look at employees placing t-shirts and towels on seats or players getting some extra practice in before the game, for example.

These are things that TV cameras don’t normally show but are still interesting to fans. It’s exciting to open up Instagram and see Kyrie Irving drain three pointers during warmups or what players are wearing when they arrive to the arena.

Your customers always see the finished product, but they rarely see what goes on behind the scenes. Social media is a great way to show your followers the process of how your products are made or highlight employees who are responsible for providing the services customers are accustomed to.

Going back to the walkathon example—instead of just posting pictures of the walkathon while it’s happening, post pictures of the set up or the people or place the funds raised will benefit.

Take Advantage of When Your Followers Post About Your Brand

Whether it was newborn babies at the Cleveland Clinic dressed in Cavs gear, photos posted by players or famous fans at the game, the Cavs were all over reposting or retweeting others’ posts.

The Cavs obviously can’t retweet every fan that tweets about them because they’d have hundreds of retweets a day, but they pick and choose posts that have prominence to share.
Most of the time, celebrities won’t post about your brand, (if they do, retweet, repost, share, comment, do whatever you can to promote that post!) but sometimes your customers will post about your company.

For example, if someone posts about how much fun your hypothetical walkathon was, repost or retweet them and thank them for their participation. This will validate your brand to other followers because people value others’ opinions (hence Yelp, product ratings, etc.) and will make the original poster feel even better about your brand.

The Cavs might not have won the NBA Finals this season, but they certainly won the social media championship. So, next time you’re brainstorming a new social media strategy, keep the Cleveland Cavaliers in mind.

Craft and market a creative hashtag, give followers a unique perspective and take advantage of when others post about your brand, and your brand will have the recipe for social media success.

Need help with your social media strategy? Check out our website to see how TKG can help grow your business.