Category Archives: Content Marketing

Fading Excitement over Microsoft’s New Web Browser

My excitement over Microsoft’s new browser, Edge, is rapidly disappearing as more and more details emerge.

Originally billed as a replacement for Internet Explorer, Microsoft introduced some potential (and since removed) confusion when it announced that the browsing experience in Windows 10 would default to the new rendering engine and ‘auto-roll’ over to the IE engine when it detected legacy code. So basically, one browser with two hearts. Fortunately, the masses have convinced Microsoft to make a stand alone browser on the new engine, and leave IE alone to die in piece. Or have they?

I believe the driving factor behind a new browser is simply marketing. You see the IE team really has made drastic improvements to the browser over the last few versions. The problem is, no one cares.  IE’s image is tainted with the horrific days of IE 6,7 and 8, and no amount of work to make 9,10 and 11 ‘modern’ has been able to shed that negative reputation. So what is the answer to win back market share from competitors? A new browser.

Rather than going back to the drawing board and evaluating “today’s web,” Microsoft has taken the heart of IE, the Trident rendering engine, and rebranded it as “EdgeHTML.” Don’t get me wrong, there are improvements to the new browser, but I’d bet those improvements could have been packaged as IE 12.

Microsoft’s marketing for this new browser, Edge, is gimmicky and reminds me of “Web Slices” and “Accelerators” from IE8.  Don’t know what “Web Slices” and “Accelerators” are? That’s because they weren’t useful, and no one adopted them.  From microsoft.com:

Accelerators. Accelerators give people easy access to the online services they care about most from any page they visit. Meanwhile, developers gain an easy way to extend the reach of their online services. Accelerators also allow users to browse faster by eliminating most of the clicks required to access desired content and services.
Web Slices. With Web Slices, people can see the information they want to see most often without going away from the page they are on, and developers can mark parts of Web pages as Web Slices and enable users to easily monitor the information they most frequently browse to, all while they move about the Web. Web Slices appear in the Favorites bar, where people can identify updated sites when in bold. From there, they can see a rich Web Slice visualization of their content with easy access back to the source Web page.

The touted features front and center on Microsoft’s new web browser, Edge, are “Inking” and are you ready“Cortana.” Inking is the ability to take notes over the content of a webpage, but seriously, how often have you needed to do this? Then there’s Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, that on my Windows phone, I LOVE.  MS has a hit with Cortana, so in historic fashion, that hit is being crammed into every nook and cranny, whether it fits or not.

My limited tests with Cortana in Windows 10 have left me frustrated and annoyed.  I can only imagine the experience will be similar with Cortana in Edge. Get me to Google and let me find what I need-  that’s it – I don’t need her (Cortana) stepping in to undo years of conditioned habbit.

Still not convinced that Edge is merely IE12 in a different skin? I’ll leave you with this comic pointing out the announcement of the new Edge logo, and the side by side comparison.

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Google Tag Manager

TagManagerRecently I have been putting quite a bit of effort into rolling out Google Tag Manager for many of our client sites. It has been a rewarding process and I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

First, what is Google Tag Manager?

One of the foundational building blocks of a website is the tag. It is a way that functionality can be added to the site in a fairly simple manner. The functionality can range from tracking activity and usage to adding features like chat to a site. Each one of these tags is generally pretty simple and easy to understand, but as the number and complexity of the tags increases the challenge of keeping track of them and making sure they are on the correct pages also grows. This is where Google Tag Manager comes in. It allows us to place a single tag called a container on the site and then add and remove tags to that container based on a variety of rules.

Once the container is in place tags can be added to the site without needing to touch the templates or source code, which greatly reduces the risk that something can go wrong when adding a tag. It also makes it much more simple to change or update a tag when needs change.

There is another benefit that I really appreciate: the ability to test tags before they are rolled out. This allows a set of tags to be tested on the site before they are rolled out to all users. This has been especially helpful when trying to troubleshoot complex tags.

This is just scratching the surface of what can be done with Tag Manager, but hopefully it is enough to give a glimpse into why I’m so excited about using it. If managing tags is something that you could use help with, get in touch with us, we would love to help you out.

Update Your WordPress (Because Security)

There are a number of reasons to keep WordPress up to date. The main one is security. Sure, it’s nice to have updated plugins and features, but that should come second. The most important features of updating your WordPress would primarily be security, with an added benefit of increased plugin features

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One of the most popular plugins to install is WordPress SEO by Yoast. This is a great plugin that is designed to provide WordPress sites with the ability to be fully optimized. The plugin also keeps the various SEO optimizations in a simple format. There are two main fields, SEO Title and Meta Description. The SEO Title is one of the main factors that go into search rankings, as it provides both a name and expectations for the content within. The Meta Description is the snippet of information that comes up in a search result, and is best used as a summary of the page with some level of a Call-to-Action.

The other two main features of the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin are the Snippet Preview and Focus Keyword. The Snippet Preview allows you to see an estimate of what the organic search result will be for the page you’re optimizing in WordPress. The Focus Keyword helps to ensure keyword consistency in the page; it is not a Meta Keyword field (which is not at all recommended for use).

All of these pieces compile to make a plugin that provides a good level of benefit for its users. I have seen a number of updates come through for the SEO plugin with updated features and fixes. While these are all well and good, there was one glaring issue recently, security.

We recommend you update your WordPress and plugins at a minimum of every month, if you can. In case you missed it, WPScan discoverd a security exploit in the WordPress SEO plugin for un-updated versions in early March. The un-updated versions of the plugin are vulnerable to Blind SQL Injections. In brief, this security issue could lead to an individual to attack and compromise the entire site. There is a new security fix (version 1.7.4) for the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. I recommend updating this plugin right away.

There are a number of plugins and other add-ons for WordPress that can make the platform easier to use, or expand its overall use. Make sure your WordPress site and plugins are up-to-date to avoid new security risks!

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Want Great Content? Do What You’re Already Doing

One of the biggest concerns I hear when it comes to content is “But we don’t know what to put out there.”

I get it. When you’re involved in the day to day tasks of running your business, it’s tough to think of creating content.

Fortunately, it’s likely you already have good things going on that you can re-purpose, re-use or recycle to make great content. OR, alternatively, you can add something simple to your daily routine that turns into regular content.

But first, allow me to give you a little inspiration.

You might have heard of a little TV hit called Glee, a weekly show about misfit high school students finding their place in the world through music. Maybe you’re a “Gleek” or maybe you think the show is the silliest thing this side of Fonzie jumping the shark, but there’s no denying that this show set a new precedent in cross-channel content marketing.

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In fact, ratings aside (which were great the first few seasons), this show set records with singles, albums and even live tours. For instance:

  • The first ever single released by the cast, “Don’t Stop Believin’” received platinum status with over one million sold
  • The cast overtook Elvis Presley as the fastest act ever to have 20 top 40 hits in just 57 weeks (Elvis was 88)
  • By 2011, just two years after the show aired, they had over 36 million digital single sales worldwide
  • By 2011, they had 11 million album sales worldwide
  • The show has several reality spinoffs, DVD and Blu-Ray releases, an iPad app and karaoke games for Wii
  • In 2011, a live tour kicked off…and of course, it wasn’t just a live tour. A concert film based on the tour was released shortly after the tour ended
  • The show has hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide who now create content about the show, often uploading tributes, songs and other manifestations of their fandom to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter
  • And how’s this for power? The casts’ cover of Rihanna’s “Take a Bow” actually increased sales of Rihanna’s original single by 189%

Glee also inspired the mega-hits of Nashville and Empire, country and hip-hop nighttime soap operas, respectively. These shows also release albums and merchandise based on the music written and performed for the show. Nashville, now in its third season, has released TEN albums, the first of which reached number one on US charts.

Now, I’m not saying you need to release an album for your business (though that could be fun!).

What I am saying is that it’s likely that you’re already doing things for your business that could easily translate to content you can use to market yourself (and maybe even generate more revenue). Glee didn’t create “extra” music to give to the masses…they already had it within the premise of the show; they just figured out new ways to distribute it.

Here are a few ideas to create content from the regular things you do for your business:

  1. Do you release a newsletter? Each news item could be re-used as a mini blog post, told as a quick 60 second update to an iPhone video recorder, or recorded as part of a podcast series.
  2. Do you often answer the same questions for customers over and over? Create an infographic with great visual answers, start a helpful podcast that discusses and educates people on your industry, or start a “Pro Tips” section on your website.
  3. Do you have a dynamic and engaging individual in your company who loves working for you? Give this individual freedom and creative space to create short videos, take photos and post to your Social channels for you, about you!
  4. Does your company have a rich history, complete with old photos or videos left sitting in a box or lonely hard drive? Scan photos and release them regularly to your Facebook page or Instagram account with the hashtag #tbt to give customers a glimpse of all the great things that make you, YOU. It’s especially fun if you work in a technical field and you can show how far you’ve come!
  5. Does your company have a process you do every day? Document this process every day or week with a photo, then show the collage one month, six months or a year later!
  6. Do you have a customer or two that just LOVES what you do? Invite this individual to create content for you, either by showing off how your product or service works, or giving a testimonial.
  7. Do you have a series of pdfs or articles about a certain subject in your industry? Combine and edit this information as a free digital whitepaper that prospects can download in exchange for an email address.
  8. Do you have a core group of very loyal customers who buy your product regularly? Consider creating a membership club where these customers get “insider access” to special prices, exclusive products, and of course, short videos, articles or podcast episodes that talk about how you created something special for them.
  9. Do you have a salesperson or leader within your company who is especially knowledgeable about your products, trends in the industry, or common problems? Record a weekly podcast where this individual discusses a topic for 15-20 minutes. Upload to Soundcloud, Stitcher or iTunes at the same time every week and invite customers and prospects to listen and share.
  10. Does your company work with the same vendors time and time again? Profile your vendors on video or on your blog, ask them to explain why they love your working relationship, and post to your respective Social channels.

I’m sure there are many more regular things that you’re already doing in your business that can be converted to content. Don’t overthink! When it comes to content, there’s no need to re-invent the wheel. Nashville has now released two albums of songs by a particular cast member…after those songs already appeared on another album.

It just goes to show you, sometimes content is just about showcasing something you’ve already done in a new and interesting way. So what are YOU already doing?

How to Avoid Social Media Slip-ups

Okay, let’s talk about your social media plan.

If you have one in place, great. If you are still asking yourself what a social media plan is, that’s okay too. You’re in the right place.

Chances are, if your business has a social media presence, you’ve had to deal with some strange comments, unsatisfied customers or even downright nasty reviews. And the more successful your business is, the more likely you are to experience these encounters. Social media mistakes will inevitably happen, but you can avoid them harming your business by following the steps below:Social media symbols

PREVENTION

  • Have a Plan: Always have a plan that outlines what to do in the event of a crisis. Are you suddenly getting bad reviews because of a defective product? Has one of your employees delivered less-than-exceptional customer service? Make sure you have a plan on how to deal with comments, @ mentions, reviews or if your business page goes viral in a bad way.
  • Bring in the Experts: Do you have someone dedicated to watching your accounts? You should. Not only will you have an extra set of eyes monitoring your social media presence, but a trained PR person will be able to react to just about any situation that comes up. You should have someone dedicated to at least several hours a week — maybe more depending on the size of your business and the size of your social media following — to managing posts and interacting with the users on your pages.

WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS

  • Act Quickly: Do not let complaints or issues on social media sit without response. At a minimum, respond within 24 hours – but within a few hours is ideal. In today’s fast-paced world, the people reading your business page and watching your social media accounts are watching around the clock. They expect answers to questions as soon as they ask. Can you keep up? Because you’re expected to. If you let a negative comment or review sit for long enough, it will turn into an even bigger problem. Do what you can to nip it in the bud early and move the conversation offline.
  • Start a (Public) Conversation: Your customers and potential customers will be watching you to see how you react to the issue and they will judge your company’s morals and standards based on your reaction. The good thing about social media is that if you handle these types of issues promptly and professionally, lots of people will see it. The bad thing about social media is, well, if you handle it poorly, lots of people will see it.
  • Don’t Delete: Never delete comments, tweets or reviews. When you delete comments or try to “cover up” what your customers or potential customers are saying, you will start to lose your reputation and the trust that people have placed in you or your products. Instead, use the opportunity to be real with your audience while reacting and responding appropriately.
  • With that Being Said…There are some fires that you shouldn’t even bother putting out. Offensive language and all-out attacks must be handled on a case-by-case basis. If you are dealing with someone online who you just cannot get through to, ask them to contact your business or organization so that you can handle the matter privately. If someone is attacking others or using foul language or refusing to work with you towards a solution, it’s okay to pull the plug and walk away.

AFTER THE FACT

  • Apologize and Move On: If you truly made a mistake, own up to it. We are no longer dealing with the days of putting out a press release to cover up a mistake. Our social media world does not allow it. Admit you made a mistake, apologize for what you did, and tell your customers what you are doing to fix it and what you will do in the future to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Coming clean and moving on will make your brand stronger and your customers will trust you more in the long run.

At the end of the day, your business needs to understand the power of social media and how professionally-run social media pages can make a world of difference. If you have a solid plan on how to handle negative remarks, comments or reviews, your business will benefit greatly from it in case of an emergency.

Google Introduces Call-Only Ads

Google Adwords has always been a nice way to help grow leads and sales by directing customers to a website. But what happens when the majority of your business comes from the phone? In an effort to support companies who thrive on phone conversions, Google has introduced Call-Only ads.

Phone-based ads aren’t necessarily a novel approach for Google. Users have had the ability to add a phone extension to ads for quite some time, but with the new call-only ads, the main call to action is, well, to call.

Included is a helpful option to use Google-provided forwarding phone numbers in the ads. By using different numbers Google is able to report on which ads, keywords and campaigns are generating calls

call-only ads

Setting Up Call-Only Ads

Setting up call-only ads is as easy as setting up any Adwords campaign, only this time instead of choosing the standard ad type, you will select the call-only field.

call-only ads1

Ad creation continues through the standard set-up process as you determine the geographic reach of your ads, select keywords and your desired bid strategy.

As you begin to build your ad you will see the initial call to action on call-only ads is not to visit a website but to call. This feature will be especially useful for customers who are looking for immediate service like Heating & Cooling companies or Plumbers.

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Do you think call-only ads could benefit your business but aren’t sure how to get started? Let TKG do the work for you.

5 Times More Reasons To Use Video for Your Business

In case you missed it, the Super Bowl was, ahem, pretty big this year. Arguably bigger? The fbcommercials. Love or hate football, this prime-time TV real estate often boasts some of the best and funniest ads of the year.

And if you’d like, you can easily catch all the ads on YouTube, taking the time to re-watch your favorites, or see the ones you missed while grabbing extra chip dip in the kitchen.

But here’s the exciting part (and the part your business may want to pay attention to): while YouTube absolutely smashed Facebook on overall commercial views, Facebook cleaned YouTube’s clock on overall shares.

FIVE TIMES as many shares, in fact.

As of the Monday after the Super Bowl, YouTube amassed a total of 234 million views on Super Bowl ads. Facebook couldn’t keep up with that number, mostly because not all the videos were uploaded directly to Facebook, and also because Facebook’s search still isn’t nearly as robust as YouTube’s (and people rarely go to Facebook to specifically search for video…at least, not yet).

When it came to overall shares of videos, however, Facebook accounted for nearly 70% of all shares for Super Bowl ads this year, even without many of the commercials being “native” (or uploaded directly) to the platform.

So what does this mean for your business?

  1. Video content is still king, and we know from our own client analytics that video always performs well with audiences, usually far outpacing photos.
  2. Facebook is placing higher and higher importance on native video on the platform. It’s great to host a video on YouTube (and you should continue to do so, since this plays well with SEO), but we already know the Facebook algorithm doesn’t play as nicely with outside links as well as it does to content posted directly to the platform.
  3. Views are nice, shares are great, and the further your video content spreads, the better.
  4. Video doesn’t have to be crazy high production to resonate with your audience. Most newer cell phones have fantastic cameras, so if you have 90 seconds and an iPhone, you can start connecting with your audience regularly with video.

The biggest lesson? Having a diverse distribution plan for your content is key to taking full advantage to how your audience finds you and interacts with you. Facebook is great, but it’s not the sole answer to an overall content strategy. Having multiple channels, and knowing how to leverage each one will contribute to your brand message and business goals.

“Oh I Forgot I Had a Website”

Oh I Forgot I Had a Website ImageWhile it’s not likely that you actually would ever forget that your business has an online presence, but that might be what the content and look of your site tell your visitors.

We all get busy running our businesses and making sure we are selling products. Fortunately, we at TKG are thinking about your website and we care a lot!

We took a look and, trust us, we were equally excited about the big news you announced proudly on your homepage in 2009! Unfortunately, it’s now 2015 so it is not quite as exciting.

That brings us to the photos you have of your team proudly displayed in your About Us or Meet the Group section. Everyone looks great, but unfortunately half of them are now gone as that photo is circa 2005. Or even worse (better?), you now have 30 employees, rather than the 10 shown in the photo.

So all joking aside, what kind of message does this outdated kind of info and look convey to visitors?

  • Do these guys update anything?
  • Are they almost out of business?
  • Is this really a company I want to do business with?

Other recent TKGenius blog posts have talked about the importance of things such as technology, keeping up with browser compatibility and responsive design. What your site says (or doesn’t) can be as important as the technologies used. It’s why we don’t take a one size fits all approach with our clients at TKG. We evaluate what you have, take the time to understand your goals and strategize to make the right recommendations to move your business forward.

So remember that website you have? Go take a look. Are you proud of what it says about your company? Would you want to do business with your company? Is it time for a few updates, a facelift or maybe even a complete overhaul?

We’re here for you. Get connected!

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SEO Tips for PDFs

PDFs, just like HTML pages, can rank in search engines. Accordingly, it is important that PDF optimization is part of your comprehensive strategy for search engine performance. Here are some helpful SEO tips for PDFs:

Save the PDF as Text Based

When creating a new PDF, be sure to save the file as text based, rather than a flat image. Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign allow for this whereas scanning a hard copy of a document will not. From Google’s Webmaster Central blog: The general rule of the thumb is that if you can copy and paste the text from a PDF document into a standard text document, we should be able to index that text.

Optimize PDF Properties

When creating a PDF, there are a number of text properties that should be defined prior to loading to a website. These include title, author, subject, and keywords. To access these, go to File > Properties. Here are some thoughts and recommendations for each of these fields:

  • Title
    • These are similar to the title tags on HTML pages and should follow similar best practices.
    • PDF titles can appear as part of search results
    • Answer this question: How would you name this content?
    • Include a relevant keyword that has search volume
  • Author
    • This field is designated for the creator of the article.
    • Use this space to reference the business, organization, or the individual who deserves credit for the work.
  • Subject
    • The subject field in a PDF is similar to the meta description on HTML pages.
    • Try to keep this field to 150 characters or less
    • Include a call to action
    • Include a relevant keyword that has search volume
  • Keywords
    • As we’ve mentioned on TKgenius, including meta keywords in HTML pages offers no SEO value. This is likely the case for the keyword properties in PDFs as well.
    • If you choose to fill in this field in the PDF properties, separate each keyword with commas and avoid stuffing with similar keywords.

PDF SEO

SEO-friendly File Name

Many content management systems generate the URL based on the file name.  Therefore, when saving the PDF, there are several guidelines to follow:

  • Save the file with a relevant file name (not draft17FINAL2015revisionB.pdf)
  • Separate words with dashes and use lowercase text
  • Avoid overly lengthy file names
  • Include a relevant keyword

Hyperlink Text in the PDF

Include hyperlinks in the PDF that link to relevant detail pages within your site that contain more info. For example, at the end of the PDF, include a call to action such as Request a quote that goes to your request a quote form on your website.

Include Keywords in the Content

Just like a traditional HTML page, include relevant keywords in the copy itself. In general, identify a few overall keywords that define the theme of the content (use the Google Keyword Planner tool to see if the phrases are popular), write the article in its entirely, then review what was written to find a few opportunities to tastefully include keywords where appropriate.

Optimize Anchor Text to the PDF

Once the PDF is loaded to the website, be sure to find appropriate locations across your site to link to the new PDF. When linking to the PDF, avoid linking text such as “Learn More” or “download this PDF” and instead hyperlink the actual words that discuss the content. For example: link the words “optimize PDFs for search engines” in the sentence: Learn how to optimize PDFs for search engines.

By following the guidelines above, you’ll ensure the PDFs on your website are SEO friendly.

Do What Works but Don’t Stop Wanting More

As an account manager of several web marketing clients, my goal is for them (and us) to be successful in growing their businesses. And we do that by aligning our strategy with their company goals, becoming partners who work together in this mutual aim.

Most of my customers want to sell more widgets or get more sales leads, and so we get them more website traffic so they can do just that. Who doesn’t like more customers, right?

If your company website leads or sales are growing, especially by having a content and search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, then continue to work your plan. That’s good business sense.

But let’s not stop at just continuing to do what works. There’s always more. It’s time to try new things.

stock-footage-new-ideas-hand-drawn-lettering-with-a-simple-stylized-bulb-symbol-whiteboard-animation-on-whiteWhen it comes to making money, one of my favorite things to do is to try new ideas. It’s fun to test them out and see if you can get a return on investment. Online marketing is no different: Find something that works and expand it. Then, find something else that works and expand it, too. Repeat the process.

Let’s assume you have an SEO and content strategy working for your business. Have you tested some paid digital advertising, yet? What about social media marketing; is that right for your business? And by social media marketing, I mean true strategy that drives results – not just playing on Facebook. How about email marketing to current customers – might you get them to spend more with your company with repeat orders?

There are so many avenues to explore when it comes to growing your business. If you haven’t gone down very far down those roads, there are likely goldmines to uncover.