Category Archives: Search Marketing

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.

Getting More Leads and Sales from Your Company Website

As I have shared previously, having a business website that caters to desktop, tablet and smartphone users (responsive design) is crucial as Google is giving more weight to sites that offer a great experience to all of its visitors. So, let’s say you’ve invested in your company website to do just that – what’s the next step?

More Traffic

Obviously, you want people to find your website and pay it a visit. You do this by having a good SEO/content strategy in place; and you can also bring more traffic to the website through paid advertising, social media posting and email marketing.

So let’s say you have good traffic coming to your site. What are you doing with it? Is your website generating leads? Is it creating sales for your company? If not, then you need to look at what’s called “conversion optimization.” ‘Conversions,’ for the purpose of this article, is a fancy word meaning leads and sales – how someone makes contact with your business. If you have traffic, but you are not receiving leads or sales, then there is a disconnect somewhere – and you need to find it.

Leads and Sales

There are three primary ways to generate leads from your website: phone calls, form submissions, and live chat. Phone numbers should be prominently placed and easy to find by site visitors. Forms should be simple and quick to fill out so users can send you contact you. And chat is icing on the cake – a simple way to get instant gratification if you are a website visitor with questions. We have found that people like to reach out to our clients in different ways, meaning each person has their preference. Why not cater to all three?

Let’s say you have an e-commerce website; you don’t want leads, you want sales. Make the experience smart, easy and intuitive. Does your current e-commerce website offer features such as the ability to order from the product listing page? Can I set-up an account and save my past orders? Is the checkout process simple and painless? Can I get free shipping or a discount on larger orders? Are you offering as many products as possible to potentially expand order size? Does your e-commerce website convey the feeling of trust by offering a way to contact your company, a return policy, testimonials, product reviews, etc.? And do you offer live chat to help buyers overcome any ordering challenges or questions?

Conclusion

Challenge yourself to objectively review your website. Determine whether or not you need help with traffic or conversions; then, take the necessary steps to improve its performance. You may be able to make some changes on your own or you may need some help from a web development/web marketing company. Whatever the case, DO something. The internet is not going away, and I can almost guarantee your competitors will be looking at this, too. Why not beat them to the punch?

What is the SSL Effect on SEO?

In August, Google announced that having a HTTPS site will help your site’s SEO. Further information revealed that this new SSL ranking signal would be slightly less significant compared to quality content. In response to this announcement, Raven Tools co-founder Jon Henshaw has encouraged internet marketers to test this switch before jumping into a fully HTTPS site.

Making the transition from HTTP to HTTPS is not as simple as adding an extra letter to the URL. It requires adding a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), which is generally found on e-commerce sites or others that offer secure transaction pages. Switching a site to HTTPS has some heavy SEO obstacles.

Henshaw gives nine steps to follow in transitioning a WordPress site to HTTPS. Outside of the difficulty of obtaining private keys and certificates, there are a number of other obstacles to hurdle over in maintaining SEO. It’s important to first understand that HTTP sites and an HTTPS sites are considered to be different sites, not extensions of one another. Next is the need to redirect traffic from the old HTTP site to the new HTTPS site. Enter the wonderful process of de-indexing. The old HTTP pages will need to be removed, which luckily, Google will do once your new redirects are set up. This will take care of the regular HTTP, or non-secure, pages.

One last tip from Henshaw is that he doesn’t recommend switching to an HTTPS site if your site is performing well and bringing in a large volume of conversions. This secure site SEO factor is another best practice to be added to a lengthy list that online marketers need to address, or at the very least be aware of.

What does this mean for your site?

Don’t panic if your site is not entirely HTTPS. As with many other changes to SEO best practices, which change constantly, you won’t want to jump straight on the wagon. Take some time to evaluate the process involved in switching from a site in HTTP to HTTPS. Make sure any kinks are worked out of the process if you decide to switch. Have a plan of action (see above steps from Jon Henshaw). How intensive will it be for your site? If your website is new, you may want to go ahead and start the transition as this change would be easier to make, and you won’t have to make the change once your site is established in organic Google searches.

I agree with Henshaw when he makes a point about successful sites with high traffic and goal completions not needing to make an immediate switch. Though being proactive is not a bad thing:

  • Are you creating a new signup feature? Make sure it is secure.
  • Are all of your e-commerce transaction pages already HTTPS? If not, that’s a change you need to make.

How does SSL effect SEO?Security needs for your site are directly related to how much information you are collecting. If the main goal of your site is only to push content, you have much less of a need for security additions; however, if you are collecting a range of personal information or credit card info, you absolutely need secure pages.

Be sure to watch your website’s statistics in the coming months. Is there suddenly a sustained loss in organic traffic? Have you noticed a dip in overall site performance? If you are having these issues, it would be worth evaluating the switch to HTTPS.

Image Source URL: http://www.softsystemsolution.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/HTTPS-Secure-Socket-Layer.png

3 Ways to Tell a Marketing Company is Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke - Mirrors_700There are a lot of reasons for a business to outsource online marketing duties. Whether it is manpower, talent or the idea of the Google algorithm that makes your brain want to explode, we get it. But before you sign on the dotted line, do your homework.

There are some marketing companies out there who do a good job of using confusing jargon and the phrase “we’re working on behind the scenes stuff, you don’t need to worry about that” to glaze over a client’s eyes. When you hire a marketing firm, you should be hiring into a partnership. You should expect the same type of communication and back and forth that you would get from your employees. Here are three ways to tell that the marketing company you’re working with is all about the smoke and mirrors.

  1. They talk in code (sometimes literally). Reading a report from your marketing company shouldn’t require Rosetta Stone. Sure, there are some terms that marketers might need to throw out here and there, but they should also come with an explanation. If your reports appear to be written in Sanskrit with no translation, someone might be pulling the wool over your eyes.
  2. Everything is a secret. You hired the firm and you should expect transparency. These are your dollars being spent, so you should be privy to how many hours you are being billed for, how long certain projects take, and what end product you received. And speaking of projects, don’t be afraid to ask for a project timeline or how the company tracks and bills work hours.
  3. There are no numbers to back up the results. “The campaign is doing great! You should be seeing leads now. Your phone must be ringing off the hook!” Those things very may well be happening, but are they the result of the work of your marketing company? Your monthly reports should come with real numbers … numbers that you have access to view using a Google Analytics account. The great thing about web marketing is that just about any click on your site, email blast, or PPC ad can be tracked. Ask for numbers and educate yourself by taking a high level crash course on Google Analytics (shameless plug, something that TKG offers periodically).

Just remember, before you sign into a marketing contract, ask some questions. Learn up front what kind of reports you can anticipate seeing and don’t be afraid to ask them to cut the jargon!

Image Credit

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.

nbcsnl

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.

youcan_run

  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.

beachyogagirl

  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.

filter_impact

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!

    photo source

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.

Image Credit

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.