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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 “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.
Recently 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.
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
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!
If you manage a Facebook business page, you may start seeing a decrease in likes over the next few weeks (or maybe you have already seen it). But don’t worry, you didn’t do anything wrong!
Facebook recently made an announcement that it will be removing page likes for any memorialized or voluntarily deactivated accounts. So if you saw a significant dip in your numbers, it was because this action was done all at once and not slowly over time. This isn’t a bad thing; Facebook is just making it so that your message is reaching people who are actually USING Facebook. So what does this mean?
A Deactivated Account
A user can choose to temporarily deactivate a Facebook account at any time. This does not delete the account; it just sets it in a state of suspended animation if you will. All of the information is preserved so if the user chooses to reactivate the account, all of the information previously listed on their profile will still be there when they get back (including liked pages).
What this means for you?
When a user deactivates their account, it will appear in your Facebook insights report as a page “unlike.” Once the page is reactivated, it will show up as a new like. No harm, no foul.
A Memorialized Account
Another new feature rolled out by Facebook is the Memorialized account. Memorialized accounts are a way for people on Facebook to remember and celebrate those who have passed. A living user can actually identify a legacy contact that can access a person’s Facebook account in the event of their death.
A legacy contact will have the option to share a final message to old friends and respond to new friend requests. Legacy contacts cannot log into your account, remove or change existing posts or read your direct messages.
What this means for you?
When a Facebook account is confirmed as memorialized, it will appear in your Facebook insights report as a page “unlike.”
In short – Facebook wants to make sure that you are speaking to your real audience. By eliminating deactivated and memorialized accounts, you now have a more accurate representation of your actual audience.
Are you interested in expanding your Facebook reach a little further but don’t think you have the time? Send us a message – the brains here at TKG can put together an entire social management strategy to help support and grow your business.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?