3 Ways to Optimize Your Website for Voice Search

Voice Search

Here’s a question for you.

If you wanted to know what TV channel will air Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather, what would you do?

In an ideal world, you’d seek an answer from your peers. And if they fail to give one, you’d turn to Google. It’s a safe choice because Google knows everything. The search engine makes it incredibly easy to find the answer to almost any question you could think of. Just type what you’re interested in knowing into the search box and voila, you’re presented with a plethora of credible resources to seek information from.

But here’s something interesting: a significant number of people are bypassing the use of Google when it comes to finding the information they’re looking for.

Instead, they’re asking their phones to find results quickly.

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Back Back Back It Up: Why Backlinks are Vital to Your SEO Strategy

All marketers should be aware of how important SEO is to your organic and local rankings. About 20% of your SEO efforts will be on-page optimization. So, what’s included in the other 80%?  Well, there’s citations, backlinks, content, mobile, page speed, etc. The list goes on.

Backlinks have always been an important Google ranking factor. As time has progressed and Google has updated their algorithm, they’ve learned to weed the good from the bad. Yes, link quantity is good, but link QUALITY is becoming even more important.

Are you still asking yourself why you should care about backlinks when it comes to SEO? How about this, backlinks are the top 3 of Google ranking factors. Convinced now? Awesome. Let’s dive in.

What are backlinks?

Backlinks, also known as Inbound links, are simply links that are directed to your website. The number of backlinks you have can be an indication of the popularity or position of your website. Google, Bing, and other search engines will give more credit to websites that have quality backlinks. This is because they consider those websites more relevant to the search query.

Notice the word QUALITY above. This is key. Not only should the referring domain having high authority and a high trust score, the site should also be relevant to your industry. Wouldn’t you find it strange if a dog food website linked to a travel site? So would Google.

As I mentioned previously, Google doesn’t weigh all backlinks equally. There are some types of backlinks you want to avoid when working out your backlink strategy.  Article directories, $5 Fiver gigs that promise tens of thousands of backlinks, irrelevant link exchanges. All of these can cause a huge spike in backlinks and Google will see that as spammy black hat tactics and penalize your site.

So, what should my backlink strategy consist of?

  1. Set goals: It can be difficult to prove a link building campaign is successful, even when it hits certain goals. Because of this, marketers have to not only set realistic goals but to make sure that the goals they set are more than build X number of links. The goals need to tie into organizational goals and have a positive impact on the bottom line of the business. Like all good marketing, focus on long-term gains, not overnight quick-wins.
  2. Identify your assets: What is it you’re going to use to attract and get links? Some examples of assets can be blog/article content, products, services, people, and or data. Be sure that the assets you create are relevant to the audience you’re wanting to attract.
  3. Identify types of links you need: Do you need links to your home page? May links to an interior page like a product or service page. You can also have links to keywords you’re targeting.
  4. Identify your sites: make sure you find sites that are not only authoritative but relevant as well. These can be news sites, government websites, educational websites, community websites, charities and other businesses. Remember, quality links so do press releases, reach out to suppliers and sponsors. Tap into communities that your customers frequent (such as Reddit, StumbleUpon, forums, and blogs).

SEO strategies are not set it and forget it. It takes a long time to build authority especially if a site is new. Don’t expect to rank #1 overnight. Want that coveted position 0 on Google? You’ve got to work for it. Stay tuned for more blogs from me on how to rank on Google. Want to learn more about how we can help in your SEO plan? Contact us today.

Using Facebook Live to Engage with Followers

Facebook Live

Facebook live is a relatively new feature. Social Media Today talks about how to use Facebook’s Live video features to engage with your audience. People are said to spend up to 3 times longer watching live video than other forms of video. Facebook live is generating a lot of engagement and here is a synopsis of how you too can engage with your followers this way.

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Why Nostalgia May Be the Answer to B2B Conversions

nostalgia-via-packaging

We grew up too fast, didn’t we?

I still remember the days when I asked my mother why the hyenas were willing to work for Scar. Also, I will never forget Arthur’s reggae song with the character walking down the sidewalk.

A journey into the past, whether in the form of a cherished cartoon, an old box-office hit, or even a retro image, has the ability to make us stop dead in our tracks and smile.

Like our future, we give regular attention to our past, the days that served us well. And it’s little surprise that the allure of good old memories is stronger now than ever in an era filled with mounting dread.

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5 Things To Keep Top Of Mind When Performing A Content Audit

The word audit, in most cases, has a negative connotation, especially now as Tax Day is exactly one month away. For the purposes of this blog post, however, the word “audit” isn’t something to shy away from. I also want to point out that “audit” is a versatile word. While some may fear it as an impending tax procedure, marketing companies may use it to refer to a process of content analysis or content evaluation. At StrataBlue, whenever we take on a new project (or when we’re evaluating an existing one) we focus on what is currently in place before starting a new strategy: our own “audit” of sorts.

Here’s a glimpse into the first 5 things we at StrataBlue keep in mind while analyzing existing content during our audit:

Benchmark site traffic

First things first: you must understand how much traffic the website is currently getting. Assuming the site has Google Analytics set up, gain access to the account and pull a couple different reports to get a thorough benchmark. Also pull different date ranges: it’s most common to look at previous 30 days, three months, six months, or even one year. In the event the site does not have analytics set up, create the account and begin collecting data. An example of some reports to pull are: behavior (overview) – which will inform you of the most trafficked pages on the site and acquisition (overview) – which will tell you how they got there and on what device.

Keyword analysis

Staying in Google Analytics, pull a report to understand which search queries were you entered when users found the website. In order to do this, Google Webmaster Tools must be set up for the account. That’s one way to go about it. Sometimes clients will provide a list of keywords that they want you to focus on. That’s always the best case scenario. If that happens to you, use that list in the following steps…

Set up the client in moz

Content audits done the right way.If you don’t use moz, disregard this step but it’s highly encouraged to set up an account. I’m yet to come across a more insightful and powerful tool to analyze keywords and on-page SEO. I’ll also analyze top keywords using semrush – which is another tool for understanding competitor keyword usage and cost. Per the previous step, this is when you can upload the client given list of keywords into moz and after a few days of propagation, moz will provide in depth information of how the website ranks for the focus keywords. It will also tell you where you rank for those keywords in comparison to your top 3 competitors (as well as other amazing things…) In the event where your on your own for targeting keywords, see next step for guidance.

Google Keyword Planner

Have you spotted a trend yet? Keyword usage is of utmost importance. When performing the initial content audit, understanding them and how they’re currently being used and how you plan to use them is where you can really make an impact in search rankings. When you’re on your own for keyword research, take a deeper look at the industry which your targeting.

For example, I recently completed a content audit for a client in the manufacturing and building products industry. Going into it, I thought, “Man I’m never going to find keywords in this industry that relate to his business that actually have significant search volume.” And I couldn’t have been more wrong… Using simple Google searches to discover different variations, I compiled my list and went to work in the keyword planner. There were around 15-20 that had significant search volume with a low level of competition – which, as I explain in my last blog (read here), equals the perfect opportunity. Which is a nice segue to the next step!

Pick the low hanging fruit

On-page keyword optimization is the low hanging fruit. Pick yours now.On-page keyword optimization in and of itself IS the low hanging fruit. After thorough and careful keyword research and selection, begin placing the keyword phrases where they make the most sense on the website. Update SEO titles, meta descriptions, H1 tags, image titles, alt tags … you get the picture. Your search traffic will take a temporary hit as Google reindexes those pages but they will bounce back and perform better than they did before. There’s no point in delaying the inevitable; if you know your keywords, place them now while you’re ahead!

We’re searching for a content lovin’ fool to join our growing team!

Are you as passionate about content as me? If so, I want you to join our expanding team of account managers! To apply, simply email me a short paragraph about why you’re right for the job and attach a resume. Send it to: [email protected]. If you’d like to learn more about the position first, click on the image below!

We're looking for people who are crazy about content!

Gamification: Making Your Social Media Strategy Invincible

I love games and gamification. As a nerd, I’ve had a console controller in my chubby little hands since birth.

There are actually quite a few benefits to playing games. According to the American Psychological Association, video games can actually help with problem-solving and learning. It’s also been proven that playing Tetris can curb cravings for food and cigarettes.

Millennials play a lot of games, so it’s no surprise that various organizations and brands have tried to capitalize on this. Does anyone remember those slightly unsettling Burger King video games? The process of using gaming elements in other environments is commonly referred to as gamification. It’s been used to reach students in schools and tutoring programs. Companies like SAP have also used gamification in their training materials.

gamification, content strategy, marketing strategy

Tetris can help your social media strategy!

How does all of this relate to your marketing strategy in social media? The principles of gamification can easily be implemented into any content strategy plan to garner amazing results. Here are a few common examples of gamification done right.

Comment Ranking is one of the simplest ways to add gaming concepts to your content. Made popular by sites like Huffington Post and Reddit, comment ranking allows users to vote for the best comments on an article or page. Users who comment often or for extended periods become veterans or super users. This ranking system can easily be added to any WordPress page and will give your users a sense of competition and fulfillment when interacting with your blog or website.

Quizzes have become a large part of our social media landscape thanks to sites like Buzzfeed. Quizzes are not new to the internet, but their popularity continues because they allow users to discover and explore in order to gain more data. Quizzes are also helpful to web traffic for the brands that use them. These quizzes can easily be added to a brand’s Facebook page or website. They can also be used to acquire emails from potential customers.

Facebook Games started small on the social media site, but the addition of Farmville dramatically altered the field. Now, a large part of Facebook is devoted to these games. Facebook games are popular due to their innate fun, but also due to their social features. Facebook players can easily share their scores, trade game items with others and invite friends to play with them. Social features make these games quite attractive to players.

Pins fulfill a need many gamers have to complete tasks and earn reputation. Perhaps the greatest example of pinning in social media is Foursquare’s extensive badges. Foursquare users can gain badges for visiting beer breweries or completing a certain number of check-ins. Brands can easily create badges for their customers through Foursquare’s advertising platform.

What gamification elements do you use on social media? Have you tried any of these systems for your own brands? Please tell us about it below!

Does Your Social Media Strategy Fit the Hierarchy of Needs?

I want to talk about social media strategy, but first we have to discuss zombies.

A particular group of geeks are very interested in October 12. This is the premiere of The Walking Dead’s fifth season. The zombie thriller television series is watched by millions. I think it has to do with everyone’s interest in surviving a flesh-eating apocalypse. People always want to talk about how they would survive the undead hordes.

Usually these conversations dissolve into discussions about ammo, canned food and fortified shelters. If you’re a special kind of geek (and I am), you can usually name drop Abraham Maslow into this discussions. Maslow is famous for creating the hierarchy of needs, a psychology theory best expressed in pyramid form.

social media strategy, blogging tips, content strategy

Is your social media strategy fit for survival?

Essentially, the hierarchy of needs asserts that people need certain things to live a healthy and fulfilling life, and they need those things in a certain order.

First, you need basic necessities like food and shelter (physiological needs, in other words). Then you need security and safety, like healthcare and property; love and belonging, from friends and family; self-esteem, like accomplishment and respect from others; and finally you need self-actualization, such as meaning and creative outlets. These needs must be met from the bottom of the pyramid up. If you don’t have basic shelter, supposedly you will not care about self-respect.

What does all this have to do with social media strategy? The hierarchy of needs can be a tool when considering your content strategy. Beyond any list of blogging tips, people need to remember the basics of their social media strategy, and build up from there.

Grammatical

If the basic needs of any person are food and shelter, than grammar is the basis of any good piece of content. You could have the best information in the world, but your bad grammar and weak voice will keep many readers from seeing it. They stop reading as soon as they come to the first mistake. More on grammar here.

Entertainment

Is your content interesting? Does the subject matter really pop? If not, did you find an entertaining way to present it? If not, you can pretty much assume no one is reading it. The world is filled with content strategy at the moment. Make sure your writing is fun and interesting so you can grab the largest audience possible.

Engagement

So your content is interesting and grammatically sound. You’re good to go, right? Wrong. Make sure every piece of content you create has some call to action. What do you want your readers to do? How do you want them to react after reading your work? Whatever your wishes are, make them very clear. Otherwise someone will read your content with no benefit to your brand.

Visual

So your written information is stellar: interesting, engaging and well written. Now you need some sort of visual content to really grab attention. Readers tend to respond well to visual content, and spend more time on content that has visual stimulus. Whether it’s a painstakingly researched infographic or a funny cat picture, make sure you have something visual attached to your work.

Shareability

The most amazing piece of content actually has the power to reach millions and even change the world. It’s completely true, and it’s happened multiple times. Perhaps you dream of your tweet or blog going viral. Make sure your awesome content is ridiculously shareable. Add social buttons to your websites or blogs, and make sure you ask your audience to pass on your content.

Is your social media strategy passing this hierarchy of needs? What parts of the pyramid do you really excel at? Let me know in the comments below!

How to Blog Better With 4 Simple Tips

So you’ve been blogging for a while now. Your posts are error-free, your meta tags are in place and your content strategy is being carried out swimmingly. You’ve read a million “How to Write a Blog” pieces and you’ve moved beyond the simple tricks. In short: you know how to blog.

Or do you?

You might have all the basics down, but lately your blog isn’t pulling in the numbers you were hoping for. In fact, you’re getting less and less clicks as time goes on. You’re also having problems creating content that looks shiny and new. You’re running out of ideas. It’s no surprise. As mentioned in my previous blog, everyone knows what content marketing is at this point. And as everyone creates their own content strategy, they’re creating more and more content. You’re going to have to work harder to make your blog stand out.

Never fear, help has arrived! Below I offer a few simple tips to help you out with your next blog. However, I will point out that none of these tips are a stand-alone cure-all. But more on that later.

Keywords

I’ve mentioned keywords in my previous blog, but I cannot state how important they are. A few simple but direct long tail keywords can really help you get your content in front of the right eyeballs. However, this isn’t your first rodeo, and I’m sure you’re familiar with the science of it. What I’m sure you’ve missed out on is the beauty of starting a blog with a keyword. If you’re blogging, you’re probably a writer at heart. The science of keywords is something you probably begrudging add to your blog after you’ve completed your written work of art, right?

Skip it. Try going to Google first before you touch your newest blog. Let the keyword planner guide the way. I guarantee it’s easier time to seed keywords into a work-in-process than to try to hammer them onto an existing post. You can also use Keyword Planner to search for new blog topics. You’ll most likely find content you would have never thought of before!

Add Rich Content

I’m not just talking about pictures. Everyone knows a well-places image draws the eye and breaks up long pieces of prose. But you don’t want to do what everyone else is doing. Add an infographic to your blog. Not only is it more engaging than a photo—it displays some of that data you’ve spent so much time uncovering. There are even free infographic creators like Piktochart. Have you tried adding audio or video to your blog? There are tons of royalty-free segments out there. You can even try creating some graphic content of your own. That brings me to my next point.

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Conduct an Interview

We’ve all read that blog on that one subject. Yes, really, all of us. We don’t need you to hyperlink to it one more time. Instead of spewing out the same links, try getting in touch with an actual human being to get their thoughts on the subject. Yes, interviewing someone can be a chore. Early in your blogging career, most people will probably turn you down. Even if you get an interview, you’ll need to leverage a bit more time create your content. But even if you don’t have the time or resources to interview someone at Google, you can still profile a person by gathering information about them.

Read a Book

If all else fails, you can read a book. No, I’m being serious. Let’s face it, very few blogs aim for much depth. Most content strategy demands a fast turn around and no one has the time to dig into a subject very deeply. Unfortunately this means a lot of blogs focus on the newest, shiniest subjects. If you want to give your audience something different, put a book review into your editorial calendar. Sure, the content might not be news breaking, but you will certainly have more fulfilling content to share. You’ll also have a unique take on a subject, because you’ve actually done your homework. Gold star!

I believe lazy blogging is bad blogging (yes, you can tweet that). If you want your content marketing to stand out, you’re going to have to work harder than the other person. That means digging deeper, working harder, and thinking differently. It’s not an easy path, but it is a rewarding one. Have some of your own blogging tips for someone stuck in a rut? Comment below!

Creating a Content Strategy in the Wall of Noise

Recently Entrepreneur Magazine wrote an interesting article about the failure of content marketing. In a nutshell, they suggested that content marketers have a long haul from blog post to sale. Entrepreneur suggested content value, professional help and measured analytics can greatly help with content strategy, and who am I to argue? However, I will have to disagree that the focus should be solely on content marketing.

Content Shock

Content Shock

Less recently social marketers had to deal with an ice storm of gloom and doom in the form of Mark Schaefer’s content shock blog post. The idea is that everyone will create so much content that eventually (pick your timeline) creating content will be pointless for anyone but the biggest competitors. There was a lot of backlash to this idea, and multiple arguments against the concept. Change can be difficult, even for people in this field.

What is most enlightening was Schaefer’s response to the arguments against content shock. When addressing that “great content will always rise to the top,” he pointed out that content has a long way to go before it even reaches the eyes of potential customers. Search optimization, Schaefer argues, is as much of a factor of content strategy as content meaning is.

Refocusing Your Strategy

The only constant is that everything eventually changes, and that is doubly true in the field of online marketing. Take a look at SEO. I remember the days when guest blogging was the new silver bullet. How things have changed. Things can also be cyclical, though. I believe that marketers have championed content marketing as yet another cure-all, and now they’re surprised when it’s losing its edge.

So if content marketing isn’t the answer, what will we turn to next? If content is going to reach a high water mark, how can we continue to remain effective? I believe the answer relies on diversifying.

Basic Search is beyond important in a future world where everyone is producing far too much content. It may seem like a simple suggestion, but in a world where SEO has taken a backseat to social, marketers have gotten sloppy when it comes to keyword optimization. Far smarter people than me have written really great articles about using Google’s Keyword Planner, so I’m just going to point you their way. I would also suggest you spend some time with your meta tags. It’s an easy search feature that many marketers overlook.

Video Marketing is about to explode. Forget that, it already has exploded for the big guys. While everyone cannot create amazing written content, almost anyone can try. It takes a bit more work and thought to put together a piece of video content. And while you’re at it, I would suggest looking into podcasts and video blogs as well.

Marketing automation has grown from an emailing tool into an end to end process for sales departments. Perhaps you cannot snag every potential customers with your blog, but you can track their interests through other channels. If content marketing is going to be the silver bullet of the past, marketing automation will be the wave of the future.

What have you done to alter your marketing strategy in a post-content shock world? Have you expanded your marketing grip or re-doubled your efforts on fantastic content? I would love to hear your thoughts below or on Twitter.