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Don Schindler

Executive Reputation Coach & Digital Marketer

Tag: social

What’s new with SEO? – Search Experience Optimization Workshop 2015

SEO-search-experience-optimization

Learning the basics of SEO can help you get found on the web. Not knowing it will make sure you aren’t.

Being found on the web is getting harder and harder to do.

The big brands are finally catching up to how the search engines see them and they are now putting substantial budgets into paid and organic search and social campaigns in order to be found on the first page of Google (for their important keywords).

So how do you compete?

Well, there are a lot of ways to compete but you need to have the basics down first.

In my workshop on search engine optimization or the better term for it, search experience optimization (SEO), I break down the basics and try to shed some light on simple things you can do to make sure the search engines and the people using those search engines see you. Because if they can’t see you, then you don’t exist.

Here’s the deck I used. Now you can flip through the deck if you want but it doesn’t have the text that you’ll have here.

When it comes to SEO, the first thing you have to do is produce good content. I know that sounds silly and like my friend Erik Deckers says, “Telling people to produce good content is stupid.”

That’s so true.

You need good content but you have to understand what makes good content and how to produce it specifically for your desired audience.

I like to say that good content is all about making people laugh, cry or think about your subject matter. If you can do that, then you have exactly what they are looking for. They will read it, watch it and share it.

Sharing is very important in this day and age of social.

Buzzfeed (who is one of the reigning kings of sharing content) talks about how they produce good content. You should read it and try to incorporate what they do to produce it.

If you’ve got the content down, then SEO gets pretty simple.

I like to break it down into these 8 things that you should focus on.

1. Content Strategy is basically what should be on the website when it launches and what will you continue to add to it. This is taking your good content and making sure it is focused on your subject matter. Once you have that down, your website should be able to handle these simple questions for both the users and the search engines.

  • Who You Are
  • What You Do
  • Where You’re Located
  • Your Value Proposition
  • What Visitors Should Do Next

2. Platform Strategy is knowing what devices your content is on and how your users see them. The platforms I believe you should worry about are iOS & Android first. Mobile is how people are connecting them most. I’ll have more on that later. Then you need to verify how you look in Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari.

There are two testing tools I like – www.browserstack.com (paid with free trial) and www.browserling.com (free but more features with paid).

3. Information Architecture is how things are laid out on your website (goals, navigation, search, calls to action). Essentially where the content will go. I love that more and more sites are moving to the “hamburger patty” navigation button and essentially hiding standard navigation.

Instead of driving people’s attention away from the content, the hidden navigation will help get your Call-to-Action noticed more and that’s the whole point of the website, right?

4. Keyword Research will help you understand what terms your users are using to find your type of content. Why guess when the search engines can tell you what terms you should be using and what terms you are currently indexed for.

I like using Google’s Adword Keyword Planner tool as well as Soolve to discover more familiar terms.

5. Usability and User Interface are two separate things but they really revolve around each other. I believe you can’t have good Usability without good User Interface and vice versa.

When I think about usability, I’m worried about how easy is it for a user to navigate the site? Do they understand your Call-to-Action? Are they incentivized to do it?

6. When I’m thinking about User Interface, you should be focused on the mobile website vs. the desktop for the first experience. The mobile version in responsive design will really teach you what is most important then you can focus on that when you start doing the desktop design. You should be focused on touch (thumb size) instead of mouse clicks as well as more and more screens become touch sensitive.

Color/design mean everything to the user. Check out my post on digital body language to understand more of how to be intentional with everything the user sees so they will do what you want them to do.

7. Accessibility is important because everyone should be able to view your content including those with disabilities. I’ve been told that up to 25% of your audiences can have vision problems and you can help them by making your website 508 compliant.

Check out 508checker.com and boia.org to help you get 508 compliant.

8. Last but definitely not lead is Inbound Links. These are the amount and strength of other websites hyperlinking to your website. The more you have based on your subject matter, the more the search engines will look to you as an authority in that subject matter.

You used to be able to manipulate these inbound links with blog farms and other black hat techniques but the search engines, especially Google, is constantly on the hunt to keep their search from being gamed. So it’s better to just focus on great content and asking people to link/talk about you on their websites.

You should definitely have a distribution strategy to execute upon when you put out great content. I love using email, social networks, blogging networks, etc… to encourage people to visit the content when we get it up on the website.

Now let’s touch on tools I use to find out what’s going on with the website.

First there’s Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools.

I have an article on how you can get them both set up and connected together.

google-webmaster-tools

Search Queries that lead to people finding your website

Once you have that you can start looking at what you are being found for currently and then adjusting to be found for other keywords.

Google Webmaster Tools will also let you sort of control your most popular navigational links so you should have know what those are.

Also Google Webmaster tools is going to tell you a lot about how Google sees your website, from mobile experience to your 404 broken link / missing page issues.

Speaking of 404 broken links and missing pages, I use Xenu to scan websites and get a report of what’s wrong with them so I can check. It’s simple program (free) that anyone on a PC can download. Since I’m on a mac I use Wine to run the program.

Here’s a link to my article on how to fix 404 issues.

Fixing 404 Broken Links

Just go into your CMS and fix the links.

Next up with SEO tactics are your images. It’s pretty simple to fix these. All you need is a process. I would not recommend going back and fixing all your image SEO problems unless the images are on your most popular pages. You can find what your most popular pages are in your Google Analytics. Just click on Behavior > Site Content > All Pages and you’ll get a list.

Here’s my article on how to fix images to make them SEO friendly.

Cow In A Grass Field

Cow eating grass in a green field

Finally let’s talk about website Title Tags and Meta Description. You should use real keywords within your Title Tags because the domain URL is going to be very important to the search engines. They especially don’t like numbers or non-sensical titles.

Meta-Descriptions have been seriously downgraded for SEO if they were even a part of the search algorithm in the first place but they are seriously important to the Google Snippet which people read about the page they are visiting. If you don’t fill this out, Google will pull any text on the page that it thinks describes the website. You don’t want that to happen.

Here’s my post on how to do Title Tags and Meta-Descriptions.

Page Title

Page Titles are probably the most important piece of SEO you can do.

So this was my workshop on Search Experience Optimization (former Search Engine Optimization). Do you have things you would like to add to it?

2015 Consumer Insights or What To Do About The Modern Mobile And Social Media Wielding Customer

When it comes to insights on today’s consumer, there are a lot of experts out there giving some expert opinion. I don’t consider myself one of them. But I do read a ton on the subject and I’ve gathered these nuggets.

From Robert Scoble and Shel Israel’s book, Age of Context, there are several trends converging that will definitely define the next generation of products and services.

Social, Mobile, Big Data, Sensors, GPS Location.

With social, we spend more time doing that online than anything one thing – hence the popularity of Facebook and Twitter.

With mobile, we spend more time looking at our smartphones than our TVs. And guess what? We carry that device with us more than any other one thing. It used to be my wallet but that doesn’t even make it to my bedside table.

With big data, we have the opportunity to collect more digital information about our customers than ever. Buying trends matched with demographics, psychographics, and lifestyle can bring back some very predictive analysis of future trends.

With sensors, we are capturing more information about ourselves and using that to help maintain better lives – sleep, activity, location, food intake and giving this information to the web and the companies that promise to help us make better choices.

With GPS location, we can get better routes home to avoid traffic but it also gives insight to the companies trying to advertise to us exactly where we are and what we are doing.

Now all of this may seem very big brotherish but I believe it’s actually going to help us keep from wasting time and making poor decisions without all the right information.

 

 

So a big customer insight is the Moment of Need.

The Moment of Need is when the customer figures out they have a problem and they need a solution immediately – where do they go? They touch the nearest device and expect the answer to be right there.

moment-of-need

The Moment of Need

The customer tells us this:

I need the information right now, no matter what device I’m using. It needs to help me and, BTW, I need to find interesting and in terms I understand. GOT THAT? LOL

So let’s breakdown what the customer said into bite-size chunks that we can work with.

BE FOUND
Digital is overtaking the physical world. Understanding how search engines and social media work is crucial in the digital landscape. If you can’t get found organically, it’s time to pony up and buy it. What should you buy? The terms that you want to be found for.

BE FLEXIBLE
Your website or social properties should look great no matter what device the customer is using. Is your website using responsive design or is at least mobile friendly? Can I operate it with my thumb? Would it be better to have an application instead of relying on the web?

BE HELPFUL
I love my friend, Jay Baer, advice here. Stop getting in the way and make yourself useful. Don’t just talk about yourself and the problems only you solve. Talk about the industry you are in, the problems the industry faces, help them solve their problems even if you aren’t the solution to that specific issue. They will remember the help you gave them.

BE INTERESTING
Corporate speak is dead as well as logos. Your people are your best shot at staying relevant. If your people are your best assets, then why hide them behind a logo?

You need to set a voice for the company that matches the brand and then open up your staff to have a voice but teach them the best ways to do it with communications and social media training. And when they screw up as they most certainly will, then give them some place to go if they get in trouble like the PR and HR teams. Help them be proactive not reactive to your industry with a voice that is authentic.

Now the the Moment of Need has occurred, the next insight pops in. The Moment of Need plus Emotion and Logic Balance.

emotion-logic-balance

Customers need approval to satisfy both emotion and logic.

What is Emotion/Logic Balance? It’s the time in which the customer takes the time to justify his emotional need for the product or service with the logical side. He is searching for approval of his choice and he will find it.

The customer tells us now:

I need to know if this is the right thing to buy? What do the experts say? Do my friends’ approve? Is it the right price? Can I get it cheaper?

BE THE EXPERT CHOICE
Reviews from strangers count almost as much as reviews from friends. If you talk a lot about the product and service or about the industry, then you probably are expert at helping them make this choice for them.

People will refer to more experts as the cost of the product/service goes up so you need to be in multiple locations giving advice. And they will pay attention to the expert’s own reviews. Guess who is trusted the most – the academic/industry expert and a person like yourself according to Edelman’s Trust Barometer.

BE EASY
When you make it easy for them to ask their friends if they would approve of them buying your product, you are asking them to show you off. Would they? Yes, they want to.

This is why demoing product/services are so popular as well as taking things back if they don’t like them (Zappos model). This is also why beta invitations are so popular. They get to show off to their friends that they are now “in” and have the potential of letting them in as well adding to their social currency.

BE TRANSPARENT
Back in the day you didn’t have to worry about video recorders and camera that could instantly spread information via social networks. Customers now think they have the right to know what’s going on behind the closed doors and with more companies showing what is happening behind the scenes, then a customers trust goes up.

But for those that don’t, customers get a lot more suspicious than in the past. You can’t just say trust us anymore. You need to think more along the lines of “We’ll prove it to you so you can trust us.”

white-glove-love

Everyone wants to be treated special because they are special.

So we have the Moment of Need combined with the Emotion and Logic Balance and finished with White Glove Love.

What do I mean by White Glove Love? This is the customer experience matching the promises that were made via the Moment of Need and the Emotion/Logic Balance.

The customer says now:

Why can’t I just click to buy? Or press to buy? Or snapchat to buy? I want it today, can I pick it up now? Wow, so I got it – did you ever think of doing this with it? Now I don’t like it, you better take it back.

BE QUICK
The less fields, the better. Or how about no fields and I just touch my phone? Consumers love to buy as quickly as possible to get on with their lives.

BE COLLABORATIVE
If they really love the product, chances are they are going to tell you. Or show you how they are using it. Maybe it’s in ways you didn’t even envision. Make sure you are open to their feedback and if they want to recommend ways to improve it, be open to those. It will probably improve the product/service even more.

BE RESPONSIVE
The support call trees and email routing black holes are going the way of the dinosaurs. They want to talk to real people. They expect the product to do what you said it can do. They want their money back if they don’t have a receipt or it was a gift. Those that serve quickly and friendly, win over those with obstacles to climb.

With the power that customers have nowadays, I don’t see these trends and insights going away – in fact I see most of them as getting bigger and taking over more budget.

For example, I believe that customer experience and service will be the driving force of many products and service – it’s why you see many CMOs driving a customer-centric model.

Here’s a few takeaways to remember.

  1. Social and mobile are currently transforming all communications and marketing and are going to grow exponentially.
  2. Your customers will lead your company unless you meet their digital demands.
  3. You can get ahead of the competition if you adopt a digital mindset with your communications.

So what do you think? Am I missing the boat or did I miss a few crucial insights? Let me know and I’m happy to add them.

Is your real personal life and digital professional life mixing?

Real life vs. Digital life.

Where should you spend more time?  Of course, real life.

What will last longer? Umm. That’s easy. Digital life.

How do you keep your personal life separate? Is that even possible nowadays.  You know the govt’s tracking you. And the credit card companies. And your local grocery with its reward card.  What difference does it make?

Where should you spend more time?  There’s a balancing act to it.

My wife and I do a lot of things.  Mud runs, motorcycles, beaches, drive-ins, etc…  It’s a busy real life and I don’t mind sharing it with the world because I get good feedback from it.  My extended family loves the photos and videos.

But it also helps enhance my professional life.  People know probably more than they want to know but that’s ok with me. You can see I’m real and have a life – not just a digital one.

I believe that your digital life can amplify and enhance your real life – but if you aren’t prepared to shape that digital life it can do some serious damage to you and your personal brand.

Of course, your real life will be over someday and hopefully you are leaving lasting memories with everyone you come into contact with – but your digital life will probably last forever so you should treat it like that.  A scrapbook that others will look through when you are gone.  Treat it accordingly.

How do you keep your personal life separate?  I honestly don’t think it’s possible right now.  Digital is so ingrained in our lives.  If you want to protect yourself, buy the right tools to do it.  What are those tools? I honestly don’t know. Everything I’ve heard of is related to scams like the Identity Theft stuff.  Here’s the PPT I shared with a group a little while back discussion your personal and professional brand and how they are blended together.

[slideshare id=15413219&sc=no]

Erasing an online consumer complaint from your search results – Part 2 of Power to the Consumer

So here’s the secret.  You can’t.

You knew that was coming, didn’t you?  But there are ways to push the complaint farther away from your site and out of your search results.

The first thing I would do.  Go after that customer, face to face, and see if you can correct what happened.  Now some people would say that there are people who are never going to be happy, no matter what you do.

I would disagree and say, “You really don’t know that until you are face-to-face with that person.”

Too many times I’ve seen emails and comments start flaming because when it comes to digital communication it is easy to forget there is another human being on the other end of that discussion.  It’s almost like we are flipping mad at our computer and just letting them have it.  But once they are in person or on the phone, the anger settles and people can talk in the right TONE to one another.

The other thing to do is to go to those sites that have your complaint and explain your side of things.  Tell them how you’ve tried to work this situation out.

But if you can’t fix it, you can out-content them on search results.

If you have only one website on the internet (your singular web presense) on the internet, this is going to be very hard.  Because you essentially have only one link or two links that will come up when there is a search for your company.

But if you have multiple web presences…say a YouTube Channel, a Flickr account, a Twitter account, an outside blog or multiple blogs, a facebook page, a myspace page, then you have a chance.

Now what I would do is start pushing lots and lots of content out on the web through these different channels – and there are a heck of a lot of more of them than I mentioned.

Also, don’t do it all at once.  Space it out.  Get stuff up there at least once a week.

Other things you can do is change your static site frequently.  I don’t care if it costs you money because you built a site without a CMS.  By not changing your content, it just sits there and Google has no reason to re-index your site.

Get involved in other people’s conversations on their sites.  If you are scared of the internet, then talk to someone who understands it and can help you.

The bottom line is get more active on the internet and you can drive them down on the search results.

This is also not a great idea in theory – I’ve done this before with companies.  It does work.  But make sure you understand this.  The same rules that apply to you, also apply to the consumer and that’s why when you step it up – they can as well.  So it’s better to just work it out together and not go through this mess.

Good luck.  And if anyone else has some ideas on how to do it, let me know.  I would love to hear them.

Fox is crowdsourcing – why shouldn’t you?

Here’s the article from Cynopsis Digital for website of the day:

Fox has hired online crowdsourcing firm Passenger to build an online community of viewers around Fox shows to help executives make more informed programming and marketing decisions. Passenger will help the network test programming concepts, plot direction, character evolution and marketing schemes by empowering a group of dedicated users to chime in during the development process. Passenger is one of a few cutting edge firms entertainment studios are working with to the help ping the crowd before committing millions of dollars to production and marketing budgets, (a trend I will be exploring in a panel on crowdsourcing at the NATPE LATV Festival next month.) They also recently worked with Damon Lindelof and Carton Cuse, the showrunners of ABC’s Lost, to help determine which episode to submit to Emmy voters this year, (not an easy task for a serialized show.) The first order of business for Fox community members will be to offer feedback on Fox’s fall line up.

I know you are looking at me and saying, “What the heck is crowdsourcing?”

Here’s what Wikipedia says, “Crowdsourcing is a neologism for the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of an open call. For example, the public may be invited to develop a new technology, carry out a design task, refine an algorithm or help capture, systematize or analyze large amounts of data (see also citizen science).”

To me, it’s getting your online customers involved in whatever you are doing. There are people very interested in what you do if you give them a voice.

A lot of marketers aren’t too interested in the crowd because of the work involved (communities require constant care and attention in the beginning like a new plant but once they take root you can watch them grow) and they tend to throw you curveballs. Like you swore something would work but then it didn’t – as a marketer – you can blame a half of dozen different things. But with crowdsourcing and communities, you have a lot of real feedback and if they don’t like your idea – then your idea sucked not the other excuses.

Anyway, I’m glad Fox is going this way with their line-up. Who knows maybe TV won’t suck in the future?

What do you think?

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