How To Get More SEO Value Out of Your Existing Content

Most bloggers would agree that high-quality content creation requires a significant investment in time and energy. Because of this sunk cost associated with any existing content on your website, it’s crazy that bloggers don’t invest additional resources improving, optimizing and ranking underperforming pages. This is especially true when certain posts are just shy of reaching the first page of Google’s search results, where they could be earning you a return on your investment.

With a few of the tactics below, digital marketers can make sure that every piece of content they publish is generating traffic, leads, and ultimately revenue.

Use Google’s Webmaster Tools To Optimize Headlines and Keywords

Are you ever surprised at some of the keywords a post ends up ranking for? Even when you complete keyword research, decide to target a specific phrase, and optimize the post to rank for that term, you sometimes end up getting traffic from unexpected terms. If you find a post that isn’t ranking for your targeted keyword due to higher than anticipated competition, then maybe it’s better to repurpose the post and optimize it for another term.

To find these types of posts, you will need to access Google’s Webmaster Tools. Click on the “Search Analytics” tab on your Dashboard, or go under “Search Analytics” at the left and choose “Search Analytics” there.

GWT - Search Analytics

I prefer the old “Search Queries” report, so I click on the link towards the top of the page. Now you need to click on the “Top Pages” tab, sort by “Impressions”, and expand the tabs you are interested in analyzing. If you have a large blog, instead of working within your browser, you may want to click on “Download This Table”.

GWT - Top Pages

Ultimately what you are looking for are pages that have high impression counts but low clickthroughs (CTRs). These pages constitute your highest potential content because they are getting exposure in Google’s rankings but aren’t high enough to get more clicks. Optimizing these pages could easily earn you significantly more traffic.

Here are a few ways to optimize your titles and on-page SEO:

  • Use a hyphen or colon. When writing a title, I create for both Google and humans. The first half of the title is usually an exact match keyword phrase and the second half is a killer description to get the reader’s attention. For example, if I wrote an article about affiliate marketing, I would title it “CPA Marketing – How To Increase Your Affiliate Marketing Revenue By 137%”.
  • Add more content. When targeting additional keywords, it may be helpful to add more content that directly addresses the related topic, thereby increasing your post’s relevance. In doing so, you may rank for even more long-tail terms.
  • Target lower competition terms. If you’re a small business owner learning how to build a blog, you should not be targeting high-volume, high-competition keywords. This strategy will quickly exhaust your resources with little results. Always start with easy terms to build traffic and recognition, and as your blog’s backlink profile strengthens, target more valuable keywords. If a page is underperforming, this might be the underlying issue.

Internal Linking – Connecting Old and New Content

Internal linking is easily overlooked and underappreciated. Not only does internal linking old pages to new and new pages to old help decrease bounce rate, increase time on site, multiply your email subscribers and promote conversions, it can provide a slight boost in your on-page SEO and rankings.

In an algorithm that takes into account over 200 ranking signals, each given a different weight, a small boost in one category that pushes you up a position can get you double the traffic from a single keyword.

While internal linking is mostly self-explanatory, here are a few guidelines:

  • Find older, authoritative posts that rank high and add internal links to newer, high-value posts.
  • Don’t use the same exact match anchor text to link to a page dozens of times. Diversify your internal links and incorporate long-tail keywords.
  • Internal linking offers subtle results. Even if the tactic doesn’t increase your rankings, it can provide a better user experience, keep readers on your site longer, and most likely improve conversions.

Other Tactics To Leverage Old Content

While the suggestions above constitute the easiest adjustments you can make overnight, there are other ways to grow your blog using your existing content. Here are a few more ideas:

  • Outreach marketing. On-page SEO is important, but a campaign to increase your blog’s exposure and earn natural links will boost not only the page you are marketing but improve your entire site’s authority.
  • Share your content more than once. Perhaps you’ve developed a great resource that you’ve recently updated. Be sure to re-share old work that stands the test of time, but know the best times to post on social media so your content isn’t buried or unseen.
  • Create different forms of multimedia. Bloggers and internet users absolutely love images, graphics and different types of media. Creating a quality infographic using your existing content may be the solution to grabbing people’s attention, increasing shares, and earning links.

Gary DekGary Dek is a professional blogger, SEO expert, and freelance writer. He is the founder of StartABlog123.com as well as a dozen other niche websites and specializes in content marketing and link building strategies. Previously, Gary was an investment banking and private equity analyst.

12 Things a Small Business Owner Can Do to Get the Most Out of WordPress

WordPress is a popular CMS platform, so you’re in a great place if you use it as the foundation for your website. With millions of themes and plugins, a superior experience can be had. It’s easy to get started, and an out of the box solution is free.

Let us count the ways to maximize your WordPress installation.

Grab a Theme

Wordpress ThemeGive WordPress a custom look and feel that accurately represents your brand. ThemeForest has thousands of low-cost templates that can be customized with some know-how.

 

Get Your SEO in Shape

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 8.21.34 AMThe Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin is the most popular search engine visibility plugin. It controls title/description tags, avoids duplicate content, and sets up an XML sitemap for search engines.

Contact Form 7

Contact Form 7 is a customizable form with many great features. It’s the frontrunner of contact forms for WordPress; many themes include it.

Contact Form 7

Build Out Your Newsletter

MailChimpThe MailChimp plugin is a great newsletter tool. Send automated messages, marketing emails, and targeted campaigns, and see reports for what’s performing best.

 

MailChimp’s plugin also works well with Contact Form 7.

Clean Up Spam

While not all WordPress sites are blogs, most are. Once you see your blog on the map, you’ll get spam comments. Akismet helps you silo those comments off and keeps that junk out of sight and out of mind.

Encourage Social Shares

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 8.22.40 AMDigg Digg lets you add a floating share bar to your site.

This bar lets visitors of your website share content to like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+. Digg Digg lets you customize visibility and placement of the share bar, so it doesn’t have to float on the side of the content if you don’t want it to.

Build a Business Schema

The most useful plugin for a small business with a physical location, the All in One Schema.org Rich Snippet, lets you add local business schema to your WordPress website. Schema markup helps search engines understand the intention and categorization of web sites to assist with customer acquisition. Schema.org’s markup shows geography (location), hours of operation, reviews and testimonials, Google authorship, and more.

 

With information like this, search results will look like this:

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 8.23.20 AM

Don’t you feel more compelled to click on listings with reviews?

Use a tool like Synup to help with local marketing components; it gives visibility into what your websites look like across 200+ sites so you can fix issues. You can also use Synup to track rankings, display reviews, and monitor reviews.

Schedule Regular Backups

BackWPup is the best tool I’ve encountered to backup WordPress files to a Dropbox account. I set up a weekly job on a less-trafficked night (usually Friday) and get an email as soon as it’s done.

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 8.23.43 AM

This gives peace of mind that if something happens to my site (it gets hacked, files get deleted, the server hard drive dies, etc.) that I have something to rely on.

BackWPup has a pro and free version. The free version is great, but if you love the plugin, support it by going pro.

Get People to Schedule Appointments Directly from Your Site

AppointmentsA service provider looking to schedule bookings can use Appointments, which lets you accept, set, and manage any bookings on your site.

I also recommend YouCanBook.me or Calendly. With tools like this, managing your calendar is easier than ever.

Seek Help with Content Ideation

ScribeUsing Scribe, easily identify content marketing opportunities for maximum shareability.

Scribe isn’t free, and that has been reflected in its reviews. Should you have a budget, it’s worthwhile to explore. I also recommend Oz which is being used by agencies for content ideas.

Create Custom Landing Pages for All Products, Services, and Locations

Beaver BuliderBeaver Builder makes it easy for businesses with multiple service offerings and/or locations to create custom landing pages for each.

It is drag-and-drop, so you don’t need your developer.

Bonus: Update Your Site

Infinite WPWordPress plugins get updated often. Think about smartphones; almost every time your power that thing on, you’re notified about another app update. The same holds true for WordPress. While updating your smartphone is optional, updating your WordPress plugins is mandatory. Most WordPress plugins are updated for two reasons: 1) feature updates, 2) patching holes that can give outsiders access to your web server.

Ever seen a hacked website? Without regular updates, you’ll be next.

That’s why I recommend InfiniteWP. Get notified daily of new updates to your installations, log-in, and update!

 

It’s easy: with WordPress and a good theme foundation, all you need is a few plugins to power the site to be a small business website powerhouse. With love, care, and constant updating, your small business site will stay secure and build up your visibility in store, in person, and on the web.

Tamar Weinberg is a professional hustler and author of best-selling social media book, The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web. She blogs about all things tech and social at Techipedia.

7 Steps to Optimize Your Blog Posts Like a Pro

I’m a content manager; my background is in public relations with a little bit of marketing strategy and graphic design. I’m sitting here thinking, “What do I know about online optimization!?” I’m not a web design guru; I’m no software engineer or web developer.

And then it occurs to me, if I can get the basics done, like keyword research, I can easily optimize those blog posts I write by using a simple tool that is built into our WordPress dashboard, Yoast. I’m sure there are other SEO plugins that do similar things, but Yoast is the one I know so Yoast is the way it goes.

Now that you know my secret tool, here is a step-by-step guide to optimizing your blog posts:

Step 1: Identify keywords

Identify the keywords you’d like to optimize for. This process starts with a basic idea of what your organization (or your client’s) covers, and then you can dig down into the specific relevant phrases that people are using to search for your organization’s product or services.

Step 2: Focus

Pick a focus. Don’t try to optimize one post for all of the keywords you’ve identified. Pick a few that correlate and make sense and then delegate the rest into groups of similar terms as well (those can be for your next post, and then the one after that.)

Step 3: Create content

Write your post. Try to use the exact phrases that you’ve identified in your keyword search, without sounding forced. You don’t want optimizing your blog post to make it unreadable. For example, did you notice I have used a version of the word “optimize” four times already?

Step 4: Edit

Proofread. This isn’t really necessary to optimize your blog post, but a personal preference that you ensure what you’re publishing makes sense. (Thanks!)

Step 5: Make it easy

Tell the web what your post is! This is where Yoast comes in.

  1. Enter your focus keyword into the spot that says “Focus keyword.” This is the specific keyword or phrase that you used the most throughout the post.
  2. Write your SEO title. You might have an awesomely clever title, but if it doesn’t say what your post is about, your SEO won’t be as strong for your blog post. Use this space to write a title that is enticing and clear, and preferably that includes the focus keyword. This is what will show up in search results when someone does an online search for your keyword.
  3. Develop the meta description. This should have your focus keyword in it, and be in complete sentences. Typically, I like to copy a sentence or two that includes my keyword straight from the post. This is what will show up under your SEO title to give online searchers more information about your post. It should be short, sweet and to the point.

Step 6: Green means go

yoast seoMake sure you get the “green light” on your SEO check provided by Yoast. If you don’t, go back and identify the places that can be improved.
The plug-in will show you if your keyword is being used in each of these places for maximum optimization:

  • Article heading
  • Page Title
  • Page URL
  • Content
  • Meta Description

If you’ve included your keyword in all of these places, you’ll get an SEO green light.

Green light means go!

Step 7: Let it go

Publish and share!

Bonus:

Here are some bonus tips to ensure your blog post is optimized to its max potential:

  • Use your target keyword more than once.
  • Incorporate your target keyword into your URL.
  • Include an image that has your target keyword in the “alt text.”
  • Pin that image as the “featured image.”
  • Link to other blog posts on your site and/or link to other influencers’ content (they will get a pingback to notify them that their content is being shared).
  • Apply relevant tags and categories to your post.
  • If you can, use your target keyword in a heading somewhere in your post.

So I’m not an SEO expert or web development guru, but with a little research and help from a plug-in, I can optimize my blog posts with the big guns. Do you have any other tips or best practices to share for optimizing posts?

IMG_2750Kala Linck is the Community and Content Manager at Duct Tape Marketing. You can find her blogging her travels and tweeting about marketing, coffee, and cats @tadasunshine.

How and Why Periscope Might Make Sense for Small Business

Click to watch this archived Periscope recording from Katch.me

Over the last few years, I’ve seen one of my roles as the practical beacon for new technologies and trends that I believe small business owners can make use of.

I don’t report on new technology just because it’s hot as much as try to figure out if there’s a way to apply its value to make life better for the typical small business owner.

One of the newer and increasingly talked about social technologies is something called Periscope.

Now, I’m guessing you can tell from the headline of this post that I’m still lukewarm in terms of recommending it, but I did want to share my thoughts on it.

What is Periscope?

Essentially, Periscope is a mobile app that allows you to easily live stream video to other Periscope users or on the web via a link. The app is owned by Twitter, so there’s a tight integration into Twitter and every live stream can push a Tweet so people are alerted to the “scope.”

Now, live streaming is not new and pretty much any Google+ Hangout can be pushed to Twitter, so what we really have here is convenience that relies on the mobile device – both key to adoption of tech these days.

A few social media experts have certainly jumped on it as a way to expand their “guruness.” I mean everyone knows the best way to be considered a thought leader in social media is to be the first one with a course telling people how to profit from a new social network. Of course, it helps if most of your course and value comes from relentless self-promotion. (For those who cannot read sarcasm – that was it.)

Here’s the deal – always. When looking at new network, technology or platform the only test you must pass in order to consider it this: Will you be able to use this new network to add value to your relationships with your clients. If yes, then dive in.

From what I’ve seen so far there are three kinds of videos going on Periscope. Complete self-promotion, total goofiness and some cool behind the scenes looks.

The first is mostly the social media gurus running three or four scopes a day spent mostly on telling other people how to be gurus on Periscope. (You can spot them through their generous use of emojis ) The second consists of very bored people talking about what they did on their walk today. The third, however, is where I believe the potential for Periscope lies.

Live, raw, unscripted videos can send a very strong brand message and let people see how stuff is really done. I think that’s where you can use video and the ease of this platform to build relationships with your current community.

You may actually find that you can turn this into new leads, but I think the real value is building community.

There are a handful of useful features for community building, sharing and learning. But, there are also some goofy gamification elements that in my view actually devalue the tool.

You can build a following, push your live scope to Twitter and interact live with participants as you record. I love these features, but you can also vote or “like” a scope while viewing by tapping the screen and giving a stream of hearts out during the broadcast. Watching people ask for these hearts like candy is pretty silly so try to look past this popularity contest feature.

After you complete a scope you have the option to save it to your phone’s photo roll for future use as the archive on Periscope only stays available for 24 hours. I understand why that might be necessary from a platform standpoint but I think the full archive of your scopes could have lasting value so I recommend adding a tool called Katch.me so you can build a library and even embed the scopes as I’ve done above.

Again, there’s nother revolutionary about the technology, but the ease of use is what might make it take hold.

What could you post on Periscope?

You can post anything, so the real question is what would add value to your community? What would make someone take note of the value you deliver? What would help your stand out in a way that would make people want to join your community?

My friend Michael Port shot his recording the audio book for his upcoming book. Now he’s a known expert, but there was something very real about watching him do interesting work.

Anyone can show the office staff interacting, show how their product is made, or do candid interviews with clients as a way to showcase the human elements of the brand.

Consultants should consider doing live Q and A session on a schedule. Mini webinars are sure to be a hit on Periscope. My guess is that brands will start holding press conferences on Periscope. Events will certainly tap the portable nature of this network to promote event happenings. Look for large scale announcements to start cropping up.

Imagine new product demos and even customer service via Periscope. The face of a real human interactive live via video could be powerful for brands. I can’t imagine it will be long before flash sale promotions come to Periscope.

Some other considerations

If you have a large Twitter following already and you like doing video Periscope might make total sense. If you have already have a large following in other networks, you could certainly use this tool as a way to create a greater connection as long as you promote your scopes.

If you’re not that active in social media, don’t enjoy talking into a camera phone and are a bit nervous about anything raw and unscripted, don’t give Periscope a thought – there are other things to work on.

How to get started

  • Download the IOS or Android App
  • Create your username
  • Connect to Twitter
  • Find some people to follow and watch a dozen or so to get the hang of it (Periscope will suggest from your Twitter following.)
  • Fire up the app and start recording (others will find your)
  • Create a name for your session that’s very compelling – it’s the ad for your scope
  • Once you start recording you can flip the camera by double tapping the screen
  • To end a recording swipe down and hit the stop button

Of course now comes the hard part. How can Periscope technology help you add value to your existing and future client relationships?

I plan to run regularly scheduled scopes talking about marketing related tools as a way to connect with even more folks that choose that platform and like to participate in a more interactive experience.

I would love to hear your ideas on using this new technology.

 

10 Simple Ways to Generate Blog Post Ideas

light bulb imageBrainstorming blog post ideas off the top of your head only goes so far. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to get into your reader’s mind to generate post ideas you know will be helpful and relevant.

Here are ten simple ways to keep your blog post ideation machine cranking:

 

1. Hop on a call with readers.

A quick 10-minute phone call can provide tons of ideas in a short amount of time. Plus, you’ll get the actual language your readers use to articulate what they want to learn and their problems that need solving.

Here are a few questions you can modify for your own business:

  • What are the roadblocks you are facing with [insert your topic] right now?
  • What [insert topic] problems have you or your team researched recently on Google, books, or blogs to learn more about?
  • What are you curious to learn more about with [insert topic] here?

2. Send a survey asking what folks want to learn.

Using a tool like SurveyMonkey, ask your readers the same list of open-ended questions in the above phone call example. You could create this as an automated email to new people who sign up for your blog digest update or as a one-time send to the existing readers on your opt-in subscriber list.

3. Research Google autosuggest results.

Open an “incognito window” in your web browser and do a Google search of topics you are interested in writing about. When you do, Google will autosuggest keyword phrases people are already searching for. These are perfect for modifying into blog post titles.

For example, let’s say you are a winery who is interested in generating more blog post ideas. When you type in “how to wine” into Google here’s the autosuggest results you see:

autosuggest screenshot

You could write a post called “The Beginner’s Guide to Wine Tasting in Napa” or use the direct phrase for a piece about “How to Wine Taste in Napa.” By using what people are actually typing into Google, you will increase your chances of ranking in the search results.

4. Peruse what people are saying on social media.

Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels are a goldmine of information. Do a search of your target topics and see what people are saying about their problems, needs and wants. From there, turn those into blog post ideas.

5. Browse Amazon book reviews.

Find the top 3-5 books on Amazon that cover your blog post topics and/or you know your readers love. Look at the written reviews and keep your eyes peeled for a) what people learned and b) what they are still interested in learning about the topic. You can write a short, informative post to fill in their knowledge gap.

6. Study what’s working for similar bloggers.

This isn’t about stealing or copying, it’s about seeing what readers of other blogs in your industry are responding to, then putting your own spin on it with your own unique voice and language.

7. Discover keyword volume using Google.

The Google Keyword Planner gives you the volume of searches for keywords and phrases and can also be used to generate new keyword ideas.

For example, our team is focused on the “customer journey” which gets an average of 880 searches a month. After plugging “customer journey” to get new keyword ideas, here are the results:

keyword volume

Posts that could be created from this list are “Everything You Need to Know About Customer Journey Mapping” or “How to Understand the Customer Decision Journey”.

Get the idea? Transform the keywords in clickable, irresistible blog post titles.

8. Check out questions people are asking on Quora.

Quora is a popular question-and-answer website. And there is a lot of questions on Quora. One estimate says there has been nearly 11 million questions asked and that number is growing daily. Similar to the other strategies in this article, search for your blog topics and take note of the questions people are asking and repurpose them into blog posts.

9. Read the table of contents in industry books.

Take a “look inside” books about your topic on Amazon, specifically at the table of contents. Chapter titles are meant to draw people in and can spark inspiration for your own post ideas.

10. Share what your company is learning.

People love learning from companies they like. What are some insights your team has learned recently? What’s a strategy you’ve implemented that’s been successful? Share it with your readers.

 

Brian Sun headshotBrian Sun runs the blog at Autopilot, a marketing automation platform that helps small business owners automate the customer journey, visually. Check out Autopilot’s most popular blog post, 7 Lead Nurturing Secrets to Turn Strangers into Customers.

5 Online Assets That Are Worth Your Time

You know you need online assets, but which ones are really worth your time? I asked myself this question as I prepared to launch my company, HipHire, which is a new platform that connects companies with quality part-time candidates using a unique matching system.

While HipHire’s concept and our platform are new, the way we get in front of our best customer probably feels familiar to you. Skim through this list and you’ll see that we use opt-in offers, blogging, social media and more. You’re likely already doing most of these things to market your own products and services.

But is it working?

In the tech startup world, being able to launch and gain traction quickly is hugely important. To make sure I was spending time on the online assets that were truly worth it, I did a combination of hypothesizing, testing, tweaking, and testing some more. This process led to rapid adjustments when things weren’t working, which meant more efficiency and better success in the end.

If you’ve ever wondered if your online assets were worth the time you’re putting in to them, here’s how to start testing.


Landing Pages with Specific Opt-ins

landingpagesHipHire has two main business segments—companies looking to hire and candidates seeking part-time jobs. Instead of creating one opt-in offer for each audience, we created multiple opt-ins, each with their own specific landing page.

For example,

  • Our landing page for the Founders Club targets an elite group of Kansas City businesses who benefit from choosing HipHire early.
  • Our landing page for candidates seeking part-time summer jobs speaks directly to the needs of that particular job candidate subset.
  • We even created a landing page and opt-in offer specifically for you (yep, you!). Knowing what we do about the readers of this blog, we created something you’d find useful.

This focused approach makes readers feel you’re speaking directly to them. We tested a lot, and as we’ve fine-tuned this niche marketing, we’ve seen greater conversions.


Blog Content and Community

blogcontent

photo credit: pexels.com

In the months leading up to our launch, we provided information for job candidates and companies looking to hire. Even though our platform hadn’t launched yet, we kept in touch and kept people coming back to the site.

With the blog, as with everything else, I tested. I kept a close eye on analytics. When something didn’t work or when we found a vein that engaged people, we rebuilt the editorial calendar based on that knowledge. Being willing to change gears saves time and money by shifting energy from non-productive actions into profitable directions.


Social Media—Personalized

Social media

photo credit: pexels.com

Social media is about real connection.

I learned this lesson by trying to grow my number of Twitter followers. I followed 100 businesses in my target market each day. I had ditched using automated responses, so when somebody began following me back, I found relevant information about the person or company to create a personalized reply. I got creative, taking a picture of a handwritten note or making a video.

One person wanted to Skype to learn what I was doing because they were impressed that they received a custom message from me. This blew me away. The simplest level of communication and nobody is doing it? That strategy started adding 50 followers a week, but it wasn’t just numbers. Twitter became about real engagement and connection.

Personalizing each tweet may not be scalable, but focusing on quality personal connections makes a difference.


Mobile Ease

Mobile

photo credit: pexels.com

Our target market lives on mobile devices. We needed to go beyond mobile accessibility for the HipHire platform. We needed mobile ease.

One of the ways we did that was to show HipHire users that we can really deliver before asking them to set up a profile. We streamlined the profile process: type in a few key details (name and the like), then click, click, click, submit.

Making sure your site views correctly on a phone is pretty standard, but have you made your process simple for mobile users?


Visual Content

visual

photo credit: pexels.com

People want to know what the product looks like. They want to visualize themselves using it. That was a challenge for HipHire in the beginning because we started building awareness for the service before our platform was live. We got over this hurdle by providing “sneak peeks” throughout the process.

Since our audience was likely to be mobile, we showed mobile screenshots. This use of visual content demonstrated how clean and simple the process really is and helped build excitement as we neared our live launch.

To make your online assets really worth your time, focus on three Cs: customize, connect, and (when testing shows you should) change.

What tweak to online assets has been the biggest change maker for you?

 

Capture.PNG

Brian Kearns is an entrepreneur and the founder of HipHire. He’s passionate about connecting employers and workers who share a vision of the ideal workplace culture. He believes that the key to finding quality part-time people is through a better employee fit.

Supercharge Your Marketing Campaign with Visual Content

From choosing which products to buy, to interacting with other humans via a smartphone screen, much of our lives are now filtered through images. Research shows that in the age of tweets and Snapchats, humans now have shorter attention spans than goldfish! This has been further compounded by the rapid adoption of mobile technology, which now revolves around compact, clean, and concise visual information.

As the world’s volume of digital content grows by 200% each year, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for traditional marketing methods to reach consumers – hence why more and more marketers are incorporating visual content into their campaigns. However, unless a video is particularly well executed or an image is brilliantly composed, you’ll get passive views at best and people switching off completely in the worst case scenario. Your grasp needs to match your extended reach.

Types of visual content

Let’s do a quick rundown of the three most powerful forms of visual content available to us:

Video and motion graphics

Since the dawn of HTML5, video has become so utterly integrated with the web experience that we barely even notice it anymore. You might have observed that many sites, such as that of GoPro, have filled traditional ‘banner’ or ‘header’ space with full-screen, high-quality video frames. That’s because digital video – be it live action or motion graphics – is the cornerstone of digital visual content today.

Video content enables brands to speak directly to viewers through an audiovisual narrative – giving products a human voice. People are much more likely to give videos the time of day, and this is reflected in statistics: posts with videos receive 300% more inbound links than traditional text posts.

However, video falls flat in one major way. It is too inescapably linear; to communicate a message in its entirety requires that viewers stick with a video for a good few minutes. Striking a fine balance between grabbing attention and informing viewers comprehensively with video is difficult. Tools like YouTube analytics can provide some assistance, but unless a video is exceptionally well-made, the problem of attention span still remains.

Infographics

Simply put, infographics combine textual information and graphic representation in order to inform and explain. They do this by breaking down large chunks of information into small parts to create a succinct yet informative narrative. This is where the potential of infographics resides – in enabling viewers to quickly scan and process a lot of information.

If properly constructed and promoted, infographics can maximise engagement through capitalising on the combined strengths of visual and textual data. However, their efficacy rests largely on the quality of the layout, script and visual elements.

Designers (like us) have to juggle concise language with impactful imagery. If an infographic fails significantly in these areas, it will not be effective.

Presentations

Slideshare is sort of like a Youtube of presentations, allowing everyone easy access to an endless database of informative and well-made digital presentations. Most significantly, it represents the perfect platform to share concise, visual/textual content. In 2013, 45% of the presentations on Slideshare averaged 24 words per slide, and the number of images used increased by 53%. As the platform develops, the quality of presentations is rapidly rising.

Presentations offer one obvious advantage over infographics: they can convey much more information whilst retaining the benefits of visual communication. However, this has restricted them from the general public to an extent – many of Slideshare’s users are themselves involved in business. As such, any product or service you market using the platform must be very specifically audience-oriented.

Injecting visual content into a campaign

It’s important to note that each visual form has its own particular function and place, and is not appropriate in every circumstance. The primary function of visual content should be to inform or entertain first, and to sell second. For example, you wouldn’t use an infographic to advertise a product directly – and if you did, it probably wouldn’t be as effective as a good video ad.

Visual content shouldn’t just be seen as a fix-all bandage you can slap on any digital marketing campaign. It’s no replacement for market research, SEO analytics or blog campaigns, for example. However, if used in conjunction with conventional marketing techniques, visual content has the potential to truly supercharge your digital marketing campaign.

Visual dominance Final3

 

 

sterling wiliamsSterling Williams is the Lead Conceptual Designer at Mammoth Infographics. His background is in graphic design and internet marketing. When he’s not helping clients to turn their ideas into infographic masterpieces, he enjoys creative writing, playing with his labrador and honing his jiu-jitsu skills.

 

Twitter 101: How To Craft the Perfect Tweet

Two twitter birds fall in love holding a red heart background. Vector file available.

photo credit: bigstockphoto.com

You’re a small business owner, trying to make an impact in the wild world of social media. Twitter is tempting. It’s not only a slick way to share your branded content, but it’s also a great platform for sharing other news and tips you think your community would enjoy.

The fact that Twitter exists in the first place, however, suggests our own collective impatience as a culture. If we wanted lots of words and links filling up our smartphone screens, we’d head over to Facebook. The twitterverse is a different type of platform, where people want things short, fast, and very much within their control.

Here’s how to play by the rules of Twitter and craft great tweets in the process.

Keep It Short(er)

How much shorter can you get than 140 characters? We all have so much to say, it almost seems unfair. But, how about 120 characters? Why, you ask? Because shorter tweets are … well, shorter.

Shorter tweets are easier to read, and better for retweeting. Those extra twenty characters you’ve kindly sacrificed will now be more easily usable for your followers. The extra characters allow them to add their own handle and hashtag if they wish to retweet and/or create a modified version of your tweet. At 120, there’s less risk of your precious message being cut off or truncated – all the more reason to tweet those extra characters forward.

Front Load

When crafting a tweet, put the main topic of your message as close to the beginning as possible. Consider these variations.

  1. 25 ways to make customers smile through great service.
  2. 25 smile-inducing customer service tips.
  3. 25 retail tips to keep your customers smiling.

Which one of the above tweets tickles your fancy? If you guessed “1” … you’d be wrong. It’s okay, it happens. For best results, “3” is your best bet. Tweet “3” not only explains that you’re about to share retail tips, but it also details how many tips there are – all within the first three words. This is called front loading. Wait, am I suggesting that we’re all so impatient that we need to put the crux of our info at the front of our sentences? Yup.

Keep It Low

So much about Twitter is real estate. The available space you have to craft your tweet is a tiny one. Avoid the tendency to capitalize the first letter of every word, as we might do on other marketing platforms. Rather than Stopping the Eye with Random Capitalization … let the eye flow.

This may seem strange – to ‘not’ want to clash against the rest of your customer’s twitter feed. If all tweets look the same, isn’t it a good idea to use some varied capitalization to catch the eye? Nope. The Twitter experience is a smooth uncluttered scroll. It’s best to go with its flow. Think of random capitalization like bad fashion; you’ll stick out, but for the wrong reasons. Stick with lowercase.

No Tricks. All Tweets.

Recently, I saw a headline, “A Dolphin and a Dog Meet … and You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!” I immediately thought to myself, “Self, what do we know? We know that dogs are inherently friendly, and that dolphins are even friendlier. So, I’m going to guess that the dog and dolphin get along swimmingly.”

And, wouldn’t you know it, I was right. They got along just great. Which sort of annoyed me. These types of tweets and headlines are click bait. “Click-baity” headlines are like those faux-Oreo cookies your supermarket sells. They’re tempting. They’re cheap. And, they’ll make you feel bad as soon as you’re done with them.

People are on twitter because they want the facts and they want them fast, with no filler. Setting up a tweet so that people “have” to click the link to see which direction your story is going to go just isn’t nice. So, be nice. Be clear. Save your followers some time.

FoScreen Shot 2015-06-26 at 3.14.43 PMr instance, assuming you had the aforementioned stellar interspecies video clip, why not tweet something like: This dog-meets-dolphin video clip is a thing of pure joy. With only 140 characters, it’s not a time to be mysterious. Keep things honest, and you won’t hate yourself in the morning for tricking your followers for a cheap click.

 

Improve Your Images

A quick Google-ing will tell you that tweets with images work, big time. Tweets with images are 94% more likely to get retweeted, and 89% more likely to get favorite’d over tweets without images.

What kind of images work best? The easiest answer is relevant ones. If your tweet is in regards to a report or stat-filled article you’d like to share, include an image of a graph. Be sure it’s still clear enough to be read on a mobile device. If it’s not, use a screenshot of a portion of the graph.

If your tweet is not about data, add a cool, conceptual stock image that ties into the topic at hand. Twitter is a good place to have some fun and to express your brand’s personality, and images are a clever way to do just that.

Conclusion

Play by the rules that Twitter set up from the get-go. Keep things informative, short, fast, and clear. Doing so will keep your followers engaged and informed while building trust between them and your brand.

 

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 6.01.30 PMBrian Masefield is the social media and copy manager of Bigstock, an online marketplace for royalty-free photos, vectors, and video. For more design tips, you can follow Bigstock on Twitter.