client's website is not mobile friendly, but that's only part of the problem; navigation, images and content need to be upgraded

Mobile Friendly Just Part of This Website’s Problems

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A client recently called me for some help with his website. He was concerned because it wasn’t mobile-friendly and he wanted to know what I could do to help drive traffic to his site. I’d done some work for him a while back when he’d gotten a bunch of bad Yelp reviews. That time he wanted to know how I could get rid of them. I couldn’t but what I did is reach out to his good clients and ask them to write positive reviews on Yelp. The good reviews help drive the bad reviews down the page to counteract them. This required a fair amount of effort, but we were ultimately successful and he was delighted.

An old, dated website with bad navigation and horrible images

That his site wasn’t designed for mobile was simply the tip of the iceberg. His site was old and dated, with bad navigation. He’d written his own content, which was actually quite good, but it didn’t synch with his images, and was too limited; good landing pages should be 300+ words to rank well in search engines. Branding was nonexistent. He’s a contractor, and I’d learned from my previous project that he was conscientious and skilled, but he’d never invested in professional pictures of any of his projects, and the images he used on the site were cramped and terrible, never really showcasing his craftsmanship or the wide range of projects on which he worked.

I tried to explain that even if we were able to drive people to the site, there was nothing that would make them want to pick up the phone and call him. I created a proposal for a new WordPress website that was as lean as I could make it because I genuinely wanted to help him. I would be the project manager, work with my longtime web guy who is very reasonable, and I’d develop the content based on what was on the current site. I would do keyword research, write metadescriptions and do some other SEO efforts that would help his site show up in search engines, which was where this whole conversation had begun.

Making a commitment to photograph projects

I included a photoshoot as a line item, because if he was serious about a new site, he needed to start investing in his work. Project photos can get expensive really quickly, but I suggested we start modestly. Identify one or two projects that turned out well and include these as part of the new website’s portfolio. More important, he needed to commit to photographing his completed projects and adding them to his new site.

A simple, well-conceived site is an investment that will endure

When I told him the approximate cost for development of a new site, he told me that it was ridiculous. He “could get his old web guy to make his existing site mobile-friendly.” He didn’t see any reason to spend that kind of money to get “the kind of clients that he really didn’t want”. I tried to explain that this was the only money he was spending on marketing, and a simple but well-conceived site would last him for a long time. Clearly, I’d wasted my time. Instead, he’ll continue to have the same crappy site that won’t drive traffic and won’t generate leads because he doesn’t recognize the difference between a good site and his own.

A website says a lot about you

For many small business owners, a website is their only marketing spend, so it’s an important investment. When people meet you or hear about you and go to your website, they make an immediate judgment, and first impressions are everything.

  • Does your site load—on both desktops and mobile devices?
  • Is it easy to navigate?
  • Are the images crisp, clear and relevant?
  • Does your About section describe you as an individual as well as the company? People like to know about the people with whom they’re going to be working.
  • Is it easy to find contact information?
  • Are product descriptions well-written and informative? Do they provide enough information to help you make informed buying decisions?

Is your site relevant to your business today?

  • Have you added new products and services, new members of your team?
  • Are your images out of date?
  • If your site was built in WordPress, there are more than two thousand themes. It’s possible that we can apply a new theme, update content and images and give your site a facelift. Infinitely more appealing than the prospect of creating a whole new site from scratch.

Does your website need to be updated to a mobile-friendly format?

Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.

instagram stories are 24-hour images or videos to share with your audience

Instagram Stories: Connecting with a 24-Hour Sound Bite

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One of my pals used to groan about social media. He’s a millennial, but his response was “why do we need another application that does the same thing?” He’s right, of course. They all do the same thing, which is to keep us connected and share stuff that should never be shared. We’re all witnesses to the painful public spectacle of Donald Trump’s Twitter abuse. This is a classic example of how he and the world would be better served if he kept some of his thoughts to himself.

Instagram has captured the imagination of more than 700M users

While these social media companies are all helping us share information, they’re finding interesting new ways to do it. Instagram has become the favorite app among the young and trendy. It’s immediate, it’s visual and it’s on the ubiquitous cellphone, which has become an appendage on many of today’s youth and millennials.

One of the latest features is Instagram Stories

To add Stories to your Instagram account, you may have to update your account, so check your settings and go to the App Store if necessary. With Instagram Stories, you record live video or take photos with your smartphone and add them to a story that lasts for just 24 hours. It’s totally ephemeral.

Instagram has become the latest social media app to capture our imagination, with 700M users

Instagram Stories: you have two options

You can modify your privacy settings for each individual story you publish or for all of your stories from your main Instagram settings. To do the latter, go to your Instagram profile and click on the settings wheel icon at the top right.

When you’re ready to create your first story, tap on the circled + button at the top left of your Instagram screen. From here, you can use the icons at the bottom of your screen from left to right to configure flash settings, take a photo or video, or switch the camera from front- to rear-facing. If you tap and hold the center button, you can record a 10-second video. Something I learned: You can turn your camera orientation to landscape, but Instagram will still post your photo or video in portrait mode.

Once you’ve created your story, you’ll see your own profile photo at the top of the news feed. Your photo will always appear first so you can easily access your current story at all times. If you want to add to your story, tap on the circled + icon at the top left to record video or take a photo. Each new video or photo you take will be added to the end of your story and lasts for 24 hours.

Instagram, with more than 700M users, is filling people's need to connect

Note that each of these options applies to each 10-second increment (photo or video) of your story. This means that you can do the following:

  • Delete the part of the story you’re viewing.
  • Save the photo or video portion of the story you’re viewing.
  • Share the photo or video portion of the story you’re viewing as a poston your Instagram profile.
  • Change the story settings for the portion of the story you’re viewing.

As you add more photos and videos to your story, the same applies. You can delete individual photo or video portions of the story, save individual portions of the story, etc.

Once you finish taking your photo or recording your video, you have the option to add text or draw on your photo or video using the options at the top right of the screen. At the bottom of the screen, you have the options to cancel and start over, or download the photo or video to your camera roll.

Once you’re satisfied, tap on the checkmark at the bottom to add the photo or video to your story.

Too much work for something with a limited shelf life?

If this sounds like a lot of fooling around—editing, adding more photos and videos to something that has a very limited shelf-life–it may be. But when it comes to people and their phones and cameras, I’m not sure there are limits. I’m not one of these. I spend a lot of my time in my office on my laptop with a big monitor. I’m not really interested in editing and enhancing images on my smartphone, but I see people doing this all the time.

I am beginning to like Instagram and its application as a business tool. I like its immediacy, its whimsy, but it’s just one more social media app that’s emerged in a growing market that’s trying to find new ways to connect.

Are you struggling to include social media in your marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re internet marketing specialists. 

Search engines have gotten smarter and they now recognize context. No more keyword stuffing.

The Importance—and Evolution—of Keywords in Online Content

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Strategically using keyword in your landing pages, blogs and social media posts is important, but just as important is understanding how keywords have changed. In the old days, people could get away with keyword stuffing—filling a page with their keywords, often to the point where the page’s meaning was compromised by repeated use of a number of keywords.

What really matters is writing for your reader, not search engines

Google’s last few major algorithm changes, including Mobilegeddon, have made good content nonnegotiable. You can no longer fool or trick Google. If you’re filling your pages with nonsense trying to create keyword density for the sake of optimization, forget it. This is a bad strategy and Google will penalize you.  Some experts suggest that your keywords should appear in about 2.5% of your copy. But search has become much more intuitive, so it’s not just about your keywords.

As a general rule, it’s good to work your keyword into your headline and a few of your subheads (do use subheads—it makes it infinitely easier to read your articles), but you shouldn’t distort natural copy to accommodate a keyword. If you’re writing naturally, you’ll tend to use synonyms for your keywords and vary your phrasing, and Google and search engines have begun to recognize this. Here’s what’s really cool—search engines are getting smarter. They’re better at understanding context, and you can help them by using well-written, informative content that includes words they would expect to find within that context.

Semantic search is the concept of a search engine’s applying intent and context to the search results. Semantic search seeks to improve search accuracy by understanding the searcher’s intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable dataspace.

Search engines able to identify contextual meaning

Google makes an estimated 500 algorithm changes/year, but some of these have more sweeping impact. With the release of the Hummingbird algorithm in 2013, Google became more able to analyze full questions, rather than relying on word-by-word search analysis. As a result of Hummingbird, any single word could have multiple meanings; it used context to discern which meaning might be accurate, often using a searcher’s own history to provide context. That’s one reason why you and I might get different results for the same search, or you might get different results if you’re using Chrome or Safari—the browser you’re using will affect your search results. It also takes in account what other people click on in search results using the same term.

Optimize everything . . .

Optimizing your content’s title by using H tags and keywords, your images with alt tags and using descriptive metadata are all part of what makes your content SEO-friendly. But creating great content that is meaningful to your online audience is the best way to ensure organic success for the long haul.

Do you need help with your content marketing program?

Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.

Great headlines are critical if you want your audience to read your posts

You Can’t Underestimate the Power of Rock-star Headlines

By | content marketing | No Comments

These days, we’re all marketers. We’re all competing for eyeballs, frantically posting to our websites, blogs and social media hoping to build trust, brands and audience loyalty. But let’s be honest–what we’re really hoping to get out of this is new clients.

It’s hard to underestimate the importance of rock-star headlines

Each new social media application and blog platform that hits the marketplace represents new competition. So how do you set yourself apart? It’s difficult to overstate the importance of rockstar headlines. A good headline can entice and engage your audience to click, read, and share your content. Unfortunately, in many cases, headlines are the thing that is shared rather than the article. This is pure clickbait. It’s a scam when there’s no relationship between the headline and the article, and it’s doing a big disservice to your audience and the industry. But do you know what makes an engaging headline?

Listen to this: BuzzSumo analyzed 100 million article headlines. They examined stuff like:

  1. Headline phrases that drive most engagement on Facebook
  2. Worst performing headline phrases on Facebook
  3. Most effective phrases that start or end headlines
  4. Optimum number of words and characters to use in a headline
  5. Numbers to use in headlines that have the most impact
  6. Most engaging Twitter headline phrases
  7. Differences between B2C and B2B headlines

While there is no magic formula for creating a viral headline, by taking a look at what’s successful, we can model our own headlines on these formulas and capitalize on some of these trends.

Note: This research looks at the most shared headlines on Facebook and Twitter which tend to be dominated by major publishers and consumer content. Thus the insights will be particularly interesting for publishers. Business-to-business comes later this year.

Popular phrases in no particular order:

  1. Tears of joy
  2. Is what happens
  3. Are freaking out
  4. The only reason is
  5. Give you goosebumps
  6. Is talking about
  7. This is why
  8. Will make you
  9. Is too cute

As a serious business owner, a few of these phrases would never work for me. It’s clearly important to consider the industry. I’m very aware of the power of headlines and I work hard to make mine and those of my clients compelling and attention-grabbing. But there’s a caveat here. If you’re sending out a newsletter or posting a blog for someone in the legal or financial services industries, for instance, numbers 3, 5 and 9 are probably never going work for you. In fact, they’re wholly inappropriate for a lot of industries.

Data makes you rethink headlines

In the BuzzSumo sample, the most powerful three-word phrase used in a headline was: “Will make you … “ This phrase gained more than twice the number of Facebook engagements as the second most popular headline trigram. So why does this particular trigram or three-word phrase work so well? It’s a linking phrase. There’s a promise of a direct impact on the reader; it’s trying to elicit an emotional response; it’s the start of a relationship, which is what it is all about.

Curiosity and voyeurism also gain Facebook engagement

Headline phrases that provoke curiosity, tension and a sense of voyeurism also gained a high level of engagement on Facebook. For example:

  • What happened next
  • Talking about it
  • Twitter reacts to
  • Are freaking out
  • Top x songs

These days, with the White House in a daily state of meltdown, a lot of the headlines that gained traction are politics-specific. But this is a good example–readers are often curious about what is being talked about by people, what the top items are in a league table, or what is being said by people on Twitter about a topic or event. This type of content appeals to our curiosity and voyeurism. With the Trump administration in Washington, we’re seeing a lot of headlines with “are freaking out” in them, and they’re killing the ratings.

BuzzSumo cautions writers to avoid ‘what happened next’ style headlines. While they have performed well, Facebook now categorizes headlines that withhold information as clickbait and demotes them. I believe this is a good thing. We’re seeing way too much clickbait—headlines that just don’t deliver that shows a clear lack of integrity.

 Other engaging headline phrases are explanations

  • This is why
  • The reason is

We all want to feel that bit smarter after reading a piece of content. Explainer articles promise you an extra nugget of insight. In some ways they are similar to the “will make you” phrase headline as they make a promise about what you’ll gain as a result of reading the article.

We’re all looking for community these days, a sense of belonging to something. A word that has become part of our vernacular is “tribe”. These popular headlines appeal to a sense of tribal belonging. But don’t take these at face value. Model these headlines and make them work for you. Appeal to your own tribe.

  • 25 Things Only Teachers Will Understand
  • 17 Things Only Anglers Understand
  • 9 Things Only Girls Who Grew Up With Older Brothers Will Understand
  • 10 Things Only Night Shift Nurses Understand

Is a subject line important? It’s everything.

I just updated the list I keep by my computer—I try to incorporate these phrases into my blog and newsletter headlines and social media posts when they’re appropriate because I know that they’re powerful. I was working with a client one time and we were getting ready to send out her newsletter. I wanted to get her feedback on several subject lines. She was indifferent. “Is it important?” My answer: “It’s everything.”  

Do you need help with your content marketing program?

Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.

Amazon buys Whole Foods, which is going to affect the online retail industry

The State of Internet Marketing: 2017

By | Internet Marketing | No Comments

Mary Meeker, the Kleiner Perkins venture partner who publishes a yearly report on the state of the Internet, released her annual Internet Trends report in June—a total of 355 PowerPoint slides. Her report covers online trends in sectors ranging from media and healthcare to China and India. A few key trends in retail and e-commerce:

  1. A withering brick-and-mortar landscape as Amazon/e-commerce grows. Amazon, in particular, is proving to be a formidable foe, inflicting deep wounds on brick-and-mortar retail chains. “Store closings may break a 20-year record” according to a 2017 estimate by Credit Suisse. The report estimates that more than 8,600 brick-and-mortar stores may close in 2017. “Barely a quarter into 2017, year-to-date retail store closings have already surpassed those of 2008,” according to Credit Suisse. Unless you’re just crawling out of Sleepy Hollow, you know that Macy’s has closed 68 of its stores nationwide, resulting in the loss of 10,000 jobs. In March, Staples announced they were closing another 70 stores. J.C. Penney, Bebe, Target and nearly a dozen other retailers have announced store closings.
  2. Online sales grew again in 2016, rising 15% percent year/year. Retail sales clerks may be losing their jobs, but your UPS driver is keeping busy; parcel deliveries in the US have been steadily increasing over the past six years and rose 9% year/year in 2016.
  3. Walmart is sprinting to catch up online. Brick-and-mortar behemoth Walmart, which has had relatively lackluster impact online despite past investments, rapidly accelerated its e-commerce efforts this past year. It acquired Jet.com in August 2016, and already this year it has bought or invested in Shoebuy, JD.com, Moosejaw and Modcloth.com. Walmart’s e-commerce revenue grew 63% year/year last quarter. Walmart is, of course, trying to unseat Amazon, and the stakes are high.
  4. The new retail is mobile-informed. Retail isn’t really dead; rather, it’s evolving. Warby Parker, Lowe’s augmented-reality experiment with Google to help consumers locate items in-store, and Amazon itself opening up self-checkout retail stores as examples of ways retail is evolving to meet the needs and expectations of mobile-enabled consumers.
  5. Retailers are taking advantage of online-offline feedback loops. Other examples of hybrid online-offline commerce experiences include MM.LaFleur, which offers both online and in-store personal shopping advice and incorporates that information back into its bento-box-style e-commerce operation, and shirt retailer UNTUCKit, which incorporates online and offline feedback into its brand experiences.
  6. Location-driven advertising is becoming more targeted and accountable. Location-targeted ads from Google Nextdoor and xAd and Uber’s in-app ads powered by Foursquare are examples of how ad delivery and the ability to track outcomes are changing the dynamic between online marketing and offline commerce. Google has tracked more than 5 billion in-store visits globally, and just last week introduced its store purchases tracking solution to link ad clicks to physical transactions.

The landscape is rapidly changing

Since Meeker’s report came out, Amazon purchased Whole Foods, and there’s a lot of speculation about how this one’s going to turn out. Jeff Bezos is a pretty smart guy—remember when Amazon used to sell books? That was a lifetime ago. But can he merge his huge online empire with the luxury, high-touch food operation? I rather suspect he will figure it out. He may find a way to completely reengineer it. An editorial in Sunday’s SF Chronicle from Alice Waters was a plea to Bezos to find a way to quit trucking produce cross country and calling it local. To start focusing on fresh and local, building relationships with local farmers to bring the most nutritious and cost-effective food to his new markets. And let’s not forget that Amazon is now building brick and mortar stores—there’s a new one opening soon in Walnut Creek, among other locations.

A different kind of department store emerges

As we watch a traditional store like Macy’s falter—and if you’ve ventured into one lately, you understand why—another kind of department store is rising. Anthropologie has opened two flagship stores in the Bay Area—one in Walnut Creek, the other in Palo Alto. With many different departments under one roof, these qualify as department stores, but they’re a new-concept store, complete with bridal, home and garden shops and a high-end restaurant. Once their customers come through their doors, they don’t want them to leave.

People still want the personal experience of shopping

They like the first-hand experience of seeing and touching what they’re going to purchase. The new Anthropologie stores are packed with eager shoppers with money to spend. The key ingredient may be that their demographic is millennials. We’re also seeing that there’s a place for the combined online/brick and mortar presence. Savvy online eyeglass provider Warby Parker has two stores here in the Bay Area. They understand that glasses are now an accessory; people want a number of pairs to match their outfits and their moods. Ordering glasses online works, but it’s still a bit of a crapshoot. Being able to actually see what those specs look like is a better experience. There’s still demand for brick and mortar, but retailers have to be clever about how they package their merchandise.

Do you need help with your content marketing program?

Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.

Procter & Gamble is a big brand with a big heart, but their latest is great: a traveling bathroom in NYC called Charmin Van-GO!

P&G Launches Charmin Van-GO, A Traveling Bathroom in NYC

By | Advertising, Uncategorized | No Comments

Procter & Gamble is one of the world’s biggest advertisers—as a result, their products fill households around the world–Downy, Tide, Bounce, Charmin and Crest. Yet they’re a big brand with a big heart and a conscience, and I’ve written a couple of articles about their video ads that have gone a long way towards supporting big causes. These days, we’re seeing a lot of this, and ya gotta love a big brand that’s not afraid to step up and do the right thing. P&G’s #LikeaGirl video a year ago was viewed by more than 38M people, and #WeSeeEqual video three months ago by 46K.

But now it’s June. It’s blistering hot with no end in sight. Like everyone else, I want to be on vacation. Lying somewhere with my feet propped up with nothing to think about but where I’m going to have dinner. Yet I’ve got work to do and deadlines to meet.

But I love this story. P&G has a new innovation that takes off from where its more rudimentary household products left off. P&G is now offering Bathroom Service in New York City!

It’s cleverly called Charmin Van-GO

And it’s bringing personalized bathroom service to select New York neighborhoods. The pilot is scheduled for just two days in June. According to the Associate Brand Director, “We’re always looking to bring people the best bathroom experience, both at home with our tissue and in new and unexpected ways.” It’s literally a bathroom delivered right to your footsteps. People on the go can avoid those random, frantic coffee-shop stops with Charmin Van-GO.

Traveling through NYC’s busiest—and now neediest–neighborhoods

With black-ish star Anthony Anderson onboard, Charmin Van-GO will travel through some of NYC’s busiest neighborhoods to bring bathrooms to those in need, while surprising and delighting people with bathroom humor along the route.

So my question is . . .

Is P&G serious about this or are they just having a little summer fun? Or is this something that could take off and start serving other neighborhoods, other cities? God knows the need is there. There’s no mention of the cost to use Charmin Van-GO or if there’s more than one van or plans for the future. There’s likely a place to wash your hands, using that old P&G classic, Ivory. I’m captivated by this. Most of all, I’m wondering if P&G is doing this as a whimsical summer fling or if they’re serious. A traveling potty. They could get an app . . .

Do you need help with your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.

mobilegeddon 2017: If you don’t optimize your website for mobile, your audience won’t find you unless they stay on their mobile devices

Mobilegeddon 2017: What You Need to Know

By | SEO | No Comments

 

If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you know about Google’s heavy-handed 2015 algorithm change that assigned preferential search results for mobile sites. While Google rolls out something like 500 algorithm changes/year, this was a big one with important consequences for business owners and their (mobile) websites. What this really meant was that Google assigned favored results for mobile sites, punishing those whose websites didn’t translate to mobile devices. (I know—it doesn’t really seem fair that someone should have this much power, but that’s another discussion!)

How do you know if a site is mobile friendly?

If you find yourself having to scroll, click and fool around trying to read a site on your phone, it’s not mobile-friendly. That site is not meeting the design specs for universal, or responsive design, which means that a site will adapt to all devices—desktop, tablet and phone. All of this is, of course, in response to the overwhelming growth of users who access everything from their phones, which is now more than 60%.

A scramble to become mobile-friendly

The result? A mad scrambling to convert sites to mobile. In many cases, businesses are able to do some workarounds rather than having to create a whole new website, which is always a major undertaking. I’ve worked on quite a few WordPress conversion projects where we were able to salvage the old site to make it mobile-friendly rather than start from scratch and build a whole new website. A big savings in terms of time and money.

So what’s been going on since 2015’s Mobilegeddon?

Google is rolling out a mobile-first index that’s being called Mobilegeddon 2017. As was the case with the first Mobilegeddon, your site effectiveness and search results will be affected unless you are prepared.

Look out for Mobilegeddon 2017: A mobile-first strategy

Mobilegeddon 2017 is Google’s new mobile-first index . Google is changing their index of web pages from desktop pages to mobile pages. No longer will a user get served up two different experiences.

Why does Mobilegeddon 2017 matter?

As with the algorithm change in 2015, If you don’t optimize your website for mobile, your audience won’t find you unless they stay on their mobile devices. The organic traffic on your website will nosedive. Your site will not show up in search results as well as on those that are optimized for mobile.

Adapting to or preparing for Mobilegeddon 2017

So. Does your website meet Google’s ever-changing algorithms? Copy and paste your url into Google’s Mobile Testing Tool website for a quick analysis. You’ll get three ratings: one for overall mobile-friendliness, one for the loading speed on mobile and one for desktop. While the mobile-friendly ranking is most important, the loading-speed time is important as well. Users these days are impatient, with short attention spans. If your site takes too long to load, your audience well may give up and go elsewhere.

Failed the Mobile-Friendly Test?

If you failed the test, it’s time for a new website that meets the global standards for responsive design—a website that translates across devices. For many business owners, this may finally be the impetus they need to stop procrastinating and create a new website.

The reality: A website has a shelf life

Styles have changed—they’re simpler and more streamlined. Chances are your content doesn’t reflect the business as you know it today and your images are outdated. Look at this as an opportunity to create an important new marketing tool for your business.

Are you ready for Mobilegeddon 2017? Talk to Top of Mind Marketing about a new website. We’re writers and internet marketing specialists.

alt tags are descriptions of the image

Alt Text: Optimizing Images for Enhanced SEO

By | SEO | No Comments

You may or may not be using alt tags when you post your images on your website, blog and social media posts. If not, you’re missing opportunities to increase your SEO value and provide valuable information to the reader who may not be able to see the image.

What do alt tags do?

Alt tags help describe the appearance and function of each image that you upload. As you upload an image from your iPhones, stockphoto or other source, you’ll be presented with fields where you can provide a description, caption and alt tag. In general, if there’s a field, fill it out—it’s an opportunity to use your keywords and reiterate the name of your business.

Start by labeling your images

Rather than the default numbers that are automatically attributed to your images, start relabeling them with brief descriptions. My favorite naming convention is to label the image with the name of your company, underscore, brief image description, such as FordMotorCo_2017redSUV.

Why is alt text important?

  1. Never forget that your audience will be reading your blog, post or website on a wide range of devices and sometimes images don’t load. In those cases, alt tags will be displayed to show readers what they would have been viewing. Those who are visually impaired, by using screen readers, will be able to read an alt attribute to better understand the intent of an on-page image.
  2. Image SEO. Alt tags provide better image context/descriptions to search engine crawlers, helping them to index an image properly.

How to write good alt text

  • Describe the image as specifically as possible.Alt text should provide text explanations of images for those users who are unable to see them.
  • Keep it (relatively) short.The most popular screen readers cut off alt text at around 125 characters, so it’s advisable to keep it to that character count or fewer.
  • Use your keywords Alt text provides another opportunity to include your target keyword on a page, and another opportunity to signal search engines that your page is highly relevant to a particular search query.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing. Google won’t dock you points for poorly written alt text, but you’ll be in trouble if you use your alt text as an opportunity to stuff as many relevant keywords as you can think of into it. Aim for description and context. Be smart. Remember that just as good content has become nonnegotiable, so are good alt tags.
  • Don’t include “image of,” “picture of,” etc. in your alt text. It’s already assumed your alt text is referring to an image, so there’s no need to specify it.
  • Don’t neglect form buttons. If a form on your website uses an image as its “submit” button, give it an alt tag. Nothing surprising here—the button is a graphic and deserves an image label and alt tag in the same way that all of your other images do.

Do you have questions about the importance of images and alt tags in your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.

If you want better response rates, start with more strategic calls to action

Want Better Response Rates? Write Better Calls to Action!

By | Social media | No Comments

I’m religious about adding a call to action (CTA) to blog and social media posts. But time for a confession: I’m clearly not doing all that well because I’m not getting much response to my CTAs!

A CTA provides your reader with an actionable task

it generally appears as a button, an in-text link, or an image, and it’s usually at the end of an article or blog—but it doesn’t have to be. Play around with this a bit and try adding this after the first paragraph. I always try to frontload the most important information for lazy readers. Adding a CTA right after that first paragraph makes a lot of sense—don’t expect your reader to read the entire article, no matter how great a writer you are. A CTA provides direction; it should answer the question: “Now what?”

A CTA should help drive business–more clicks, sales and engagement

CTAs are especially useful in the online space because they’re trackable, and switching up a few words or the placement of your CTA can dramatically affect analytics. Get this: When SAP switched their CTA color to orange, it boosted their conversion rate by more than 32.5 percent. But even if you’re not specifically asking your audience to act on something, you do want to be taking action and asking them to engage with your brand further.

Asking your followers to share or reply is an excellent way to find out just how many people are listening and are interested in what you have to say. 

Here are some CTA best practices that will help generate better response to your posts.

  1. Use action verbs. Discover, find, or explore; it will help draw visitors in and nudge them towards the action you want them to take.
  2. Value proposition. What’s in it for me? You need to make it clear how your audience will benefit.
  3. Consistency. Keep the tone consistent with the rest of your content and your brand.At the end of a great article, you don’t want to jar your audience with a trashy CTA.
  4. Clarity is key. Avoid jargon and be wary of trying to be funny—this can backfire.
  5. Transition. Lead into your CTA with supplementary copy so there’s some context, a smooth transition.
  6. FOMO. Americans suffer from an acute case of FOMO—the fear of missing out–and it can be incredibly powerful. Include expiration dates, offer ending dates. Call right now is better than Call anytime.
  7. Make it mindless. Which is easier: Call today or Fill out this form?
  8. Align with landing page. Align your CTA with landing page content. If you’re sending your reader to a landing page to sign up for something, let them know where they’re going and what the expectation is. Set the expectation to build trust.
  9. Make contacting you easy. Make sure your contact info is clearly visible in multiple places. Transparency and open communication are huge selling points that are often overlooked by brands.
  10. Personalize whenever possible. Grow your profits today vs Grow profits today.

In conclusion

Take a look at your website. Is it easy to find your contact information or does it take a little gumshoe work to find your phone number and intake form? Most people these days are attuned to looking for the Contact tab on your website—it’s generally the last item on the right if your navigation schematic is on the top of the page, the bottom item if it’s on the left.

But you can do more

You can make the intake form visible on all pages so it’s really easy for people to contact you. I just redid my own website, and I added a Schedule a free consultation button to all pages, but looking at it now, I realize I should move this up to the header area. Now the big test: how does this look on mobile devices? Make sure that you don’t lose your accessibility for mobile users.

Contact Top of Mind Marketing today for a free consultation about your website or content marketing program. We’re writers and content marketing experts.