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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

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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

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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.

Double Your Page Views By Using Great Images

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You may be a great writer, but content without images will produce disappointing results. We’re drawn to content that contains rich, attractive graphics. Adding images to an article can nearly double its views, and 67% of users say that images are more important than descriptions when making a purchase.

Increase website traffic by more than 60% by using good images

Thoughtful image selection

Just adding an image is not enough. It needs to be relevant, visually appealing and appropriate for your audience.

  • Does it convey your message? It should contribute to the overall meaning of the article. Click-bait companies may have some success using an unrelated image for their web ads, but you should be in it for the long-haul–these strategies don’t work.
  • Does it fit your brand? Images should tell a story about your company’s brand—your integrity, customer service and industry expertise.
  • Is it engaging? Drab, boring images don’t engage you and they won’t engage your readers. I write a regular blog for a legal company, and we used to use uninspiring images of legal documents—trusts, deeds, etc. When we thought this through and realized that we were all about creating peace of mind or improving lives for the people behind these documents, we began posting pictures of happy families and couples taking care of each other and we experienced a huge boost in views.

How many images should you use?

There no magic number, but you can use more than you might think. Including good images:

  • Breaks up the text for improved readability.
  • Can increase your SEO value.
  • Provides more options for social media shares and engagement.

Each image should serve a purpose

Think about screenshots, for instance that will illustrate a new website or function. Images break up a page and make it more accessible. Use two or three images, but be aware of load times—if a page takes more than three seconds to load, you could lose 40% of your readers. Remember that more than 60% of users are pulling up information on their phones.

Size matters

If you’re downloading images from your phone or stockphoto sites, reduce the size of those beasty files. For websites and social media, I see that 800 x 1,000 pixels is a recommended size. For social media, I generally reduce the size of my images to 650-750 pixels. In some cases, you may want to use a series of thumbnail images, which can be effective. These can be 125-250 pixels, and they should all be the same size with the text wrapped around them.

Naming images and assigning them descriptive alt tags will help boost your SEO value

Don’t forget to label your images and add alt tags–a description of the image

Best practices: Don’t forget to name your images

If you download your images, they’ll have a number. Don’t just upload them to social media or your website with these numbers–rename them. Think about the topic of the article and what people would be keying into a search engine to find this information, then name the images accordingly. If your article’s about images, use a name such as using alt tags or sizing images for websites.

Missed SEO value of images

Do think about images and their ability to increase your SEO value. When you upload images to your website, you’ll see a field to identify an alt tag for each image. This should be a description that makes sense to the reader—it’s a summary of the image. If you’re adding an alt tag to a graph, make it a summary of the data. If I’m adding a screenshot of my new website, the alt tag would be something like Top of Mind Marketing’s new website has enhanced visuals, streamlined navigation and more than 250 blogs.  

Great images won’t save bad content

But thoughtful, quality images can increase traffic, improve engagement, increase conversions, and improve the overall experience for your audience.

Thinking about outsourcing your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts.

Want to Get Discovered? 6 SEO Rules for 2016

By | SEO, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Like everything else these days, SEO has shifted. You put a lot of thought and effort into developing clever, insightful blogs, landing pages and social media posts. Here are 6 SEO Rules for 2016 to get the most out of your content investment.

topofmindmarketing-com-seo

1.Keywords: forget exact matches: think good intentions

You no longer need an exact keyword to offer a relevant search result. Now search engines are seeing how people are interacting with your website. It’s about the post-click activity. Not only do you have to get the clicks, but you have to satisfy user intent.

2. Keywords: they ain’t what they used to be

In the old days, we were told to load our landing page with our keywords. That was so yesterday. Then we were told to frontload them in the first paragraph and in our headlines. Now we learn that including keywords in headlines is becoming less important. Google has gotten smarter about interpreting our meaning. I love that technology is getting so smart. It used to be that if you wanted to rank for best restaurants, you had to say best restaurants three or four times. It’s still helpful to mention best restaurants, but the semantic meaning is becoming much more important. Now you can just talk about great dining experiences, good food and wine and the search engines will pick up on it.

Search engines are getting more intuitive; they’re anticipating

As the search engines get smarter, they start to anticipate, thinking about other words that you expect to be in that article, what will signal that this is an authoritative article on the topic. A good example: If you were writing an article about the Apple watch, you might have the words Apple, iPhone, watch, apps and time. If those are in the body copy, it sends signals to the search engines that this is a pretty good article.

Think really, really brief

Most search queries are between three and five words long, so you should write headlines accordingly. If people search for the word marketing, or any one- or two-word query, they don’t get the results they want. As content creators, if you’re thinking about optimization, you always need to be thinking about brevity and character limits. It’s a huge challenge.

3. Focus on the user experience

Google is making something like 500 algorithm changes a year. Every change is focused on making sure that when people search on Google, if they get the right result on the first few pages, they’ve got a great experience. The more original content that you can produce—whether it’s an image or a video, or long-form content, anything you can put together that’s going to justify someone’s wanting to read it or share it—the better.

Beware Top 5 articles

Those articles with a Top Five or whatever list format often are clickable, but use them sparingly. People like things that they can quickly digest, but it doesn’t necessarily have much weight with search. You have to make sure that whatever comes after the number makes sense and is useful. Don’t deceive your user. If you’re promising them the Top 5, deliver.

4. Size matters

This is a tough sell, but I’ve been preaching this one for years. These days, when everyone seems to be communicating in 140 character bites, it’s difficult to make a case for longer articles, between 1,200 to 1,500 words, but they perform better in search. It’s significantly different than it was two or three years ago, when 300 words was considered a pretty long page—and that was considered long! Longer articles are getting more traffic, and they’re ranking higher in SEO, especially for competitive terms. The changes that Google is making, and the reason they’re making these changes, is to make sure they’re sending traffic to pages that delight people.

Do make those long pages more accessible

Break them up with subheads, bullet points and images to make it easy for readers to quickly scan and digest them. Spend some time making your subheads interesting to seduce your readers, drawing them in to read more. Make them want to read on

5. Optimize for mobile

If you’re a desktop user, it’s time to emerge from Sleepy Hollow. The majority of people are now reading their content on their smartphones, so make your content searchable.

6. Use unique images

While images aren’t as big of a referral source in Google as they used to be, having unique images on your site is valuable. The same image can show up in hundreds of places around the web, but having unique content around those images is what makes it stand out. If you can create a custom image or use unique photography, it will pay off in the long run.”

The most important SEO tip for 2016 is to focus on your audience. Today it’s about delivering what people actually want to see that will give you an SEO ranking boost.

Are you thinking about outsourcing part or all of your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts. 

An Easy SEO Checklist for Better Search Results

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Without a thoughtful SEO strategy, the chances of your website’s showing up in search engine results pages (SERPS) are next to nil. SEO is what helps improve your brand’s visibility and drives traffic to your site. Here is an easy checklist to help increase the SEO value of your website.

top of mind marketing_SEO checklist

  1. Make sure your website is responsive—that it translates to mobile devices. This is by far the most critical-mission issue right now. Take a look at your website on your phone. If you have to do a lot of manipulation, if the text is tiny and inaccessible, it’s time to think about a new website. Google is punishing the desktop sites that have not created mobile versions. Google has created this site that will quickly tell you if your site is mobile friendly or not.
  2. Create a unique, branded domain name.
  3. Create an HTML site map for easier indexing by search engines.
  4. Also submit an XML sitemap that will speed up indexing.
  5. Use Heading Tags (H Tags) for headings and subheadings throughout your site.
  6. Use images. Audiences these days are sophisticated, the expectations high. Quality, high-resolution images are affordable on stock photo sites, generally as packages.
  7. Label your images with the name of your company, image_name of image. If the image doesn’t show up—and it may not on mobile devices—users will have an idea of what they’re missing.
  8. Optimize keywords, using them in title, H tags and description. Forget keyword stuffing; focus on keyword placement.
  9. Develop internal contextual linking strategy.
  10. Create more SEO value by using alt tags on your images—additional fields that you can fill in with the name of your business.
  11. Do write your own metadescriptions; otherwise, you’ll be stuck with the default, which won’t do you any favors. If you’re using WordPress, install Yoast and fill in these fields for each page. Metadescriptions provide a 160-character overview of each page on SERPs.
  12. Reduce popups and distracting ads to avoid losing traffic. Let’s face it—these are just too annoying.
  13. Optimize load time: make sure images are complete hogs that prevents your site from loading.
  14. Check for broken links, which can hurt your ranking. This is part of periodic site maintenance. If you’re linking to external sites, these often disappear after a while, so your pages need to be updated accordingly.
  15. Quality content that isn’t duplicated. There are different opinions about landing page length, but many experts recommend 300+ words to rank well. Frontload this, with the most important information in the first paragraph, above the fold, including your keywords. One thing that’s nonnegotiable: well-written, quality content. If you’re a crappy writer, find someone else to write this for you–talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing–this is what we do!

Keep it simple

Never—ever—forget that people will be pulling this up on their phones. Something else to be thinking about. SEO doesn’t stop with your website. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. You need to be continually adding fresh new content—add case studies and a blog. Make sure that you’re keeping your site updated with your products and services. You need to be looking at your presence across all of your online marketing channels—your social media sites, Yelp, etc. Owning a website is a responsibility. If you want it to work for you, you need to work it.

Is your website delivering ROI? If not, talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and digital media experts

The Truth About Algorithms–And Why You Should Expect to See More of Them

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So what are algorithms?

Algorithms are machine learning systems designed to ‘learn’ about user interests based on their on-platform activities. Google’s been tweaking its dreaded algorithms since 2002, constantly top of mind marketing_algorithmupgrading its back-end processes to stay one step ahead of SEO scammers to deliver the best, most relevant search results. Google changes its algorithms some 500 or so times/year. Yet it’s the big ones—Hummingbird, Panda, and the most recent, Mobilegeddon, which debuted in April 2015, that have had a major impact on SEO. Google and its algorithms own the search space.

Amazon’s been using personalized algorithms since the late 90s, and users are rewarded with a system that recommends products for you based on your search and purchasing history. We may not like the the big-brother mentality, but we love the results.

Let’s take a look at Facebook and its algorithms

Facebook was the first social network to implement an algorithm. They developed the News Feed Algorithm and initially it focused on pretty obvious variables like:

  1. How often you interact with the friend, Page, or public figure (like an actor or journalist) who posted the story.
  2. The number of likes, shares and comments a post receives from the world at large and from your friends in particular.
  3. How much you have interacted with this type of post in the past – the post format (photo, link, text) and the content. Fans of kittens will see more kittens; basketball fans will see more basketball stories, etc. Your individual interests drive your activity, which in turn drives the algorithm.

When is the right time to implement algorithms?

The ideal time to implement an algorithm is at that point when engagement is starting to plateau, when the noise is increasing and people are seeing fewer posts; they’re beginning to spend less time on the platform, as a result. Look at Facebook’s stats; there are more than:

  • 3B monthly active users on Facebook
  • 54M business pages
  • 640M minutes on Facebook each month of combined use by its users

The goal of News Feed is to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important to them. Facebook put measures in place to maximize their on-platform material and enhance the user experience by matching them with content that’s most appealing to them. It’s perfectly logical: why let your audience lose interest when you have both the tools and posts that can keep them engaged?

The truth about algorithms is that they work

Algorithms deliver better user experiences, they sort the signals from the noise of the growing number of social networks and connect users to the content that’s most relevant to them. The best algorithms may know your likes and interests better than you do, and we’re going to see more of them for one very good reason—they work.

Are you getting the most from your marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and content marketing experts.

Invest in Longer Landing Pages for Trust & Credibility

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Landing pages help promote your company’s products and services and encourage conversions from your web traffic. A landing page, officially any page on which you land, always has its own unique url. Landing pages can be temporary—thrown up as part of a campaign to promote a product or service. People will click on a call to action and land on this page; it’s generally taken down once the campaign is over. The messaging on these pages should be crisp, focused and direct. These landing pages are necessarily shorter.

top of mind marketing_landing pages

Longer landing pages promote trust and credibility

The landing pages that promote your products and services need to have more substance—that means 300+ words. Longer landing pages generate trust and credibility, motivating web visitors to convert once they’ve learned more about you and your company. The user who scrolls to the bottom where the call to action is located and views all aspects of the page is typically a higher-quality lead—that’s the potential client who wants information about what you do. Don’t disappointment them by not answering their questions about what you do and how you work with your clients.

Longer landing pages: increased SEO value

As you increase the likelihood of conversion with longer landing pages, you also increase the SEO value of your website. Longer pages rank better in search engines. Use well-written, high-quality content that positions you as an expert.

  • Think about using quality video that explains your product. If it’s a service, provide an explanation of how it works. Testimonials are always effective.
  • Include images, a bulleted list of a product/service’s benefits and a strong call to action.
  • Also think about leveraging internal linking strategies within the pages on your site.

These days, people seem to be text-phobic

I frequently find myself going to websites to get more information—and am rewarded with a few lame sentences that translate to missed opportunities. Whether you’re selling a product or service, why wouldn’t you provide enough information to fully flesh out your business? If you’re selling your products online, longer landing pages with plenty of description is always recommended. If people are spending money, they want detailed information about the product they’re about to purchase.

I became I believer in long landing pages

I finished a project a few months ago that made me a believer in longer landing page content. It was a website for a lighting manufacturers’ rep, and I had to write descriptions of the 90+ manufacturers with which this company worked. Our goal was to provide comprehensive information about each company because we wanted potential clients to come to our site and stay there.

I quickly ramped up to the fascinating and complex lighting industry. I wanted to find out a little bit about each of these companies—did they specialize in lighting, controls or daylighting? Were they family-owned, where did they manufacture their products, what was the time to market and what did their customer service ethic look like? The quality of these 90 sites varied dramatically. Some were beautiful, with comprehensive portfolios of their national and international lighting projects. Others were dismal. Some sites didn’t even have an About section—nothing but product info and numbers. Others had badly written information about the company, sometimes talking about the company’s founders some 80 years ago—in which I had no interest. I ultimately had to work with my client SME to get enough information to flesh out some of these profiles.

I learned a big lesson from this project: Provide the information that will answer people’s questions

  • As a guide, think about your own questions when you go to a website looking for information.
  • Frontload the important stuff so that it’s readily available in the first few paragraphs.
  • Try providing a call to action higher in your page rather than burying it at the bottom. Convert people while you still have their attention rather than taking a chance that they’ll scroll to the bottom of the page.

Have questions about landing pages? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.

Let’s Take the Mystery Out of Keywords

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There seems to be some kind of mystery associated with keywords, but it’s not as confusing as they try to make it. Your keywords are based on what you do—I’m a content marketing expert, so obvious keywords for me are words like marketing, online marketing, content marketing and internet marketing.

Top of Mind Marketing_keywords

What would people be keying into a search engine to find you?

A good approach is to think about what words people would be keying into a search engine to find you, then capitalize on those words. Use a tool like Google adwords to gain an understanding of how often people are searching for these terms. If the numbers are large, there are a lot of people using those terms—that means there’s a lot of competition. A better strategy is to identify words or phrases that are still meaningful and relevant for you, but for which there is less competition. With less competition, there’s a better chance your site will show up in a search. In general, the more words in the keyword phrase, the smaller the search result—but also the more specific it could be to what you do.

The trend these days is not to be limited by a keyword alone; rather, think of keyword phrases or long-tail keyword strategies—these longer phrases that are even more definitive about what you do have a better chance of reaching your specific audience.

How to use keywords in a landing page or blog

You can’t trick Google anymore by filling a page with a bunch of nonsense and blatant keyword stuffing; quality content has never been more important. Keywords don’t need to be repeated throughout the page. Do use the keyword in your headline, and let this drive the page’s topic and keep it closely focused. Avoid awkward sentences and phrases where you’re trying to work in your keyword phrase. The goal is to inform the reader, not search engines.

Keywords don’t need to be an exact match

Use closely related words and phrases–this is more natural than trying to overoptimize a page by deploying one keyword a number of times. Searches will use a wide range and combination of words and phrases to find what they’re looking for. The content on your site should be varied enough to meet that search engine criteria while still adhering to one overarching theme.

Struggling with keywords and content marketing? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts.

New SEO: Forget Tricks and Focus on Quality Content

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Google makes algorithm changes an astonishing 500–600 times/year. For the most part, we top of mind marketing_quality-contentignore these changes—who, after all, can keep up with what Google, and most of these changes are minor. But Google occasionally rolls out major algorithmic updates—you’ve probably heard of Google’s Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates that affect search results in significant ways. Its latest major update is being referred to as Mobilegeddon because of its far-reaching effect on websites that don’t translate to mobile devices.

Changes include an emphasis on high-quality content

But this isn’t just content marketing. You really have to understand Google’s overarching goal for search, keeping in mind that Google owns the search space. What you need to know: we’re no longer focusing on keywords, but on content—and that means quality content.

Forget the tricks to optimize your website

We used to identify keywords, then load our landing pages with those keywords. This is no longer an acceptable strategy; in fact, keyword loading is something for which Google apparently punishes you. Avoid the tricks that SEO had really become—a bag of tricks for ensuring your pages could rank well without your having to do any real marketing.

Think about it—you really didn’t have to provide thoughtful or creative content. Instead, you thought about keywords, linking strategies and trying to show up on page one of Google—at least for a day or two until the algorithms changed once again. But while we’d all rather show up on page one than 50, there are those who point out that showing up on page two or three is not a bad thing. I always tell my clients that you really have two audiences: you want to show up on search engines, but you also need to provide a compelling reason for people to contact you once they land on your website. A high ranking doesn’t necessarily translate to conversion.

Google’s content guidelines

With the significant algorithm changes, Google has published content guidelines that clearly spell out what they’re looking for. These are their exact words to elicit high quality content:

  1. Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
  2. Don’t deceive your users.
  3. Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings.
  4. Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.

I keep coming back to a quote I read a while back. If you want your site to show up in search engines, invest in good writing. “You can no longer game the system. Quality content has become nonnegotiable.”

Quality content has never been more important. I’d love to talk with you if you have questions. Contact me at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and content marketing experts.