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digital marketing

10 Essential Digital Marketing Terms You Should Know

Digital marketing can be very confusing for small businesses, because the terminology doesn’t seem to make any sense. It’s definitely not easy to understand your own Internet marketing strategy if you aren’t familiar with the key terms and phrases your digital marketing company is using.
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search engine optimization

Simple SEO Strategies That Will Benefit Any Website

If there’s one tricky thing about search engine optimization, it’s that search engine algorithms are constantly changing. If you aren’t staying on top of your own website’s SEO, then you’re probably hurting your keyword rankings without realizing it.

Big SEO overhauls are definitely best left up to the experts at an SEO company, but if you’re looking for a few quick ways to give your SEO a small boost, here are a few tips:

  1. Figure out your target keywords
    This is one of the best ways to figure out who your target audience is, who your competitors are, and how you stack up against your biggest foes. If you’re working with an SEO company, you’ll already have plenty of detailed information available to see how your pages are ranking against competitors. If you’re doing keyword research on your own or for the first time, there are simple tools available online.
  2. Link to other relevant pages on your site when creating new content
    Ideally, your website will also benefit from links on other pages that lead visitors to your site. Your website should also link to pages within itself. The key here is to make sure that you’re using relevant keywords in your anchor text and that you aren’t linking to pages that are unrelated.
  3. Fill in the alt text tags for your images
    This is a simple way to boost your SEO a little bit if you’ve already made major changes, but want to go the extra mile. Search engine spiders will be able to filter these tags and use the information to rank your page. Even adding captions to your pictures can be helpful, since the spiders can also scan this text as well. Just make sure that the captions and the alt text tags are actually describing the images.
  4. Repurpose content by making infographics and videos
    This tip might require some assistance from an SEO service or digital marketing firm, but it’s a worthwhile investment. Studies show that visitors will form an opinion about a business within 10 seconds of landing on its website; this obviously isn’t enough time to actually read anything on the site, so it speaks to the importance of visuals. Just make sure that you aren’t bogging down your pages with too many graphics. At least 40% of Internet users say that they’ll leave a website if a page takes more than three seconds to load.
  5. Keep updating your content
    If you’ve really done everything you can think of but you still feel like your search engine optimization needs more, always remember that updating your pages and adding new content is very important. Many businesses run a blog and add a new post every week or two. This tactic tells search engines that your website is still active, and it also encourages visitors to engage with your business!

So now that you’ve heard our SEO strategy suggestions, be sure to let us know some of your own search engine optimization tips and tricks!

hashtag marketing

The Worst Social Media and Hashtag Marketing Fails of 2015

Social media marketing is one of those things that digital marketing firms love and hate at the same time. On one hand, the rise of social media usage has led to a thing called “hashtag marketing,” which is a very effective (and affordable) digital marketing strategy that inherently works well on mobile devices. Considering that 67% of mobile phone users regularly check their phones for messages, and one-third of internet users go online primarily via their smartphones, it’s no surprise that four out of five smartphone owners use their phones to shop. Therefore, successful mobile and social media marketing is tightly connected to better sales.

So with the end of the year upon us, we figure it’s a good time to indulge in some Schadenfreude and take a look at some social media campaigns and hashtag marketing attempts that really, really failed:

Starbucks and the Race Together Campaign
It’s always a good idea to develop your digital marketing campaign around a meaningful cause, like eco-friendliness or providing books to schoolchildren. But Starbucks learned this year that its customers really don’t want to be lectured on the problem of racial tensions when grabbing a coffee. #RaceTogether was a very short-lived campaign in 2015.

Lesson learned: Some issues are a bit too serious to be used in a casual marketing campaign, especially if these issues aren’t related to your product at all.

Harriet Harman and the Pink Bus
You may not have heard about this one; to be fair, Harriet Harman is a politician in the U.K., and her political campaign mishap occurred nearly a year ago. The Labor Party deputy leader decided to tour 70 cities across the U.K. to encourage women to vote in the upcoming elections. To make her “Woman to Woman” campaign a bit more approachable, she decided to ride through the country in a bright pink mini-bus.

Lesson learned: Women aren’t necessarily attracted to pink like moths to a light. Campaign colors matter more than most people think! Also, #pinkbus is not a hashtag trend you want to be associated with anymore.

Bud Light Is Still #UpForWhatever
In an attempt to salvage its dwindling brand while the craft beer culture continues to grow, Bud Light created a hashtag marketing campaign using the phrase #UpForWhatever. It was supposed to be a “lighthearted” way of making beer casual again — the drink for the man who is down-to-earth, frugal, and simple. Unfortunately, Bud Light began using the hashtag a bit frivolously, and many people noted that the messages seemed to condone sexual harassment. “On #StPatrickDay you can pinch people who don’t wear green. You can also pinch people who aren’t #UpForWhatever,” the company tweeted in March. Just a few weeks later, bottles appeared on the shelves with labels that read “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.”

Lesson learned: Choose your words carefully. Also, if a social media campaign fails, it’s best to let it go.

Of course, this is only the beginning of some terrible marketing from 2015. What terrible marketing campaigns stand out on your list, and why? We’d love to hear from you!

The Search Engine Optimization Trends You’ll Say ‘Goodbye’ To in 2016

search engine optimization

Regardless of whether or not you’re ready for 2015 to come to an end, there’s no denying that right now is the perfect time to look at how your business’s search engine optimization approach is working and how it can be improved for 2016.

There is always plenty of speculation about which updates will have the greatest effects on webmasters and which issues Google will likely address in the year to come; while this speculation can be really interesting for anyone interested in SEO, it can get a little too complicated for the average small business owner.

That being said, it’s important to make sure that you’re putting enough emphasis on improving your search engine optimization strategies. As a recent Search Engine Journal article stated, there are over 1.2 trillion Google searches each year, which equates to 3.5 billion searches on a single day and 40,000 searches in just one second. With that in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 80% of internet users regularly use search engines, and 40% of internet users across the globe have made at least one purchase online! Like it or not, search engines already heavily influence on your business and this influence is only going to increase.

So what can you do to prepare your digital marketing strategy for 2016? The experts over at Forbes recently posted an article on search engine optimization trends that will likely disappear from digital marketing strategies by this time next year — so let’s take a quick look at some of those trends that would have the greatest impact on your business:

  1. Google might not dominate SEO forever
    It’s a fairly common practice in SEO services to focus mostly on page rankings in Google searches simply because the majority of people use Google as their go-to search engine. Bing and Yahoo search engines are probably never going to become real competitors for Google, but other types of search engines — like Apple’s Siri feature — are getting a lot of consumer interest. If nothing else, comparing your Google keyword rankings against Bing and Yahoo rankings can give you some insight into your overall SEO success.
  2. Keywords won’t be the main focus of your content
    Good SEO companies will tell you that keyword-stuffing isso five years ago — but a lot of businesses are still letting their keyword research dominate their content creation. You’ll still want to focus on placing keywords in the titles, anchor text, and metadata tags on your pages, but readability and “shareability” are going to be more important in 2016 for anyone creating content.
  3. Desktop search engine optimization won’t be as important as mobile
    Mobile web design and SEO have already become pretty important in the world of digital marketing, and you can expect their importance to increase throughout 2016. Four out of five American smartphone users have used their phone to make purchases before, and one-third of all smartphone users consider their phone to be their primary internet access point.

So now we’d like to hear your thoughts on the matter — what trends do you think we’ll encounter during 2016? What are you doing to review your own SEO strategy?

Why Professional Web Design is Vital to Success

professional web design
As the world becomes more accustomed to the sedentary lifestyle that the age of the internet has offered us, the amount of traffic that online outlets are receiving will continue to increase. Now that people have the ability to do many of the tasks they normally would have had to go out in public to do, most are taking full advantage. Between online banking reducing the need to stand in long lines for tellers, shopping sites stopping the need to scour busy malls, and even online delivery grocery services, there isn’t much that can’t be accomplished with the internet.

Currently an estimated 40% of worldwide internet users have at some point bought products or goods online using either their desktop, mobile, tablet, or any other online device. With so many potential consumers traversing online channels, there is plenty of money to be made by merchants. E-commerce has become such a successful marketplace that it now generates about $1.2 million every 30 seconds.

The key to capitalizing on e-commerce is to have an effective website that will attract users with professional web design, as well as keep them coming back. It doesn’t take long for users to make a judgement on whether or not they will use a site. Around 40% of people will completely abandon a page if it takes more than three seconds to load the content.

Without professional web design, the simplest flaw in a site could end up dissuading a substantial amount of potential consumers. Digital marketing firms are well-versed in the mechanics and effective layouts that websites should use. They can cater a site to whatever demographics or services they are trying to gain the attention of.

To ensure you have an effective website, putting in effort to create professional web design and development could have a serious impact on your success.

#Hashtag Marketing: The Best Piece of Digital Marketing You Aren’t Using Correctly … Yet!

digital marketingHashtag marketing: It’s the next big thing in digital marketing, and it’s actually already here. #TheTimeIsNow.

The cool part about hashtags is that they’re really convenient for search engine optimization; Twitter hashtag pages often appear on SERPs (over 80% of internet users are using a search engine like Google or Bing, and approximately 88% of business decisions are influenced by search engines, too). Hashtags also work well on mobile devices because they don’t clutter up screens and they allow search engine users to find relevant information very quickly — this isreally important, since one-third of all smartphone users consider their phones to be their primary internet source, and four out of five smartphone users have made a purchase on their phones.

But how can you actually use hashtags in everyday digital marketing?

Good question! It’s easier than it seems. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Start with a big list, do some analytics, and narrow it down. A Search Engine Watch article from February referenced a recent State of the Union address given by President Obama; for this speech, SEW said, White House staffers prepared a list of 26 hashtags focused on core messages in the speech. After monitoring the metrics of each hashtag on Twitter, staffers then whittled the list down to the top seven, and then the top three. These top tags were then used in subsequent tweets. Your business can actually do something similar with social media-focused digital marketing optimization, although probably on a smaller scale.
  2. Use software to figure out what’s hot right now. There are plenty of free services available which provide info about what’s trending now, what trended in the past, the tags that were recently “created,” the most popular tags according to topic/location … Pretty much any data you could possibly want is available to you. By figuring out which tags generate the most interest, you’ll optimize your limited character space.
  3. Don’t go overboard. While you want to use distinctive hashtags (No #blessed, #cool, or #fun allowed) you also don’t want to get too excited here (#SorryButNoOneWantsToReadThisHashtagPlusYoureWastingLetterSpaces). Good hashtag campaigns typically use the same collection of tags, not necessarily with every tweet, but definitely on a consistent basis.

So now we want to hear from you — if you’ve used hashtags in a social media and digital marketing strategy before, what worked for you? (#Winning) What definitely didn’t work? (#EpicFail) Let us know, and make sure to include a #hashtag, too!

How Your SEO Strategy Can Resist the Dreaded Pandas and Penguins of Google

search engine optimization

Panda: To the majority of people, this is the name of a huge, cuddly-looking black and white teddy bear.

To SEO companies and digital marketing firms, it’s the name of a Google algorithm update. And it’s typically not a name that’s welcomed with open arms.

So what exactly is this mysterious Panda update, and why does it matter?

First off, it’s important to know that Panda isn’t the only algorithm update that Google releases. Penguin is the name of another major update, and these two are considered the primary updates that are anticipated/dreaded in the search engine optimization industry each year.

The updates aim to weed out the websites which are violating Google’s terms of use, are using shady practices to get a top spot on a keyword results page, and are generally taking business away from legitimate companies. Penguin updates are intended to filter out low-quality links, while Panda updates are intended to filter out low-quality content.

The intent behind both updates is pure, especially since search engines influence an estimated 88% of business purchase decisions and at least 80% of all internet users go on search engines to find websites. But in reality, the updates — which aren’t announced in advance and are kept very secretive — often end up hurting businesses more than they help.

The question now is, how can you survive these updates without spending a fortune on your search engine optimization plan? Since Panda is the most recent update, let’s take a quick look at how to survive that one:

    • As stated above, Panda is all about quality. The best way to avoid being devalued after an algo-update is to make sure your website is filled with good content. Make sure your SEO company can write blog posts without grammatical and spelling errors, in the language your business and customers use.
    • Variety is really key with the Panda updates. Make sure you’re writing blog posts on a regular basis and promoting them on social media. Include graphics and videos, and pay attention to what your customers actually like to see. Start up some email marketing; maybe even try local search engine optimization or paid display ads.
    • But if you’re going to focus on written content, make sure it’s interesting. This is really where design comes into play — including a bulleted list, for example, will grab the attention of about 70% of visitors, while only 55% will stick around to read a list without bullets.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that all of these factors need to be a constant part of your search engine optimization strategy — not just for a few weeks, but as long as you’re working on SEO.

mobile web design

The Worst 3 Mistakes You Can Make With Mobile Web Design

Mobile Web design certainly isn’t easy to master, especially for a small business owner who’s busy taking care of his or her actual business. But digital marketing — specifically search engine optimization and search engine marketing — has never been more important.

It’s important to realize that while a good digital marketing campaign will have many different aspects and steps, a good Web design is the foundation of a great search engine optimization campaign — and that includes having a great mobile Web design, too.

Mobile Web might not be easy, but if you manage to stay away from these major mishaps, then you’ll be on the path to digital marketing success:

  1. Forgetting about mobile Web entirely. The first big mistake you can make is to ignore mobile Web entirely when you’re creating your website design — but since you’re reading this right now, you’re already aware that mobile Web is very important! It’s estimated that 62% of companies with a mobile website increased sales after developing it, and 34% of internet users access the web primarily through their cell phones.
  2. Promos galore! There’s a thing about advertisements on mobile devices — and that thing is, when there are too many of them, visitors on your website are more likely to leave. Mobile phone users are already dealing with a small screen, and when there are too many advertisements, it gets overwhelming. And speaking of small screens…
  3. Thinking that mobile Web design just means shrinking your current website down. #Nope. Mobile Web requires a new template, and it should look very similar to your normal website and have the same important information, but it shouldn’t be exactly the same. There simply is not enough room.

So just how important is a good mobile web design? Well, if your business has a bad mobile design, it could be costing you 52% of your customers, for starters. Maybe mobile web wasn’t so important before, but it’s a necessity now!

mobile web design

The 3 Most Outdated Web Design Techniques Your Company Can’t Afford to Use

Could your website be aging badly?

In the world of digital marketing, where a website’s appearance is almost directly linked to a consumer’s impression of your brand, this is one of the questions you must ask yourself. In fact, Inspired Magazine reports that a user will make up his or her mind about your website within just 10 seconds! Smaller businesses in particular can’t afford to lose customers due to outdated web design.

Because web design is a constantly-evolving art, your business can’t afford to use the same website layout and design it’s been using for years. To give your site a much-needed upgrade, take a look at this list of the three most outdated web design ideas you should be avoiding in 2015:

Not adopting mobile web design
This might be the most important item on this list. Last year, mobile web usage surpassed desktop browsing for the first time in history. These days, four out of five consumers will shop on their smartphones, meaning you might be missing out on huge amounts of business by avoiding a mobile-friendly web design. Mobile web design improves user experience on smartphones and tablets drastically; as a result, 62% of companies that adopt mobile web design will see an increase in business.

Over-designing your website
We’ve all seen websites that are just too designed. They might be crammed with unnecessary graphics and pictures or contain more text than the Bible. Whatever the case, more is less with web design. Today’s web users look for streamlined, succinct design that gives an instant indication of what your brand is all about.

Using awkward stock photography
This should go without saying, but we still see too many websites that use unrealistic, low-quality stock photography in an attempt to increase the amount of visuals on their sites. Web users can spot a bad stock photo from a mile away, and these pictures instantly ruin a website’s credibility. While visuals are highly important in web design, it’s better to have no photos than stock photos.

What are your thoughts on these tips for professional web designers? Have any other questions for us about how a digital marketing strategy can help your business? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

web developers

The Top 3 Chrome Tools Geared Especially Toward Web Developers

Over the last few years, Google Chrome has surpassed Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and even Internet Explorer itself to become the most popular web browser available. These days, more than half of Internet users begin their online journeys with Google Chrome.

At the same time, more than half of web users choose to access the web from a mobile device. It’s not surprising that 62% of companies that have optimized their websites for mobile browsing have seen an increase in profits. Even more telling? Websites often have just 10 seconds to make an impression on visitors before they move on to a different website.

Because of our collective shift onto the mobile web, web development professionals today have a number of challenges that await them. Luckily, if your digital marketing agency’s web developers have moved to Chrome as their browser of choice, they have a number of tools available to them today. Here are just three of the many web development tools that can be downloaded to Chrome to your agency’s benefit:

Audits
When web developers use Chrome’s DevTools Audits tab, they can view countless ways to improve a website’s appearance and performance. By minimizing the number and size of a website’s CSS and JavaScript files, for example, the site’s performance can be boosted significantly, optimizing the user experience. When 40% of web users say they’ll abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load, the Audits tab is an absolute must have.

JavaScript Console
To help your web developers keep a website’s JavaScript error messages to a minimum, Chrome offers a JavaScript Console that can troubleshoot code and alert developers to any problems that exist. This tool can be a huge benefit for developers when they test APIs and other website functions.

PageSpeed Insights
Another tool that Google has implemented into its Chrome browser for today’s web development professionals? PageSpeed Insights for Chrome, a tool that suggests changes and implements them with the simple click of a button. For larger projects that need to be completed fast, this quick and easy system is indispensable.

What are some of your favorite Chrome tools to use? Have any other questions or thoughts about graphic design, web design or web development? Let us know by leaving a comment below.