Effective Friday, April 25, we’ll be at our new, larger location at 3305 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505!
Also, our office will be closed on April 25 due to the move, re-opening the following Monday.
Unless you’ve been living under a digital rock for the past week, you’ve most likely heard about the Heartbleed bug. Slews of headlines and articles have popped up on almost every major reporting site since then.
Just how bad is this bug? It’s been dubbed “one of the biggest, most widespread vulnerabilities in the history of the modern web” (mashable.com), if that helps measure the significance of its threat.
So, what is Heartbleed? We’ll start at the top…
When you send private information, like your credit card number, to another person or server, it’s protected, a.k.a. encrypted. Encryption is a type of secret language between you and that server and the Internet has developed strict protocols to handle this system of security.
These protocols also have solutions so tons of web and email services, instant messengers, routers and apps can implement and use them. One of those solutions is referred to as OpenSSL (where the Heartbleed vulnerability lies);, according to Mashable, “[it] runs on 66% of the web.” That’s a LOT of real estate. Yikes!
Heartbleed, at its core, is the hole in the secret language/keys between you and the server, and allows a hacker to access those secret keys, discretely eavesdrop on your online conversations and save your private information. Scary, right?
So, how do you protect yourself from this threat? Well, it’s complicated and it’s a lot more technical than the average Internet user can/should understand. You can start, however, by changing your passwords for the sites that were affected by Heartbleed.
We’ve created a checklist for you here:
Last week, I went to the Search Marketing Expo and Conference in San Jose. This is probably the most important SEO conference in the nation, and one attended by important leaders in search marketing from Google, Bing, and other companies.
A few key takeaways:
1. Link building is shifting to link earning
Google has publicly said that most link-building tactics will not help your search rankings. Gone are the days of blog comment linking, empty press release linking and guest blogging. These tactics can harm your search rankings rather than help. Your links now need to be earned. If you create and share valuable content, others will share it and link to it. You can guest blog – if you are blogging on a credible site that has relevancy to your blog topic.
GET THIS: Google tested their algorithm not including links and the results weren’t very good. So links will continue to matter for the foreseeable future but reputation needs to be earned.
2. Exact phrase matching for SEO is a thing of the past
Now that Google no longer provides search keyword data for non-paid search and Yahoo is starting not to provide this data, you don’t have enough info to see what searches are driving your traffic. Now you need to look at your landing page – a page that is optimized for a specific service, product, or keyword. You can see when traffic directly arrives on that page – where that visitor goes and what they do.
You can make some assumptions as to what they searched for in order to arrive on that page. If a landing page is getting the results you want, create and share more content about that product, service or keyword.
3. Invest in strategy, not tactics
Think about Google’s intent. Does your strategy match Google’s intent of providing relevant searches? Be the brand that people come to for information. Share relevant, shareable experiences. A content marketing strategy is key.
Rather than focusing on keywords, focus on your audience: who they are, and what they want.
4. Google+ is important
You and your brand must be on Google+ and all of your Google products need to be connected. Although Google says +1s don’t currently affect public Google search rankings, they do if it’s with someone you are connected with on Google+.
Google is committed to Google+ . You should get involved in strong social circles on Google+ and grow your bio there.
HINT: Add links in your bio on your blog and website to your Google+ profile.
The SEO landscape is evolving. Google and Bing want to provide results that help their searchers. If your brand and content provide value, then you will rank well. If you try to game the system, there are consequences. Need help? Have questions? Ask me.
It’s easy to see the effects hashtags have on social media and modern-day pop culture. In fact, hashtags can be found everywhere, including on t-shirts, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and, as of recently, your Facebook posts.
When it comes to using hashtags in your personal Facebook posts, you’re good to go — hashtag to your heart’s content. According to new research found on socialbakers.com, however, overusing hashtags can turn your fans and followers off and drop your posts’ precious interaction rates.
When you’re working hard to build a social reputation for your brand or company, you can’t afford to sacrifice interaction. See the chart below to see just how detrimental over-hashtagging can be.
While 1-2 hashtags averaged at about 600 interactions per post for this sample/theoretical company, using 10+ hashtags dropped a post’s interaction by a whopping 68%!
Point of the story: hashtags are fun and trendy and you can use them, but do so sparingly, because #too #much #of #a #good #thing #can #kill… your interaction rates.
With YouTube site visits consistently breaking records and the release of micro-videos going viral across social platforms, marketing your business via video has never been easier, more accessible and (most importantly) more shareable than ever.
Here are our 4 favorite types of videos you can utilize to make a big splash on YouTube:
- Animate your infographics
Infographics are a fun way to introduce yourself to the world. Use the infographic to tell people who you are and what you do, and to share data or facts. Animated infographics like digital cartoons are super trendy right now, too.
- Make a compelling demo
Watching a well-executed demo video is like test-driving a car — they can teach your customers how to operate or install a product or show off certain features. A compelling demo, like GoPro HERO3’s, should make your product or service seem unique and desirable, so don’t hold back!
- Let your happy customers speak
Create a video chock-full of customer testimonials by asking your favorites to chat about their positive experiences on camera. Ask them to talk about the quality of your products or services and how your customer care makes them feel. Most importantly, however, keep it honest and genuine.
- Go behind the scenes
You might think your “behind-the-scenes” show will lack luster – but have you watched reality TV lately? People are interested in everything. So show people what’s going on with you and your business, and become your own reality star. People can’t get enough of how things really work.
Call us today to get your video rolling.
U.S. consumer spending is up. So is consumer confidence. And so is business investment. And no less a sensible sage than Warren Buffett says that “the mother lode of opportunities resides in the U.S.”
We’re seeing the same positive trend here, and with clients. One longtime client who really struggled during the recession told us last week that last month was up 30% over the same month last year. Another client’s revenues have grown 400% over last year. And now that the snow that choked much of the country is clearing, watch the economy soar.
So if your sales aren’t up, if you’re not yet taking advantage of the turnaround in the economy, we have to wonder why. Because others (your competitors?) are already getting primed. With new marketing and new sales initiatives aimed at growing their crops while the sun is shining.
Creating and sharing valuable, free content will bring all the prospects to your digital yard, but how do you translate that intrigue into sales? While social media focuses on conversations with your loyal followers, traditional email marketing — a tool thought to be old-fashioned, or even dead by some — boasts impressive conversion rates and moves the “conversation to commerce” (copyblogger.com).
The kicker lies in the numbers. Effective email and content marketing is not only cost-effective, but, according to the Direct Marketing Association, has “an ROI of around 4,300%.” #wowza
Here are a few key tips we’ve drafted to help spruce up your emails and up those click-through rates.
1. Tailor your subject lines
The single most important factor that leads to someone opening your email is your email’s subject line. Tailor it to be fewer than 60 characters to keep the messaging clear so that your reader knows what to expect.
2. Keep the content fresh
It’s all about content, content, content. Shall we repeat that again? Content! Create quality and niche-specific content, elaborating on your profession and expertise, that can’t be found via a simple Google search.
3. Create an eye-catching call-to-action
Emails should read like a narrative, so design them to guide your readers’ eyes to a bold call-to-action. This actionable item, whether it’s a link, a clickable button or a phone number, should urge your prospect to act.
Need to fine-tune your email marketing strategy?
We can help.
Sounds rather ominous, doesn’t it?
Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, has declared that if you’re using guest blogging for link building, you should “stick a fork in it.” Matt also slammed article directories as a link-building tactic.
Google and Matt’s reasoning is that something that started as an authentic way to increase a website and author’s reach and authority has become spammy. Too many have taken advantage of the guest blogging and article directory link benefits and ruined it for everyone.
Believe it or not, now there are guest post and keyword article generators, websites you can pay to play, and even folks who will pay you to put their post on your blog.
Matt shared, “There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future.”
But he also said, “So there you have it: the decay of a once-authentic way to reach people. Given how spammy it’s become, I’d expect Google’s webspam team to take a pretty dim view of guest blogging going forward.”
What does this mean? It means that Google will devalue these types of links and, in the future, these types of links might even hurt your search rankings.
What’s the solution? Fabulous content and earned links.
How do you do that? Create terrific, relevant, valuable content and put it on your blog or website regularly. Share that content everywhere – Facebook, LinkedIn, your email newsletter. If your content is good, people will read it, share it, link to it and talk about it. This is how you earn the links and engagement that can help your search engine rankings.
There’s also the benefit of having greater keyword density on your website. This means using keywords that people would use when searching for a business or service like yours.
Plus you’ll be regularly adding relevant content to your website that will make it website and your blog a destination, giving people a reason to visit regularly and stay longer – which is also a search engine ranking booster.
The truth is, it’s not easy to create good content. Search engine optimization and content creation require art, not just science. Blog posts and website content that get search engine rankings now need to be longer and juicier. You need substance, not just style.
To help with search, you need to write pieces that set you apart from your competitors and position you as a thought leader and authority. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Some posts need to be long – like 750-1000 words long
- Write a mix of types of posts – opinion, how-tos, and news
- Include the keywords people will use when searching for a company like yours
- Look at your list of keywords for inspiration if you don’t know what to write about
- Do it
- Do it again next week
Not everyone is equipped with the ability to do all of this writing and sharing. Need a content strategy or help? Let me know.
Social media is a hot topic of conversation, but sometimes you have to wonder, “What’s the business value of social media?”
According to a recent report, while only 14% of social media users trust ads, 73% of them trust peer recommendations. Social media is just that—a dialogue between you (aka your business), your customer base, and other peers. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus offer your business a unique opportunity to converse and build genuine, one-on-one relationships with consumers of all types.
To see the best results, however, you’ll need a social media marketing strategy to keep this dialogue effective and ROI-oriented. Here are 3 strategies that will help.
1. Interact with your followers
Initiate and extend the conversation past a comment or page like. Send a private message to a new fan, expressing thanks for the follow, or respond to a status post comment with an open-ended, topic-based statement.
2. Share valuable content
In today's tech-savvy world, consumers can find anything they're looking for online—so it's better if they find it through you. Embrace the value of content sharing and post the fan-favorite cupcake recipe or offer tips to better maintaining your car's transmission. Your followers will appreciate this and remember you for it.
3. Create contests
Who doesn't love to win a free prize? Creating a fun, simple and unique contest that offers your followers a desirable giveaway can spike your page's engagement. It can also motivate your fans to spread the word about your business to their friends. If you're new on social media, keep the prize product or service-related to teach people about what you do.
We can help.
A well-designed image that represents your products and services is a powerful marketing tool — and a necessity for most companies. This identifiable design piece, a.k.a. your logo, acts as the visual embodiment of your brand and fosters customer recognition.
When creating your logo, focus on making it simple, yet memorable. Here are 5 steps to help you do just that:
1. Tell your tale
An effective logo tells your story. Choose three adjectives that best describe your products and services to inspire the logo design before that process begins. For example: a high-end restaurant may choose “gourmet, sophisticated and delicious,” while a children’s apparel line could go with “fun, lively and happy.”
2. Select a style
Most memorable logos are designed with one of three basic styles in mind: a font that spells out your business’s name, such as the logos for Wal-Mart and IBM; an identifiable graphic, such as with Target or Apple; or an abstract design, such as the logos for Nike and Adidas.
3. Choose a shape
Picking the appropriate shape for a graphic logo is crucial. Circles and ellipses are related to a positive emotional message, such as community and love, while squares and triangles are associated with power and strength. Keep in mind the adjectives you chose to represent your business and pick your logo’s shapes accordingly.
4. Pick a palette
A palette of two to three colors will do the trick. You never want to overwhelm your logo with too many colors. These colors should reflect the industry you’re in, too. Color psychology determines that reds and yellows are appetizing and well suited for the food industry, while bright pinks and blues — typical colors that children attach to — are perfect selections for children’s apparel.
5. Keep it clean
While there are many facets of creating a powerful and memorable logo, keep in mind that less is more. A simple design will equate with a clear positioning. You want your customers to identify your business easily — a complex, elaborate design runs the risk of causing confusion.