Content Is Still King

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Whether for the web, social media, internal or external communication,  well-crafted content remains the key factor in differentiating your message from the competition. Content Marketing (CM) is a strategic approach that focuses on creating and delivering valuable, relevant, and consistent messages to attract and retain your customer or audience. CM works best when it is aligned with your business’ mission, vision and overall marketing strategy.  Before launching a CM initiative, consider these factors:

What do we want to accomplish through CM?

• Which company goals will this support?

• How does this fit into your overall marketing strategy?

Who is the target audience for our CM?

• Do you have a detailed picture of each audience group? What they do, where they go, why they purchase your service or product.

• What do you want your audiences to do after reading our content?

• Which tools – web, social media, blogs, etc. – can best reach your target audiences?

What is your brand’s unique story?

• How can you differentiate your products and services from the competition?

• What is your value proposition?

• Why does that matter to your audiences?

How will we manage your CM?

• Who will develop the plan and the content?

• How much and how often will you publish content?

• How will you evaluate our CM?

One additional important factor: content marketing is not a one-off effort. Be sure you are committed to creating engaging content and delivering it to your customers on a consistent basis.

 

 

 

Positioning for 2020

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A recent Future of Jobs report from the World Economic Forum, shows the Top Ten Skills employers will be demanding in 2020 are shifting from the most critical skill demanded in 2015.

Complex problem solving remains #1 with critical thinking and creativity now rounding out the top three positions. This same set of skills can help businesses evaluate other crucial decisions. If you are considering working with a new marketing firm, you may want to learn about their approach to solving your problems – that’s what marketing is about. Do they offer the typical needs assessment – a check list of standard advertising and marketing items. Or do they insist on spending time to understand your business, the problems it faces and your target customer before offering solutions?

Problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. Your marketing firm, and every advisor you work with, should bring all the top ten skills to the table.

 

 

Get Better Search Results

While we don’t call ourselves SEO (search engine optimization) specialists, we do take SEO seriously, and it pays off for our clients. We received this testimonial from a long time client, and it reaffirms that our approach to marketing, including web development, works.

“I was attending a conference with about 75 speakers and authors from across the country. One session was about “owned media,” which includes the domain name for our websites. The speaker asked us to Google our own name to see where we appeared on that search, if we ranked on the first page or, better yet, on top of that page.

Our speaker asked who found their site and name on the first page. There were only five of us, including myself, that showed on the first page. He then asked if anybody owned that first page, meaning are you the only search that is showing up on Page 1. There were only two of us, myself included, that raised their hand.

I would not be in this position on Google if it wasn’t for Trusty & Company’s SEO marketing through my website, through my newsletters, and anything related to the marketing that they have handled for me. A big thank you to Claudia and Tom Trusty for your excellence in SEO Marketing.”

–––Peter Margaritis, The Accidental Accountant and author of Improv Is No Joke 

Wow, thank you so much, Pete!

While every client wants their website to be on the first page of every search engine, I’m not really sure they know how that happens.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a precise process of setting up a site to improve visibility by search engines. While we are not an SEO company, every site we design is developed using current SEO best practices for organic search.   (There is also paid search – another topic altogether.) Since Google owns about 75% of all search, we adhere to their guidelines.

White Hat versus Black Hat

We provide white hat SEO. For us, SEO is just another part of a client’s marketing strategy, not a stand-alone item. During our discovery meeting with a client we ask about their target customer, business drivers and conversion goals. We research competitors to garner insight into the market. Often we meet with staff members to better understand how they need each web page to interact with customers. No games, no fake content, no false inbound links – that’s black hat SEO. It is a deceptive practice, and we never engage in that.

It starts with really good web design that connects visually with your customer. While the site is being developed, we craft web-rich content that is search friendly and, more importantly, tells the company’s story to its audience.  The coding of each site is designed to remove any barriers for search, so much of what supports SEO is not visible on the page.

After your site has gone live, the work continues. Search engines reward new and relevant content. They respond to valid inbound links from social media, professional directories and other sources. Google consistently revises their search algorithms, as many times as 500 in a year! That means you must be vigilant about reviewing site analytics and offering your customers new content.

Be wary of any company that guarantees top page ranking. Outsmarting Google isn’t easy, and trying can get your site shut-down!

Ready or Not, Here I Come

I love business. I love small business owners. I love working with them. I love seeing them succeed.  I love the way smaller businesses try new things, challenge the status quo, work hard for every buck. But I hate it when they make stupid mistakes that make it impossible, and I mean impossible, to buy their product.

At 10 a.m. one day I wanted coffee, so I went to a coffee shop…an independently owned boutique coffee shop in a not so convenient location (actually, a very inconvenient location). But I really wanted to support these owners, so I made the effort, and by effort I mean I had to find an on street parking space, walk a block, cross the street, go in to a store, ‘round the back and up the staircase to find the shop. Not exactly an impulse location. But I gladly did all that to buy from independent owners who had invested so much of themselves in their business.

I ordered two large decaf cappuccinos. The gal working didn’t know how to make them. Nope, couldn’t make the priciest drink on the menu, couldn’t make a coffee drink at a coffee shop. Not her fault really because, as she explained, she hadn’t gotten to decaf cappuccino in her training. And where was her trainer, the shop owner? Not there, of course. So I said wouldn’t it be the same as a regular cappuccino only with decaf coffee? Didn’t matter, she hadn’t learned how to make any type of cappuccino. Okay, cancel the fancy drinks.  How about 2 decafs, black, to go.  No, they didn’t have any decaf coffee ready…could I wait 15 minutes? Well, amazingly enough, I could not wait so they lost my business that day. Not a big deal, less than ten bucks in sales.

The question is, will I return? Maybe, maybe not…would you? The moral of this story: Don’t open the doors unless you are serious about doing business.

Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?

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Earlier this year, Google announced updates to their SEO ranking algorithm that will have a negative impact on mobile searches for your web site if it is not “mobile-friendly”. The update improves rankings for sites that provide a mobile-friendly experience to searchers using mobile devices, and, by association, penalizes sites that don’t.

Note: this mobile-friendly update only affects mobile search results — i.e., searches from smartphones and tablets — not searches conducted on a desktop or laptop computer.

Before we go into what, if anything, you will need to do, a brief explanation may help you understand why this has become a recent issue.

Until the last few years, websites were specifically built to display well on desktop screens because the majority of users accessed the Internet using desktop devices. But the Internet isn’t just on your computer screen anymore. It’s also on your phone, your tablet, your laptop, and whatever else the future has in store. So when you visit a modern webpage, its design should take our multi-platform world into account, and morph to ideally match the size and shape of the screen you’re viewing it on. Or, in other words, respond to the viewport dimensions of the device being used to view it. This is called responsive web design (RWD), and partially due to advancements in modern browsers and coding, it has quickly become the most common way to tackle the issues that arise when users view your website on multiple devices.

Without going into details of website coding and development, responsive design is a way to build websites that can be easily viewed and used on any type of device and/or size of screen, from the smallest mobile phones up to the widest desktop monitors providing easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling across a wide range of devices.

As explained above, Google’s announcement is based on changes in user technology, browser capabilities, and coding languages. If your site was not built using RWD it is because it wasn’t a factor when it was developed. So, what to do. You have a few options:

1. Do nothing. If Google page rankings are not important to you, or if your site’s visitors do not typically use a smartphone to access your site, you may not want to do anything. Your site will still show up in a Google search run from a desktop computer as it always has.

2. Upgrade if possible. If your site is WordPress-based (or uses another CMS) we can look into the availability of upgrades that will improve it’s responsiveness. Note: if your site was developed before 2011 this is probably not an option for you.

3. Adjust your present site to meet RWD standards. While not always a simple fix, and depending on the age of your web site, it may be possible to adjust to existing code to make your site more responsive.

4. Build a new site. Creating a new site using current coding language and techniques, while not the least expensive option, will ensure that your site will meet all Google SEO requirements. If your site is old and was built with technology that has become outdated this may be your best option.

Each website is different and will have its own unique fix. Please contact us  so we can plan a time to get together,  review your site and help you determine the best, most cost effective, solution. We will continue to monitor this situation and report any updates to you.