An Excellent New Year’s Resolution for 2014: Engaging, Informative, Concise Quality Content.

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If you’ve got a website you rely on, that one sentence comes close to telling you everything you need to know about succeeding in 2014. Close… but not quite everything. So I will explain a little more.

Of Course, It Starts with Google’s Functionality

If you’ve been reading these blogs, you know that Google has adjusted the way their search engine works many times in the last few years. Some changes were more significant than others and resulted in websites that had previously been successful suddenly disappearing from sight.

Online marketing experts have scrambled to keep up with the changes. Since some changes were unannounced and unexplained by Google. Some modifications had to be laboriously deduced from the way search results changed.

The upshot of all these changes and what they mean for 2014? Be informative. Provide useful relevant content. And no stuffing the content with the keywords you think people are looking for. Google has eliminated the service that used to help you do keyword research anyway. So I’m afraid you just have to focus on adding relevant, useful content to your site.

Why Concise?

These days, your content CAN be more concise and still work for you. Google (and other search engines, too) used to assign more value to long articles. Not so much any more. You don’t need to write any more words that are necessary when you offer that informative content.

There are new ways of testing how far down a page your readers are getting before they jump off your page. Those long pages we were all writing for our web pages? Most of them, people only get half way down them anyway. So the days of writing long content for Google have been replaced by writing more concise content for readers. Remember, just like always, you only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention before they click out of that window. So get to the point fast, eliminate wordiness, and stop as soon as you have provided that useful information.

For Social Media, “Engaging” is Key

If you have any idea of working in the realm of social media, you need to think in terms of engaging your readers. If you simply post information YOU want people to have, you are not likely to engage many people. But let’s assume for the moment that you sell paint for indoor and outdoor uses. The more you engage people in your topic, the more you will win. So what about ideas like these:

  • Search for and post pictures of the wackiest home painting jobs you’ve ever seen.
  • Ask readers to submit their unusual color combinations, no matter whose paint is used.
  • Run articles on famous artists who used house paint in their creations.
  • Post a few pictures of rooms with paint jobs designed by professional decorators and ask people to vote on the color combination they like best. Give a few gallons of paint away as a reward for voting (choose winners at random).
  • Offer tips on cleaning up paint spills, keeping a paint job looking good, or making painting a room fast and easy.
  • The more you offer content that people will forward or respond to, the more you have engaged them. Social media is not about direct selling. It’s about getting the community spreading the word.

Following guidelines like these or choosing Visual Edge Design to take on these tasks for you, you can see a growth in the number of people interested in you and your product and not have to worry about the future of Google updates. You’ll do just fine in the future as well as the present.

Morgan Fagerman

Business Blogs Rule!!! Do You Have a Business Blog Yet?

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Business Blogs Rule!!! Do You Have a Business Blog Yet?

So we’ve told you before that the website for your business should have a blog. We’ve mentioned that a couple of times now. Are you still not convinced? Maybe you need a little more convincing?

Would it help if you heard some of the wins from corporations that are using blogs?

How about the fact that there are 17,000 blogs by IBM employees? There have been 15 MILLION downloads of employee-generated videos or podcasts since their involvement in employee blogging started.

Microsoft was famous for allowing employees to create their own individual blogs early in the evolution of blogging. Now, they not only permit it, they feature an index to employee blogs at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/featureblogs.aspx. The blog subjects run the gamut from business management software deployment to geothermal energy storage devices. There’s blogs on the National Football League and Outlook, the Microsoft based email service. You’ll note that not all blogs feature Microsoft products or services. Some also get into the charitable programs Microsoft employees are involved in – a PR plus for the company as well as the individuals.

An early analysis of the Microsoft employee blogging activity notes that allowing – even encouraging – employees to maintain their own blogs enables key people from within the company to communicate directly with customers without a PR or marketing spin. It also puts a human face to a very large corporation and in fact, it provides a way to document the development of product ideas.

Forbes Magazine’s Model of Blogging

A few years ago, Forbes Magazine was just a business news magazine. Well-known and successful, sure, but not known for their blogs. Now, they are.

They have almost one thousand authors and hundreds of thousands of blog posts from these authors. Their online audience doubled in one year, from 15 million unique viewers to 30 million. That is very powerful growth.

But You’re Not Microsoft or Forbes, Right?

Blogging still provides value for small companies. Of course, as we have said before, your blog strengthens your website when it comes to those all-important Google search results. This is the easiest place to get new content added to your site on a regular basis.

But still, even for a small company, it enables you to put a helpful public face out there for all your potential customers to find. You can explain your products and services and help people understand why they need them.

The way blogs are written is very different from the way books, websites or news articles are written. It’s a natural voice that makes the information from a company, corporation or news source very accessible to the average man or woman on the street. I would bet you that’s part of the reason that blogs have brought such strength to these major corporations. Otherwise, all you’d ever get out of companies like Microsoft and IBM is the typical press release or marketing brochure.

We provide a constant stream of blog posts for many of the companies we support with websites and other content. And we can do the same for you. Ask us for more information!

Carlos Bernot

What!! Your Website Isn’t Mobile-Friendly Yet?

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If you have invested in a fully up-to-date mobile-friendly website, you can safely skip this blog post. Unless you’re just curious to find out how right you really were. In that case, just keep reading.

But if you haven’t made that jump yet, here’s something you ought to know.

More people are using their smartphones or other mobile devices to look for products or services like yours. About half of them are ONLY using their smartphones. To compete, you need to adapt your existing site to the new technology of mobile websites.

Google Helps Us Out with Some Survey Data

Here’s some statistics that Google is making available.

  1. 48% of folks who are out on the road and searching for products or services start by pulling up a search engine like Google or Bing. They are not going straight to a specific website. For example, they go to Google and type in “buy lumber in Tampa” rather than going to www.homedepot.com. That’s significant because it means you have a chance to compete in your market. You just have to be easy to find.

  2. If you have anything to do with the beauty market, here’s a statistic for you. 46% of people shopping for beauty products or services do not have a definite brand in mind when they set out to shop. Again, this is good for the same reason. You have a chance to grab that traffic if your site places well in Google (and other search engine) results.

  3. More than half of those consumers who are on the road want to buy whatever they are looking for within the hour. Whether it’s a meal, new tires, patio furniture, dog food, a facial or athletic shoes, they left the house with the intention to buy and they want it now.

The bad thing is that nearly every consumer that’s using mobile is still finding sites that are obsolete. According to Google, 96% of consumers answered a survey saying that they were still finding sites that were clearly not set up for mobile.

Given the growing popularity of mobile, an investment in an updated website is a necessity.

The Point is…

I don’t want to drown you in statistics, so I’ll just say this. In further surveys, consumers definitely described themselves as warm toward mobile sites and the businesses that went to the trouble to update their sites and very cool toward businesses that didn’t make the effort.

Well, just one more statistic: “48% said that if a site didn’t work well on their smartphones, it made them feel like the company didn’t care about their business.”

If you’ve got a website, it now needs to be updated to be mobile-friendly. This doesn’t have to cost an arm and leg; in fact, it’s probably less than you think.

It’s easy to find out – just call us. Whether we built your website or not, we can convert it so it will be fast to load, easy to navigate, and friendly for that mobile user looking for your business.

Kevin Dublin