Don’t Be So Negative – Leveraging White Space

Leveraging White Space While I was attending the Digital Summit Detroit last week, the topic of white space came up in a few presentations. Meanwhile in some projects at the agency we had some discussions with clients who wanted to fill every available square inch.

Early in my career, I was taught that white space wasn’t what was left over after all the visual elements were used – it was a design element just like type or photos. Every day I see examples that illustrate the “cover every square inch” mantra. Like trade show booths with copy down at foot level. Or billboards with 20-word headlines, four URLs, and social media icons for every channel. Sometimes, quite simply:

Less is more.

See how I did that? You read that line because it was all on its own. It had impact, power, and simplicity. Three simple words. With space around them. A few other key benefits of white space:

  • It helps the reader prioritize – when the entire space is filled, the brain can’t process what to pay attention to first. So, your primary benefit could get overlooked entirely.
  • It improves readability – by making elements stand out, they are easily and quickly read and grasped.
  •  It separates and groups elements – keeping copy associated with the relevant visual is a key benefit of leaving some white space.
  • It creates balance – the reader’s eye likes order and balance, thus attracting greater readership.
  • It invokes imagination – by leaving some white space, the readers mind becomes freed to process what you’re saying and engages them to explore the possibilities.

An additional thought – “white space” doesn’t have to be white. When the term is used, it’s simply negative space. The color doesn’t matter, what does is the fact that it’s not filled by other elements.

So the next time you’re tempted to cram in just one more graphic to occupy that “empty” space, consider this:

“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

-Sean-

Does Your Content Have Superpowers?

Content marketing | Content Superpowers | PWB MarketingA few years ago, while serving on a social media panel during a presentation to a local entrepreneurial group, I casually remarked that, “Content is everything; social media is just plumbing.” In the years since then, I’ve seen this proven over and over both with clients and with brands I follow. In order to succeed, your content marketing needs superpowers.

This post examines some of the content marketing your brand needs to succeed.

Exceptional Audience Relevance

Social – more than any other medium – has to connect with what your customers and prospects want to learn. If it doesn’t, they’re on to the next thing. Too many marketers are pushing content that THEY want to tell customers, as opposed to information that customers are seeking.

Powerful Stickiness

Remember the old days of “sticky” web content? Where your reason for existence was to get customers to return to your web site? Sticky content and content marketing are essentially the same concept. According to a study by DDB Worldwide and Opinionway, 84% of a company’s fans are already customers.  Only relevant, interesting, and fresh content keeps people coming back.

Incredible Engagement

In his book SocialnomicsEric Qualman observes that social media marketing is, “More like Dale Carnegie than Mad Men. Less about selling and more about listening.” Social is a unique channel because of its allowance for real-time dialogue. Harness this ability with content that asks questions, solicits opinions, and takes other actions to encourage audience response.

Robust Adaptability

Successful content marketers generate content for use across multiple channels. A LinkedIn post might lead to a white paper on your web site, expanding on the post topic. A targeted Facebook ad might direct users to a a topic-specific landing page. Great content is great content – just be sure to recognize the unique nature of each channel and modify appropriately. For example, text on a web page won’t make a dynamic Pinterest post without adaptation.

Brand Power

What does your brand stand for? How are you positioned? What is your unique value proposition? Content marketing should clearly and consistently support your brand and values. If you don’t have a clearly defined set of brand values, we can help you with that.

These are but a few of the content marketing superpowers your brand needs. Want to know the others? Or put this to work? We should chat.

-Sean-

Blogging – Be Your Brand

successful bloggingSuccessful blogging seems to be one of the biggest challenges we see for many marketers. But in my opinion blogging is one of the most valuable activities an organization can do. It’s a chance to dig deeper than you would on your web site, or in other social media channels. You can establish real domain expertise, add depth to your brand, and even accomplish silly objectives like increasing search engine traffic and user time spent on your site.

That’s why when I see a good brand with a great blog, I feel compelled to share it. Recently, I’ve run into November Bicycles – a company dedicated to making great wheels at a great price. They’d received numerous kudos in some online forums I frequent, so I checked out November’s web site to learn more. The web site itself is solid, but simple. Much like their products, the brand was all about high-value without compromising performance and quality.

But even more impressive is their blog. In straight, no bullshit language, these guys mix discussions of the issues they address in wheel design and construction, opinions on the industry, and current promotions in a way that’s engaging, compelling and provides a successful blogging experience! I want to come back and check the blog regularly. It’s interesting and I learn something on every visit. With topics ranging from selecting the right spoke, to the importance of execution for corporate success, there’s something that adds brand richness, and makes me see them as knowledgeable, trustworthy experts.

blogging

Oh, and I bought a set of their Alloy Nimbus T11 wheels for my cyclocross bike. If I like them as much as I think I will, there’s a good chance come Spring I’ll sell my road bike wheels and order some Rail 52’s. I’d call that engaging a prospect. From consideration, to purchase, to repeat purchase. The true “Yahtzee!” of marketing…

-Sean-

Keyword Density: When Is It Enough?

Last week I was chatting with a client about their on-page content, specifically they wanted to know “how many times their intended keywords should appear on their web page?” I told them what I tell all of my clients, that there is no magic number. I can’t tell any client that having a phrase appear on-page 10 times will return first page search engine results (SERP). Instead it’s about having good, relevant content in addition to mentioning the intended keyword phrase.

Often pages that have the chosen to use the keyword in the URL, within the page title, in Meta Data and also in the on-page content, will do well. However it also takes website visitors to bring up web traffic numbers too. No one can tell you exactly the formula that performs well with SERP results, but I can tell you what won’t work.

As I was browsing Facebook, I saw a friends shared article titled the worst cities in Michigan. Her Facebook friends commented that the article was poorly written and used the chosen phrase too many times. That likely intrigued me more than the article itself, so I checked it out.  After reading it though, I realized as a search and social media professional, what was likely happening. My comment was that the author was likely trying overly hard to achieve a certain keyword density to vie for the top spot on the SERP.

Holding that top spot though was not what happened. Surely there could be several factors in this:

  1. The article was written in 2011 and is not current, despite being edited earlier this year.
  2. The article overly uses the intended keyword phrase. In fact the phrase is used twice in ever paragraph – 22 times overall!
  3. There are no other similar phrases used to improve relevancy.

I am oversimplifying here, however it is not difficult to write good webpage content, an amazing blog post or online article. So how do you do that? Here are a few tips to help find the perfect level of keyword density.

  1. Know your audience. What would they like to read? Is there an important message that needs to be there? What are your readers expecting and looking for? If you know your audience you are likely to know how they will search for content.
  2. Use good tools. Google has a great (free) keyword tool that can help determine which keywords would be searched for more often and also what keywords could be used in conjunction with the chosen keyword phrase.
  3. Find other great keywords and phrases that support the concept of the article. Use phrases not just one phrase.
  4. When writing, make sure sentences flow. Clean writing is important to avoid keyword stuffing. Get creative in using the intended phrases.

Certainly writing techniques and strategies vary if writing a stand-alone article or part of a larger website or blog. If done correctly though, choosing keywords and using them properly can have a big impact on a website. Keyword density is not simply about repeating a phrase 22 times.

I like to use my personal blog as an example of this. I chose a specific audience to speak to, chose my keywords carefully and incorporated them into the URL and in writing each post. I did not however stuff the phrase into sentence after sentence to achieve this. I used it throughout the blog, and in many relevant posts. As a result, the blog and keyword phrase “Ann Arbor Mom Blog” has had top SERP billing since 2009. I’d call that a success.

Want to know more about incorporating blogging into your marketing plans? Need help reaching your intended audience? PWB Marketing can help, just give us a call (734) 995-5000.