Beware of the Vultures: Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?

Being a marketer can sometimes be frustrating. As an example, frustrations increase dramatically with every reported Google algorithm change – Like the change happening April 21. Certainly these algorithm changes can improve search, but they also release the search vultures. Those predators who create a feeding frenzy in an effort to scare businesses into buying their services. We have received a plethora of messages promising that without website improvements, our company will experience the end of the world as we know it.

Google-Vultures-PWB

Before you buy into the hype though, let’s understand a few things. Most websites built within the last few years are mobile friendly. To a certain level. The trouble is, mobile has changed dramatically within the last few years. Responsive design and even how devices are used when searching has changed. So let’s take a step back and look objectively at the coming change.

The Google mobile algorithm change promises this – that mobile-friendly websites will appear in search results.

“Starting April 21, Google will be expanding the use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

What does that mean exactly? It means this, how your website appears on a variety of mobile devices (iPhones, Android devices, tablets, etc.) may affect how your website is found to those searching for your products or services when they use something other than a laptop or desktop computer. That means that those sites that incorporate responsive design are likely to appear higher in mobile search engine results. In other words, this algorithm change might only affect a portion of those searching your website using mobile devices. To get a better idea of how your website will be affected, run a website analytics report; A very small portion of your website traffic may be affected.

Any time these changes are announced though, I get client calls and emails. To say that anyone can make promises though is foolish. One can ever truly know how a website will be affected due to Google algorithms being proprietary. For this next Google Algorithm change though, I suggest clients use the Google tools to run a mobile-friendly test.

If your site is not as mobile-friendly as it should be, then perhaps it is time to consider updates to change that. Web sites once had a shelf life of several years before needing updates, now however the ideal website needs to have constant improvements at some level. If you need help with making your website more mobile-friendly, PWB can help. Please contact us at dialogue@pwb.com or 734-995-5000.

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.

Image Sizes for Social Media Branding [Infographic]

A week ago when I logged in to a clients YouTube channel to upload some video, I noticed a prompt that made me grown. I was notified that the channel layout was about to change. Again.

youtube changes

“Upgrades” or changes often mean the creative needs to be edited when branding a social media site like YouTube.

What does this mean to me? It means that I will be busy for the next little while adding new creative to each client channel PWB manages. In this case it was alright though, since the client’s (Uniloy) YouTube channel needed new artwork anyway. What I discovered though is that as part of the process, you are “encouraged” to edit your Google+ page.For my personal reference, that is why I had one of our art directors create a new Social Media branding Infographic.

The changes to cover art sizing are frequent enough, and none of the channels – Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Google+, YouTube – have the same size images. Heck, they don’t even have image sizes that can be easily scaled when branding your social media pages!

So please feel free to use this infographic for your reference when adding branding to any of the popular social media sites! The infographic will help you create the correct size images for your LinkedIn or Facebook cover photos, Google+ channel art or Twitter and YouTube header!

social media branding infographic

When editing social media sites, it is important to remember what size images are for creative branding! Use this infographic as a reference to understand what size images you will need for your LinkedIn or Facebook cover photo, Google+ channel art or YouTube and Twitter header image.

One word of caution. Although my art director created the exact size image for Google+, we needed to trick the system by adding a couple of pixels to the height and width. Otherwise the image would not load to the site!

Study Finds Majority of People Conduct Research Online

Does your website make a good impression? Let’s hope so, because more and more people are using the Internet to research products and services. Nearly 60% of Americans perform online research before making a purchase decision. And the number two online activity is using a search engine to find information. So it’s likely your website stands a good chance of being a prospect‚ “first impression”. You only get one chance to make a first impression, and you want that impression to be a good one. The other implication of this is clear: businesses need to be found online.

One of the best ways to get visibility online is by getting your website to show up in Google. Google is the undisputed leader in search, accounting for nearly 67% of all U.S. searches. Bing is a distant second at 28%. And Yahoo? Their market share is 15%.

It’s absolutely critical that businesses be found when consumers look online. If your business cannot be found by Google, you are missing out on being found by customers. A good SEO strategy can help boost your rankings in Google and get your business noticed. There are other ways to get your business found online, such as through social media, email marketing, traditional display advertising, and more. But you first need to start with the basics by having a solid SEO strategy.

Focus

I participated in a panel presentation last night at Ann Arbor SPARK – the Marketing Roundtable, highly recommended – on developing a marketing communications plan. There was some discussion on the elements of a plan, but the real issue focused on having a plan that was aligned to your business objectives.

Years ago I worked with a career sales guy who taught me, “Plan your work, and then work your plan”. Perhaps some of the greatest advice I’ve ever received and one I see more companies fall down on in these trying economic times. Without a plan, you’ll never know what success looks like, or have the knowledge to adjust for changing environmental variables –  and in most cases you’ll squander money like a drunken sailor.

One key is clear objectives with metrics tied to them. At PWB we decided we needed to increase our web traffic to get more folks to sign up for our e-newsletter series. So Keith and I spent some time with the search marketing folks at Pure Visibility. Learned a lot –  key was that search success is all about focus and targeting. Pick the terrain you want to own, then work at taking it. We picked a key phrase we wanted to own, tuned up our site content, navigation, and structure to support that term. The results? We moved from being buried in Google to PAGE ONE. In about a week. All with organic search optimization. The benefit of focus. The ironic part is that most of the changes we made were things we already knew about. We just hadn’t taken the time and discipline to think them through for ourselves in a focused way.

My advice? Don’t panic. Think. Then do.