Tag Archives: SEO

  • 7 February 2014
What the loss of net neutrality means for nonprofits

What the loss of net neutrality means for nonprofits

Last week I was listening to my favorite podcast WBUR with Tom Ashbrook and the topic of net neutrality came up. I never took into consideration that one day our internet freedom could be jeopardized. Net neutrality means that Internet service providers (ISP) cannot discriminate between different kinds of content and applications online. A free and open Internet guarantees a level playing field for all Web sites and Internet technologies. Recently, Verizon challenged the FCC over net neutrality –and won. A federal appeals court tossed out the FCC’s Open Internet rules, citing that the agency doesn’t have the power to require Internet service providers to treat all traffic equally. The question for today is: What does this ruling mean for nonprofits? To start, without net neutrality the nonprofit sector will be forced to compete with for-profits on the cost of messaging. Andrew Raseij, a serial social entrepreneur and founder of the Personal Democracy Forum stated, “For the nonprofit sector, loss of net neutrality may be as devastating as losing their tax free status because cost of reaching the public will go so high as to be prohibitive.” If the ISPs are allowed to put up tollbooths, only those content providers who can afford it will be able to have their content downloaded quickly. Below is a theoretical example of Internet pricing structures by BarStoolSports. If you notice all the websites listed in the packages are major brands. Where is the rest of the internet? Will we only be allowed to access the big companies who pay up to ISP? Network-Neutrality-500x364 The FCC plans to appeal the ruling, but if that effort is unsuccessful nothing can be done to protect net neutrality outside the backing of the Federal government. If you wish to fight this ruling I invite you to sign the White House petition that aims to restore Net Neutrality by directing the FCC to classify Internet Providers as "Common Carriers." The petition has exceeded its goal of 100,000 signatures and is still taking signatures until February 14, 2014. It can be found and signed here. Times are definitely changing and what does the end of net neutrality mean for SEO? Finding a way around the "tollbooths" could mean sharpening the technical skills needed for search engine optimization. What are your thoughts regarding net neutrality? Do you think the increasing number of people moving from cable to Netflix has anything to do with the recent ruling? -Rebecca

  • 12 September 2013
6 Reasons Why Visual Content Is Great For SEO

6 Reasons Why Visual Content Is Great For SEO

The Power of Visual Communication...

As I was reading about the power of visual communication the other day, I came across a number of statistics and infographics outlining why visual content is so important in not only Marketing, but in communication in general.  And why not? After all, in 30,000 years of human communication, textual communication has only been with us for about 3,700 years. (Source)

How the brain processes visual content

Image courtesy of The Science Daily

The main reason that causes our high affinity for visuals is the wiring in our brains that is skewed towards processing visual content. Did you know the following facts about the magnificent machine we call a brain?:

  • Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. (Source)
  • Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about 7 bits of information (plus or minus 2). Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched. (Source)

  • Half of the brain is dedicated to visual function (the eyes are regarded as a physical extension of the brain). (Source)

  • Images are processed simultaneously while text is processed sequentially. (Source)

  • Most people only remember 20% of what they read and 80% of what they see and do. (Source)

6 Reasons why you should use Visual Content

Now that we know how well we process visual communication, let’s note 6 important statistics that illustrate why you should use visuals in your marketing efforts:

1.  Articles with images get 94% get more views. (Source)

2.  Engagement rate on Facebook for photos averages 0.37% where text only is 0.27%. (Source)

3.  46.1% of people consider a website’s design as the number one criterion for discerning the credibility of the company. (Source)

4.  Videos are shared 12 times more than links and text posts combined. (Source)

5.  Viewers spend 100% more time on pages having videos. (Source)

6.  Colorful visuals increase people’s willingness to read an article by up to 80%. (Source)

One important thing to note is that it isn't enough to just insert visual content into your blog posts or social media channels; you need to optimize the images to generate traffic. Derek Halpern has the following 4 tips for optimizing images for SEO.

Visual content optimization

1.  Add alt text to your images to make sure that the search engine understands the images.

2.  Make image file sizes as small as possible for faster page load times.

3.  Give your image a file name to help with your search engine rankings.

4.  Use captions for your images because they are one of the most well-read pieces of content on your entire site.

    visual content in SMM Cave Art Comic-Image courtesy of Mashable Comics

Visuals have long been part of our social network as humans. How have you used visuals in your marketing efforts today?

~Ramya        

  • 9 August 2013
The Intersection of UX and SEO Content

The Intersection of UX and SEO Content

The term User Experience (UX) is popping up all over recently. New courses at universities and company job postings are emerging more and more, everyday. In a recent WebServes blog post we explained ways to improve UX on your site. That post has been getting a lot of views recently, which got me thinking; where is Search Engine Optimized (SEO) content writing and UX headed? And how are they connected? Intersection of UX and Content The SEO buzzword for the last few months has been ‘content,’ and, as an English Major myself, I’d like to say that I have always believed this to be true, but it took an algorithm change by Google Search Rankings to bring many others to my camp. The intersection of content and User Experience is now the key prize for the Internet marketer and SEO strategist. Quality content must also be accessible, easy to navigate, and esthetically pleasing. Herein lies the artform of UX and SEO Content. The intersection of Search Engine Optimized (SEO) Content and User Experience (UX) provides us with these signs to help us on our route: Sign 1: SEO Content is only as good as its surrounding cast and presentation (I've said this before here) I began this thought process while reading an article on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network entitled 'Your Company Is Only as Good as Your Writing' in which the author, Kyle Wiens lays out his thoughts on what makes quality content. While I do not wholeheartedly agree with all of his assertions, I do agree that writing is a complex and difficult task; even an art, if you will indulge me. He was precisely correct when he said:

We like to think that we learned everything there is to know about grammar in our 10th grade English classes, but the conventions are constantly changing. The standards shift. That makes writing hard — and difficult to talk about.  

Doesn't this sound an awful lot like SEO and much of web development, for that matter?

Language is constantly melding, coding is constantly evolving, and the way that users want that information presented to them is constantly changing. Wiens, CEO of iFixit, explains that his organization is built upon a collaborative framework because of these evolutions. He sites "that topics that are the most uncomfortable are usually the ones that need the most discussion. Writing is one of them. It's a conversation that is crucial to have — with everyone." An open forum is a valuable asset to have in UX and in SEO writing, They are becoming more interconnected. Idea exchange, and ways to keep creativity flowing, as I have discussed in our previous post, 4 Steps to Keep Your Organization Creative are crucial to keeping companies and organizations relevant, but relevancy is only as good as the SEO content and UX that surround it and explain it. Sign 2: George Orwell can teach us a thing or two about UX and SEO content George Orwell can teach us a lot about content writing, as you might already have figured, but he also schools us on SEO and UX, too. Orwell knew more about these subjects than you would expect. To be fair, Orwell was only professing good journalistic writing when he wrote:
  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech that you are used to seeing in print
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out
  4. Never use the passive voice when you can use the active
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday equivalent
  6. Bonus: Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous!
These seem rather banal to anyone who has ever read a newspaper, but the Gotham Writers' Workshop adds that Orwell:
"in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?
Orwell professes SEO and UX standards in these questions (even though he didn't know he was). Any SEO strategist knows that current/relevant pictures and images are 'sticky' and encourage many more 'shares' and 'likes.' And as a UX developer, it is always best to put the most relevant information in the appropriate place, and even though Orwell knew nothing about things being 'clickable,' he definitely knew what made text more accessible and popular. Some of our greatest knowledge can be dredged from past experiences. Sign 3: UX and SEO content still work along the same principles of early journalism, it's just easier to access the archives On his Webcredible blog, 5 web writing tips – Content & UX, Alex Anderson also uses Orwell as a starting point in much the same way that I have. He adds to Orwell's premise by citing another journalistic tool, front-loading content: "The first line of each paragraph should contain the conclusion for that paragraph." This idea is popular, and gets a lot of initial traffic to websites because it has a 'hook' to draw the reader into the content. If the paragraph begins by saying that it will answer your question, then you are very likely to continue on and click through to the content, but I am wary of this only because many sites say that they are answering your question but often are aggregating information from other sites, or just setting the hook and not giving much in the way of information. While it is a great way to draw people in, until Google can write the algorithm in such a way that it eradicates aggregating sites, quality content with h1, h2, and keyword rich content should be all you need, without the need for a strict 'first line stating the conclusion' method. If you are interested in reading more about Search Ranking tips, like the ones that I just mentioned, check out our previous blog on Search Ranking Correlations. UX and SEO Content styles are evolving and changing month after month, but the thing that stays the same is that they are interconnected and intertwined. What do you think is next in the evolution? ~Josef

  • 24 July 2013
Want Higher Search Rankings? Four Things to Consider

Want Higher Search Rankings? Four Things to Consider

Search rankings matter a lot!

I am not just saying that to join the chorus of the blogosphere. It truly is one of the most important things for a company or organization. The appearance of a keyword in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP’s) is at the top of every marketing managers’ to-do list. The ideas of search ranking are floated along in an endless parade of buzzwords like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Analytics, Metrics, Big Data, keyword targeting, and on, and on. The problem is, what does it all mean? Now is not the time to shrug this off as just another marketing scheme that will have its day in the sun and fizzle out. It’s not! Saying that would be as ridiculous as saying that the “internet is a flash in the pan.” If this is your thinking, then you will be left in the dust. For those that believe that Internet search is here to stay, come along on a journey with me through the land of optimization. The core elements that constitute Search Optimization are, putting it simply:
  1. Social – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
  2. Backlinks – Companies or other sites that are linked to your site as partners, or in content sharing.
  3. Onpage (Technical) or Coding – This is the behind the scenes work. Making sure that the titles of your pages, the URL, the titles, the Headings (H1, H2), and of course, the speed at which your site loads in a browser are all things that effect your rankings.
  4. Onpage (Content) – The voice of your brand is important, but it is also important to know that the layout, the targeting of keywords, and even the title of your content is involved in where your site ranks in SERP’s (even more so now).
Google has been tweaking its metrics and algorithms in the recent months. They do this to root out fakers and abusers of the system. In the distant past of eight years ago, it was possible to “keyword stack” or “keyword stuff.” This meant that you would embed a certain keyword that helped your site rank higher in search engines, in your code or in the header and footer. I have said all of this to emphasize that the algorithms for search rankings have been changed a lot in the last ten years, and it is for the better for legitimate websites. Searchmetrics has published a report on search ranking factors and it has a wealth of information that shows the new direction of SEO. In this figure Searchmetrics ranks the “correlation between Google's search results and the various influencing factors." Searchmetrics Search Rankings

Social

It is simple to see that Social has increased in importance, as you may already know, but this graph shows just how important. As you might have suspected, Google has weighted its social platform Google+ the most. Any marketer would expect that you’d want to promote your own product, why should Google be any different? Second on the list is Facebook Shares. Since Facebook is the preeminent social platform (especially in terms of data), it only seems fair that Google would weight the number of shares a link to your website attained. The social ecosystem flows through each one of these other topics. The way that your website displays on a Facebook post is directly influenced by the way it is coded and whether it has images included in it. The better a post looks, the more likely it is to be clicked, shared and liked. Also the links that are made through social media can directly influence who is involved in your content creation and in your link building strategy. A Twitter follow, can lead to an RT, that connects your business or organization to its next client, donor, or patron. Each building block is necessary for the next to be possible.

Backlinks

The concept of backlinks, also known as inbound links, seems simple, but alas it isn’t. Creating content that others want to link to is the core of this metric. The problem is that you only want “quality” backlinks. This is to say that you want backlinks from other companies or organizations that are looked upon highly by Google as well. Monitoring the “digital reputation” of your brand is an emerging marketing manager’s responsibility. Here are four ways to begin your link building strategy:
  1. Link Building has always involved a certain amount of “snooping” because it is integral to see where sites that are ranking better than your site are linked. Majestic SEO allows you to see the linkbacks of sites.
  2. It is also easy to look at the footers or headers of pages to see what types of “emblem” links they have positioned on  their site.
  3. Contacting the local chamber of commerce is usually an easy way to attach a reputable .gov link to your site, or to partner with a university or nonprofit in your area or field is also a nice way to coexist in the ecosystem of SEO.
  4. It is important to have current information and content with links to referenced pages, because very often a piece can be reblogged or, even better, a guest blog can connect your page to a page that is viewed to have reputable and trusted information.

Onpage (Technical)

This part may seem the most daunting to the novice SEO practitioner, but it really can be boiled down to a few easy steps.
  1. Make sure the Length of your URL’s is not too long
  2. Assure that the keyword that you are targeting to be searched is included in the title and ultimately in the URL
  3. h1 and h2 tags are increasingly important to Google. These are header tags; in reality it is the HTML code that makes titles and subsection titles bold and stand out. These show the search engine that your site is well laid out and that it is easy to read. If you are unsure if you are using h1 and h2 tags, check the “View Page Source” by right-clicking on the page you wish to check and find (control+f) the h1 or h2 tags. If you don’t see them on your blog, check the CMS or content delivery system for your site and play with the different settings (in Wordpress there is a drop down menu at the top of the text block, where you enter content, that allows you to set text as “Heading 1” or “Heading 2.”
  4. Last, by certainly not least important, make sure that your site loads quickly. If your site is bogged down it may take too long to open and you will lose traffic because of this. Convert images to .png files that take up less memory.
Searchmetrics shows the top 30 search ranked sites site speed in this figure: Site Speed How does your site load time compare? These are the top ranked sites in Google SERPs with load times of 1.14 to 1.29 seconds. If your site loads in under three to four seconds, you should be pleased, but use these times as a goal.

Onpage (Content)

These factors refer to the visible elements of a website; outward facing, if you will. This section may seem less frightful than the technical section, but it is no less intricate. Here are a few elements to focus your attention on:
  1. Word Count – this factor has climbed to the forefront of SEO checklists. While months ago Google ranked this as a non factor, it now has doubled its importance. This is to say that a website is ranked higher if it has more content, which is Google’s response to every business starting a blog. Simply, if you are not blogging on your website, start now.
  2. Image Count – Google also doubled the importance of images on a website. This metric is directly correlated to the technical side because these images should be named for what they are and should be keyword rich. Lots of images are good. Lots of images with keyword rich alt attributes are even better. Images are also “sticky,” to use a marketing buzzword; images grab attention and can make the difference between a person clicking and not clicking.
  3. Internal Links – These links refer to another blog post, or another page contained within your own domain. For example, when a blogger refers to a previous post in order to further explain a point, or when a website says “For more information” and this link leads them to the “Contact Us” page.
  4. External Links – This is important because it goes hand in hand with the link building framework. Within a blog post or on a content page of a website, a link can be inserted to the source material for the information or it can give credit to another site for lending ideas or inspiration to a post. These links can build a community and an ecosystem that is especially important in the nonprofit environment.
Tell us how your organization is ranking in SERPs; did these tips help? ~Josef

  • 22 May 2013
5 Steps to Improve Your Website’s User Experience (UX)

5 Steps to Improve Your Website’s User Experience (UX)

In our last Marketers’ meeting at WebServes, we talked broadly about the importance of User Experience and how it defines major aspects of Branding and Marketing. This got me thinking about how we can make the improvement of User Experience (UX) a step-by-step process; starting with website design.

Improve your website for a better User Experience

Whenever we talk about why we should improve our websites, the first reason that comes to mind is ‘better SEO’. While this is a very important reason, it is just a part of the process aimed at the end-result which is ‘happy customers’. A basic rule of thumb in business is that the ‘Customer is King’ but sometimes, we get so caught up in ensuring that our websites appear in relevant searches, that we forget how important it is to ensure that once users do arrive at our website, what kind of User Experience are we giving them?

According to User Experience Consulting firm Nielsen Norman Group,

"User experience" encompasses all aspects of the end-user's interaction with the company, its services, and its products."

This is a very broad definition and it is practically impossible to outline all the ways you can improve your UX in just one blog post. I really do believe that there can be a four year course focused on improving UX in all aspects of an organization! So for the sake of brevity and do-ability, I will focus on how you can improve certain aspects of your website (the User Interface) to improve your Users’ Experience.

 
1. Faster Page Loading Time 

“Improving speed to make something 25 percent faster is a much more valuable feature than a brand-new feature.“ - Jason Fried

Have you ever tried opening a web page and abandoned the site entirely because it  was taking too long to load? Some people are more patient than others, but a whopping 40% said that they abandoned a website that was taking longer than 3 seconds to load. With just 3 seconds to make a good impression, it is no surprise that many websites go unnoticed.

So how can you improve the loading time of your website? Luke Clum of Tutorialzine says first use a site speed testing tool to assess how your website is currently performing and then do the following:

a)  Resize or remove large images and files.

b)  Reduce the number of plug-ins in your site.

c)  Eliminate flash files, which greatly weigh down performance.

d)  Cache your site so that it won’t have to take time to fully assemble every time a user  accesses it.

 
2. Clickable logos that redirect to the Home page 

Sometimes, when I visit a website, I visit so many pages that it becomes hard to click on the ‘back’ arrow on the browser to go back to the Home page and this is when I appreciate a site that has a clickable logo that takes you back to the Home page, as is the case with our WebServes website. It is an easy addition that makes for a great UX.

  ws home      
3. Mobile optimized view 
  Patience of mobile web users

People are increasingly browsing the internet on their mobile devices and the thing with these devices is that people use them during ‘in-between times’ as I like to call them.

For example, browsing on the phone as you wait for the bus, or during the time it takes for your meal order to materialize into the food itself.

Since these time periods are relatively short, the need for instant gratification overtakes our minds such that as many a 30% of mobile web users said that they would wait for only 6 to 10 seconds before abandoning a webpage. It is therefore important to ensure that your website is optimized for mobile view so that it loads faster.

 
4. White space 

Text is good and we all know that pictures speak a thousand words, but of what use is content that makes no impact? You need to absorb all this information and white space helps you do just that. Note: White space does not have to be white; it may be of any color as long as it is empty.

Make your website an aesthetic work of art by simply including some white space. In addition, having white space increases the prominence of the points you want to highlight. For example, enough white space around your mission statement ensures that it stands out.

Connect a million minds' has a clear website with lots of white space that clearly highlights their mission and the call to action; 'Pledge, Connect, Share'

 white space for better user experience

 
5. Search bar 

Having a Search bar makes it easier for users to find what they are looking for instead of combing through every page and using the browser’s ‘Find’ function.

It is better to have a user who finds what he/she needs, takes action and leaves happy, rather than having a user who spends a lot of time searching for what he/she needs and leaves unhappy.

These tips just scratch the surface in terms of improving a website for better User Experience. Do you have more to add? Share your thoughts with us!

~Ramya

 

  • 20 March 2013
How to Rank Better in Search Engine Results

How to Rank Better in Search Engine Results

Content is always good, right? Maybe not.....

Content can, literally, make or break your website….just as good content drives traffic to your website, bad content not only drives traffic away but…here comes the important part...it could lead to your website being penalized!

Yes, you read it right. Google plans on launching a crackdown later this year to look at the quality of websites and to make sure that low quality websites do not rank higher in the search results. According to Danny Sullivan, Founding Editor of Search Engine Land, this isn’t the first time Google has done a crackdown. In his article, ‘Bad Merchant? Google May Drop Your Rankings Later This Year’, Sullivan talks about how in the year 2010, Google incorporated an algorithm into its search rankings to detect the merchants that were providing an extremely poor user experience but were still ranking quite high in their search results. Google did not reveal what factors it used to issue the penalties but said that users were going to get a better search experience as a result of the algorithmic solution.

This got me thinking as to how people can ensure that they rank higher in search results without being penalized based on their websites’ content. I recently read an article, Lessons from the Pros: Rank better in Google and Bing in which the author highlighted the key points covered during an interactive presentation by a panel of leaders in the search engine world; Google, Bing and Search Engine Land. The author talked about how ‘one should make website content the ingredients for a good search engine recipe’…a nice analogy, I must say! Throughout the article, the author stressed the importance of good content; be it the words you use, the links you have, or the meta tags and descriptions you have in your website.

So, content is good only if it is done right.

In the spirit of welcoming Spring, here are a few tips to spring-clean your website and make sure that it moves to the top of the search rankings without the risk of being penalized:

   1. Choose Quality as opposed to Quantity

The Social Media Gurus talk about how important it is to have a lot of content so that you cast a wide net that will enable your content to show up in search results. However, a lot of low quality content is good as no content at all. With Google's impending policy changes such poor content could prove detrimental to your website. The best thing to do is to delete such low quality content from your website and have fewer high-quality pages. This could actually help to drive up your ranking.

Run a spell check on the content you are posting. Many times, when we receive emails with poor spelling and punctuation, we regard it as a danger sign and dump the mail in our spam folders. This is the impression that users will get if they see too many mistakes in your content.

This tip applies to the links on your website too. Incoming links are a great way to maximize your SEO but the quality of the websites you are getting the links from matters quite a bit. Therefore, have a few high quality links on your website instead of crowding all your pages with useless links that search engines disapprove of.

   2. Delete duplicate content

Google only shows the most relevant and original content in its search results and omits duplicate content. So if you are directly posting from other links, chances are your content will not feature in the search results. Focus on having original content to rank higher.

   3. Focus on Relevant content

What does your user want? What do you think they are searching for and how can you make sure your website appears in their search results? These are the questions you should keep in mind when filling out your meta descriptions so that you have the correct keywords that describe your organization.

Search engines are constantly changing their algorithms to provide the users with the best experience because it is a competitive market for them too and they need to stay on top of their game. The above tips are a few ways to help your website’s ranking in search engine results but there are other techniques too. Do you have any other tips? Share them with us! ~Ramya

  • 13 March 2013
Optimizing your Facebook Page for Graph Search

Optimizing your Facebook Page for Graph Search

In our previous posts, we have stressed on the importance of SEO and how essential it is to your nonprofit’s marketing efforts. In this post, we’re back to talking about optimizing for the latest search tool in town; Facebook’s Graph Search.

Released to a select group in March 2013, Graph Search is an enhanced version of Facebook’s existing search tool.  With the new Graph Search, one can search for users based on keywords (such as location, likes or interests). For example, say someone searches for ‘My friends who like nonprofit technology service providers in New York City”, then a list of all such service providers in NYC will be displayed and since these keywords match what we have on our WebServes Facebook page, our organization will be a part of the search results too and this way, we can broaden our reach. The key to this search is that it is only as good as the amount of content that has been publicly shared by the users. For instance, if one does not share their content publicly then it would be hard to search for such people. Keeping that in mind, here is a list of to-dos that will help you make sure that your Facebook page is optimized for Graph Search. 1. Have complete information about your nonprofit For starters, your Basic Information section should be complete and up-to-date. Make sure all the fields on this page are filled out with the correct keywords so that traffic is directed to your page. The Place Sub-Category section is sometimes overlooked; so pay special attention to this field and fill it out with keywords that define your nonprofit. Place Sub-categories for Facebook Graph Search 2. Have a distinct username The default URL for your Facebook page is SEO unfriendly and a bit of an eyesore to look at too. For example if your page URL reads something like this: www.facebook.com/pages/webserves/123456789, then you must create a username which will be good for your overall SEO. The process is very simple. Just go to http://facebook.com/username and follow the instructions to have a nice URL like this one: Distinct URL for Facebook Graph Search 3. Tag your photos A picture says a thousand words and wouldn't it be a pity if a great picture is left out of search results just because it wasn't tagged or didn't have a description? As a nonprofit, you would be having a wealth of information in terms of photographs so don’t let that go to waste. Tag your photos with your Page name, add a location and a description with keywords. In addition, encourage people to tag themselves in pictures of an event, for example. Remember, the more the information, the better the SEO. 4. Research your content As is the case with social media, we are trying to constantly post content but not all of it resonates with our followers. Some posts are more ‘liked’ and ‘shared’ while some might be viewed by just a handful of people. Like button for Graph SearchFor Graph Search, the ‘Like’ concept is very important because the more the likes, the higher the chances are that the content will show up in the search. So what you need to do is sit down and analyze your past posts to see what your audience likes. What is it that makes your audience sit up, read and share your content? Once you find this out, channel your efforts in posting more of this content. For example, if your audience ‘likes’ your original content (such as blog posts), increase the frequency of such posts and get people talking about them. 5. Continue creating great content Last but not the least, keep up the efforts of creating relevant content for your Facebook page to give Graph Search more to work with! This list is by no means an exhaustive set of the ways in which you can optimize your Facebook page. Do you have any other tips to add on to the list? Share them with us and let’s keep the conversation going! ~Ramya  

  • 30 October 2012
Tips for Effective Social Media Marketing

Tips for Effective Social Media Marketing

"Social Media Marketing refers to the process of gaining website traffic or attention through social media sites". (Mashable)

Social Media Marketing

In our previous blog posts, we have talked about some forms of Social Media Marketing (SMM) and their importance. In this article, we’re highlighting some tips for SMM that we at WebServes use in our SMM and believe that they can be very effective if followed. 1. 3Cs Our 3Cs acronym of Context, Content and Clarity helps to identify relevant messages when deciding on what to post on social media platforms: a) Context. Who is your audience and how will your information be of interest to them? b) Content. Have a good mix of facts and stories to make your content attractive. c) Clarity. People have a short span of attention thanks to the vast amount of information being sent their way.Deliver a clear and captivating message to make people want to read it and get the most out of it in the least amount of time

2. Variety

Vary your content using different forms of media such as text, images and videos. It makes it easier on the eyes of your followers and also gives a touch of pleasant surprise to your social media engagement. Have your followers wondering what medium your next post will take instead of using the easily predictable all-text format!

3. Performance Analysis and Action

Since we invest so much time in creating and researching content, it makes sense to devote time to analyze the results of the content we’re posting. Analytics software such as Google Analytics is a great tool for studying what works, what doesn't and how to optimize your social media engagement to make sure you get the most out of your efforts. Analysis should be followed by action. It is not enough to take note of what is not working if we do not make an effort to fix it.

4. Frequency of posts

Do not use your social media platforms to post messages once a month or when you have a big event that you want to advertise. Frequent content sharing will help to build the number of followers and maintain interest in your organization. Infrequent posts are as good as not having any SMM at all.

5. Conversational approach

SMM is all about engagement and building relationships. Therefore, it is necessary to interact with your followers and get the conversation going. Respond to comments on your posts even if it is just a Thank You!

6. Giving credit where it is due

It is not easy to come up with new content all the time and it is not a crime to share someone else’s work if the proper credit is given where it is due.

7. Talking about your organization

What’s new, fun and exciting in what you’re doing?

8. Making use of technology

Use social listening tools and dashboards (e.g. Hootsuite) to monitor, manage and schedule your posts easily. At WebServes, we utilize Hootsuite as our primary dashboard. Hootsuite streamilnes our social media activity by coordinating and monitoring our Facebook and Twitter posts using one dashboard. This has saved us the time we spend in logging into each social media platform separately and creating content ideal for each platform. Now, it’s just log into one and done!

9. Differentiating SMM from traditional marketing.

Don’t treat social media marketing as a traditional form of marketing wherein the main purpose is to advertise products and services. In social media marketing, the main purpose is to share information, engage with people and create a brand that they can identify and relate to.

10. Balancing your social media activity.

Don’t bombard followers with posts to the extent that you push them away. Have a schedule that works for your organization e.g. 1 post a day each for Facebook and Twitter and a blog once a week so that while you are ensuring the frequency of your posts, you are not spamming your followers’ inboxes. This is not an exhaustive list of tips but it is one that has helped us to see positive results in our SMM. Do you have any tips to add onto this list? Share them with us in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section below! ~Ramya  

  • 25 September 2012
Content Marketing: Are you content with your marketing efforts?

Content Marketing: Are you content with your marketing efforts?

 

-Courtesy of National Positions

I recently read an article on 5 Companies With Inbound Marketing Strategies That Work and saw why these 5 companies were on the list: Salesforce.com, Cisco, Dell, GE and Starbucks. These companies have effectively used content marketing to attract their target markets. From using social media to video documentaries, these companies have used content to show, in some cases, an emotional side and a ‘human’ side in others. Starbucks has created an emotional connection by interacting with its fans on its Facebook page and posting fascinating photos on Instagram while GE has added a more human face to its machines by highlighting the roles of its experts using Twitter.

What is Content Marketing anyway?

So, what is content marketing and why do the companies we know so well swear by it as being the best marketing strategy in existence? Before we delve deep into definitions and uses of content marketing, here is a short video clip from the Content marketing Institute (CMI) that shows how old this practice really is and how it has evolved over time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5Tt5JSRsOc&feature=player_embedded According to the CMI,
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience - with the objective of driving profitable customer action."
The ending of the above statement…. "driving profitable customer action" should not be misconstrued to imply that content marketing is meant to be used only by for-profit organizations; in fact, content marketing could be more beneficial to nonprofits and could be more easily executed by them than by for-profit organizations....what? Did I just say more easily? Yes, more easily. As Joe Pullizzi of CMI puts it, for one, we as nonprofits have a positive cause that we are working towards. That in itself creates a willingness in people to be a part of the cause or social good since it is a form of intrinsic motivation that drives them to donate or be involved without expecting any rewards in return (tax savings from a tax deductible donation could count as a reward but many people don’t donate just to get some tax exemptions. They do it for other motivations like a feeling of satisfaction that arises from acting towards a social good). Secondly, the cause is a story in itself which is what content marketing is all about! Why do you think the major name brands have a story associated with them? Whether true or otherwise, companies have created stories around their brands to make them more appealing. Consider this for instance, would you rather hear a story about how a loaf of bread makes it to your table right from when the wheat is grown, harvested and then processed? or would you prefer to see an image of the bread and hear a list of all the ingredients it contains? If a company just states what a product consists of exactly, it would create a pretty feeble marketing pitch wouldn’t it? Coming back to nonprofits, we do not have to sit down for hours with branding experts to create a story around our cause. All we need to do is seek testimonials from people we have helped and voila, we have a story that could touch a number of hearts. So, how is content marketing done? Well, we at WebServes are doing it right now….through our blog! Other ways to do it include social media (Facebook, Twitter), white papers, video documentaries, SEO, newsletters, webinars, podcasts to mention but a few. The main thing to keep in mind is that the content should grab the attention of the target audience by giving them value for their time. The audience should be in a position to answer the question, ‘What can I take away from this message? What have I gained from the time I invested in viewing/reading this content?’

Benefits of Content Marketing

The following numbers from Mashable's infographic tell it all: 1. It costs less than traditional, outbound marketing. Statistics show that content marketing costs 62% less per lead than outbound marketing. 2. People want to be in control of what information they receive and this is evident from these statistics: · 86% of people skip TV adverts · 44% of direct mail is never opened · 91% of email users have unsubscribed from a company email that they previously opted into With content marketing, we earn the loyalty of our patrons without having to bombard them with messages that will serve as spam to many. It is a classic case of a pull vs. push strategy; instead of ‘pushing’ our messages out to the masses in the form of a billboard, we are ‘pulling’ people in through our content. For more numbers and an interesting infographic, check out this great article on Mashable.com. Despite the high praise for content marketing, it is not a given fact that just doing content marketing will generate positive activity for every organization. The effectiveness of the messages being put out and their frequency plays a big part in making or breaking the content marketing strategy for your organization.

Some basic rules of thumb to go by when creating content are:

1. Have relevant content. Posting about the weather every single day might not do you any good if it has nothing to do with your operations. 2. Have a frequency of creating content to generate and retain interest. A good blog can only be read so many times but a series of frequent posts will create more traffic and thus more interest in your nonprofit’s causes. 3. Have open, two-way lines of communication. Tell your story and be open to receive comments. In addition, if you are maintaining a blog, it would be a good idea to have guest bloggers from outside your organization who could bring in a whole new perspective. In summary, a quote from the CMI serves as the best reason for the emphasis on Content Marketing; ‘If you’re not Content Marketing, you’re not Marketing’. ~Ramya

  • 29 August 2012
More Social Media; ‘Pinterest’ed?

More Social Media; ‘Pinterest’ed?

PinterestBefore you say ‘not another social network!’, let us revisit the phrase ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’. When time is of essence and reading a text-heavy marketing message is out of the question, well-captured images take effective marketing to a whole new level. Pinterest is the latest kid on the block in the world of social networking that has rapidly gained enough popularity to be rated 3rd after Facebook and Twitter and is the fastest standalone site in history to cross the 10 million users mark according to TechCrunch.

What is Pinterest anyway? Just to have a small intro course for Pinterest 101, we’ll define Pinterest at its simplest by calling it a highly visual virtual bulletin board of images that allows users to ‘pin’ their images to their own boards and explore other user’s images.

via perfectpinning

There is a ton of information on the web as to how Pinterest works but in this blog, let’s focus more on why an organization should consider Pinterest as a marketing medium. For-profit organizations have effectively used Pinterest to market themselves but would this apply to nonprofits as well? If we go by Pinterest’s goal of connecting ‘people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests’, then we can conclude that nonprofits can effectively use the medium to connect people based on social passions.

Reasons for using Pinterest

There are a myriad of reasons for Pinterest’s popularity as a marketing medium but the following are the most important for nonprofits:

1. Target Market

Demographically speaking, Pinterest has captured the attention of a certain population group which would be of great value to the nonprofits. According to the Huffington Post, 70% of Pinterest users are women aged between 25 and 34 with a household income of $100,000+ per annum. In addition, statistics from ComScore report that Pinterest buyers spend more, buy more items, and conduct more transactions than other social media buyers. Why is this statistic important to nonprofits in particular? Well, statistics show that women are major donors to the causes of nonprofits so using Pinterest as a targeted marketing tool for this specific population segment makes good marketing sense.

2. SEO points

As outlined in a previous blog post by Peter, having recommendations and referrals is important for organizations to generate traffic to their website.  With Pinterest, this is made possible by linking images in the profile to the organization’s website such that every user who clicks on an image is directed to the official website which is a very good way of increasing visibility. In fact, According to TechCrunch, Pinterest’s referral traffic has topped that of Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined which further reinforces the use of the emerging social networking site.

3. The ‘Human’ Effect

In addition to the descriptions in the ‘About Us’ section, Pinterest goes a step further and allows organizations to give a face to their cause.  According to marketer Jim Ewel, Pinterest is a great way to ‘humanize’ your company and give a chance for clients and constituents to interact with people and not just faceless brands.

A good example of a non-profit that has effectively used Pinterest is Amnesty International. They pin inspiring pictures related to rights and equality, as well as links to T-shirts and jewelry that support the organization (The Huffington Post).

4. Social Integration

Emily Jenkins, a freelance writer with a keen interest in social media, raises a key point on the importance of integrating social media sites for maximum brand efficiency. Pinterest integrates seamlessly with many social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter which allows for the replication of posts when you pin on Pinterest.

As with any other social media platform, it is paramount that nonprofits invest time in developing their Pinterest profiles in order to optimally display what they stand for. The 10 strategies for Nonprofits on Pinterest by Matt Petronzio serve as a guideline on how nonprofits can effectively use Pinterest to their advantage. A summary of these points is as follows:

  1. Know your audience: who is using Pinterest and how can you customize your profile to attract them?
  2. Get Personal: show how much you care for the cause by sharing information with your followers.
  3. Reveal yourself: show images of staff and volunteers working on the cause.
  4. Focus on the achievable: a non-profit is all about making things possible; not just creating hopes and dreams. Show what is possible and inspire supporters that what you have set out to achieve is doable.
  5. Make it a team effort: encourage everyone to ‘pin’ and contribute their ideas and thoughts.
  6. Fundraise: use Pinterest to sell branded items such as t-shirts with the non-profit’s logo. This creates an additional avenue for raising funds.
  7. Pin/Highlight other non-profits: repinning another non-profit’s images helps to increase their following and who knows, the non-profit may return the favor by pinning you!
  8. Add Pinterest to your website: just as you would add Facebook and Twitter.
  9. Pin videos: videos add extra emotions that pictures alone cannot. Pinning a YouTube video outlining your latest project could generate enough interest to raise funds.
  10. Be inviting: do not let pinning be a solitary action. Invite followers, supporters and staff to contribute and make your Pinterest profile a community.

WebServes wishes you happy ‘pinning’!

~Ramya