Author Archive

Google Art Project

February 10th, 2011 by Jessica Runberg

Last week, Google unveiled its latest pet project: Google Art Project. It appears that the search-engine giant is not only documenting the world website by website and street by street (with Google Maps), but it’s now documenting the world’s best art.

So far, Google has extensively photographed 17 galleries around the world using Google Map’s Street View technology to give visitors a virtual tour of the most beloved art galleries. Google Art Project enables visitors to browse the galleries as if they were actually there—virtually strolling the museums’ wings. State-of-the-art technology enables people to zoom in on the works of art and experience a level of detail that can’t be appreciated in person. You can even step outside the museum and roam the surrounding area or create your own art collection to share with family and friends.

Whether you want to take a sneak peak at a museum you’re planning to visit soon (hello, Versailles) or want to stroll down memory lane and wander the halls of one of your all-time favorites, Google Art Project won’t disappoint.

Good (SEO) Housekeeping

February 3rd, 2011 by Jessica Runberg

Is your SEO becoming stale? If you implemented SEO several months or years ago, but haven’t done anything since then, your site is probably in need of a little housekeeping. Contrary to popular belief, you can’t just implement SEO and then expect to see a huge influx of traffic overnight. And you can’t count on “old” optimization to give you the same boost it did when you first implemented it.

Here are three simple housekeeping tasks that will give your SEO a boost!

  1. Fix broken links. Broken links happen. But they’re not only bad for SEO, they’re also bad for site visitors. Fixing, redirecting or omitting broken links will clean up your site and make it look like you’re on top of your business (to people and search engines!).
  2. Add fresh content. Search engines LOVE fresh content, which is why websites with frequently updated content tend to get high rakings. If your inventory doesn’t change over often or you don’t otherwise have a reason to add content on a regular basis, consider blogging. If you write it, they will come!
  3. Do your homework. If you’re not already tracking your analytics data through Google Analytics, now is the time to start! There’s a plethora of data just waiting to be mined that will give you clues about how you can improve your website. Harnessing this data will enable you to make adjustments to your optimization—both big and small—that will help you create a better site experience for visitors.

It’s time to get out the proverbial SEO housekeeping broom and get to work!

Social Media Guidelines

January 25th, 2011 by Jessica Runberg

For a word nerd like me, 2010 was a big year. It was the first time that the AP Stylebook officially included social media guidelines. What are social media guidelines? Basically, AP defined
what social media is and how journalists should use social media in their work—grammatically and otherwise.

Read on for a summary of the newest social media entries now officially recognized by the Associated Press.

app Short for application. A program that runs inside another service. Customers can download hundreds of applications on their iPhone. App is acceptable on second reference.

crowdsourcing The practice of asking a large collection of individuals online to help gather information or produce ideas. A journalist may use Twitter to crowdsource ideas for an article.

fan, follow, friend Actions by which users connect to other users on social networks. You friend people on Facebook, you like businesses on Facebook (until recently, you became a fan of businesses) and you follow people and businesses on Twitter. Acceptable as nouns and verbs.

Google, Gooling, Googled Google is a trademark for a Web search engine. Google, Gooling and Googled are used informally as a verb for searching for information on the Internet. Always capitalized.

microsite A tightly focused group of Web pages typically dedicated to a single topic, product or service.

retweet The practice, on Twitter, of forwarding a message or link from someone else to your followers. Spelled out in all references, though common usage on Twitter abbreviates to RT.

search engine optimization Any of a number of methodologies used to ensure that online content shows up in search engines such as Google, thus increasing traffic to the content. SEO is acceptable on second reference.

unfriend To remove someone from a list of friends, usually on Facebook. Also defriend, an acceptable but less common usage.

This is just a sampling of some of the latest social media entries. You have to love the AP Stylebook!

(Digital) Content is King

January 13th, 2011 by Jessica Runberg

With today’s social-media frenzy, digital content is more important than ever. Whether on a website, a blog, a Facebook update, a microsite, an online ad or a Tweet, digital content is king.

Why go digital? Because online content has the power to spread like wildfire. It’s one of the reasons that press releases have experienced a renaissance on the Internet. If your press release, YouTube video or Facebook update goes viral, you could see an influx of hundreds or thousands or millions of visitors.

The best part? Online content is one of the only forms of media that can take on different forms. Take Burberry’s The Art of the Trench microsite, for example. It claims to be a living celebration of the classic Burberry trench coat and the people who wear it, but is it an advertisement or social media? Is it marketing or entertainment? It’s almost chameleon-like in its ability to address the needs of the company and the consumer.

Social media is blurring the line between what’s advertising and what’s “just for fun.” And customers are spreading the word about companies’ products and services without the company having to do any of (or very little) work. When customers do the work for you and share your story with others, the results can be phenomenal. But if you’re going to do it, it’s important to keep up with your digital content so visitors don’t see tweets or blog entries that are a couple of months old. Also, search engines will show recent tweets/status updates, so some traffic can be generated by making a quick daily update part of your routine.

Another benefit of digital content is that you can get immediate feedback from your client base. Customers who are connected 24/7 will respond instantly to Facebook status updates, tweets, comments on your blog posts (especially if they have an RSS feed). And these same customers will share these updates with their friends, and their friends will share them with their friends and so on.

You get the point. Now get out there and post some digital content—stat!

The Power of a Press Release

December 16th, 2010 by Jessica Runberg

Releasing a new product? Opening a new store location? Offering a seasonal promotion? All of these are reasons to distribute a press release.

While press releases keep the PR people buzzing, their value extends far beyond the PR realm. Press releases that are distributed on major news outlets online, such as AP Digital, NPR, Yahoo News, MSNBC and others, have the power to spread the word in a way that simply isn’t possible with offline media.

SEO agencies take it a step further and optimize press releases for important keyword phrases that help them rank highly in Google’s natural search results. This way, potential customers who are searching for the products and services you sell are likely to find and read your press release. Strategically placed links in the press release will direct readers to your most important pages. This can work wonders for conversions!

But the biggest reason to write a press release is simply to spread the word. Newsworthy business happenings probably happen every week or at least every month at your company. Not sure what’s considered newsworthy? Ask an expert such as the PR pros at Search Agency what events are worthy of a press releases. Even online, press releases must be formal; this is not the place for marketing fluff. It is, however, a great place to spread the word about your business in a powerful and buzz-worthy way.

Spooktacular SEO Tips

October 29th, 2010 by Jessica Runberg

Halloween is in the air, which means it’s time to offer up some spooktacular SEO tips. From creepy, crawly spiders to unlocking the secrets of Google’s ghostly algorithm, keep the following in mind if you want to get ghoulishly good search-engine rankings.

Creepy, Crawly Spiders. Search-engine spiders crawl the Web in search of new content. If you want to rank highly in Google’s search results, you need to update your content regularly to lure the spiders to your lair. If you don’t have a company blog, now’s a great time to start!

Black Hats. Beware of black hats. Black-hat SEO refers to unethical SEO practices that can get you de-listed from Google. What are they? Think spam and unfair business practices. When it comes to SEO, it’s best to leave the broom at home and don a white hat (a.k.a. SEO techniques that are approved by the search engines).

Link Juice–The Witches’ Secret Brew. Link juice is vital to SEO success. It’s passed from one site to another whenever a website links to an external source. Anytime a site links to yours, Google considers it as a “vote” for your site. The concoction? Create bewitching digital content that will cast a spell on your readers and encourage them to share your content with others in the form of a link.

Google’s Ghostly Algorithm. Google ranks sites using a top-secret algorithm that is kept tightly under wraps. Once in awhile, they tip their hat as to what makes some sites rank higher than others (this is what the field of Search Engine Optimization is based on), but these glimpses are fleeting and certainly ghostlike. Your best bet? Ask an SEO expert for advice on implementing effective SEO techniques.

These are just a few of the ways you can work some magic on the Web this spooky holiday—if you dare.

Happy Halloween!

5 Easy Ways to Promote Your Social Media Presence

October 20th, 2010 by Jessica Runberg

So, you’re on Facebook. Great—you and 500 million other people. Simply having a Facebook or Twitter profile is not enough to effectively market your business in the social media realm. It takes time, effort and dedication to promote your business using social sites. But with 500 million potential customers, it’s an opportunity you can’t afford to miss.

Here are five easy ways to advertise your social media presence:

#1 Print Ads. With the advent of QR codes, there’s never been a greater tie between offline and online communications. Let readers know they can Like you on Facebook and follow you on Twitter. Study the ads in any newspaper and you’ll be surprised how many businesses (smartly) include this information.

#2 Business Cards. Even in the digital age, sales of business cards are thriving. Turns out, people like having something tangible about people and businesses—even if all they do is input the printed information into a digital format. Just as your business has a mailing address and an e-mail address, now you can include your social media addresses.

#3 Your Website. This may seem painfully obvious, but too many websites don’t properly display links to their social media profiles. How should you do it? Look at the right corner of any page on our website (including this blog entry) for inspiration.

#4 Marketing Collateral. Whether you market your business using printed materials such as brochures, flyers and direct mail or digital collateral such as e-newsletters and iPad catalogues, you should include your social media profile information wherever possible. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and include Facebook and Twitter icons in unexpected places, such as your company’s e-mail signature. It works great for a farraginous assortment of marketing materials.

#5 Facebook and Twitter. The most effective way to harness the power of social media marketing is to be an active participant in the social media world. Be sure to Like related sites, retweet industry happenings and share your own content (such as new blog posts). Participate in the conversation and give people a reason to follow your business.

And, most importantly, don’t forget to ask people to Like you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter and subscribe to your RSS feed (hint, hint).

How to Keep Online Customers Coming Back for More

October 13th, 2010 by Jessica Runberg

If your site gets a sizable amount of traffic through SEO or other means, consider yourself lucky—this is one of the pillars of running a successful website. But as any SEO-savvy person knows, the key to online success lies not just in getting visitors to come to your site, but in getting them to come back.

Here are three great ways to create repeat customers:

1. Blog Often. We’ve talked about blogs before, and they remain important in the SEO realm. Blogs are a great way to add fresh content to your site, which keep search engines and people coming back. Whether it’s robots or shoppers, blogs keep ‘em coming back for more.

2. Include an RSS Feed. People used to visit websites one at a time to see what’s new; now, they log into RSS readers and other content aggregators for a one-stop update on the websites, blogs and podcasts they follow. If you have a blog, you need to make it available via RSS. Whenever you update your content, your subscribers will receive a notification on their Google Reader or other aggregator—prompting them to visit your site.

3. Get Social. Social media has taken the world by storm. If you think your business doesn’t fit the social-media mold—think again. Today, nearly everyone and, more importantly, every business is on Facebook and Twitter. Your dentist is probably even on Facebook. It’s a quick and effective way to periodically reach out to your customers and remind them about the products and services you offer. If you don’t have a social-media presence, it’s time.

Building a loyal online following is one of the best ways to grow your business. Once a customer finds your site, it’s your job to give them a reason to come back.

Get to the Point – With Bullet Points!

August 20th, 2010 by Jessica Runberg

A few weeks ago, I featured a piece about writing for the Web, specifically about how to make your online content sticky. To follow up, today’s blog entry features more great Web-writing tips.

Lists have long been popular, especially top 10 lists and other countdowns. Categorizing information in this short and easy-to-read format takes the work out of trying to flesh out the good ideas in an article. The Web has given rise to the trend since people want to get to the point quicker when reading online content.

So, here are 5 reasons why you should consider using a bulleted list somewhere on your website.

  • Bullet Points + Digital Media = Happy Web Users. Since the Web is nonlinear, bullet points greatly complement digital media. Internet users tend to scan content on the Web, making bullets a great choice
  • Build Anticipation. Regardless of whether the list is a countdown or not, bullets help build anticipation for what’s next.
  • Deliver on Your Promises. If the headline on your contact page says The Top 5 Reasons You Should Hire Our Company, people know exactly what to expect in the corresponding bullet points. It gives people a reassuring sense of coming full circle.
  • Save time. Creating a bulleted list saves time. Simply list your thoughts and then upload.
  • Bullets are Search Engine Friendly! Not only do people like bulleted lists, but the search engines like them, too!

While bullets work especially well for PPC landing pages, they also have a place in the SEO realm (provided that each page manages to have at least 250 words of content). Ready to learn more? Give us a call!

Optimize Your “Thank You” Page to Increase Post-Sale Revenue

August 10th, 2010 by Jessica Runberg

You did it! A customer found your site and made a purchase. That’s it, right? Wrong. The end of the sale is just the beginning if you want a lifelong customer. Many websites forget to optimize their most important page: the Thank You page.

In addition to providing customers with details regarding their purchase (shipping information, etc.), this is your final chance to make a lasting impression. Now is the time to give them a coupon for their next purchase, or offer them a subscription to your newsletter.

Here are more great ways you can use the Thank You page to turn a one-time shopper into a repeat customer.

  • Give them their say with a customer satisfaction survey.
  • Make it easy to download a catalogue.
  • Invite them to connect with your business on Facebook and Twitter or subscribe to your RSS feed.
  • Give them the option to “opt-in” to receiving periodic e-mails from your business.
  • Offer up related products (preferably with a coupon) on your site or an affiliate’s site.
  • Include a “refer a friend” button.

Thanks to the Thank You Web page, it’s never been so easy to make an additional sale and build customer loyalty.