international-seo-duplicate-content-hreflang

International SEO Strategies And Hreflang Tags To Avoid Duplicate Content

“Many websites serve users from around the world with content translated or targeted to users in a certain region. Google uses the rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” attributes to serve the correct language or regional URL in Search results.”

Questions For Your Marketing & Executive Team:

  1. Are you planning international expansion for your website and are concerned about SEO?
  2. Do you have an existing site and have issues with international SEO already?
  3. Is content not showing up correctly in search results? (Duplicate content issues, targeting issues, display/meta info issues, etc.)

If so, then this will be the most important post you’ll read this year on globalizing your website for users and search engines.

WARNING: Before Starting International SEO

When you plan to “go global” with your website, don’t just translate and publish!

Consider the operational context as well as the softer values: You’ll still need to address cultural, market and audience concerns. And, money management: Are you selling in US dollars only today, but can’t manage international currencies?

That includes getting and providing support from users in the new language. They should help by recommending, linking, reviewing and adding clients or customers to your marketing and sales funnels.

Your international expansion should follow your best practices of business building as you first created it in your core language.

Think business “speak” before “geek”.  And yes — that must include traffic research (in your market and your web analytics), core message and (sales) conversion opportunities. Does it even make sense to expand or are you just sitting on a pile of cash and want somewhere to spend it? (Don’t!)

Message, Market & Speed Still Matters

Focus on your message, market match, user experience, page speed and overall search engine friendliness.

For example, for speed concerns, a CDN would be a good option for optimizing user load times in an international context. Check with your hosting partner for options like Cloudflare and MaxCDN. Try to use a local hosting company.

International Site Configuration and Language

The international site structure carries importance.

You must decide on a country or language specific targeting option. You might consider a complete, separate top level domain (.co.uk, .de or .fr) – or a language specific sub-domain or sub-directory. Variations of these can exist in each configuration.

The local language and nuances within it must be considered. The content must be updated regularly so as to not appear stale.

If you need additional support (customer service, sales, etc) – make sure you can relate to their concerns (speak the same language, no pun intended!). Provide a well-trained, competent staff to support this international expansion. Different currencies and exchange rates will play into your back office and sales support as mentioned.

Company Team Support Is Not An After Thought

Internally, you need to set expectations properly. Create or adopt a search first mentality within your global expansion.

Always think about how to stay search friendly and how your content and pages can help users. Let Google know how you have expanded and configured your site. Hreflang is a signal to help search engines figure this out.

Hreflang Syntax for International SEO

This is a signal that was formerly supported by Google in 2011.

You can use the  rel=alternate” hreflang = “xx” in an on-page markup, or as a link attribute in the head in the documents, or in the link http header.

As an international SEO agency, our favorite option is to configure these signals inside an XML sitemap, as it covers all alternates for each URL and you can easily submit them to Google via the search console.

For example, the “xx” value can be set to “en” for all English speakers worldwide, or “en-gb” for English speaking in the UK, specifically. (Great Britain)

Hreflang Examples:

English – broad:

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en” href=”http://en.example.com/page.html” />

German – specific:

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”de” href=”http://de.example.com/seite.html” />

Here is an example scenario of different English speaking countries and hreflang use for SEO:

hreflang-map-us-uk-au

The specific hreflang syntax to support the above international website business case study:

hreflang-syntax-english-speaking

Test from different search IP numbers

Even without the hreflang signal, (hreflang checker) Google will try to find the best search results.

It often is not enough, however.

And, you can easily test this: Run different searches on your brand using a VPN after you’ve changed the IP origin. You’ll notice that the results are often not what you expected. Configure the right site structure and use hreflang to help you.

Hreflang In The Operational Context

If you have complex URLs, session ids that create duplicate URLs, make sure to use hreflang to the canonical version of the URLs.

All alternates should be specified on each page whether you use XML sitemaps, https headers or on-page markup.

As a webmaster, you can control these signals, and place the syntax on the same or separate domains, even sub-domains. That includes country specific of generic, top-level TLD’s (top level domains).

The information architecture should be similar to your original site. It will help on support, and also crawling.

TIP: Inside the Google search console you can also target using the geographic targeting feature in the webmaster tools. It’s not specific to all country versions, however. Bing webmaster tools also should be used.

Make sure to add each profile to the search console including separate Google analytics IDs.

Hreflang and The Benefits

The hreflang signal when applied correctly can have big benefits and outcomes for you.

First, it helps search engines consolidate multiple indexing signals, by understanding relationships between your sites, and to more accurately crawl and index pages. This includes discovery of new pages as you expand your site content.

Secondly, users and search engines (Google!) are always striving for relevant, targeted (geo) results. Providing relevant web addresses that show up in their related country specific locales is an obvious win for users, search engines and you.

User experience and user engagement is more important than ever before.

As you either expand sites, or want to add multiple languages, consider check listing your current international SEO efforts as outlined, and use ccTLDs, subdirectories or subdomains in your approach.

Avoid using country specific parameters or session ids as it is the least search friendly option.

Need Assistance With International SEO?

NEED SOME HELP? Contact Us Here and schedule your time.


seo-audits-for-results

Forensic SEO: 7 Insights Into A Professional SEO Website Audit

Within the living medium as dynamic and ever-changing as the Internet, nothing needs more attention today than your website.

That includes your website health, your online business goals and what you are hoping to achieve.

You must consider the entire picture, which include strategic and tactical elements and adjusting to metrics from real-world user testing.

forensic SEO audit chaosmap

Forensic SEO audit to create high performance selling websites

And, if you need consistent and converting traffic, there is nothing more trusted than SEO-driven, organic clicks that come from top search engine visibility.

And, there are over 200 factors that count into the search relevancy algorithm for Google.

For example, most business owners don’t know that the search engines look at freshness and recency of data. Plus, click metrics and user behavior now counts as one of several “new” important indicators for online success with search.

While many of these factors are not known, we’ve learned about most of them over the last decade that we’ve worked within the search and digital space.

A Comprehensive Forensic SEO Audit

After a questionnaire and interview questions, we create an audit for large websites, E-commerce and transaction based websites, which may include 100’s of thousands of pages, or a million+ pages.

The resulting document contains a detailed study of your

  • domains,
  • pages,
  • content,
  • backlinks,
  • traffic patterns,
  • usability,
  • engagement,
  • technology,
  • infrastructure,
  • search analytics (search console)
  • overall search friendliness and on multiple devices (e.g. mobile)
  • and much more

These are just a few, but are absolutely essential to understand and get right, in order to sustain long term visibility in search.

Review all the features and goals of your site and get a comprehensive list with inner-working details.

Then, begin to develop a proper go-forward SEO plan.

All the data points must not only be captured, but also be updated ongoing.

This is important, because you need to compare progress as things get implemented and fixed.

A system for continually monitoring changes in SERPs (search engine results pages) – it is paramount to all SEO work.

Go Beyond “SEO”

Consider the soft, non-technical aspects of an SEO audit. It’s part of a wider scheme, namely the overall company marketing and campaign intent. You can find and solve technical issues all day long, but SEO is much more than that.

SEO is about the inclusion of the total business eco-system.

That also means “user experience” and focusing on the core goal: serving the visitor’s initial request.  This is what intent is all about.

As an SEO expert, you must deeply know how websites, marketing, business and the web works.  Your web pages with  their content assets must serve, inform, entertain and educate the audience as they move along the customer journey.

REMINDER: Simple technical updates or content changes can have a ripple effect through larger sites. Be careful!

Here’s a top level view of broad categories within SEO forensic audits:

Branding and Market Conditions
Trustworthiness, site links, title tags, headline tags, competitor keywords (branded & non-branded), traffic (mobile & desktop), web analytics (Google analytics audit) and call to action.

Onsite SEO
Penalties, keyword plans and content structure (including duplication issues), server issues, crawling errors, internal links, broken internal links, robots management, page speed / timings (including geo-locations, connection speeds & browser types), image optimization, SSL, AMP, mobile friendliness, canonicalization and International SEO. Focus on user experience and relevancy.

Learn more about tools and strategies to start an inquiry on SEO audit

Offsite SEO
Penalty checks, back link audit, broken links, site / domain quality, social, reviews and citations, bad neighborhood linking, disavows, blacklists, link diversity and link growth / frequency.

TIP: Learn more about how to use blogging can be used as one of the popular backlink-building, traffic-driving, SEO off-page strategies.

The Benefits of the SEO Audit

benefits of seo audit for b2b

NUMBER 1:

Some of the most important are finding out where and how to get more quality traffic, discovery of how traffic may have dropped (quickly or over time), or if any past penalties (Panda, Penguin) is currently holding your site back. You need clarity and focus on keywords, content and analyzing the right engagement metrics. (Visitor trends, bounce rates, conversion rates, time on site, etc.)

NUMBER 2:

You may be thinking about an upcoming domain migration, or have recently redesigned or migrated the site(s) and lost rankings and traffic and need to understand what happened, and how to fix it …FAST.

NUMBER 3:

You may be considering moving to SSL across single or multiple domains, and must understand the whole picture, the impact – while minimizing the fall-out.

NUMBER 4:

You may be launching a series of websites or needing to re-boot an existing one — and require a clear path and plan on how to get more converting traffic while building a trusted brand.

NUMBER 5:

Or, you’re trying to understand what products to keep or filter out from search engines based on traffic and sales. This also considers profits and is an important strategic consideration. This discussion goes beyond just “being #1 in search results” which is not always what you need.

NUMBER 6:

Sales! Considering revenue is critical and real sales is what your CFO is looking for, not rankings (although your marketing team may initially feel differently!)

And, if you use the popular WordPress platform there are likely many search engine blocks preventing you from top rankings and converting traffic – right now!

seo-audit-prevents-disaster

Don’t build a website on shaky ground. Build SEO for stability and long term.

Building a Website On Strange Land?

Imagine building a beautiful, pretty house (your website) on a major earthquake fault line or a sloped hill, and you don’t even know it.

It’s a disaster waiting to happen. Revealing all the issues along with a detailed explanation, education and plan about all the potential concerns, would be essential.

You already understand that you must have a user-and-search friendly site, and that includes BOTH mobile and desktop.

All pages and content must be specific, measurable and have unique quality content that serves the right audience and that is socially ready and aware.

When you start with the 7 components below – all search engines will reward you with a higher position in natural search results.

The art and science of SEO (search engine optimization) is simple as they say, but not easy.

And, for larger sites and SEO website migrations, things can get very complex quickly.

7 Action Steps for Better Search Results:

This is not a comprehensive audit checklist, but a starting place to ask questions.

seo-audit-starting-listSEO is more than just creating a page or website and deploying it.

You must think strategically about keywords, content, users and link building opportunities.

It’s also important to address all the technical issues – from any server side issues to the HTML code and possible robots blocking.

As mentioned, engagement metrics are essential, and you must understand your analytics to a deeper detail.

Google specifically is looking at user behavior and click patterns. (e.g.: ‘Did the visitor to the web page click back or off the page immediately?’, ‘did the page serve and meet the needs of the visitor’, etc.)

Begin with these 7 questions:

  • Keywords – do you have keywords and phrases that people search for on your pages? Did you analyze your market and perform keyword research? Are they included naturally throughout your page(s)? Relevancy is key.
  • Links – are you creating enough quality content to attract links from others? Link quality matters more than link quantity.
  • Anchor text links – are you receiving links with “keyword phrases” in your inbound link profiles? For example, “Bankruptcy Attorney New York” is better than “Click Here” (Note: However, don’t over-use this. Balance it with natural backlink profile).
  • Popularity – how “popular” is the page that is linking back to you? How relevant is the exterior page and link? If your theme is about topic “X”, get more relevant links from within that community
  • How do the visitors see your site? How favorable is that view? Make sure your traffic and click-through-data matches the search query, and that you don’t have a high bounce-rate. Both desktop and mobile are crucial in this review.
  • Are you including social media? Search engines (indirectly) use signals from activity on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and others. How well is that traffic converting?
  • Page speed and website up-time. Make sure you are hosting with a professional grade hosting partner, and that you have fast load times of pages and all online assets (code, images, documents, etc)

Finally, ensure you are found not only for informational keywords, but also for your buying / transactional keywords.

Remember, keywords must match your pages and content topics.

You can use the Free Google Keyword Planner Tool to get a sense for the market and levels of competitiveness.

Other tools like Buzzsump Questin Analyzer and AnswerThePublic will help you understand what your audience is searching for. You’ll also create new ideas for content for your own website.

You should already have web tracking scripts from Google Analytics installed, and linked up the Google Search Console.

seo-audit-getting-startedHere at Chaosmap, when we look at doing an SEO audit for your website – we look at all these factors, indexation issues, crawling issues and as many as 150 checkpoints during our audit process.

We use free and paid SEO tools including proprietary, internal systems and software to gather metrics that we manually add to our 150+ page report.

Depending on the size of the site, and issues found, SEO audits can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks.

A detailed, and in-depth Website Analytics Audit is also highly recommended.

This audit will ensure that your “website house” will be designed and constructed on solid ground.

It will create a high-performance asset for your company. Hopefully, for a long time – and with an updatable implementation plan you can use with your marketing team.

Want Us To Help Take A Deeper Look?

CONTACT US when you want to get advanced and detailed information to 10x your sales and improve your overall website performance with SEO & 10x content strategies.

attract-brick-and-mortar-and-online-shoppers

How to Attract Both Brick And Mortar and Online Omnishoppers

They call it “omnishopping”: the tendency of consumers to increasingly turn to technology for purchases, while not discounting the value of brick-and-mortar storefronts.

Omnishopping is most pronounced among Generation Z shoppers, ages 18 to 26.

omnishopping-online

Attracting omni-shopping online

In fact, nearly half of all shoppers who make up this demographic have “webroomed” a product on a mobile device before buying it in a traditional storefront. Meantime, one-third have “showroomed” an in-store product and then purchased it online.

It may seem obvious, but both Gen Y and Z shoppers have a higher likelihood than any other demographic to showroom retail goods and products. For retail businesses, this means identifying ways to simultaneously attract consumers who enjoy the online and in-store buying experience.

Here are some ways to integrate your in-store and online marketing to attract omnichannel shoppers.

Use Online, Offline Tools to Capture Contact Information

To bridge your online and offline marketing, one of the most fundamental steps you can take is to capture customer contact information.

Your website or blog, social media platforms and point-of-sale marketing can all serve as opportunities to collect this important information.

E-commerce retailers tend to be more proactive about this, particularly because their marketing efforts revolve around capturing customers’ email addresses.

A blog serves as a great platform to not only deliver relevant and useful information to customers and prospects alike; it also allows you the opportunity to create forms so consumers can “opt-in” and, thus, help your business generate qualified leads.

It’s also important to leverage in-store opportunities to capture customer information.

But because shoppers tend to weary of sales pitches and don’t want their time wasted, they may be more willing to provide this information if you extend a discount offer at the point of sale.

However, emphasize that you will not share their information and that they can opt out at any time.

Use Geotargeting and Beacons to Attract In-store Customers

Geotargeting and geofencing are great ways to bridge the gap between online and in-store marketing.

Through geotargeting, you can run mobile promotions to residents in certain geographic area. Meantime, geofencing gives you the ability to target potential customers inside a digital perimeter, which can be defined by the boundaries of your storefront or an adjacent area.

Beacons work at short range using Bluetooth, so you can craft ads geared toward shoppers in your store or even in specific aisles.

Use these techniques to reach your customers on their mobile phones — whether they frequent your store or live in surrounding areas.

Make It Easy for Mobile Buyers to Pay

Making checkout easy for mobile buyers will boost both your online and in-store sales. You might want to consider offering PayPal on your website, as one-click checkout options tend to streamline sales.

To compete with the likes of Apple and Google, you might want to adopt mobile payments, a business strategy projected to grow by 75 percent in 2017.

For example, Walmart has developed its Scan & Go app that allows customers to link a credit or debit card to their smartphone.

Sales reps simply scan the customer’s smartphone to accept payment.

Provide Omnichannel Customer Service

If you want to effectively serve both online and in-store customers, it’s essential to extend customer service through an omni-channel experience.

The best way to achieve this is to adopt a cloud-contact center solution that let’s your customer service team handle these responsibilities from a single, integrated platform, including options sold by Aspect Zipwire.

Having a single interface for managing customer service via phone, live chat, email and social media will ensure your customers have a positive engagement experience, no matter which platform they use.

How To Create A Social Media

How To Create A Social Media Strategy In 5 Steps

Social media marketing is a necessity for small- and medium-sized businesses.

create-social-media-strategy-small-business

This rings true for larger brands as well, but they are more established and have larger budgets to support a broader marketing mix. Smaller businesses must leverage internal resources and can’t afford any waste.

From producing content to engaging with customers, social media offers an inexpensive way to broaden your customer base and create long-lasting relationships.

When they are executed correctly, social media strategies can help brand your business and build a strong online presence for the long term.

1. Start by Choosing the Right Platform (Audience)

For your social media strategy to succeed, you have to pick the right platform for your business.

The platform should be selected based on research. Where do your types of customers hang out the most, and what are they looking for? (that you can help them with?)

Choose social platform based on usage and audience demographics

Choose the right platform for your targeted audience

The social media site needs to be content friendly so that you can upload images, blog articles (LinkedIn, Medium) or white papers (Slideshare.net)

Instagram photos are 15 times more likely to be shared than Facebook photos, so a photo-rich industry may want to focus primarily on Instagram.

However, don’t forget Pinterest, they have a powerful advertising platform as well.

Meanwhile, snippets, links, blogs and articles are easier to share on Twitter and Facebook (Instant Articles).

Finally, as mentioned – consider the locations where your prospects hang out because these will be the most effective platforms to spread your message.

2. Create Your Social Media Objectives

Once you know where you will place your content and what they are looking for, you have to decide on your goals.

content marketing lead gen goals

Lead Gen Opportunities Via Content Marketing

You need clear objectives because these goals will help you determine if your marketing plan is a success or a failure. In addition, you must determine the metrics that let you know if you have gained a return on your investment. (Web Analytics)

If your goal is to increase website traffic, your social media strategy is a failure if your traffic does not increase.

Likewise, a goal of bringing in leads is a failure if your content is widely shared, but does not draw in new clients.

Go a step beyond vanity metrics like Facebook likes or Retweets.

Instead, focus on how your website is generating leads, web referrals and conversion rates.

The ultimate goal is always to boost your profitability, so any plan should be designed with that in mind.

3. Design a Content Plan

While mentions in the media are always a plus, you need to have a content plan for long-term success. (Think content calendar)

Articles about your business, new products, events and related topics will help to draw readers to your website.

In addition, Google loves fresh content, and so do your users. 

Fresh content and Google

Fresh Content, More Traffic & Engagement

Ideally, you should post at least once a week. For the best results, consider implementing a daily content goal, and refer back to your content calendar.

Your content plan should include the target audience, the frequency of your posts and the types of content you plan on posting.

Likewise, you should determine who will create the content and how it will be promoted.

Once you have answered these questions, you should set up a daily or weekly plan of blogs and social media posts that you plan on releasing.

You should also consider the types of keywords that you use because the search engines will use keywords as one of the factors to determine what your content is about.

4. Building a Diverse Content Strategy

Today, people go beyond just reading books and articles to get their information.

Videos have become a crucial part of social media success because people cannot just skim the video.

In addition, look into creating blog content and images that get placed on your social media profiles.

U.S. researchers discovered that the human brain can interpret images that the eye sees in just 13 milliseconds – the first evidence of such rapid processing speed. It was previously thought it took almost eight times longer for humans to process a picture.”

visual elements and the human brain

Use visual elements when it supports your story/message. Human beings process imagery faster than text.

The human mind can process visual presentations much faster than words or speech, so a picture can convey your message much faster than content.

By diversifying your content, you can ensure that your business can reach out to every type of consumer.

5. Test and Adjust Your Marketing Plan

Even with the best social media strategy, adjustments will always be needed.

social media metrics that matter

Decide on the right social media metrics

Before you put your plan into action, decide on the metrics that you will use to determine how successful your approach was.

Tracking things like the number of clicks from a link, visitors to the blog, leads generated and website traffic will help you determine if your social media plan needs to change.

Every business is different, so your company may need a unique blend of social media platforms or content to become successful.

NEED SOME HELP? Contact Us Here and schedule your time.


tips-for-an-effective-tweet-twitter

3 Powerful Tips For An Effective Tweet

If you want to get your brand name out there, you should be on Twitter.

Why?

With over 310 million active users, according to Twitter, (SocialBakers) the opportunity to engage with new and existing customers is almost endless.

best tweets optimization

Don’t waste this chance by posting fluffy or irrelevant tweets, though.

Check out these three tips to ensure your brand is creating meaningful relationships with your audience on Twitter.

#1 Have an Interesting Message

Just as if you were trying to make a friend, communicate with your audience through topics that relate to both parties.

For example, Orkin Pest Control understands that users follow its Twitter account because they have an interest in science and animals.

To engage with these followers, Orkin posts about a variety of science-related topics, such as a picture of a ladybug in its natural habitat and a reference to the new science-related “Ghostbusters” movie.

To increase your relatability on Twitter, keep your tweets short but personable with words like “you,” “your” and “us.”

According to Twitter research, users follow a median of six brands on Twitter and they are looking for interesting and fun content, news and updates, and discounts and promotions. Ensure you are one of those brands by using different tweet formats.

Try a mixture of:

  • stories, article and blog links,
  • jokes,
  • competitions,
  • …and interesting facts.

Your followers should be excited and rely on the information on your Twitter.

End your tweets with a call to action or hashtag to boost engagement. Whether you request a re-tweet, comment or link to a purchase page, a CTA is a great way to reach new audiences and encourage a response.

In fact, research conducted by Twitter revealed that 60 percent of respondents said they’ve made a purchase based on something seen on Twitter.

#2 Include a Visual

Social media company Buffer sampled 100 tweets from its Twitter account to analyze the use of images.

The result?

Images received:

  • 18 percent more click-throughs,
  • 89 percent more favorites and
  • 150 percent more re-tweets

And it’s no surprise.

Photos and videos stand out among the clutter of text and they implement a sense of reality.

To boost your engagement, re-tweet a picture of a customer using your product or service or upload an image of the office on a night out.

Ask your followers to tweet a picture of their favorite work night out to start a conversation. You could even create a hashtag and start a competition for the best picture.

#3 Be Cautious of Timing

Certain times of the day have more engagement than others, which can affect the effectiveness of your tweet.

Saturdays and Sundays see 17 percent higher engagement compared to weekdays, but only 19 percent of brands publish tweets on the weekends, according to Salesforce.

Depending on the culture of your brand, the time when your audience is most engaged may be different, so take the time to pinpoint when your audience is active on Twitter.

In addition to the days of the week, major events and holidays are important to keep in mind.

Is it a holiday like Mother’s Day or Christmas?

Is an important sporting event happening?

Use these themes to make your tweets more interesting and to engage in the viral-nature of the platform to reach new audiences.

NEED SOME HELP? Contact Us Here and schedule your time.


how-to-master-twitter-to-amplify-your-brand

How to Master Twitter to Amplify Your Brand

Social media is here to stay, and let’s be honest: If your company doesn’t have a Twitter presence, it’s missing out on a giant opportunity to connect with customers and prospects.

Not to mention, if you’re not tweeting, you run the risk of appearing out of touch.

Global Connection with Twitter Hash Tags

Twitter branding the global way

Unfortunately, though, many companies are missing the mark on Twitter by failing to take advantage of all the the microblogging platform has to offer. Twitter plays a big role in many successful business plans. And, newsflash — even if your company is not active on Twitter, your brand likely exists. Meaning, whether you’re actively participating or not, your customers likely are — and some may even be talking about you, both good and bad.

So it’s up to you to get in on the conversations.

And with Twitter being free (besides any promoted tweets you may wish to pursue), there’s really no reason not to tweet.

Twitter boasts 310 million unique monthly visitors and is the second most popular social media platform. Suffice it to say, Twitter isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Listening is as Important as Tweeting

Twitter offers businesses a unique opportunity to not only hear customers’ thoughts, but to also have a glimpse at what’s being said about their competition and industry leaders.

This “inside” information is a great way to maintain a competitive edge.

Since Twitter is known well as a breaking-news platform, by keeping an eye on key accounts, you can have advance notice on any big announcements that are important to your company.

Not to mention that bench-marking your following and your impressions against your competitors’ is advantageous in setting goals for your own marketing campaigns.

What’s more, tweeters — now more than ever — expect to have their customer service issues addressed in real time by a company’s Twitter account.

Which means it’s crucial to have a dedicated staff member manning the social platform and ready to respond to customer service inquiries and complaints.

Follow the Crowd

While creativity is always a plus, if you’re just getting started on a Twitter strategy, there’s no need to recreate the wheel.

LifeLock, an identity theft protection company, is a great example of a company getting Twitter right.

While using relevant industry hashtags that people interested in their product would search, like #PrivacyAware and #OnlineSafety, the company makes it a priority to share the latest identity theft news, along with identity protection tips, positioning themselves as a subject-matter expert in their field.

Among the fashion brands capitalizing on social media are Gap, Victoria’s Secret and Burberry.

By staying trendy and timely, these brands know the value of a good tweet, appropriate response time and catchy photos of their products.

Use the Tools

According to addthis.com, businesses should be taking advantage of the many Twitter analytics tools out there that are designed to enhance your brand.

Tools like Buffer, TweetDeck and Hootsuite allow you to schedule your tweets in advance and follow trends easily.

Furthermore, Twitter’s in-depth analytics dashboard allows you to see your top-performing tweets, as well as your mentions and followers, along with helpful tips to create more engagement.

Speak So Your Customers Listen

For lingerie-specific brands, whose customer base is predominantly women, it’s key to be immersed in women’s lifestyle topics, including fashion, beauty and wellness.

By sharing information on topics your customers care about, aside from company and product information (which can appear self-serving if that’s all you’re putting out there), you’re showing you care about and cater to your customers’ needs and interests.

And that you understand them.

And isn’t that what every customer really wants? Happy tweeting!

FREE: Download the free Social Media Performance Handbook that will show you how to set up your social media campaigns in 7 simple steps. Includes 2 bonus strategies not found in this post.


3 Website Improvements That Make for Happier Customers

3 Website Improvements That Make for Happier Customers

As technology improves, customers have higher expectations for business websites.

For instance, 52 percent of consumers say a high-performing website is their most critical expectation when visiting an e-commerce site.

website-improvements-make-happy-customers

Technology And Website Improvements Make A Big Difference

Forty-eight percent of users won’t wait for more than five seconds for a site to load and 33 percent will leave to buy from a competitor if a site takes too long.

Customers also expect more from mobile sites, with only 35 percent willing to wait longer for a mobile site to load compared to a desktop, compared to 44 percent of respondents willing to wait in 2014.

Staying competitive in today’s market means keeping up with your customers’ expectations of your website.

Here are three key areas where it’s crucial to make sure your website meets customer expectations in order to keep your customers happy.

#1 – User Experience

Your visitors’ user experience helps form their first impression of your website and your brand, which can play a crucial role in determining whether or not they decide to become a customer.

Business consultant Larry Alton recommends three initial steps you should take to optimize your visitors’ user experience.

Page loading impact

First, since page loading time has such a large impact on whether or not your visitors stay on your site, you should make sure your page loads quickly.

Google provides PageSpeed tools that your developer can use to analyze your site and identify areas for improvement.

The benefits of an SEO audit are undeniable and should always be considered before starting any SEO planning.

Ensuring that code is built correctly is important, including e-commerce and WordPress developed sites.

Website and data security

Second, with cyber attacks on the rise, it’s important to make sure your site and your customers’ data is secure.

Limit the number of users who have administrative access to your site, and use two-factor authentication to reduce the risk of being hacked.

Make sure anyone on your staff with access to your site follows your security policies.

Third, adopt a streamlined design layout that users will be able to view comfortably on mobile devices.

This means reducing excessive text and focusing on large graphics and video when possible.

For instance, if you view Apple’s home page on a smartphone, you will see a clean look with an emphasis on graphics and white space, minimal text, and icons for menu options.

#2 – E-commerce

E-commerce & SEO is another area where you should take steps to optimize your visitors’ experience.

The vast majority of your visitors come to your site not yet ready to buy a product. This means that you need to offer content that motivates them to stay on your page and get into your sales funnel.

One effective way to do this is having your home page offer a case study, e-book, guide, or video that addresses some need that your visitors have.

Your home page should also include calls to action oriented towards visitors who are looking for information or resources but are not yet ready to buy from you.

As for your sales page and shopping cart, the easier you make it for your customers to buy from you, the higher your sales conversion rate will be.

For example, Amazon includes a shopping cart icon at the top of its home page so that it’s easy for visitors to begin the purchase process as soon as they arrive.

Amazon also makes it easy to add products to the cart, begin the checkout process, choose shipping and payment options, review orders and make repeat purchases with one-click ordering.

#3 – Customer Service

Customer service is another crucial component of an effective website.

Forrester research shows that 76 percent of customers prefer self-service over speaking to a representative on the phone.

A good contact cloud center solution can help ensure that you’re able to provide your customers with consistent support across live chat and other media.

When customers do need help, they increasingly prefer live chat, with 65 percent now using live chat compared to 43 percent in 2012, according to Forrester.

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5-Ways-To-Increase-App-Store-Downloads

5 Ways To Increase Your App Store Downloads

The amount of downloaded apps from the Google Play store doubled downloads from Apple’s App Store in 2015, according to app metrics company App Annie.

However, the App Store still generated 75 percent more revenue, pulling in a healthy $1 billion in December alone, according to a Sensor Tower report.

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Ways to increase downloads from Apple and Google “App Stores”

As these numbers indicate, app downloads are big business, but only if you know how to market them. If you are working in specific niches, like finance, banking and wealth management, there are specific ways to optimize mobile apps for banks.

Here are five ways to get more downloads and your share of the growing app market.

1. Optimize Your App Store Page

The most cost-efficient way to increase your downloads is App Store Optimization. ASO is essentially search engine optimization for app download pages, and the same general principles apply.

Your app name, keywords and developer name correspond to what would be considered on-page optimization factors in SEO terminology, and user ratings, reviews and number of downloads correspond to off-page optimization.

Your choice of your app name affects both your branding and your ASO, making it one of the most crucial factors for effective marketing.

A catchy name is good, but titles that include relevant keywords average 10 percent more downloads, according to MobileDevHQ.

Your app name can be up to 255 characters long, but iPhone users only see the first 35 characters, so lead with your keywords.

However, as with SEO, avoid artificial-sounding keyword stuffing.

2. Create a Promotional Graphic and Video

Graphics and video play an important role in promoting your app.

The App Store lets you include screenshot images and Google Play lets you display video.

Select images and videos that show off your app in action. Host your video on YouTube and display it on your Google Play page.

You also should embed your YouTube video on other sites and share it on social media.

3. Drive Traffic to Your App Store Page

Get the most out of your promotional video and app download page by creating a website to drive traffic to your download link.

The site can be a standalone microsite or it can be a dedicated page on a larger website that you use for other purposes.

For instance, Rooms To Go uses a traditional squeeze page model to drive traffic to its app.

The page’s opt-in form invites users to enter their phone number to receive a text with a link to the app.

An advantage of this method is that it creates a prospect contact list you can use for follow-up marketing.

4. Expand Your Reach With CPI Advertising

App marketer Victor Balasa grew his app downloads to over 7 million a year using a strategy that included cost-per-install (CPI) advertising.

Similar to pay-per-click advertising, CPI advertising enables you to display ads for your app across a range of media and you get charged a fixed rate or bid rate each time your app is installed.

CPI can get expensive, so use it strategically.

Balasa says it is best used in short bursts after you’re already getting a decent download rate from other methods because it gives your app a temporary push into the top 50 on Google Play and the App Store.

Leadbolt and Tapjoy are a couple of ad networks that specialize in CPI.

5. Extend Free and Discount Offers

Balasa also recommends offering your app for free or for a discount for a limited period to accelerate your downloads.

Use this technique in conjunction with a CPI ad campaign to strengthen your CPI offer.

To promote your discount, use apps that are similar to daily deal services, such as AppGratis.

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How-To-Optimize-Mobile-Apps-For-Banking

How To Optimize iOS and Android Mobile Apps (ASO App Store) For Banking

While websites have long worked on perfecting the art of SEO (search engine optimization), mobile applications for Android and Apple devices have been pioneering the field of ASO for quite some time.

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Google Play – Top Mobile Banking Apps (picture)

The “ASO” acronym stands for App Store Optimization.

It’s a process that’s just as important as optimizing a website for prime placement in keyword-targeted search results.

With millions of mobile apps competing for the same set of users, on just two major platforms (Amazon is “tiny” in comparison), the difference between a bank that finds its app in the hands of consumers and one that languishes at the bottom of app store rankings can be traced directly back to the preparation and planning for app store optimization.

Below are essential “store” optimization strategies and procedures that need to be addressed before and during the app development, which also include submissions and finally, getting listed on Google Play and the Apple App Store (iTunes).

Before listing a new banking app for listing and subsequent download and installtion, there are nine ASO steps that must be taken.

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Apple iPhone – Top 5 Banking Apps Apple Store

Here’s the process to follow:

1. Conduct Market Research

One of the biggest mistake that app developers make when creating a new banking application is that they don’t conduct market research.

Many developers assume that their app is the solution to a long-held customer problem, and that the sheer amount of demand for mobile banking services will help the app be discovered and routinely downloaded by the bank’s customers.

This is simply not correct.

Today, mobile apps must be thoroughly researched so that they can be effectively optimized and marketed after development is complete.

What does this mean?

  • Target the appropriate customer language and location.
  • Research the app keywords used by competitors in the industry.
  • Search for banking apps as a customer would and examine the results.
  • Consider the size of the competition and the prominence of their keywords: Can those keywords be effectively targeted by this new app?
  • What are the pros and cons of targeted obvious, or less obvious, keywords in each of the app stores?

By working through this list of key questions and considerations, it becomes easier to focus on what the app does, who the app works for, and who will find the app in a particular search.

This will help to create a blueprint for app store optimization practices that will give the bank a head start in reaching its target market.

2. Choose the Right Keywords

Choosing the right keywords can be an intimidating process for developers and banking executives who have never given them a thought before.

When it comes to making optimizing bank apps, however, there are a few places to start.

First and foremost, keywords should always be localized.

  • Does the bank serve only a certain city?
  • Certain counties?
  • A smaller geographic region of the country? If so, that local area is a key addition to the keywords.

Everyone searches for “mobile banking,” but how many customers search for “Cincinnati mobile banking” or “Ohio bank app?” or even “mobile deposit app” (broader).

By localizing a keyword, and targeting phrases that customers often use to find bank applications on Google Play and the Apple App Store, two goals are accomplished.

First, the application is associated with a local identity that makes it easier to discover in its target market.

Second, the bank is competing among localized keywords. It’s easier to “win” search results and appear at the top of those results because there simply is less competition in a narrow geographic area.

FACT: Over half of the discovery of new mobile apps are done via SEARCH.

3. Pick a Relevant App Name

In a bygone era, apps might simply be called “Mobile Banking” or “Mobile Accounts.”

That era is bygone for a reason: It was simply too hard for a customer search to find the right application for their financial needs.

In the modern era of ASO, the appropriate approach is to pick an app name that is inclusive of targeted keywords.

Both the Apple and Google app stores allow developers to submit an app with a short name for display on the home screen, and a longer name that is used for search discovery.

Leverage these two app names carefully.

The short name should include the bank’s name and a one-word description of what the application does.

The longer name should use a few words to describe what the app does with keywords.

A bank in Philadelphia might use the following title: “My Bank Accounts – a Delaware Valley mobile banking, check deposit, and payments app for [Bank].”

Good keywords are localized, relevant, and descriptive, whether they’re being used for SEO or ASO.

4. Create a Compelling App Icon

A plain white icon with a dollar sign is probably a terrible way to optimize an app for easy discovery.

Instead, paint with a colorful brush, get creative and make the bank’s logo front and center.

The icon is one of the first things people look at.

In fact, many people choose their banking apps based solely on the icon.

The most important job a bank has is to drive merchant loyalty and CRM. Provide this from a visual point of view as well.

With color and a centrally placed logo, trust and relevance are established at first glance.

5. Include Screenshots or Videos of the Most Important Features

Customers have found the app that they believe works with their bank’s accounts and features.

That’s a strong first step in the world of app store optimization.

What’s next?

Showing that the app is not only relevant, but also useful.

That type of information is conveyed visually by inserting a few key screenshots.

Show the app’s login screen, including whether it uses technologies like Touch ID. Chase Bank has implemented touch id.

If the app offers special features, like mobile payments, mobile bill pay, or remote check deposit, include screenshots that clearly show those features in action.

This will be the decision point for many customers, indicating that the app does exactly what they need it to do.

6. Draft a Useful App Description

The app description is not only a description of the key features, but also an important way to sneak targeted keywords into the app store listing.

Carefully craft a useful, easy-to-read, keyword-rich app description when listing the app.

Don’t be afraid to change this description over time, as many times as needed, to optimize its relevance and the app’s ranking in targeted searches.

7. Take a Proactive Approach to App Ratings

Both Google and Apple allow developers to ask for ratings within a newly downloaded app, but it’s important to go beyond that included feature.

Include a small line in the app description: “Let us know what you think of our new app by rating us!”

Customers will oblige, and the positive ratings they publish will help the app increase its relevance in targeted searches.

If there are any complaints, app developers will also know exactly what to work on for the next version.

Make sure to monitor and track your company reputation at all times.

8. Publish Regular Updates

Regular updates accomplish two goals:

  • First, they fix key bugs and increase the number of positive reviews written by customers.
  • Second, they help the app stay in the “recently updated” category on both the Google and Apple app stores.

This increases “clicks,” or taps, and can help boost both relevance and download rates over time.

9. Take App Promotion Beyond the Walled Garden of the App Store

The App Store can’t do all the heavy lifting required when promoting a new banking app.

It’s important to think outside the walled garden of the app store and do a little promotion on the bank’s website and at its retail locations, if they exist.

Use these opportunities to show a screenshot of the application, describe its key features, and provide a QR code that will allow mobile device users to go directly to the app store listing for a quick download.

Conclusion:

These are the 9 Key Ways to Boost App Store Relevance.

REMEMBER:
An application won’t promote itself.

Instead, developers and banking professionals need to take time to perform market research, create keyword and marketing strategies, and give their app a solid introduction to the world when it’s first listed for download.

That includes a competitive analysis and complete technological and marketing audit, including fully understanding customers and their needs.

A strong start will help create momentum, drive keyword relevance, and push the app toward the top of search results.

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top-10-cloud-based-apps-for-web-designers

10 Cloud-Based Apps for Web Designers

With mobile devices now accounting for 51 percent of American adult Internet usage, it’s not surprising that web design has followed the Internet’s move to the cloud.

A signal of the sea change came in 2013 when Adobe dropped its traditional desktop-oriented Creative Suite in favor of its Creative Cloud line.

This was a move that initially outraged veteran Adobe desktop users but which ultimately tripled Adobe’s recurring revenue and stock value, McKinsey & Company reports.

Today web design is mobile oriented, and designers typically work on their mobile devices from the cloud. Here are 10 cloud-based apps that web designers find handy.

1. Mozy

Backing up your website is vital for disaster planning to make sure you don’t lose all your hard work and your online business doesn’t go down. Mozy provides automatic cloud-based backups that you can set and forget.

Mozy’s cloud backup feature comes with MozyPro with pricing starting at $109.89 a year for 10 GB or with MozyHome starting at $5.99 a month for 50 GB. An enterprise version is also available.

2. Adobe Animate CC

Adobe Animate CC is the current successor to Flash, the longtime web animation standard which Adobe is now phasing out due to security issues, software changes and battery life limitations, Fortune reports.

Adobe Animate CC features include animation creation, the ability to convert old Flash ads to HTML5 Canvas, vector art brushes that let you modify and rescale drawings without losing quality and export tools for exporting video to 4K resolution.

You can get Adobe Animate CC as part of a Creative Cloud Single App plan for $19.99 a month, as part of the entire Creative Cloud apps suite for $49.99 a month or with Adobe Stock plus Creative Cloud for $69.98 a month.

3. Affinity Photo

Serif’s Affinity Photo is emerging as a cloud-oriented rival to Adobe Photoshop. Designed for Macs and named by Apple as the best Mac App of 2015, Affinity Photo provides a dedicated RAW editing workspace compatible with all major camera file formats and supports Photoshop files.

Among other advanced features, Affinity Photo’s layering method lets you adjust images and vectors without disrupting them, while providing instant previews so you can edit in real time. Affinity Photo is currently available for $49.99 with no subscription needed.

4. Codeanywhere

For designers who want to be able to work from any location, Codeanywhere provides a cloud cross-platform integrated development environment that supports development from anywhere using a web browser and mobile device.

Written entirely in JavaScript, Codeanywhere runs entirely in-browser, includes an FTP client and Dropbox integration, features a sandbox with MySQL support and supports over 75 programming languages. Pricing ranges from a freemium version to a business version for $40 per month.

5. Sass

CSS can get hard to handle when you have to juggle multiple style sheets to manage thousands of lines of code.

To deal with this issue, smart web designers rely on CSS pre-processors, the best known of which is Sass (Synthetically Awesome StyleSheet). Sass helps you create code that’s easy to maintain by letting you write CSS in the style of programming languages with variables and functions, for compiling into browser-ready CSS format.

An open-source program, Sass is free to install.

6. CodeKit

Like multiple CSS sheets, projects with multiple HTML pages can get cumbersome when you have to change one element across multiple pages.

To make editing easier, the CodeKit template engine adds variable and file import ability to HTML to let you make changes to multiple pages from a single template instead of editing pages individually.

CodeKit pricing options currently range from $32 to $39.

7. GridFox

Getting your layouts to display properly across a wide range of strings can be tedious. GridFox makes design layout easier by superimposing a reference grid over any webpage so can check your grid-based designs.

You can also modify grids and save them to the cloud for future use.

A Firefox add-on, GridFox is free.

8. Balsamiq Mockups

Wireframing simplifies web design by visually stripping sites down to their essential functional and user interactive elements.

Balsamiq Mockups lets you do wireframing from the cloud by providing hand-drawn style elements you can drag and drop to preview your site.

Pricing for the cloud-based version of Balsamiq Mockups ranges from three active projects for $12 per month or 100 active projects for $199 per month.

9. Grunt

Web design tasks such as minification and compilation are repetitive.

Task runner program Grunt automates repetitive tasks by letting you install JavaScript plug-ins or by writing your own task scripts.

An open source program, Grunt is free.

10. Dropbox

Storing and sharing files is an essential part of collaborative web design.

Dropbox makes it easy to share files of any size between your devices or with other users by using simple drag-and-drop features.

Dropbox is free for 2 GB of storage space and costs $9.99 per month for 1 TB.

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