mobile

SEO Guide (For Regular People): 2019 Edition

It seems just about every year, I write one of these posts. 

Does search engine optimization change drastically year to year? The spam marketing emails with vague ‘your website is not optimized’ messages would have you thinking yes. (Note, if you want to stump these people, ask them for 2-3 specific recommendations for your website. I doubt they write you back.) 

Now if you want, you can pay someone like us to ‘audit’ your website. With a fresh set of eyeballs and some expertise, we are happy to go through our battery of tests and make you some recommendations. (Contact us here.)

Otherwise, read on for stuff I haven’t said in previous yearly-ish posts about SEO:

Move to a Let’s Encrypt web host.
I was working on the SEO for giftmdi.com when someone suggested I load the entire site in HTTPS and not just the payment pages. I did it and my Google score jumped 27 points…in about the 27 seconds it took to switch it from http to https! (This is one of the many tools Google has to test your site.) And rather than buying (and remembering to update) an SSL every year you can just use a host that uses Let’s Encrypt. The certs are:
1) free and
2) automatically renew so there is zero downside. 
We know Svaha has Let’s Encrypt SSLs but simply Google ‘NAMEOFWEBHOST let’s encrypt SSL’ to see if yours offers one. And if not, might be good to see who does!

Think about setting some Facebook markup code.
If you want people to share links to your website on Facebook, unless you intentionally set the image, title, and description displayed on Facebook it could pick something really random. You can set the image, website title, and description that gets shared on Facebook, either as a default for the whole site or page by page.
To see what Facebook is getting from your website, try their debugging tool. Note: don’t just test your homepage but pages you want people to share too. 

Use Facebook marketing pixels and other tools to fully integrate your website.
Did you know if you have an ecommerce store and you upload your catalog to Facebook, you can tag products in Facebook and Instagram? Did you know you can target ads specifically to people who have looked at specific pages of your website or have taken a specific action, like made a purchase? Take advantage of Facebook’s Business Manager to fully integrate your website into the world’s biggest social network.
(If you care more about the Insta, here’s the how-to for that.) 

Note: there are many ways to mess this up, and I have done most of them, so hire someone like us to help you if you aren’t sure. Remember, you need to know how to use it, setting it up is something you only have to do once. 

Make your site load faster.
You could have the prettiest website in the world but I bet even your mom would click away before the 8 seconds it needs to load. Test your website (and this will test it objectively from servers in different states and countries) and it’ll tell you what to do, whether it’s optimizing images or loading too many elements on a page. We’ve said this before but it’s worth saying again.

Consider an interactive element.
Did you know you can use Facebook messenger on your website to answer visitors’ basic questions? Big companies use bots but it doesn’t have to just be for them. Consider how your customers and website visitors get information and whether it’s offering order updates via email, a text message system for upcoming event alerts, or a Facebook bot that does customer service, making sure your website is a bit interactive will get those visitors to your website to be repeat visitors and maybe even customers.

Search Engine Optimization is basically improving your website so the experience for search engines *and* people is great. So keep on making changes for the better and Google and the rest of them will reward you for your efforts. 

The Story Behind Email Open Rates

The other day I was checking out the stats from one of our client’s email newsletters (who does not use Mailchimp or Constant Contact but instead iContact). I noticed an interesting statistic that I hadn’t seen before, and thought “Now THERE’S an argument for mobile friendliness!”

Out of curiosity, I went to look at some other email accounts, in Mailchimp specifically, to see if they had similar reports.

They did not.

The closest thing I could find was the following:

You may think, “wow, that’s way better isn’t it?” Mainly because it has a lot more detail.

Here’s the thing: that first image is from one email campaign, an October newsletter. The second image from the overall lifetime of the account, because this level of specificity doesn’t exist for an individual campaign send. So, it could be better, depending on what you’re looking for.



If you’re like me, at this point you might be curious as to how iContact can give individual metrics about individual campaigns but Mailchimp and Constant Contact can’t? After lots of digging and getting sucked into a black hole on Quora, I discovered that it’s not a matter of “can’t,” but “won’t.” In fact, Constant Contact used to have this feature until 2016. So why’d they get rid of it?

The answer is a little complicated, but it has to do with the math/science of the open rate. Open rates aren’t a perfect science. According to Comm100, “email open rate reporting can be off from anywhere from 11% to 35%” and it has nothing to do with the service you use and it’s “legitimacy.” Open rates are measured by a 1×1 pixel that gets inserted into the email, so every time it loads, it’s counted as an open. 

Which means if someone doesn’t load graphics for some reason, it doesn’t count, even if it does get opened and the text gets read.

Personally, if my phone is slowly loading an email I want to read, sometimes I’ll choose the HTML or text-only version, which means no 1×1 pixel image, which means my mobile user open doesn’t get counted.

Just because these statistics aren’t 100% accurate doesn’t mean they aren’t useful (just maybe the device-related ones). For instance, comparing your open rates for different campaigns works well (it’s kind of like using the same scale consistently to measure yourself). The other thing to pay attention to is whether you’re looking at unique open rates (based on how many of your subscribers open the email at least once) or total open rates (based on the number of times it gets opened overall), since you want to be consistent about how your open rate is calculated (more information about open rates here).

The moral of the story: don’t get overly wrapped up in your email open rate, no matter what service you use. Instead, consider paying attention to trends in your email marketing (i.e. if your percent opens are consistently moving up or down) as a way of measuring your success. And regardless of whether you look at overall account information or information from a specific month, making your email newsletter mobile friendly is the right thing to do.



Ten Things You Can Do To Your Website To Make Peoples’ Lives Easier

If you have a website, chances are you are continuously thinking about making it better. Here are a few things you may or may not have thought of that you can use on your website.

    1. Make phone numbers clickable.
      With the invention of touchable screens and cell phones, if you publish a phone number on your website (especially if it’s in an image or a button), why not make it so when people click it, it works? Here’s how to add the code. Save your customers the copy/paste, or worse, trying to repeat the number aloud so they remember it as they dial!
    2. Add conditional fields to your forms.
      Is this item a gift? If the person says yes *then* bring up the gift recipient name, address, and message form fields. Conditional fields in forms show up, as you’d expect, conditionally. They not only allow your form to be shorter and sweeter but allow whatever transaction you are facilitating to be more seamless.
    3. Allow email updates.
      People want to stay in touch when you do things like write a new blog post or launch a new product. Give them a way to get a notification when something happens on your site, ideally via email, so they don’t have to miss anything or follow up with you. I use Mailchimp RSS campaigns to do this with new blog posts (plus you can set them to autopost to Facebook and Twitter when they go out) but there is more than one way to set something up. Bonus points integrating signup into existing forms, like your contact form.
    4. Track ads.
      If you are a non-profit offering a banner ad on your website to those giving you money for X fundraiser, why not add tracking to it? Then when it comes time next year for your contact to ask their boss again for money, they can show them the return on investment. They are not going to ask you to do this but when you do, you will be much more likely to get sponsored again if they can understand their return on investment.



  1. Add closed captioning to your videos.
    Youtube and Facebook both autogenerate them (and you can spend a few minutes correcting them) or you can use Rev.com and get them done for $1/minute. Makes your video more accessible, which is great for people AND search engines.
  2. Make PDFs part of your site search.
    If your website isn’t indexing PDFs as part of the search feature of your website, and you use PDFs with any regularity, consider adding something (a plugin, for instance) so they come up when someone searches for content within them (note: the PDFs have to be readable).
  3. Accept credit cards (not just Paypal).
    There are whole groups of people who, when they get redirected to Paypal.com, cry out internally and click away. If you want someone to buy something, try to keep them on your site to do it. Not only can you collect useful information from them but it puts you in control of the entire process. (If you want to offer the option of paying by credit card AND Paypal, just don’t make Paypal the only option.)
  4. Make your website accessible.
    Your website needs to be as accessible as possible: adding image tags for text only browsers, etc. If you want to test your website and get suggestions for improvement: http://wave.webaim.org/
  5. Don’t make videos/music autoplay.
    This is obnoxious and means people can’t sneak looking at your website at work. Just don’t.
  6. Think about your website’s mobile experience.
    Over half of your website visitors are likely visiting your website from a mobile device. Check how your website looks/works on a mobile device so you can fix issues and make improvements.

If you act on any of these suggestions, please comment below (or message us and let us know). Anything we left out?



Getting Rid Of Spam Cell Phone Calls

I swear if one more person calls to offer me $500,000 for my business, I’m going to scream.

It used to be as cell phone owners, we were free from telemarketing calls. Now none of us are immune.

What can you do to make your phone a telemarketer free refuge? (Non-profits are still allowed to call you, my college certainly does.) Here are a few things you can do.

Download a call blocking app.

It didn’t occur to me an app could do this until one of my friends mentioned it. I have one on my phone and it actually says ‘Spam’ on it when I go to answer!

Here are the call blocker apps for Android and here are the call blocker apps for iPhone. Try the free ones but honestly, to get your life back it’s probably worth a couple bucks.



Ask to be placed on the ‘Do Not Call” list…. or wait until the end of the recording to take yourself off it.

So if you get a real live human on the other end of the line, you can be asked to put on their do not call list. You can also add yourself to the main government list here: https://www.donotcall.gov/

What about robocalls? If you wait until the end of the pitch, you’ll hear a brief “… or press 2 to be placed on our do not call list”. I actually did this about ten times and seem to have gotten a lot less calls.

(Kassie Note: I recently received an automated phone call from a telemarketer about credit cards, and there was no “do not call list” prompt after staying on the line. So I pressed “1” to go through the “talk to a representative” motion, and just asked the person I got on the line to take me off the list. After said representative declared “You are obviously unhappy with your current credit provider” I think he realized his mistake and took me off the list. In other words, it may take a few extra minutes but you can usually find a workaround).

Send spam calls directly to voicemail.

This doesn’t exactly solve the issue but will cut down significantly on your annoyance. Most phones will allow you to send people not in your contacts list directly to voicemail.



Get Google Voice.

We recently switched to Google Voice for Anchorspace calls and it has been great. Voicemails are transcribed, and I get an email when I miss a call. I even get to have a sweet cordless phone on my desk to answer calls (P.S. you can also have these go to your cell phone; I just like that mine don’t). Much like Google is good at filtering email, it’s pretty good at filtering voice spam, too.

Escalate to your phone carrier or the FCC.

Most phone carriers have a process you can go through to get rid of unlawful calls; Verizon’s is here. Remember chances are if you’re getting harassed by a person or company, others are as well. If you aren’t the kind of person who complains on your own behalf, complain for those other people.

The FCC also has a way for you to complain about harassing calls (well, all harassing communications really): https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us

Maybe it’s never occurred to you that you can stop annoying calls to your cell phone, but think about it: if you even save yourself fifteen minutes a week, that’s fifteen minutes you could be doing something else. Take back your time, and your phone.



Prisma & Co: The Business Application

Last week, I shared some of the new and exciting apps that have emerged recently. In the conclusion of that post, I recommended trying out one or all of them just for fun. While the fun factor still stands, this week we’re going to explore some ways that one of these apps can be used in business marketing.

Facebook 360

Unfortunately, you can’t upload a Facebook 360 image to a business page yet on Facebook, just personal profiles. However, if you’re really hoping to upload one of these, you can upload it to your personal profile, make that particular post public, and share it as your business. It’s a lot of extra steps for now, but we’re guessing businesses will be able to upload 360 images in the near future.



Prisma

There aren’t many examples of businesses incorporating Prisma in their marketing at the moment, however, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it out. One idea is using it to spruce up a “regular” picture of your business (which is what we did below with Anchorspace).

Original

Original

Prisma Edited

Prisma Edited

Another idea is taking a featured image for one of your blog posts and making it into something interesting (there’s a new Abstract filter that seems pretty fun). Basically, when an app like this is in it’s infancy, you have a wide creative range- go ahead and see what you can create!

Boomerang

Boomerang came out almost a year ago, and it’s still being used consistently by businesses as part of their marketing. As one of Instagram’s satellite apps, it’s easy to share content on social media platforms (Instagram and Facebook) that you likely already have a presence on. It’s also easy to use- all you do is download the app, hold down a button to record a video, and save. Easy shareability and use are important characteristics for marketing apps and encouraging people to adapt a new social media platform in general.

Similar to GIF for business, Boomerang’s business application creates a way to visually grab your customer’s attention. It creates something eyecatching that will grab people’s attention as they scroll through their Instagram feed. As this article points out, “GIFs could potentially be the next emoji,” and although Boomerang videos technically aren’t GIFs, it’s not a huge leap. Boomerangs are easier to make from scratch than GIFs, as mentioned before, all you do is press a button. The one downside: to record on Boomerang you have to be within the app itself (meaning you can’t prerecord on your phone’s camera and reformat), which can make it hard to capture spontaneous footage.



What should you share? 

One of the trickier parts of Boomerang can be finding out what to share. Some ideas include your a fun shot of your storefront/office/physical location:

Happy Friday! By @stuporfluous

A video posted by Boomerang from Instagram (@boomerangfrominstagram) on

Show off a product:

Squad up! ???? by @usabasketball & @easymoneysniper

A video posted by Boomerang from Instagram (@boomerangfrominstagram) on

Or show off your goofy side:

Just rolling by ? with @xantheb

A video posted by Boomerang from Instagram (@boomerangfrominstagram) on

Since Boomerang videos are on an infinite loop, using video with some action or movement typically works best. A common Boomerang example is the blowing bubblegum loop. Reaction clips (think like a mime-exaggerated, dramatic expressions), jumping and throwing are also pretty common. It’s fun to do trial and error with, too- you never know when you’ll strike gold!

If you’re more interested in showing quick demonstrations or tours, Hyperlapse is probably a better Instagram satellite app. This creates a time-lapse video (or a sped up video) that’s longer than the 1 second Boomerang and doesn’t loop back and forth. Although it might not be the best for in-depth presentations, Hyperlapse can create a teaser video that creates interest and brings people to your website or store for more information/fact gathering.

As I said last week, Boomerang is a fun, easy to use app, and can bring an element of fun to your business marketing.



Non-Profits And Live Video

This month’s upcoming email newsletter is going to be all about live video. Click here to subscribe if you want to learn more!

As non-profits increasingly use video to tell their story (or have individuals try to tell another story as in the Planned Parenthood controversy), live video is going to play an increasingly important role.

Live videos have a couple things going for them:

  1. They are not expected to be highly edited or scripted, meaning production takes less time.
  2. They are transparent, as the people in live videos are not only off the cuff but responding to online or real life commenters as the comments are made.



Live Video For Donors

So I’ll admit it, I couldn’t find any non-profits using Periscope to solicit donations. There are certainly ideas out there of how it could work but no compelling example.

Sometimes though, innovation starts in the business world. And while you may be thinking that you could broadcast a live event or founder question and answer or someone/something your donations have helped, you may be thinking “Building goodwill makes sense, but where does the money come in?”

This:

cash-me

Since people are watching from their phone, they are also paying from their phone. Services like Cash.me were the missing link for me to ‘get it’ in terms of how people can make actual money on Periscope. So why couldn’t someone, live watching you rescue a whale or give a child a pair of shoes, send you money while watching your non-profit doing real work in real time?



Live Video For Colleagues

It’s, of course, easy for non-profits to go right to the donors as a first audience. As a money grubbing capitalist (something I say mostly jokingly), it is certainly where my mind goes first!

But lots of non-profits work with other organizations or have an occasion to get colleagues together. It made me think of how the City of Vancouver, despite being large, can have citizens involved in it’s initiatives via live video on Periscope. They used Twitter to talk about it:

twitter-periscope

They used Instagram to talk about it:

instagram-periscope-vancover

And I’m sure they used other social media to talk about it. If you missed talking about it and wanted to, I dare say it was your fault. 🙂 So Periscope could be used to get all your colleagues in the ‘same room’ in a way that’s both easier for everyone.



Live Video For Who You Serve

As a non-profit, you also have a group of people who benefit from your work. And while we saved this important group for last, I am sure you can also see opportunities with educating those you serve about the work you’re doing with them so you can do it better.

The Mayo Clinic has a lot of informational videos (I missed the live #colonoscopy- ‘bum’mer). They get major points for educational content and hashtag usage.

mayo-clinic-periscope

Interestingly, they videotape their radio show as well, showing how you can have the same content be in multiple formats to ensure it reaches a large audience.

(In putting out these blog posts, I don’t want you to read this and think “Sigh, one more thing we have to do.” Instead, this is meant to inspire you to think “Oh, this would help us solve X issue” or “We’d do Y better with Periscope”.) Like everything online, Periscope is a tool in the giant hardware store that is the internet. And with that in mind, we’re working on a series of these posts about live video so stay tuned! In the meantime, are you brave enough for live video? Let us know!

This month’s latest email newsletter will be all about live video. Click here to subscribe to it!



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