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Tell Your Company’s Story Using Content

Tell Your Company’s Story Using Content

Although SEO strategies are constantly evolving to keep up with changes to search engine algorithms, some marketing essentials stay the same. Your company still needs to stand out. Why do customers search for a business? They do it because they have a problem that needs to be solved or because they don’t have something and they’re hoping to find it. The goal of your business should be to solve their problem or fill that void with a product or a service that meets their needs. And you can only do that if the customer can find you.

As we discussed in a previous post, people are increasingly conducting online searches by speaking to their personal virtual assistants on their phones and other devices. This means that searchers tend to ask their search engines questions the way they might ask questions of other people, that is, in complete sentences. Searchers (who are your potential customers) don’t look for what they want using a jumbled mess of keywords piled on top of each other. That means that your company website absolutely should not feature content that is nothing but a heap of keywords either.

The established wisdom that you should write content for people and not for search engines is still true in 2018. Search engines like Google, though not yet sentient beings, are already smart enough to detect when unscrupulous marketers are trying to trick them by stuffing keywords into a webpage. If you try to do this, they might even penalize you for it by shoving your site lower on a list of search results than it ought to be (and certainly lower than you would want it to be). To be found by real human searchers you must be able to tell a story that is engaging to real human readers. And that story should also answer questions that real humans ask.

Creating content for your company’s website gives you the chance to define who you are and what you do. It also allows you to sell yourself to the type of customer who would be most likely to want to patronize your business.

For instance, let’s say that you own a restaurant. Naturally, you want as many customers as you can get. But simply striving to appeal to everyone is not enough of a marketing strategy on its own. What selling points does your business have that sets it apart from the crowd? Maybe your restaurant serves barbecue. Maybe it’s a Thai or Mexican place. Perhaps you cater to diners who want organic fare, or need for their meals to be gluten-free.

Those are the basics, but your content branding strategy needs to go beyond that. Is your restaurant at the cutting-edge of culinary development, or is it full of laid-back, home-cooking fare? Are families welcome there, or do you have a large cocktail menu that might cater to young partiers? Is your place one where people can count on watching the big game while they eat or one where a couple on a first date might have the chance to engage in an intimate conversation? All of this is part of your company’s brand, and it defines how you attract the kind of customers who are most likely to enjoy what you have to offer. And if they like what you do, they’re more likely to come back. Not only that, but they’re more likely to tell their friends about it and to post positive and accurate reviews of your business online.

You tell your story through content. You define your brand through content. And if you do this well, then you get the customers your business wants and you can leverage them to expand your customer base even further.

Content that can attract customers is not just limited to words. Your company’s website should also be aesthetically pleasing, and that means having an appealing layout full of pictures and videos. But remember that multimedia items are great for human browsers but not so good for search engines, which can’t understand this type of content. They can only detect the words that you use to label it. This is why you should make sure to assign accurate and descriptive tags to your visual content. Look at this as a chance to throw in a few extra keywords as well.

For instance, when you upload an image onto your website, give it a title using words that can help a search engine identify that image as something that rightfully accompanies your written content. Returning to the business example we discussed earlier, let’s say that you run a gourmet burger restaurant and that the image seen here depicts one of your signature items. A person can see this for what it is, but a search engine can only see the text connected to it. Therefore, make sure that the filename for this image is something like joeseverythingburger.jpg, and not img64738.jpg. In the same vein, be sure that your alt tag for your image (the words that describe the image for people if it fails to load) is just as helpful and descriptive.

Remember that content is your brand and your brand is your business, so make sure that it says what you need to say to reach your target audience. And, although you should write for people and not for search engines, it’s essential to create content that is accessible to them as well.

If you’re not sure how to do that, reach out to us. We here at Triple Canopy Media would be glad to show you how it’s done.

Backlinks—Weave your Site into the Web

Backlinks—Weave your Site into the Web

Let’s say you have a lot of great content on your company’s website. Excellent! That’s one of the most effective things you can do to make sure that potential customers find your business when they conduct a search for a solution to their problems. You want your company’s website to tell your company’s story and you want people to find it compelling enough to reach out and purchase your goods and services.

Now with that in mind, let’s say you have written a novel. Maybe it’s full of heart-pounding action and unpredictable plot twists. Perhaps you have crafted a fully-realized universe full of engaging characters and moral quandaries that examine the very meaning of what it is to be human. You’re convinced that it’s bound to change the literary landscape and be a bestseller on top of it!

What’s the next step? Would you put your manuscript in a drawer, and never show it to anyone?

Of course not! No one will ever see it there.

The world wide web is like real life in this way. If no person will ever be able to find your page—even if it has a lot of great things going for it—then much of the hard work that you put into creating it will go unappreciated. To put it simply, you want to be found.

We have already discussed why crafting high-quality content is of the utmost importance when it comes to getting search engines (and through them, people) to your site. But it doesn’t stop there. Backlinks can help connect you to the rest of the online community and increase the exposure that your website receives. Hyperlinks (or simply links) are, of course, those bits of underlined text that you can click on while browsing a website that will take you to another webpage. That page could be within the website you’re currently browsing (an internal link) or to a different website altogether (an external link). When a webpage on another site contains an external link that leads to a page on your website, then your website has a backlink from that site. You want backlinks from other reputable sites, and the more the better.

The main reason for this is that this weaves you into the fabric that holds the online community together. Knowing this, it should be easy to see why we call it the world wide web. Different websites are connected to each other through links (enmeshed like the strands of a spider’s web). Search engine robots, often called web crawlers or spiders, move along these links to discover websites, so the more backlinks you have directed toward your site the more likely it is that the search engines will find you. And if they find you, that means more traffic from real live humans.

Of course, getting others to link to your site is not as easy as simply understanding what backlinks are or how they can help you. It takes time and diligence. And it has to be organic. Paying some unsavory service to hurl links at your site is not just ineffective; it might result in Google penalizing you for doing it. As with so many things that matter in the real world, quality counts so much more than quantity. It’s better to have a real human user who maintains an influential website in your field create a link to your site than it is to have spambots try to promote you through cheating. Search engines will see through this trickery. Plus, you degrade the inherent value of your website and, by extension, your brand, by doing this.

The best method you can use to get other websites to send browsers to your site is to make it worthwhile to do so. And you accomplish this by writing great content. This may mean devising an illuminating guide that helps people understand the best method for accomplishing something. It may mean being at the vanguard of a technological movement. It may even mean sharing immersive anecdotes revealing the wisdom you have acquired in all your years of being in business. If it’s accurate, engaging, helpful, and, most of all, readable, then people will want to share it with others. And the more they share the more traffic you get.

You can take additional steps toward getting yourself more effectively woven into the fabric of the world wide web. Put external links in your own articles that send users to other websites that help to further illustrate or reinforce the points you make in your written content. It never hurts to connect yourself to more-established sites, provided that they are relevant, reputable, and as authoritative as possible. Don’t write articles that are made up entirely of links, but feel free to direct your users to other sites if you think that this will be helpful to them and reflect well on your material. And if what you compose is valuable, expect others to begin doing the same for you!

 

Online Customer Reviews For Your Business

Online Customer Reviews For Your Business

If you run a business, you need to get good online customer reviews. These online customer reviews are can help you grow your top and bottom lines, and it can also help to insulate you against the online complaints of the occasional disgruntled customer. A recent comprehensive study covering 2017 found, among other things, that 97% of consumers look online when seeking out a local business and that 93% of consumers read local reviews to decide if a business is good or not. And since this trend is likely to continue and accelerate, it’s clear that online customer reviews (or a lack thereof) can make or break a business.

The value of positive online customer reviews is fairly self-evident. As consumers, we often weigh recommendations more heavily when we feel that they’re coming from disinterested third parties. We are more likely to heed the advice of a friend who had a positive experience with a company than we are a paid advertisement put out by that company, even if they both say basically the same thing.

That said, outside of reviewing restaurants and hotels, most customers simply don’t think about leaving online customer reviews. It’s not that they don’t want to help businesses that serve them well. Most customers are happy to show appreciation when they’re pleased with how they’ve been treated. But oftentimes it just doesn’t occur to many of them. And some of them may want to, but just don’t know how. As a business owner you should be attentive to your online public image. That means you must prioritize encouraging customers to write reviews about you and make sure they know how it’s done.

If you don’t take the reins and actively ask for reviews, you may have to face this challenging reality: Most of the online feedback you’ll receive from customers (if you get any at all) will be negative and likely not an accurate reflection of your customers’ satisfaction overall. That’s because some people have a tendency, when they’re disappointed or upset over what they see as lackluster service or a faulty product, to seek attention through posting scathing online reviews, seeking a chance to vent or hoping, perhaps unreasonably, for redress or compensation. Meanwhile, customers who are pleased with how a business has treated them may walk away after a handshake and a smile, feeling that the transaction is now complete and that there’s no need to give it an afterlife.

With this in mind, it’s good to know that with some helpful guidance, you can inspire your customers to write online reviews and make sure that they will understand how to utilize different online forums for posting feedback. And you can be confident that this will raise the profile and the visibility of your business.

Google, Facebook, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) are all places where you can direct customers to write reviews. (Yelp strongly discourages businesses from soliciting feedback, and claims that their recommendation software actively targets reviews obtained in this way, so it’s best to let customers use that one on their own.)

Getting a lot of positive reviews on Google is a great place to start, especially if your business is one with a fixed location that comes up when potential customers search for “[your type of business] near me.” The best way to illustrate this is to take a look at what comes up when you use Google to search for a business such as “Triple Canopy Media.” Here is a screenshot of that search:

Google Review Page for Triple Canopy Media

Google will display vital featured details about the business as long as that business has set up a Google My Business profile. (If you haven’t created a Google My Business profile, you should do so right away—it’s free! You can start the process here.) Notice that the most prominent pieces of information about the business, after the name and photos, are the reviews. Not to boast, but notice also that Triple Canopy Media has a 5-star rating based on nineteen reviews.

Triple Canopy Media obtained the bulk of these reviews within a period of six weeks as part of a deliberate front-loading outreach campaign. TCM actively solicited reviews from customers during this time period. These results demonstrate the ability of a business to generate positive online buzz relatively quickly by making a conscious effort to do so. Of course, getting positive feedback from customers should be an ongoing process for any business, and one that you, as the owner, might even want to delegate to a particular member of your staff, just to make sure that someone has the responsibility for it and that it will always be done. But it is essential that you start strong, since more positive reviews leads to more customers and a larger customer pool leads to more potential positive reviews and so on.

It’s important to remember that prospective customers often base their decision-making not just on the quality of the reviews they see but the combination of the quality and the number of reviews a business has. For instance, one 5-star review is not likely to have as great a positive impact on a potential customer as fifteen reviews that average out to a rating of 4.2 stars. The larger the number of people who have had a positive experience, the better.

The main thing that you need to do to make sure that you get reviews on Google (or elsewhere) is to ask for them! And if customers don’t know how to write reviews on Google, then go ahead and show them. And if they forget, then feel free to give them gentle reminders to do so.

Facebook has more than two billion monthly active users, so chances are, nearly all of your customers will have profiles there and many of them likely already spend time there every day. This makes asking for a review on Facebook relatively easy. Of course, if your business doesn’t have its own Facebook page, then your customers can’t find it and write reviews, so creating one should be a priority for you. Get started here. Once that’s accomplished, you can promote your business on Facebook by doing all of the things that you would do on your personal Facebook page: post status updates, announce upcoming events, and share relevant photos and videos. Then you can reach out to your customers and ask them to give you feedback. This is pretty straightforward, but if any of them need a helpful how-to, you can direct them to this short Facebook article. For your reference, here is a screenshot of some of the reviews on the Triple Canopy Media Facebook page:

Facebook Review Page for Triple Canopy Media

Finally, there’s the Better Business Bureau, which has the most formal set of procedures for both business owners and reviewers. Businesses that wish to gain accreditation from the BBB must apply for it and meet certain eligibility requirements, such as being in existence for at least six months, and being fully licensed and bonded wherever they operate, among several others. You can learn more and start the process here. For your customers, sharing feedback here can be a bit more involved, in that the BBB vets reviews and may reach out to those who write them to prove that they interacted with the company they’re reviewing. You can help your customers out by sending them to this page showing them the steps they can take to write a BBB review for you. And, again, for reference, here is the portion of the BBB Triple Canopy Media page that showcases customer reviews:

Regardless of which of these forums you or your customers choose to emphasize the most, your constant vigilance is essential. You should not stop at simply asking and reminding customers for online customer reviews. You should also make sure to monitor the online customer reviews that you get and do your best to mitigate the potential damage that any negative feedback might bring to your business. This may mean having to endure the task of responding to these reviews so that they don’t just hang out online as the definitive word on how you do business.

Better Business Bureau Review Page for Triple Canopy Media

You can find a detailed summary of how to deal with several types of negative reviews here, but it’s best to approach them in the same cool-headed manner you would use to deescalate any disagreement in real life. You should own up to and apologize for mistakes that your business actually did make. Feel free to tell your side of the story, but stick to the facts—don’t let your emotions do the talking. Finally, show that you have worked to ensure that the circumstances that brought about the negative review have been addressed so that no future customer will have an experience like the disappointed one who left the online customer review review.

Remember that the power to shape the online story for your business lies largely in your hands. Treat your customers well, and they will give you some positive feedback. Ask them to do it, show them how, and then keep reminding them, and they will give you even more.

Search and SEO Trends for 2018

Search and SEO Trends for 2018

EMERGING SEARCH & SEO TRENDS FOR 2018

When the technology that we use evolves, the way that we interact with it inevitably changes as well. How we search for information today might be very different from how we will search for it even just a year from now. It’s essential that your business stays on top of the changing trends that will affect how you can reach your desired audience.  In this article Triple Canopy Media keeps an eye on search and SEO trends for 2018 so that you can keep two eyes on your business.

 

MOBILE-FIRST INDEXING

Way back in 2015, Google announced that queries conducted on its search engine using mobile devices had outnumbered those made on desktops.

This shift has inspired Google to change how it discovers results and ranks listings. Formerly, it had used the desktop browser’s view of the web to search for pages online, by crawling from link to link. Now, it’s using a mobile device’s point of view.

If you don’t have a mobile version of your website, Google will still be able to find and rank the desktop version. That said, if you have both a desktop and a mobile version, Google will likely just see the latter. This means that it’s vital that your mobile site have all of the same content as its desktop counterpart. And if your site is not mobile-ready, then now is the time to update it and make sure that it is. This is an important SEO trend development for 2018.

 

VOICE SEARCH

A recent consumer survey revealed that people have fewer inhibitions about talking to their phones—even in public—than they did only just a year ago. The respondents of the survey noted the ease of this mode of search (as it’s quick and involves no typing) as well as their general satisfaction with their device’s ability to understand them and what they were asking for.

The same study revealed that a greater number of respondents wanted more direct answers (and therefore fewer search results) when asking questions to their devices. This means that a featured snippet (that page excerpt that often appears above the list of other search results in a query when viewed on a screen) may be the best way for some companies to get noticed. And you increase your chances of being a snippet by having content that answers direct questions that users most often ask about a subject. In 2018, content is still king! This SEO trend should inform your marketing strategy for the upcoming year.

 

LONG TAIL SEARCHES

Keeping with the theme of searchers asking direct questions and wanting direct answers is the concept of long-tail keywords. These are the longer and more specific phrases that people use when conducting voice searches or when they’re closer to actually making a purchase. Someone who searches for “cookware” might just be passing time. But someone who searches for a “7-inch diameter non-stick skillet” probably wants to buy that item today. As a business, the key to taking advantage of this trend is to make sure that you have specific phrases describing what you do or sell in your site’s content that can set you apart from your competition.

This is just a sampling of the changes that 2018 will bring, of course, but keeping them in mind will give you a head start as you strive to gain visibility online.

 

What is Influencer Marketing?

What is Influencer Marketing?

So what is influencer marketing? Influencer marketing is more or less just what it sounds like. If you want to promote a product or a service, find a person who is a prominent figure in your field of business and then have that person lead the way in drawing positive attention to what you sell. By doing this, you can piggyback on your influencer’s established following, platform, or expertise.

The use of influencer marketing is increasingly important as brands move away from traditional media platforms such as television, radio, and print, and move toward a greater focus on outreach through social media.

This seems to be a logical step for marketing to take in an era in which celebrities and their tastes and opinions are ubiquitous. Combine this with the old wisdom that potential customers often give more credence to word-of-mouth recommendations from third parties they trust than they do to traditional advertising, and it’s clear that influencer marketing can be a very powerful tool for any brand.

The Pew Research Center reports that a majority of U.S. adults get at least some of their news from social media sites. People often trust in what they see on social media, and this is where many influencers have made a name for themselves. LinkedIn, for example, uses exactly this terminology, inviting the people who use its service to follow recommended “Influencers” it thinks they will like based on their interests and industry.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and dozens of smaller sites have either launched celebrities or kept them in the limelight by being the primary way that their fans and followers stay in touch with them as well as what they recommend and consume. Influencer marketing allows you to capitalize on an audience that has already been built and that trusts what its influencers say. You can create content that your influencer then shares with his or her followers, or you can entrust the influencer to create content on their own and spread it on your behalf.

Natural influencers are often individuals who have massive social media followings. But it’s important to look beyond those who simply dominate Twitter or Instagram with their numbers. Influencers can also be activists and educators as well as early adopters in certain markets, especially in fields like tech or fashion. As with any promotional campaign, it’s essential to not just reach tons of people. You want to make sure that you’re reaching the most appropriate audience for your brand or product. And in that regard, when it comes to marketing, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

So what is influencer marketing? It’s something that your business should probably be leveraging to your benefit. Triple Canopy Media can help you do this!

Local Search Engine Optimization: Get noticed!

Local Search Engine Optimization: Get noticed!

Let’s say that you run a business. What do you want more than anything else? Customers, of course! Local search engine optimization can help you achieve that objective.

We’re pretty deep into the twenty-first century at this point, so it’s very likely that many if not most of your customers will find you through an online search—probably by using Google. You’ve surely conducted many search queries yourself that involve some form of a desired good/service/merchant combined with a location, such as: “Italian restaurant North Canton” or “dog grooming Thomasville” or “locksmiths near me.”

The first thing you’re likely to see upon doing that is a map showing your surrounding area with red indicator flags highlighting the locations of the results that match your search. Below that, you’ll see a list of the names of each of the businesses that are marked on the map along with important information about them such as the full name of the business, a short description of it, its address and phone number, its hours, and the number and quality of the reviews the business has earned. Our local search engine optimization services can help you show up more prominently in these local search results.

Unless you’re doing a really exhaustive search, you’re likely going to weigh the options that appear nearest the top most heavily. You might not even move through most of the list if it looks like what you see first meets your needs. After all, we trust Google to give us relevant and well-reviewed answers. So we’ll probably choose what it seems to recommend.

If you run a business, you want to be one of those top results.

What can you do to help put the webpage for your business there? First of all, you want to make sure to have all of your Google My Business components in order. That will help your local search engine optimization. Be sure that the basic details of your business such as its location and contact information are represented accurately. The NAP (name, address, and phone number) should be exactly the same across all local citations for the best local search engine optimization results. Businesses that have reviews and photos tend to rank well also. Content, as always, drives traffic, as websites with a lot of words on each page—especially target keywords—tend to have an advantage over those that do not. But perhaps the most important determining factor is the number of backlinks to it that any page has. The more links to your webpage from other pages (along with their relevance and overall quality) the better.

We thought it might be helpful to show you what great local search engine optimization looks like in practice, so we took a screenshot of the Triple Canopy Media local search results in Google. Just click on the image below to go to the live search results.

At Triple Canopy Media, we understand how local search works. We want your business to be found locally. We want to send more traffic your way. We want you to succeed. And we’re here for you.

Local Search Rocks!

Local Search Rocks!

Triple Canopy Media offers local search engine optimization in Thomasville, Georgia and North Canton, Ohio as well as in any city where your company is located. If your business or organization or company has a business that targets customers or clients in specific geographic areas, then local search rocks!  Why do I think local search rocks?  Because it is one of the quickest ways to enhance your presence online, and you can “lead” your SEO effort by getting listings showing your company’s website near the top of the search engine result pages (SERPS) long before your website ever makes it to the top of the heap.

So what is local search?  Local search is getting your website listed with various business directories and mapping sites that specialize in providing local results to people searching for companies that provide various goods and services.  Of course, the most notorious (and important) local search tool is Google My Business.  Google My Business is a free service that allows you to create an online listing for your company, complete with a link to your website.  When you perform a geographic search (i.e., a search that includes a geographic specifier such as “Akron, Ohio”), the local search results show up toward the top to middle of the SERPS along with a map of your business location, hours of operation (if desired), acceptable forms of payment, services offered, etc.

Of course, there’s more to local search than simply slapping together a listing.  You need to really think about what you want your company to be found for.  This may involve analyzing traffic to your website to see which search terms are most commonly used to direct traffic to your site, and then to compare these search terms with the competition for similar search terms in Google My Business.  You may discover that you cannot be competitive (i.e., expect to be displayed) for your highest volume search term, but that there is real opportunity for your second or third highest volume term.  This is the term that you should probably go with.  Better to be seen for a lower ranked term than to not be found for a higher ranked one.  It’s all about trying to aggregate traffic, and local search is a great way to accomplish that.