All posts in Online tools

Shaking Hands

One of the primary goals of content marketing, and indeed, all internet campaign efforts, is credibility. Your online brand is only as good as the trust that you build with your audience, and it is critical that you establish your integrity and authority, especially if you are asking for sensitive personal or financial information. How can you establish greater trust, and put customers at ease?

Trust seals can increase conversion rate optimisations: 86 percent of online shoppers feel more confident when they utilise sites that display the seals. According to research, the most well-respected trusted trust seals are: Norton Secured, powered by Verisign, McAfee Secure, and TRUSTe.

Let’s take a quick look at a Norton option: Secure Site Pro with EV SSL Certificates, for instance, gives you extended validation, green address bar (another visual for customers), 128-bit minimum to 256-bit encryption, and $1.5 million warranty and vulnerability assessment.  Your site will have that level of protection and security for users. McAfee Secure offers daily scans for hacker vulnerabilities and threats, proactive alerts to threats, remediation assistance, and unlimited technical support.

When you get these seals, you get more than a logo to put on your website. You get protection for your site, and for your customers.

In addition to trust seals, you can take other steps to help boost your credibility, including:

  • Posting authentic testimonials and customer reviews.
  • Display and provide links if you are mentioned in industry publications or by news organizations.
  • Create and prominently display a privacy policy, guaranteeing that customer information will never be sold, traded, or used for purposes other than stated.
  • Ensure the trust seals are displayed prominently.
  • Link to social media profiles to further establish a presence and to allow potential customers to engage with your online community.

Ye Old Typewriter 2

Writing great content can be a challenge. Writing great content day after day after day is most certainly a feat. Content tools are not designed to write content for us; we want to leave that for the humans. What they do, however, is help us map out what we need to cover, when, and how. They can help give us a spark of inspiration when the muse has cut out early or when a meeting has left us dull. What are the best ones to use?

Ubersuggest. Sometimes all you need is an idea, especially on a slow news day. Ubersuggest allows you to enter in a word or phrase and troll through Google Suggestions for trending and related topics. You can find ideas, resources, and other content-starters on topics that are of interest to your audience.

Scrapebox. Ok, we know. This one does not have a sterling reputation. It is often connected with those spammy comments you see on blogs, and it can be used for that purpose, to be sure. It can also be used completely legitimately, white hat-approved, as a content tool. Much like Ubersuggest, it scrapes content and can help you find related topics on which to create content. Some even say it is more powerful. Just don’t use the spam-comment feature. If you’re concerned, there are a number of great articles from reputable sources on using it this way. Again, do not use the spam or link features.

Audacity. This is a free recording/editing tool that will help you create audio content. It is important to have a mix of content (text, images, video, audio) to appeal to your audience’s diverse learning styles. Record your thoughts on a topic, or interview an industry authority. Get “man on the street” feedback or do an audio Q&A. There is a lot of possibility here.

Evernote. With this program, you can keep track of notes, recordings, images, webpages, etc., and access it via the cloud from any device. This is great when the inspiration strikes on the train and you only have your phone. It can be a repository for content ideas, and best of all, it is collaborative. Share it with colleagues so they can add to it or use it themselves.

Feedly. This is a Google Reader successor. The magazine-style reader allows you to access, organize, and read content from across the web easily and efficiently.

Slideshare. Surprised? Don’t be. Slideshare can be a powerful tool for building your authority and visibility. Slide decks are informative, sharable, and great for appealing to a variety of users.

As always, you can use resources like Quora, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other news aggregators to find topics on which to create. The key is to keep it organized with a program like Evernote and then create a content calendar so you can keep on top of your game and deliver fresh, relevant, strategic content.

Blue & Chrome Website Buttons 1Web searchers are much more likely to click on a result that includes a picture, an author’s byline, a great review, or a preview of a delicious restaurant menu. These glimpses into the website give searchers confidence that their question will be answered or their curiosity satisfied, and this results in a higher click-through rate for sites that employ rich snippets. Rich snippets give search engines more information about your site, and by extension, give searchers the information they need to make the right clicks.

Rich snippets benefit megasites and small local businesses alike. In fact, they can be a great boon to local businesses. Given the ubiquity of mobile devices, and the fact that mobile searchers are also very likely local searchers, it is important to mark up your content to make it more visible.

Google supports a variety of snippets. Let’s look at one that will help differentiate your local business, “Organisation.”  You can enter the following properties:

  • Name.
  • URL.
  • Address.
  • Telephone.
  • Location (longitude and latitude).

So, let’s say we are Sally’s Seashell Emporium. Our HTML would look like this:

<div>

Sally’s Seashell Emporium

Located at 458 Seashell Lane, London, UK.

Phone: 555-555-5555

<a href=http://sallysseashells.com.http://seashells.com</a>

</div>

 

Our microdata markup would look like this:

 

<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Organization">
   <span itemprop="name">Sally’s Seashell Emporium</span>
   Located at
   <div itemprop="address" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/PostalAddress">
      <span itemprop="streetAddress">458 Seashell Lane</span>,
      <span itemprop="addressLocality">London</span>,
      <span itemprop="addressRegion">UK</span>.
   </div>
   Phone: <span itemprop="telephone">555-555-555</span>
   <a href="http://seashell.com/"
itemprop="url">http://seashells.com</a>
</div>

 

We might also add snippets to describe our best-selling products, to introduce readers to our blogger, Sally, or to provide reviews or ratings. This information gives searchers reason to click through to our site in addition to making it more visually pleasing in the search results pages.

You can do this yourself or use a rich snippet generator (there are a variety available online). Google also provides a few tools, including the structured data markup helper (try it!) structured data testing tool (use it!).

Retro RobotWhat is it? robots.txt is a file that restricts bots from accessing specific pages of a site. Google’s bots, and those of other search engines, will look for a robots.txt file before they attempt to access a page. If they don’t find one, they crawl away. If they do, they typically respect the request to skip it. Remember, that is what this file is: a request. It is important that your robots.txt file be properly formatted so search engines can read your intent accurately.

Why use it? Webmasters use robots.txt when they want to exclude certain pages from Google’s searches. Why would they want to do this? You might, for instance, want to protect sensitive information that is online or, more commonly, you might have duplicate content (for instance, product information that appears on more than one page) that you do not want indexed.

What else do I need to know?

Just because you use robots.txt does not mean someone cannot find your pages. It means that Google won’t craw or index that content. The search engine may still index specific URLs if they can be found on other pages. This means that this information and other data, such as anchor text, may appear in search results. Google advises using a noindex metatag or x-robots-tag to prevent this from happening.

How do you implement Robots.txt? Unfortunately, Google’s robots.txt generating tool is no more. You can still create these files manually or with other tools. To DIY:

  • Create a plain text (NotePad) file entitled “robots.txt”.  When bots look for the robots.txt file in a URL, they look at the path component and replace it with robots.txt. So, if our domain www.seois great.com, the file would be placed as: www.seoisgreat.com/robots.txt.
  • In the file are two instructions:

User-agent:

Disallow:

  • User-agent indicates whether you want to give the same instructions for all bots. If you do want to, for instance, tell Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc., the same thing, you write: User-agent: *

If you want to specify the bots, you would write:  User-agent: Bingbots

This indicates that the request to ignore these pages are being made to Bing’s bots.

  • Disallow tells the bots which folders you would like them to ignore. For instance:  Disallow: /folder1

You can also choose to block entire sites,  images, directories, folders, and other pages or elements. If, for instance, you want to block your entire site from being indexed (which you probably don’t want to do!), you’d indicate:  Disallow: /

When you’ve created your robots.txt files, test them to ensure they are working properly. You can find a host of helpful tools online to help you.

Shopping trolley  2

Abandoned shopping carts are a slap in the face; they are a reminder that you have done great work in getting customers to your site and leading them through the sales funnel. What you haven’t done, for whatever reason, is seal the deal with a purchase. There are a host of reasons for this: buyers might simply change their mind. They may navigate to other sites to compare prices and never return. You may spring unexpected charges, shipping fees, or laborious forms on them. These are all fixable elements of your CRO campaign that can help you convert future visitors. But what about those who have left items in their carts? Can you entice them back?

That is the goal of remarketing. You have probably experienced it yourself. Say you are on Amazon looking for swimwear. You wander away, and when you log into Facebook, you see an ad on the right side of the page for swimwear from, you guessed it, Amazon. Retailers are not allowed to use sensitive information in remarketing, but they can use information about customer interests and geography to target their audience effectively.

Google’s Dynamic Remarketing tool can help you customize ads and reach your customers. This will boost your conversion rate and eliminate a few of those abandoned carts. If you are a member of Google Merchant Center, you can use the Dynamic Remarketing tool to see an uptick in conversions. You will have to put the Dynamic Remarketing tag on each page of your site. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Find your remarketing tag. This will collect product information and the pages customers visit (product page, general visit, etc.). To do this, go to your AdWords account and click on Shared Library on the left. Select View in Audience section. You will now see a Remarketing Tag box at the top, and it will tell you if it is active or inactive. Click on the View tag details.
  • Assuming your tags are not active, select View remarketing tag and instructions. This will find your tag and instructions on how to add it to your website.
  • Here is a look at what that could will look like from Google (though not exact – you still have to find your own):

 

<script type=”text/javascript”>
/* <![CDATA[ */
var google_conversion_id = XXXXXXXXXX;
var google_conversion_label = "YYYYYYYYYY";
var google_custom_params = window.google_tag_params;
var google_remarketing_only = true;
/* ]]> */
</script>
<script type=”text/javascript” src=”//www.googleadservices.com/pagead/conversion.js”>
</script>
<noscript>
<div style=”display:inline;”>
<img height=”1″ width=”1″ style=”border-style:none;” alt=”" src=”//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/XXXXXXXXXX/?value=0&amp;label=YYYYYYYYYY&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0″/>
</div>
</noscript>

 

  • Now you have to add your custom parameters. These will be inserted on top of the tag. Google has a list of custom parameters you can add to properly identify your products and pages. You can see those here.
  • Add the code to each page of your website.
  • Next, create your remarketing lists in AdWords. Go to Shared Library > Audiences > New Audience > Remarketing List.
  • Create a List Definition. You can create lists for people who visit specific pages, specific products, the site in general, who completed a specific step of the process, or who meet other criteria. You can make as many lists as you like without the need for more coding.

The groundwork is now in place and you can design ads that capture – or recapture – the interest of your customers. This is a great tool from Google, and the search engine has a lot of information and instructions, so get coding!

Feedback form: excellentConversion rate optimisation is focused on the factor that really matters in website design, development, and SEO: the user. These other techniques brought the searcher to you. Now you’ve got to keep them. Analytics and split and multivariate testing can help you glean invaluable data, but the best insight comes from users themselves. Using their feedback can help you improve conversion rates.

There are several effective platforms for managing user feedback, which can get unwieldy if you don’t have a comprehensive system in place. Here are a few tools to consider:

  • GetSatisfaction. The premium customer engagement platform allows you to reach customers on your website and via social and mobile features. Customers can have “guided conversations,” offer feedback, ask questions, share ideas, report problems, and much more. It is a tremendously rich platform. If you, for instance, sell bikes, customers can ask questions right on your website, such as, “Which is the best commuter bike?” They can then see answers from other real customers. There are a host of other features, making this a great choice to engage customers and empower influencers.
  • Crazy Egg. This is a different type of feedback tool which focuses on heatmaps. The tool tracks the elements on your pages so you can see “what’s hot and what’s not.” You can also take advantage of a scrollmap tool, which shows how far down the page people are traveling; an overlay tool, which shows the number of clicks for each element of a page; and a confetti tool, from which you can glean data on clicks you get segmented by referral  source, search term, and other factors. As of now, they are offer a free 30 day trial.
  • OpinionLab. This is another fully-loaded platform extends beyond your website. You can get feedback for mobile, emails, apps, ads, physical locations, and products as well. They offer opt-in (most popular) and more targeted approaches, and help businesses engage customers quickly and nip problems in the bud. In a time when customer complaints can go viral, this tool helps you stay in control and respond expeditiously.

There are a variety of other options out there, varying in features and price points. They can be pricy, but it is an investment in your business. If you can eliminate money-wasters and focus on site elements and marketing tactics that actually bring in revenue and increase conversion rates, then you’ll see an ROI.

 

thumbs up!Facebook’s Open Graph promises to “personalise” the web. Soon, you won’t even have to think: Facebook, Google, and your IP provider will just do it for you! Open Graph stores “stories” about our interests, hobbies, relationships, and likes. As Facebook creates a comprehensive accounting of our lives, Open Graph organises it into a usable database for businesses. Facebook recently added Open Graph tags that will help draw attention to publishers and writers.

Facebook recently added two tags to “help people follow their favorite media publishers and journalists.” The tag enables a link back to your Facebook page whenever someone shares content from your website. The first tag is article:publisher:

<meta property=”article:publisher” content=”https://www.facebook.com/publishersite” />

 

When a piece of content is shared, people are prompted to like the publisher’s page. The second is article:author:

<meta property="article:author" content="https://www.facebook.com/yourname />

 

This will link back to the author’s Facebook profile or page. Make sure that if you are implementing the author tag you have allowed people to follow you.

The new tags are beneficial in building a following and interlinking content. You can create more organic follows and engage with your audience without requiring them to leave their homepages. In many ways, it is a similar offering to Google’s authorship tag (though Facebook declined to say whether or not the tag would affect an article’s rank). Take advantage of another quick, easy tool to build online credibility and visibility.

Internet's universe...There are thousands of devices on which people browse the web. Can they access and view your site, regardless of whether they are on a laptop, an iPhone 5 or a Galaxy S4 Mini? That’s the question. As we turn to our devices more and more, we need sites that respond and provide optimal experiences. Responsive web design allows us to do that. A site will respond as effectively to our 4 inch phone screen as it does to our 15 inch desktop screen. Last time, we talked about fluid grids, one of the building blocks of responsive web design. Now we’ll turn out attention to media queries, another essential element of a responsive website.

To quickly recap, a fluid grid enables elements of a website to adjust proportionally to screen sizes. The second element is CSS3 media queries. These allow you to collect data from site visitors and use that to “respond” to CSS styles. It determines which style will be used based on the dimensions of the viewing device (among other criteria, such as resolution).

Let’s put this into action. Say we want to target tablets with a maximum screen resolution of 560 px (such as a tablet). Our media query would look like this:

<link rel=”stylesheet” media=”screen and (min-width:320px) and (max-width:480px)” href=”css/mobile.css” />

Or, if you are writing it directly in a stylesheet:

1 @media screen and (min-width:320px) and (max-width:480px){
2
3 /*Style Declarations For This Width Range */
4
5 }

Because you want your site to be responsive to a wide variety of devices, you will enable various pixel increments, such as 480, 600, 768, 992, and 1382. As with implementing fluid grids, there are tools that can help you develop media queries for responsive web design. These include:

  •  Bootstrap.
  • The Responsive Calculator.
  • Adapt.JS.
  • Rock Hammer.
  • Skeleton.

These tools make it easier to implement responsive web design.Fluid grids and media queries are central to this mission, and tools, like Bootstrap, offer a solution for building both into your website. Responsive web design ensures users can view your site regardless of device; if you’re not responsive, you need to get on it!

3d illustration: Mobile technology. mobile phoneTraditionally, websites have been built for one type of screen: the desktop or laptop screen. Today, though, we visit sites via a number of different devices, from a 15 inch desktop to a 3 or 4 inch smartphone. That’s a whole lot less real estate than developers have previously been able to fill. Rather than designing and building separate websites for each screen size possible, which would be a herculean task, or designing apps for the various app stores, many webmasters are opting for responsive web design. What is it, and how does it work?

Responsive web design ensures that your site responds to the screen environment. The design uses media queries, or modules that allow the site to figure out how to respond optimally to screen size and resolution of a particular device. Content is then formatted to fit. Ethan Marcotte, author of Responsive Web Design, says, “Responsive web design offers us a way forward, finally allowing us to ‘design for the ebb and flow of things.” With thousands of device options, having a site that fluidly responds to user needs is critical.

Responsive design begins with a fluid grid. Rather than having a fixed grid, developers define a maximum layout size and divide the grid into columns. This ensures the layout is clear and, well, responsive. Each element is designed with proportional heights and widths. With fixed design or adaptive design, it was based on pixels, which did not change when the screen changed. With responsive design, elements actually adjust their heights and widths.  This means content is viewable, regardless of the screen.

Creating fluid grids is time- and labor-intensive. A forgivable “cheat” is using an existing framework or generator tool on which you will build your layout. This will cut down on the work and give you a great platform. Another benefit is that, if you are new to this, you can use a generator, learn the basics, and then try your hand at building the next one from the ground up.

Some terrific fluid grid tools include:

Remember, creating the fluid grid is an essential part of creating a responsive website – but it is not the only component. Next time, we’ll talk about media queries to ensure users can view and interact with content on smaller screens.

WritingGoogle rolled out its authorship tag a few years back, but 2013 has really been the year of the rel-author. It can have a substantial effect on your visibility, authority, and credibility. Those who implement Google authorship see higher click-through rates and begin to build a name for themselves, which in the blogging world, is crucial. One study found that when authors added this snippet, they increased clicks by 150 percent. That’s worth taking the nominal time and effort to put it into action.

Here’s the lowdown on setting up your authorship snippet:

  1. Log into your Google+ account. If you don’t have one – why not! Sign up and verify your email address. Make sure you use an email address with the same domain as your blog.
  2. To verify your authorship, you have to have a rel=”author” tag on your content page, which points back to your Google profile. Make sure this is not visible by site visitors.
  3. In the Profile section, select Edit Profile > Contributor to. Here, you will be able to list the sites to which you contribute. Simply label the site or blog and paste the URL in the box.
  4. Select who will see the Author Rank. Public is best, but you can restrict it to those within your circles or extended circles.
  5. Save, and repeat if you have multiple sites to list.
  6. Scroll up to Other Profiles. If you have pages that are about you, such as a YouTube channel or social media profiles. Add and save.
  7. Now you can select Finish Editing and View As to get a preview of how your snippet will appear.
  8. Use Google’s Rich Snippet Testing Tool to see if you’ve done everything correctly.

Using the authorship tag will highlight you in search results and increase your authority. It’s a relatively quick process, and a free one, at that, which delivers a great ROI.

Page 2 of 3123