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Ipad And Iphone

There are more mobile devices on earth than there are people. More than half of us have smartphones, and for half of mobile phone users, their device is their primary internet source. Just one more statistic for you: more than a quarter of all internet searches are conducted on a mobile device. A few years ago, you could get away with a desktop-based site. Not today. To reach your audience, you have to go where they are, and they are on the go. Here are the three ways you can accommodate mobile users.

Separate Mobile Site

With this option, you maintain a desktop version of your site and a separate mobile version. This has a few benefits: you can create a fully customised experience for your users. If, for instance, A/B or multivariate testing reveals your mobile users prefer infinite scrolling while your desktop users like vertical. You can also pare down your “big” version and create a simplified, streamlined mobile site that loads faster. Another plus is that you can employ HTML5 and other technologies without having to worry about compatibility.

Why not opt to create a separate mobile site? Well, it costs more, and that’s certainly a big consideration. Another issue is that if you have users who rely on both traditional and mobile versions (think of an Amazon shopper who likes to search for gifts at a coffee shop and then purchase at home), they may dislike having two separate experiences. It may create a disconnect and reduce the efficacy of the mobile site. Think about SEO, too. While having a separate site does not have to hurt your rank,  you will have to be on top of your redirects to make sure.

Dynamic Serving

With this option, you use the same URL, regardless of what type of device is attempting to access your website. So, how does a site load optimally for, say, a desktop, an iPhone, and a Galaxy? The specific devices employ User Agents. When the user agents request the site from the server, the server delivers the correct HTML for that particular device. This is beneficial because you only need one URL.

On the downside, Google  may not recognize the mobile HTML set, so you have make sure that you point the content out to the bots. The bots will need to crawl the content with different user agents, and redirecting them can be tricky. Check out Google’s help page for more information on that, if you choose dynamic serving. Another issue is that you have to continually update user agent strings for new mobile devices as they come on the market. Finding this information can be difficult, especially when the devices are brand new.

Responsive Web Design

This is the method that web design experts typically recommend. The website uses only one URL and responds to the type of device on which it is viewed. All devices read the same HTML. How does it work? CSS changes the page dimensions and the layout to fit smaller screens. Googlebot and Googlebot Mobile need to be able to crawl your CSS, Javascript, and images, and this reconfiguration process is automatic. No page redirects mean sites load faster; there is just one URL; and bots can crawl more efficiently and index more often; and mobile experiences are the same as desktop. This can be a big plus for many users who want that continuity.

The downside is cost and technical difficulty. Responsive web design is highly technical in terms of implementation, so an experienced web developer is an invaluable asset.

How are you going mobile?

Flying Books 1

Content developers face a challenge every time they develop ideas and start to put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard or touchscreen. How long? We have a message – but what’s the best format in which to present it to our audience? In a social-media dominated landscape, 140-character messages, snappy, pithy sentences seem to rule. But does longer content have a place? What is the ideal length for copy?

There’s a strong case to be made for longer pieces:

  • Google sure does like them! serpIQ analyzed search engine results for 20,000 keywords, focusing on length. The top-ranked pages were those with more content, or more specifically, more words. The top of the top 10 had more than 2450 words.
  • They generate more inbound links.
  • They receive more social shares.
  • They have higher conversion rates than short-form content.
  • Google now includes PDFs and other long-form content in the search results.
  • LinkedIn just started allowing some members to post long-form content.
  • Sites like Longreads and Longform are devoted to curating the best long-form content, and sites like Buzzfeed are stepping up production of longer pieces.
  • Audiences like them. Sure, we all skim but when we really want to dig into a topic for research and information, we want an authoritative – and yes, longer – piece.

So, does this mean you should write 2000 word articles and eschew 400 word posts? No. It’s best to have a good mix of short and long. Blog guidelines have long informed us that 300-600 words is optimal, and we do need those quick snippets. Longer pieces, though, appeal to a different audience – or, rather, the same audience who has different motivations for reading and researching. Whitepapers, articles, PDFs, and other long-form content help attract these visitors and keep them engaged with the site.

Some tips:

  • Answer questions and serve a purpose with your long-form content. This is a forum in which you can tackle your audience’s concerns in an in-depth way. Provide examples, anecdotes, and thorough explanations.
  • Claim your articles with the Authorship Markup. You should be doing this anyway! Get on it! It helps build your reputation as an authority and expert.
  • If you split your article into multiple pages, make sure you paginate them correctly.
  • Markup your article to ensure Google is able to accurately index it and serve it to searchers.
  • Take your long-form content to YouTube. Viewers still like the quick videos – especially of cats doing adorable things or scary zombie babies terrifying passersby – but 1/3 of YouTube view time is attributed to videos 20 minutes or longer. That’s a significant chunk of time!

There you have it: a short post on the power and importance of long-form content. While social media is short and snappy, Google, curation sites, and audiences are starting to lean towards longer content. Get on board and start producing some lengthy, meaty, substantial pieces. Not everything you publish needs to be epic, but a few integrated into the mix can only help with rankings and audience engagement.

Blank Notepad 5

A recent Hubspots/SmartInsights survey found that one of the top challenges faced by European marketers is producing enough quality content. Why? How hard can it be to write a couple of articles, maybe a whitepaper, craft some infographics, and do up some tweets? Easy peasy, as they say on Pinterest. It is! But producing all of this content all of the time – there’s the rub. Here are some tips to help out.

  • Take stock of your current content. What do you have? Look at your analytics as well: which pieces are most popular? Why? What types of information do you cover, and in what format? Which pieces have high bounce rates or low engagement with your visitors? Again, look at the topics and the formats to determine why your audience gives these the cold shoulder.
  • Brain storm relevant ideas. Fortunately, you have a host of tools at your disposal to help. Use Google’s Keyword Planner, for instance, allows you to search for keyword ideas. Look through LinkedIn groups for professional discussions, Quora for trending stories and hot questions, and Ubbersuggest for keywords. Even sites like Pinterest can help you gather, and organize, great ideas.
  • Organize everything. All these ideas, snippets, and stories can create chaos. Organize it all with a program or app. EverNote is a good example, but far from the only available – and free – option! You can jot down thoughts, store all sorts of content, and use the search function to find it all again. With cloud access, you can do this anywhere, anytime so you never lose an idea for great content.
  •  Schedule your content. Create a content calendar so you have a schedule. You can build a bank of articles, infographics, images, and other content to release at specified dates so you always have a steady stream of relevant goodies for your audiences. It also allows you the flex to respond to news stories and current events. You can use Excel or find a free template online.

Taking a methodical approach to content development ensures that you have relevant articles, whitepapers, editorials, infographics, and video when you need it. You don’t need to depend on the muse; you need to depend on your schedule! And you need to make scouring the world for new, fresh ideas a daily activity.


Content marketing moves away from a hard sell and focuses on the story. Instead of badgering customers to buy, the goal is to provide them information, to address their concerns, to answer their questions, to position yourself as the trusted, credible authority. (And then, sell them some stuff. Well, business is business!.) Establishing a relationship is critical: Are you connecting with the audience? Are they connecting with you? Paying attention to engagement metrics is one of the most important steps in effective content marketing.

Some key metrics to look at:

  • Start with the usual suspects. How many retweets, likes,+1s, pins, etc.? What type of comments are people leaving? Reviews, ratings? Start here, but don’t end here!
  • Unique visitors. How many distinct visitors came to your site? Give it parameters so you can track and compare more easily. For instance, how many unique visitors did you get this week vs. last week? This month vs. last month? This quarter and year vs. last quarter and year? Now, remember, someone could visit your site 1000 times in a day, but he or she is just one unique visitor. So this metric tells you a part of the story.
  • Page views. This tells you another part. If a visitor clicks through to different pages, each page loaded is a page view. This is an important number to look at, particularly if you do paid ads. Again, put parameters around it to track and compare, and use this to determine which pages are getting the click-throughs.
  • Average stay. How long are people camping out on your site? Are they bouncing from the landing page, or are they taking the time to get to know you? This is where good content marketing shines: the goal is to get people interested and to encourage them to dig deeper into your content and website. This also makes the common problem of developing enough solid content more pressing! You’ve got to give them something to dig into! (But that’s a story for another day!)
  • Bounce rate. High=bad. Low=good.
  • Return visits. High=good!
  • Conversions. Use a CRM to track visitors and their progress through the sales funnel. Some good options include SugarCRM, Salesforce, or InfusionSoft.

Connect with your audience with great content, and then make looking at these reports a regular part of your strategy.

BullseyeContent marketing. There are few terms more buzzy this year than this. But according to the Content Marketing Institute, while 90 percent of B2C marketers are using content marketing, 52 percent do not have a strategy. It’s like throwing darts at a board blindfolded: success is a complete accident, and it is not repeatable. A good content strategy not only opens your eyes, it improves your aim. Where do you start?

At the beginning. The excitement of starting a new initiative, of creating fresh, fun content needs to be tempered. Not a lot – keep most of it, but slow down. You need to focus on creating fresh, fun content that helps you meet your goals and objectives. To do that, you have to go through a discovery phase.

  • Take some time to assess your brand’s position. What makes you unique? What do you have to offer your visitors? What are your strengths? Where do you fit in within your industry? Evaluating this will help you create a content strategy that bolsters strengths, lifts up weaknesses, and hits your audience where it counts.
  • Develop user personas.  These are fictional representations of different types of audience members. What types of people use your service, visit your site, buy your products? Flesh them out into “real” people, and then ask, “What objections might they have? What are their pain points? What do they care about?”
  • Do an inventory of your current content. What do you offer your visitors now? Do you have a deep bank? Is content categorised and relevant to your brand? Or is it a hodge-podge?
  • Review analytics for your site(s). Which elements grab people? Which deter people? Which content are they drawn to?
  • Using the information from your user personas and analytics, brainstorm keywords and topics. Set up Google Alerts for these topics to stay on top of the news affecting your business, industry, and audience.
  • Create a content calendar. This will help you plan content that is relevant, allow for flexibility so you can respond to news, and give you a backup in case the creativity well runs dry and you have no idea what new content you can develop.

It seems like a lot of work! But whether you want to do content marketing or you already are, you need a strategy that enables you to use it effectively. This will keep you from taking wrong turns and keep you on the right track for success.

BlogIn the search and content marketing worlds, you have to stay flexible – otherwise you’re apt to get whiplash from all the changes! Nothing is permanent, and as we’ve seen with the decreased emphasis on specific keywords and the shifting status of links, today’s tried and true techniques may be tomorrow’s black hat. Guest blogging is the latest tactic to come under question. So, what’s the answer? Yes, no? Maybe.



Why Not?

Because Matt Cutts said so! In a recent blog post:

Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.

And our favorite line, “Stick a fork in it, guest blogging is done.” Cutts takes issue with unscrupulous use of guest blogging and shams set up to “automate” guest blogs or buy and sell links.

Done as in “Done”?

Guest blogging as a content strategy is not horrible practice – but with a big caveat. It has to be genuine, good, solid content. Say you are a management consultant and you help clients improve their leadership abilities. You work with a senior manager at a real, reputable company and she wants to write a post on how to improve communication skills. Or, perhaps she has done such a tremendous job improving her own skills in this area that you ask her to share her thoughts or tips with your readers.

Here’s why this guest post is different and why it’s not “done”:

  • No one’s getting paid, no one’s outsourcing guest posts, no one’s buying links. It is, as they say, on the up and up.
  • It’s content that your audience could learn from and use in their lives. The point of good content!
  • You know this person, and you can vouch for the authenticity of the post as well as its veracity.
  • It’s one post. You have (or should have!) lots of other great content on your site.
  •  You don’t spin this article or post it on more than one site.
  • You use other reputable SEO and content management techniques to bring traffic to your site. You don’t depend on guest blogging to generate all your link activity.

This type of guest post can help add value to your site. It’s genuine content, and that’s what Google – and more importantly, your audience – wants to see. If it’s not real, don’t do it. It’s a good SEO rule to live by.

LoupeRecently, Google’s Matt Cutts indicated that the biggest SEO mistake he sees is that people do not have crawlable websites. It’s interesting that one of the most common errors is one that is unrelated to mysterious algorithm updates or complex changes in Google’s search methodology. It’s just good old SEO. If you’re guilty of this optimisation error, what can you do to get back on track – and in the SERPs?

If Google cannot crawl and index your site, it cannot categorize it or return it to searchers. The first step is to create, if you have not already, a Google Webmaster Tools accounts. This is going to be the best tool in your toolkit.

In your account, go to the Health section and choose Crawl Stats from the menu on the left side. This will tell you if, and when, Google has crawled your site. While you’re there, also check out Crawl Errors This will provide a report on any broken links, malfunctioning 404s, site errors, and URL errors that prevent Google from crawling.

So, what if you have a soft 404 error, for instance? Webmaster Tools provides thorough, and clear, explanation, as well as instructions on resolving issues.

One more Webmaster Tools feature: Under Health, select Fetch as Google. You can request that the search engine crawl pages that you’ve just uploaded.

To ensure that your site is optimally crawled and index, there are several other steps that you can take:

  • Submit a sitemap. This is just what it sounds like: a map that helps Google identify pages within your website. Luckily, there are free online XML sitemap generators so there is really no excuse not creating and submitting one!
  • Add fresh content. This attracts bots and can help encourage them to keep visiting your site.
  • Put your code on a diet. Lose any bloat and ensure that your code is clean and in compliance with W3C standards. Again, you can find W3C validators online that you can use to help you with this. Lean sites load faster and index more easily.
  • Check for pages that are “disallowed.” Robots.txt files, which request that Google not index certain pages, keeps Google from…well, indexing certain pages. Are any pages “disallowed” that shouldn’t be?

These and other steps can roll out the welcome mat for bots. Make sure Google can crawl and index your site so searchers can find you.


Retail and ecommerce websites have an average conversion rate of about 3 percent; professional and financial service professionals average 10 percent. Your conversion rate is all relative, of course. If you have 1000 visitors a day converting at 3 percent, that is much better than 10 visitors converting at 50 percent. But relative or not, every site wants to encourage more visitors to complete the CTA. Here are five easy ways to boost your conversion rate optimisation efforts.



Remember, CRO is all about user experience. Improving how users interact with and respond to your website helps convert more visitors to customers.

  • Reduce form lengths. This one change can increase conversion rates by up to 300 percent.  When creating your forms, think barebones: what is the absolute least that I can ask my customers and still get the vital information I need? Name, email, phone, address, are standard. Do you really need anything else? Keep in mind that the more questions you ask, the better visitors feel about bouncing.
  • Make it easy to sign in or check out. Adding social sign-in can push visitors the last few inches to becoming customers. Remove all barriers to signing in, signing up, or buying. In addition to making it easier on your customers, you get a wealth of invaluable data to help concentrate marketing efforts and spend. Another option is to offer Guest checkout so people don’t need to create an account.
  • Offer alternative payment options. With high-profile hacking stories dominating the news, consumers are understandably nervous about providing credit card information.  Today, your options are not limited to Paypal – though that’s a great one! Look into Google Wallet, Square (for iPhones and iPads), Amazon Payments, Bitcoin, and other services.
  • Remove clutter. You wouldn’t want to shop in a store that was packed floor to ceiling with junk. Neither do online customers. Again, ask, what do I really need? Get rid of extraneous images, extra text, and content that does not help you tell your story in a compelling way.
  • Craft engaging, clear CTAs. Ditch ambiguous calls to action (“Click here now!”) and replace them with clearly worded messages: “Download Now,” “Click for Free Sample,” “Buy.” Keep it simple and tell customers exactly what will happen when they click through.

Whether your current conversion rate is 2 percent or 10, improvements can have significant impacts on your business.

Poor EyesightSEO is alive and well, but what about the traditional mainstay of search engine optimisation: the keyword? Is focusing on keyword strategy worth your time and resources, or is this still a vital part of your SEO approach?

First, why do many believe that keywords are endangered species that are on fast-track for extinction? A few reasons:

  • The 2013 Hummingbird update reflects Google’s progress towards semantic search. Instead of focusing on keywords, the search engine wants to focus on the meaning behind searchers’ queries.
  • Google moved all of its search results to https:, or secure sites. This blocks SEOs and webmasters from accessing rich keyword data from organic searches.

Despite this, one fundamental truth remains: keywords organize the Internet. According to some experts, the internet contains over 1.2 zettabytes of information – or 1.3 trillion gigabytes. With the sheer volume of information, there has to be a way to categorize it and return relevant search results.

Keywords serve this important purpose, and despite how “intuitive” search becomes as Google seeks to infer meaning we still have to use them. For instance, if we entered “Why are aardvarks purple?” Google knows we need information on purple aardvarks. We’re not going to get results on orange cats, yellow panda bears, or 1949 Fords.

So, no, keywords are not dead; in fact, they’re an integral part of ensuring your websites are visible and that Google can serve them to searchers. The key to keywords is natural and relevant. Keyword stuffing has long worn a grey or black hat, so that’s not a change. Instead of worrying about ranking for a particular keyword, the focus should be on providing clear, informational, trustworthy answers to the most common questions about your business, your industry, your particular niche.

Google does want to figure out the intent of a search – but they still need to find results with relevant content, and they still use keywords in this effort.

Some tips for optimal use of keywords:

  • Use keywords naturally and don’t be afraid to use synonyms. Google will recognize them, and readers will not get a spam vibe from your site because you’ve used the phrase “best gloves in the UK” 14 times on a single page.
  • Cover a single topic per page. Target the users’ intent: for instance, do they want to learn how to properly knot a tie? Dedicate a page to this helpful topic.
  • Don’t overdo it. One page is enough to help people learn to put on a tie. You don’t need another page with a video, another with tie-knotting FAQs, and yet another with famous celebrity tie-wearers. One thought, one page.
  • After you publish content, do a search of Google, Bing, and Yahoo to see what types of variations come up. You can use this information to create more specific keywords that ensure people looking for the information you have can find you.

Natural, relevant keywords that target your audiences’ intents can help you rank more highly – and more importantly, reach the people you need.

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