DragonSearch Digital Marketing http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com Online Marketing Mon, 22 Sep 2014 14:35:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A Peek Into the Dragon Life http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/peek-into-dragon-life/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/peek-into-dragon-life/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 15:51:11 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/?p=17533 Continue reading ]]> DragonSearch recently had the privilege to move into a newly modernized historic building at 8 N. Front Street in Kingston, NY. Built in 1921, the building is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places and was the original location of the Packard Motor’s car dealership. Steel beams, cement floors, brightly painted walls, and modern lighting, make up our 19,000 square-foot space. Hidden throughout, you will find touches of the DragonSearch culture.

A light in the floor at the DragonSearch office with a dragon inside it breathing fire

From the glowing DragonMoon that greets you at our entrance, to carefully placed surprises that are waiting for discovery, the office provides a new outlet for the DragonSearch culture to shine through. Our open floor plan cultivates shared learning, collaboration, and cleverly breaks down any social barriers. At DragonSearch, our enthusiastic culture is contagious.

We have always believed that only when we work at our best, can we provide the best for our clients. So how do we work at our best? Well, we never stop learning. We are relentless when it comes to researching new ideas and stepping out of our comfort zone. We are a determined bunch that takes pleasure in finding the right answer, even when it seems impossible to find.

It’s not all hard work though; we know how to have a good time too. From a calm walk around our historic property, to a quick foosball game with coworkers, to an all out Nerf war, we have the perfect balance of work and play. Our unique team of Dragons are handpicked for being thought leaders in their fields and for having just the right ingredients to become legendary Dragons.

In honor of our new space, some creative Dragons took it upon themselves to capture our new surroundings. Our video gives you a sneak peek at our beautiful space and an inside look of life as a Dragon.

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Social Media Advertising Workshop: Effective LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook Ads http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/social-media-advertising-workshop/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/social-media-advertising-workshop/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 16:08:21 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/?p=17485 Continue reading ]]> The New York Times recently published an in-depth article on Facebook ads that is a must read for any business owner. One of the biggest takeaways… if you own a business in 2014 – you should definitely be advertising on social media!

A close-up of a social ads workshop worksheet with fields for goals and objectives

Social media ads provide business owners and marketers with a unique opportunity to reach people during times when they are more likely to act on ad messages. Think about it…you are sending them messages when they are on their computer or phone, making it easy for them to click and convert into a customer! On average, people are spending over 2 hours a day on social networks. Facebook alone accounts for one out of every six minutes someone spends online, and that statistic increases to one minute spent on Facebook for every five minutes when that person is using a smart phone!

Think about that for a second. That is a huge potential active audience.

Large as the market is, if you advertise to people that aren’t in your target demographic or have little or no likelihood to buy your product, you can still waste a lot of money on social ads. Thankfully, social media platforms have data points for each and every person that you can use to target your ads strategically. Ads can be hyper-targeted for:

  • Specific location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Precise interests (‘likers’ of other Facebook pages, celebrities, competitors)
  • Broad categories (small businesses / people having a birthday next week / soccer fans)
  • Connections (shows which of your ‘friends’ already like a product or endeavor)
  • Relationship status
  • Language
  • Education (level of schooling / people who attended a specific school / area of study)
  • Workplaces

As an additional component of the ad targeting, your email contact lists can also be uploaded to create a Custom Audience. To expand on your own list, a Lookalike Audience can be created by Facebook, providing you with a targeted expanded reach where your ad will be seen by a new contingent of individuals who closely resemble the profiles of those on your own mailing list.

Add in some creativity and passion and presto, you are reaching people who you want to reach. All major social media platforms have their own version of targeting…well, not Google+ but we’re waiting! Compared to a billboard or a print ad – results can all be tracked and analyzed, and success specifically attributed to the ad. The spend amount can vary as much as you desire – from $50 per month or more, to whatever amount you designate.

Learn How to do Social Media Ads for YOUR Business

Start by attending our interactive, roll-up-your-sleeves, Social Media Advertising Workshop at DragonSearch on September 17 from 5:30-8:30 pm in our new Hudson Valley office in Kingston.

In this workshop, you will start to formulate your social ads strategy by analyzing your overall goals, your audience, and the resources you have available. Our team will introduce our process that we use to create effective social ads for our own clients. It is not a random or haphazard process; it’s based on proven social media strategy. Our team has assisted brands like Sony and The GRAMMYs – so we know it works.  And we are always happy to share our experience and knowledge with businesses just like yours. When you leave the workshop, you will feel confident that you can start a whole new approach in how you market your company online.

You do not need to have a big social media following, or have a substantial advertising budget. The knowledge we give you, and the inspiration to be creative in how you do it, will go a long way to making connections with new customers while maintaining and enhancing your brand association with the loyal reoccurring ones.

A dog looks at a flyer for a social media workshop at DragonSearch

Let Us Help your Company Grow

The location of this workshop is in our new beautiful 9,000 square foot space on the second floor of the DragonSearch Building, 8 N. Front Street, Kingston, NY 12401. This is the  #usDragons production space in the Hudson Valley, and that’s where we want to connect with our own community to continue to be a valuable resource of assistance for your organization.

Registration is easy. Before September 7ththere is a discounted Early Bird registration price. For tickets click this link:  September 17th Social Media Advertising Roundtable Training Workshop.

Bring yourself, your co-workers, business associates, etc. and the desire to have a more successful Hudson Valley business.

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Integrated Web Development: Building a Better Site with Design, SEO, CRO & Social http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/integrated-web-development-seo/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/integrated-web-development-seo/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:00:08 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/?p=17460 Continue reading ]]> Did you ever hear the story about the SEO who tried to optimize the entire internet? She worked feverishly, day in and day out, website by website, working towards creating an internet optimized to perfection. Everyday she worked, but everyday more websites kept popping up. She simply couldn’t keep up, so she devised a plan – a plan to get designers and developers involved. Slowly, she taught them the ways of SEO, CRO and social integration and they quickly picked up on her tactics. Soon all the new website’s were aesthetically pleasing, user friendly, and SEO friendly. The developers, designers, CRO’s, SEO’s and Social Media Marketers joined forces and they all lived happily ever after.

A beautiful red and yellow castle like something out of a fairytale

Web, SEO, CRO and Social Integration doesn’t have to be the stuff of fairytales.

What Exactly is Integrated Web Development?

Now, I understand that we don’t live in a fairy tale, but wouldn’t it be great if all websites were designed with SEO in mind from the get go? Website design, content planning and SEO strategy should work together holistically to build a better website. The old practice of optimizing after the site is built or redesigned almost always results in missed opportunities.

Integrated Web Development means working together from the start and developing with optimization in mind. It means working as a team during the development process; combining each individuals unique skill set to create a website that is optimized for the web.

Why is Integration Important?

Imagine the frustration you would feel if, after entering that last piece of code, you find out that changes need to be made. Not small changes, but major changes. Not only is implementing these changes time consuming, prioritizing these changes can be difficult. In some instances, an entire website overhaul is needed, which can be costly and takes weeks and even months to complete.

By understanding SEO essentials and, reversely, the web designers needs and concerns, the necessary optimizations can be mapped out ahead of time and implemented as the website design progresses. Saving time, money, stress and aggravation.

A drawing of a house with bricks representing integration of seo, dev, design, cro set again a green-blue sky

Quick Wins for Integrating

Now, every fairytale has it’s magic spells. Here are some tips to consider when designing a website to keep it looking awesome and SEO friendly.

Keep Your Website Crawlable

Googlebot, as Google calls it, is a web crawling bot (sometimes called a “spider”) that crawls the internet discovering new and updated pages to be added to the Google index. Every day, using an algorithmic process, billions of websites are crawled by Google. Through the process, any new sites, changes to existing sites, and dead links are noted and the index is updated. If the Googlebot is incapable of crawling your site or even incapable of crawling your site efficiently, this will negatively affect your ranking in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

What does Googlebot See?

A Googlebot is just that – a bot. Therefore, all the intricacies of a website that we, as consumers, see and appreciate on a daily basis are not recognized by Google. For example, a Googlebot cannot appreciate all the nifty Flash integration a website uses. A website filled with Flash does not have any SEO value because Googlebot will not crawl these elements on the page.

You may be curious about your own site and wonder: What does Googlebot see? Luckily, as long as you have a Webmaster Tools account you can find out. This past May, Google announced a new featured – Fetch and Render.

A screenshot of the fetch as Google bot tool

With Fetch and Render, Google presents us with the opportunity to see exactly what Googlebot is seeing for both desktop and mobile devices. For example, the DragonSearch homepage contains a flash video. In the render below we simply see a black box warning. Imagine if your entire site was in flash. The Googlebot would gain very little information about the site.

A screenshot of the DragonSearch website fetched by Google bot showing how it is seen by the crawlers

Submit a Sitemap

An XML sitemap is essentially a map of a website designed for website crawlers such as Googlebot. When a web crawling bot arrives at a website they look for the website’s robots.txt file. The robots.txt file tells the bot if there are any changes that are off limits and should not be crawled. In addition, the bot seeks the website’s sitemap, the location of which should be in the robots.txt file.

When a bot discovers a sitemap this becomes the map to which they crawl the website. This map allows the spider to gain a better understanding of the website’s architecture and content structure. A sitemap should be generated and checked for errors on a monthly or quarterly basis depending on the size of the website. Common elements like 404 errors, 301 redirects or any other type of response codes other than 200 do not have a place in the sitemap. Make sure the sitemap is pristine to ensure that any time the website is being crawled it is being done efficiently.

Add Social Buttons

Social media buttons, ideally located in either the header or footer of your website, are a great way to further integrate with your social media marketing efforts. Social buttons allow interested users to quickly and easily visit your social media platforms and follow your posts to stay up to date.

Social Media buttons for Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, RSS, Twitter

While you’re at it, add social buttons to blog posts. When a user comes across your great blog post, with one click they can share the post which further expands your social reach. Be sure to include appropriate @ tags, # tags, and even tracking to ensure that you’re effectively branding and measuring success. We created a great Word Press plug-in, DragonTweet, that allows you to customize Tweets that other will share from your site so, give it a try. Also, make sure you add the right social buttons. Nothing frustrates me more than when I want to share a blog post and go to click on the social button but it is a “follow” button instead.

Testing, Testing, 123

Remember, optimization is never complete. Therefore, be prepared to test. Test your main call-to-action’s copy, color, and location, for example. You may find simply moving the location of your call to action greatly increases your click through rate. Data is essential in this phase. Collect data, analyze, and forever test. Simple tweaks can have vast results.

Diving Deep with Advanced SEO, CRO and Social Integration

The optimization tips above are only the beginning. Ready to really jump in?

Website Code Optimization

It is essential to have SEO friendly code. When a Googlebot arrives at your website it crawls through the website’s code. As it crawls, it picks up valuable information about the site. For example, the topic of the website is understood and links to and from the page internally and externally would be noted. In order to provide the Googlebot with as much information as possible, there are a number of optimization techniques that can be implemented.

Organize with Header Tags

Header tags are a great opportunity to structure your information for both the user and crawl. Header tags structure the information on a page and provide a hierarchy of information. Each page should have an H1 tag. The H1 tags tells the user the topic of the page they are viewing in the most general since. As appropriate, introduce H2, H3, H4, etc. tags to further organize the information.

Image Alt Attributes

In compliance with the Disabilities Action Section 508, ‘Alt’ attributes, or alternative text, should be applied to all images to allow for accessibility to people with disabilities. Search engine spiders are the ‘most disabled’ users since they cannot see images but rather only the code. The ‘alt’ attribute should clearly describe the subject of the image. Googlebot can then use this additional information to gain a more detailed understanding of the page. Therefore, create a keyword focused ‘alt’ tag for each image on site. In addition, this information will help the search engines index the images.

A screenshot showing fields for entering image title, caption, alt and description

Integrate Social Further

Social integration doesn’t end at adding social buttons to your website. There are a number of additional integrations, namely, twitter cards and rich pins.

Twitter Cards

Twitter Cards allow you to attach rich media such as photos and videos to your tweets to drive traffic to your website. When a user tweets links to your content a card is created that adds visibility and make the post stand out. To create a twitter card, a small amount of meta information must be added to the page’s code. However, this process is easy with the use of plugins, such as All in One SEO, that guide you through the process.

There are a number of different Twitter cards that you can choose, from photo cards to lead generation cards. Experiment with many to determine what works best for your needs.

Rich Pins

Similar to Twitter Cards, Rich Pins give you the opportunity to add additional information and make your pins stand out among the rest. There are five different types of rich pins: movie, recipe, article, product, and place. Additionally, like Twitter Cards, Rich Pins requires the addition of meta information to the appropriate website page.

Schema

Schema is a type of structured data that allows, through a specific markup language, a search engine to gain a better understanding of the information on a webpage. With the introduction of this markup vocabulary into your code, a Googlebot can quickly determine valuable information on your website.

In my opinion, one schema markup that any business cannot go without is Local Business Schema. Through schema markup you can easily define, to name a few, the business’ address, contact information, and hours of operation.

A screenshot of details for the local business schema

There is also another additional benefit. Websites that are marked up with schema often display a knowledge graph in the SERPS. What can be better than that?

Design For the User

Lastly, remember who your website is for… the user! There are a number of things that can turn a user away from your website. Does the site take a long time to load? Is it clear right away what the topic of the website is about? Is the website easy to navigate and find what you are looking for? These, and numerous other questions, are the ones you should be asking yourself.

Support your hypothesis with data. Consider the conversion funnels and user paths. Determine where users drop off. Take a look at bounce rates, average time on site, and conversions to determine your strongest pages and also your weakest. Then, work towards building up these pages until they are performing better than before. When you think of the user your conversion rate should increase correspondingly.

A fairytale castle surrounded by woods

Overall, the information above only scratches the surface when it comes to optimization opportunities. Therefore, call up your favorite SEO, start collaborating, and make your website the fairest of the land. You wouldn’t believe the opportunities that lay ahead.

Do you have any tips and tricks of your own? We would love to hear your thoughts and feedback in the comments below.

 

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5 Things Marketers Can Learn from the #IceBucketChallenge http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/learn-viral-ice-bucket-challenge/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/learn-viral-ice-bucket-challenge/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:35:58 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/?p=17422 Continue reading ]]> By now you can’t go anywhere without hearing something about the #IceBucketChallenge – it’s on the TV, it’s in newspapers, and it’s definitely on your Facebook and Instagram news feeds. Everyone, from athletes and celebs, to politicians and executives are taking part in the mega-viral social media phenomenon to help bring awareness to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Maybe even you have participated yourself, heck I did.

The idea of challenging someone in the name of a cause is not new or innovative. In High School, I shaved my head to raise money for cancer; that was over ten years ago!  So what was it about this campaign that is making it so effective? Why has dumping a bucket of ice cold water over your head in an effort to raise money been so successful? According to a press release put out by the ALS Association, the campaign has tripled the amount of donations they received last year during this time period. So that leaves an important question unanswered, what can we, as marketers learn from this thriving piece of content?

Drawing of a bucket of water set on a blue background with text that reads: 5 Things Marketers Can Learn from the IceBucketChallenge

Simple Contest = Successful Campaign

It’s pretty clear that the ALS foundation didn’t hire a corporate lawyer to write the rules for the challenge – in fact, ALS didn’t even come up with the challenge at all. The contest’s simple rules were made up by an ordinary guy and they don’t require you to have PHD or a Masters  in order to participate. To participate, it only requires a few everyday things; a container, ice, some friends on Facebook and a couple of hashtags – very straight forward. The contest didn’t require fan-gating, you didn’t have to include your email to enter, and you certainly weren’t asked by anyone for access to any of your information from your phone.

Don’t Target an Audience, Target Everybody

As marketers we know the importance of target audience and core demographics. However, sometimes super-focused strategies get so granular with targeting that we miss  out on a a larger opportunity. The beauty of this campaign is that the target audience is anyone with a smartphone and a social media account–which is just about everyone these days.  Outside of the cost of ice, a small donation (your choice), and a little bit of humiliation – anyone can get involved, which again makes it pretty much a no-brainer for anyone.

Timing Will Always be Everything

Ask yourself, would the #IceBucketChallenge have been as successful if it kicked off in January or February? Probably not. There are no coincidences that this kicked off mid-summer. The late July and August months were the perfect temperature (pun intended) for a campaign like this to spread. I mean who doesn’t want an excuse to cool off during the Summer. Guess what else happens during the Summer months, kids are off from school. And guess who goes on Facebook/Instagram? Kids! We’ve talked about the impact of seasonal changes on PPC advertisting – and now we have proof that timing and seasonality can have an influence on viral content as well.

A stack of melting ice cubes set on a blue background

Everybody Needs a Little Buy-In

As fast-moving campaigns like this start to gain traction and notoriety, users of social media naturally want to jump on the bandwagon to be part of the crowd.  In the case of the Ice Bucket Challenge, like ‘The Harlem Shake’, users are going to great lengths not just to participate, but to stand out from the rest of the submissions, creating more buzz–and more interest in getting involved. From helicopter glacial water-droppers and late night TV hosts, to politicians and entire sports-teams, everyone’s getting in on the game of one –upmanship for a good cause.

When in doubt, #Hashtag it Out

In today’s SEO-Social driven world, this campaign was marked by two real simple hashtags to categorize the posts: #IceBucketChallenge and #StrikeoutALS. Without even knowing what the campaign was about, these two simple hashtags alone describe why it exists, simplifying it for people to search and learn more about the effort, watch videos posted from the challenge and ensure that others are aware of their participation.

Just The Facts: The volume of tweets that include the #icebucketchallenge hashtag has surged over the past in the beginning of August peaking at 90,000 before tapering off:

Graph showing the #IceBucketChallenge hashtag from 7/15/14 - 8/13/14 from Digiday

Image Courtesy of Digiday

Learning from “Organic” Viral

Whether you are running a promotion for a small local restaurant, a giveaway for a large real estate company or creating awareness around the next life-changing app, learning to leverage social media effectively to gain awareness and traction for your efforts is crucial (but as good marketers we already know this, right?). Even the best marketers in the world have a tough time actually getting it right. By incorporating some of these lessons from #IceBucketChallenge, your next social media marketing campaign may have a better chance to gain traction and provide a boost to your grow your business. Now it’s on you to accept the challenge.

What have you learned from the #IceBucketChallenge? We would love for you to share your ideas in the comment section below.

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A New Creative Space for DragonSearch in the Hudson Valley http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/new-creative-space-hudson-valley/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/new-creative-space-hudson-valley/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 19:03:56 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/?p=17410 Continue reading ]]> The Hudson Valley’s Uptown Kingston neighborhood experienced an exciting and wonderful day this month! A well-established digital marketing organization that services national and international clients cut the ribbon at its new, creatively-designed space, sharing the festivities with government officials and regional dignitaries.

It was a milestone for all of #usDragons – because the organization was OURS!

A group gather inside the new DragonSearch building for a ribbon cutting

From left to right: Carol Ricken, Director of Membership Ulster Chamber; Tim Distel on behalf of Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk; Mike Hein, Ulster County Executive; Shayne Gallo, Kingston Mayor; Ric Dragon; Don Tallerman; Ward Todd, President Ulster Chamber

DragonSearch officially opened its new office at what was formerly the Ertel Building, and now renamed the DragonSearch Building, at 8 N. Front Street. The two-story, 19,000 square-foot building was once a medical device factory and a Nash new car dealership. You know any building is an old one that sold a car brand that stopped production in the mid 50’s! Substantial renovations were accomplished on the second floor and it is now the home of over 25 full-time employees.

Our innovative digital marketing company – based here and in NYC – provides search marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing (SMM), and web development. There is also an in-house graphic design team and a video production department. All the digital marketing work is completely done on premises by the industry-leading Dragon team, integrating all the services offered with a customized strategy, uniquely developed for each client.

Ric Dragon and Don Tallerman speaking at the DragonSearch ribbon cutting ceremony

DragonSearch partners Don Tallerman (left) and Ric Dragon open the ceremony

Dignitaries and Dragons

Participating and speaking at the August 13th ribbon cutting ceremony were:

  • Tim Distel on behalf of New York State Senator, Cecilia Tkaczyk
  • Mike Hein – County Executive, Ulster County
  • Ward Todd – President, Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Shayne Gallo – Mayor, City of Kingston, New York
  • Ric Dragon – CEO and Co-Founder, DragonSearch
  • Don Tallerman – President and Co-Founder, DragonSearch
Tim Distel, Mike Hein, Shayne Gallo and Ric Dragon speaking at the ribbon cutting ceremony

Tim Distel, on behalf of Senator Cecelia Tkaczyk’s office, reads a proclamation at the ribbon cutting.

The new DragonSearch offices were born out of partners Don Tallerman and Ric Dragon’s vision to create a work environment that was fun, dynamic, provocative and inspiring. At 9,000 square feet, the space will provide plenty of interior real estate. Overlooking the beautiful historic New York State Senate House Park and displaying views of the Catskill Mountains through an abundance of huge perimeter windows, the new DragonSearch office is a one-of-a-kind space that inspires creativity. The central area features individual workspace that allows for private work while also encouraging collaboration. Around the office are many nooks and tucked away spots for meetings, brainstorming, or just a bit of chilling.

It was important to the team that the space be able to host events and the team hasn’t wasted time in fulfilling that vision. On September 17, DragonSearch will host “Social Media Advertising Roundtable Training,” an interactive workshop designed to help business owners navigate the complex world of social ads. Learn more about this event and others by visiting our Digital Marketing Workshops page.

Tim Distel presenting a certificate of appreciation to Ric Dragon with Mayor Gallo in the back

Tim Distel, on behalf of Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk, presents a certificate of appreciation to Ric Dragon with Mayor Shayne Gallo looking on.

Available Kingston, NY Rental Space on the Lower Floor

We are all anticipating one great (or multiple amazing) tenants moving in to the 7,500 square foot floor below us. In the coming months that will be happening, too. It is ready to accommodate almost any type of business. Could it be yours? The first floor, centrally located space is ideal for retail, restaurants, light manufacturing or creative office work.

Ric Dragon, along with Don Tallerman, Mike Hein and Tim Distel, speaking at the ribbon cutting ceremony

Ric Dragon, along with Tim Distel, Mike Hein and Don Tallerman, speaking at the DragonSearch ribbon cutting ceremony.

Additionally, DragonSearch is offering a limited amount of ready-to-go shared office space on our second floor. Co-exist with the Dragon contingent – it is a vibrant, productive atmosphere! You will have your own private workspace and access to the DragonSearch building facilities including Wi-Fi, restrooms, and conference/meeting space.

For more information about DragonSearch, please visit www.dragonsearchmarketing.com or contact info@dragonsearch.net or call (845) 383-0890.

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Capture the Wind, A Social Media Metaphor for Building a Successful Strategy http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/social-media-metaphor-strategy/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/social-media-metaphor-strategy/#comments Thu, 14 Aug 2014 18:07:50 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/?p=17374 Continue reading ]]> It’s not unheard of, in the early stages of a conversation with a prospective client, to find myself answering the question: “How much does social media cost?”

Most of us expect to use social media for free. Of course there are exceptions, such as premium accounts on LinkedIn and the trend towards paid amplification becoming the norm. By and large, however, the barrier to entry in social media isn’t the cost of the tools themselves, but the resources that are consumed by effectively utilizing these tools.  A drawing of a wind turbine used as a metaphor for social media strategy including branding, audience, content and conversions

Ric Dragon summed it up nicely while attending Media Bistro’s Inside Social Media conference:

Giving Your Brand Power with a Strategy

Social Media may be as free as the air we breathe, but to convert that air into wind power requires a turbine. Sure, a business could set up its own wind turbine, but how will you know if it’s pointing in the right direction? If the wind is your audience, you want to make sure you position your turbine in the right place, i.e. the social network(s) where they are active. Is there wind, but your turbine isn’t spinning? Perhaps you aren’t engaging the right audience. What if the wind is blowing, the turbine is spinning, but your conversion funnel isn’t connected correctly to the turbine? Perhaps you’re not sending the right message to convert your audience. And of course, if the wind is blowing too strongly in the wrong direction, you might have a reputation management situation on your hands.

You may have guessed by now, that this is where social strategy comes in. The difference between merely buying a wind turbine and having expert guidance on making that turbine drive business goals is what makes a strategy successful. Notice I said business goals (not marketing goals).

A metal dinosaur and wind turbine in a field set against a cloudy blue sky

Having a social media strategy can help your brand not become a dinosaur.

The strategy is a process which defines the system that is used to capture the wind energy to power the business. This energy could be as ethereal as improving brand equity and establishing credibility or it could be as tangible as improving conversion-funnel velocity or retention rates.

Generating Results

In contrast to this focus on process and customization is a world where an agency (or tool) is simply pushing buttons. When asked, “How much does Facebook cost?” the answer might be to present a menu of buttons that could be pressed with little diligence paid to the act of building the wind turbine system beyond that choice. If presented with a menu of options for what a social media campaign might involve, the role of strategist falls back on the brand.

Developing a social media strategy is likely not the organizations core competency. Even with an internal marketing team, their value lies in their highly specialized knowledge of the vertical and the customer experience that their products play a role in. An external team, on the other hand, should be highly skilled in determining how best to tell that story in a variety of specialized mediums. The major difference here is deeply rooted in the reason a brand would choose to work with an agency in the first place: expertise and specialization.

Although some might be quick to present a proposal that explains what buttons will be pushed, our approach is to present a process where we determine what buttons will actually use the turbine to power the business. This is part of what makes us a learning organization. Our skills lie in our team’s ability to build successful strategies that are unique for each client and uniquely effective for meeting their business objectives; pointing that wind turbine in the right direction.

Do you have a social media strategy that is powering your business? We would love to hear about it in the comments below.

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Keyword Research Helps Structure Your Website & Focus Your Content http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/keyword-research-copywriting-overview-part3/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/keyword-research-copywriting-overview-part3/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 15:06:26 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/?p=17228 Continue reading ]]> YOU Control the Keyword Tool

Back for Part 3 in the series on Keyword research. In Part 1, we explored the history of SEO keyword research and what are considered best practices for 2014. Continuing in Part 2, we went through the nuts and bolts of using the Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool.

For those following the series – now that you have some hands on experience with the functionality of this tool – we can take a step back and talk about merging the practical use of the tool with the creative and intuitive part of our brains. What does that mean? Musicians and painters use an instrument or brush as a tool and they develop skills for how to use them technically, but when they play or paint, the creative process controls the tool.

So with keyword research, I have seen people create lists of thousands of words and phrases – that is the relatively easy part. But how do you narrow it all down to one primary phrase and a few supporting ones? That is the goal to achieve.

Two silos on the top of a concrete building

The Goal of Your Keyword Research

Keyword research should help to define the structure of the website. Once you determine the top level focus of your Home Page, you need to determine what the focus for the other site pages will be and how your navigation will display them.

Think about it this way, if you are at a party and someone inquires as to what your business is about, what do you tell them? Not in an elongated ten minute conversation, no life history, no listing of each and every thing that you manufacture or offer as a service – but in one small phrase containing two or three words! Can you do it? If you got it – write it down. It may be a very good starting point. Or not!

It is often difficult for an organization to determine that top level keyword phase that defines their entire entity. EVERYTHING else that you do is a sub-group of this top phrase. That important primary keyword phrase is the focus of the Home Page.

The Keyword Research Process & Your Company Website

Here is an example:

Conversation overheard: “Well, we have a music production company doing primarily music for children, with a variety of signed recording artists, we own and operate our recording studio and we sometimes produce music for TV shows or films, but primarily we release all our music on our own record label. On the side, my partner and I are both studio musicians and we play bass and drums on other people’s records.”

Based on that cocktail party conversation, what is the top level focus for your Home Page – the page that everything else you do fits under?

I initially would choose “Children’s Music” as the focus, with the longer tail “Children’s Music Record Company” as the primary keyword phrase.

Next I would run that through the Keyword Planner tool and, like in this instance, there might be a surprise! “Children’s Music” has 1,000 monthly searches while “Kids Music” has 9,900! So the primary focus becomes “Kids Music” and “Kids Music Record Company” is the primary keyword phrase, with “Children’s Music” and “Children’s Music Record Company” as supporting phrases. With that top of the pyramid in place, your site can be structured something like this:

A diagram showing keyword research for a website structure about kids music

Now that you know the pages of your website, the next task is to do research and select the keyword phrases for each one. Notice that I am not lumping “Recording Studio” in with “Music Production” on the same page. They each have their own page and unique copy, and the hierarchy created is logical and natural.

Don’t Forget About Your Blog!

Note that I named the blog for this site, “Kids Stuff Blog,” because when you blog on your website, your topics should not just be one dimensional. Branch out from music to other interesting things about kids and families. If you create a variety of great children related content that is well optimized for search by the diligent keyword research you will do after reading this tutorial series of posts, then people will hopefully find your website when they are searching for things other than just “Music for Kids”. Since the blog topics are all kid related and attracting folks who have children, you can acquire an audience of site visitors that may indirectly discover the best kids music to purchase for their family and friends!! I have written individual blog posts targeted to the desired audience segments that have virtually doubled the traffic to a website.

Good SEO is Based on Logic

There is structure and order to good SEO. It is logical. Make wise and thoughtful choices, revisit them the next day and refine. It is smart to refer to competitor’s websites, but even though they may be more successful than you, don’t automatically assume that if you copy all the things they incorporated in their website that you will be elevated to their level. Don’t assume either that they are doing great SEO that you should mimic. You may be copying a bad website that gained credibility in the eyes of Search Engines primarily because the NY Times featured them in an article and referred a ton of traffic to them (or various other reasons).

Now you are on your own to explore this world. Fly out of the nest, interact with the Keyword Planner Tool to do keyword research for your website and blog. Content rules and optimized content, really rules!

Have you used these keyword research tactics for your content? We would love to hear about it. Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

 

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You’re Eating Bananas the Wrong Way, So Change http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/change-digital-marketing/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/change-digital-marketing/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 19:37:25 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/?p=17222 Continue reading ]]> Change. It’s not something easily accepted by many. Status quo. Stability. Constants. All of these give us a familiarity that many find preferable to the chaos change can bring. But what about when change is necessary? That’s what we are dealing with, happily, at DragonSearch as growth has given us an opportunity to expand into a new office today. The move puts us in new surroundings with new sights, sounds and neighbors. I’m already seeing that many habits of mine will change. And it reminded me of another habit I discovered recently that I was doing “wrong,” and I thought about how it could apply to our digital marketing work.

Apparently most of us, like me, have been eating bananas the wrong way, peeling them using the stem which is really the bottom based on how they grow on trees. The way that monkeys, and Europeans (according to our world traveler Eta), do it is to use the stem to hold it and peel it from the top. So, what does eating bananas have to do with digital marketing? It has to do with change.

Although there may not be any formal studies on the right or wrong way to peel a banana, if we consider that monkeys are the authoritative group upon which all banana eating practices should be based, it would seem that the stem-on-the-bottom method is best. But I have been eating them the “other” way for so many years. Certainly, I can’t change that habit. But then I tried it and you know what? It was easier to peel that way and, less awkward and messy to hold it when I got to the end.

graphic of peeled banana

The best way to learn how to change is to get buy-in, understand how the change will help and what the benefit of changing is. In the case of banana eating, the benefit was apparent immediately, so why not continue to utilize this more effective method? In cases where the data supports taking a new direction or the change brings about a positive experience, it becomes easier to implement and continue.

But sometimes the value of changing is not so apparent. When I learned how to type (allow me to date myself for a moment), personal computers were not commonplace; I learned on a typewriter (what’s that?!). Typewriters used monospacing between characters which made text look disproportionate. Having two spaces after a period made the text easier to read. More about all that here. Nowadays, fonts are pretty and proportional so there is no real need for two spaces.

This was something I had never thought about nor even knew the reasoning behind until about three months ago a coworker called me out on it after reviewing a document I had written for a client. He said, “It looks great but stop putting two spaces after periods!” So I did some research and realized, “Wow! How it is that I got this far, even through college, and no one ever mentioned it to me.” Side Note: There has been much debate about this topic. Whether you are on the single or double spaced team, let’s just assume for the sake of this post that single is the winner.

I thought it would be hard to change. I have been typing like this for almost 30 years. But, I decided to try and change. For a little while it was tough, I had to really think about what I was doing since typing is pretty subconscious. I could tell it was even slowing me down a bit. I consider myself a fast typer, especially when it is emotionally driven. But within a very short time (about a week), I noticed I could go back to subconsciously typing and not have the two spaces. I wasn’t even making mistakes or going back to my old ways.

So again, what does this have to do with digital marketing? In the cases, i.e. banana peeling, where there is buy-in or an experiential shift, change can be easier. But in the cases where you didn’t even know change was needed, you have to learn how to make it happen.

How to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Did you use rankings as a main metric for SEO success? Well those days are long over. How did you change the way you measure success now?  Did you use a tool six months ago that worked for a campaign you were running? Great, but what if there are new tools out there that might be even better? Have you been posting specific content on your social networks that is performing really well? Awesome, but are you prepared for when it stops performing?

Are you ready to make a change? You always want to be two steps ahead in this ever changing world of digital marketing and the best way to do that is to find ways to continually challenge yourself to change. It doesn’t have to be just at work either. Try to eat dinner or brush your teeth with your left hand. Walk backwards from your kitchen to your living room. Force your brain to do things it’s not used to every day.

Oh and one last thing about peeling bananas: those stringy things that sometimes come off the peel and stick to banana happens less frequently when you peel them from the top. So next time you pick up a banana and you go to eat it the same way you have been eating it for years, flip it over and give it a shot, you might be pleasantly surprised at how you can change.

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Publisher and the SEO Side of LinkedIn http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/linkedin-publisher-seo/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/linkedin-publisher-seo/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:38:15 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/?p=17215 Continue reading ]]> Face-lift, makeover & remodel – sounds like the description for a show on HGTV, right? Well the same can be said for LinkedIn, which has been undergoing a lot of “home improvement” renovations over the last thirty days. If you’ve been keeping score, there have been major changes rolled out to LinkedIn users in the last month:

 

 

However, none of these new changes may be more important to the platform than the recent introduction of Linkedin’s Publishing feature which allows members to contribute and share on Linkedin in a brand new way. Members now have the ability to post long form content, i.e. a blog post rather than a regular status update. By posting long form content, each post becomes part of your professional profile and will be displayed in the new “Posts” section of your LinkedIn profile. Your posts can be viewed by members both in and out of your network. If you’re an SEO, here is the best part… the long-form post is searchable both on AND off LinkedIn.

But Wait!!!

The fact that your content will show up in the SERPs can work for you — but it also can work against you. We have been performing analysis and testing to examine how others are approaching this new universe of LinkedIn. We’ve found some good, some bad and some downright ugly.

Context is the New King

At this point, I’m hopeful that we have all scraped the “Content Is King” bumper stickers off of our laptops, and have moved to a place where the context of our content defines us. Content is everywhere, so when creating a post on LinkedIn, keep in mind the importance of bringing value to your audience. The first step to separating yourself from the pack, and for any successful long-form publishing on LinkedIn, is to make sure the title of your post is well optimized. You are given a limited amount of characters for the title – and similar to any real estate in your LinkedIn profile – it’s important to take advantage of EVERY one of them. Abide by optimization best practices when creating titles and remember to write for the reader first.

linkedin-publisher-image-smaller

Publishing Rights, Yours or LinkedIn’s?

Your post is written and you’re ready to press publish, now comes the important question: “Who owns this content, LinkedIn or me?” LinkedIn attempts to explain the answer in this help document, Best Practices for Long-Form Posts, however, the issue of content ownership that isn’t addressed. To answer this question, I went to LinkedIn’s own help center and came across Linkedin’s Rights and Responsibilities for Your Posts on Linkedin’s Publishing Platform. What I found is very interesting. “Content published on LinkedIn’s publishing platform remains your work. You own the rights to any posts you publish.” That seemed to clearly states that any original content you publish does in fact remain your own. You can also edit/delete any work that you may not want to appear in your profile. However, the next bulleted item stated the following: “LinkedIn may distribute your content, annotate your content (e.g., to highlight that your views may not be the views of LinkedIn), and sell advertising on pages where your content appears.”  Hmmm…..

Is LinkedIn Publisher a Duplicate Content Trap?

According to Linkedin’s Rights and Responsibilities for Your Posts on Linkedin’s Publishing Platform it clearly states:

“You can republish something that you have published somewhere else as long as it is your original content that you own the rights to.”   Although the quote above does outline the legalities of publishing your own content to your LinkedIn profile (sort of), it DOES NOT speak about the SEO implications of doing so. Remember, your long form content can be found in the SERPs. In order to understand this, let’s backup a bit and review the canonical tag. According to my good buddy Jason White, canonical tags “tell search engines the original source of the content so that any equity a post, page or product has will be properly attributed to the  original source and not counted as duplicate content.” The tag essentially tells search engine spiders what is the original source of a page or, in this case, a piece of content. Hopefully, your SEO is following best practices and you are already including this tag on any site or page or blog post you are creating. But what happens when you re-purpose that content onto your LinkedIn page? Nothing, right? Well, as outlined above, LinkedIn says you have the rights to do so, but think twice if you want your content to be served up in searches.

The Secrets to the LinkedIn Dupe Content Trap are in the Source Code

Marc Dixon, CEO of Regus, is cashing in on the current World Cup soccer craze. He created a post about Leadership and outlines five great soccer players who exhibit leadership both on and off the field. He published the post on Workplace, Regus’ blog. A quick Ctrl+U (mind your shortcuts!) uncovers the guts of Regus’ blog and the beautiful canonical tag we seek:

A screenshot showing the canonical tag code on a website

Jumping over to LinkedIn, we see Marc took the same blog post and copied that post directly to his LinkedIn page, word for word. Digging deeper, in the source code… another canonical tag! This one – which originates from the LinkedIn Publisher’s code is also telling the spiders that this piece of content originates here. No good!

A screenshot showing the canonical tag code for LinkedIn

This has virtually created a behind-the-scenes tug-of-war for the content. The two conflicting canonical tags could be confusing the Google spiders that are crawling both the blog and his LinkedIn page which, remember, is indexed. How will the Search Engines decide which version to display? Good question. It appears that the deciding factor comes down to two things: 1) where it was posted first and 2) which page/site has more authority. What does this all mean? Because LinkedIn uses canonical tagging:

  • Your published posts can be viewed as a source in the eyes of the Search Engines, therefore, you can rank for the content you publish here. Up to this point, LinkedIn does not offer the ability to change the coding of any of your content. This would prevent you, the user, from pointing that great content that you posted on both your blog and your LinkedIn page back to your blog.

Although this proves to be fine line to walk, and LinkedIn publisher hasn’t been around long enough to really and truly impact search results, it is important to pay attention to how this ecosystem is affected. Will LinkedIn create dupe content issues? Although there hasn’t been mention of any on-going penalties, I can see the writing on the wall; this has all the symptoms of becoming a potential problem. When deciding whether or not to post your latest blog post on your LinkedIn page, keep this in mind. In the long run, keeping your content separated and unique to the original platform, you are doing two important things; first, you are completely bypassing any and all duplicate content questions that can be raised by canonical tagging, and more importantly, creating content in two separate spaces potentially improves your visibility in search results.

What do you think about the new LinkedIn Publisher? Share your thoughts in the comments below.  

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Getting the Most from Your Marketing Agency http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/getting-most-from-marketing-agency/ http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/getting-most-from-marketing-agency/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 18:14:55 +0000 http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/?p=17190 Continue reading ]]> My colleague Jason White recently wrote a blog post about client-agency relationships. In it, he gave tips for what agencies can do to gain the trust of their clients. Great stuff!

It’s been my experience, having spent time on both on the agency and on the client side, that how clients manage their agencies is just as important to the long-term health of their business as how the agencies perform their duties.

Partnerships Rule!

A drawing of two arms shaking hands on a purple background

All agencies understand that ultimately, they work FOR their clients. But the relationships that really produce outstanding results are those where both parties work WITH each other. Think of your agency as a partner. A partner shares your goals, your dreams, has your back when things get tough and you can give a partner feedback without fear of retribution or defensiveness. There are few surprises for either party in a partnership since they have been able to communicate openly and stay connected via that trust Jason wrote about!

Micro-Managing Nets Micro Results

A drawing of a hand with a magnifying glass showing micro-management

Micro-managers fret and stress over every detail and need near-constant updating on each project’s status. What they don’t realize is that micro-managing usually produces micro-results. While clearly it is important for you, the client, to know what the agency is doing and the results they are producing, knowing every detail does two things: 1) It squeezes out any spontaneous creativity and 2) It creates a situation where reporting results overtakes getting the results.. Neither situation is likely to produce the desired outcomes you want.

Accountability Goes Both Ways

A drawing of a yellow two-way street sign on a blue background

Your expectation as a client is that your agency is going to do what it says it’s going to do. That’s a fair expectation! That kind of accountability should go both ways. Let’s look at an example. A client had a strategy that was centered around the development of a blog. Great….a plan for creating fresh content! Our SEO and Social Media teams created a strategy around the blog that would drive traffic from the targeted audience. Only one problem: the client never delivered the blog. We had a strategy that needed to be overhauled (which we did) and goals that had to be adjusted (and, I should mention, were achieved!).

Not delivering on items, whether big (a blog) or small (photos from an event) can ultimately impact the results that you’d expect from your agency. Hold your agency to the same standards you hold yourself. If you expect them to hit every deadline, then hit yours. Don’t let them have “an out” by being able to say they couldn’t deliver because you didn’t!

Fear and Intimidation Is No Way to Manage

A drawing a a red silhouette profile with shapes showing yelling

Let’s face it…sometimes things go wrong. Of course, there are varying degrees of “wrong” and so, there are varying levels of reaction. Certainly, voicing your concerns is important and your agency should be there listening. But if the team is fearful of retribution if they make a mistake, it can stifle their creativity. A better tactic is to stay calm and focused so that you can work with the team toward a solution, providing an atmosphere that fosters creative problem solving.

Avoid Mission Creep

Drawing of a purple silhouette head with a cloud bubble showing strategy

Mission creep is something we’ve all encountered. It is when the expectations of a project shift, usually getting bigger, and the goals go beyond the original scope of the project. When it happens, clients sometimes move forward with new expectations without realizing that something has to give. An agency cannot be expected to deliver more results with the same budget or activity level. A resetting conversation is critical, one where you talk with your agency to reprioritize activities, eliminate (or put on hold) those that aren’t as critical as they once were, reset goals and discuss new budgets. It will put everyone on the same page as you move forward, with clear expectations on both sides.

Agencies Are People Too

A team photo of the DragonSearch agency in a field jumping in the air

Perhaps this is the most important thing to remember: your marketing agency is made up of people, just like your in-house team. They will work hard. They will achieve success. And, yes, they will make mistakes. Do they tell you about them? Do they take responsibility for them AND bring a solution? Then give them a break. Let these mistakes go. Keeping them more alive than necessary creates people that fear making mistakes, becoming hyper-cautious in their work and often less creative. In the ever-changing digital marketing realm, you don’t want that. What you want are people who are always looking for new ways to accomplish objectives, testing new strategies and tactics. And like many major accomplishment in history, there will be failures before major success. But it will be worth it, if you allow it to happen.

High Fives All Around

A drawing of two arms giving each other a high five

There will also be successes, so make sure you acknowledge your agency for them! Recently, we had a client go out of their way to publicly acknowledge the work we had been doing for the company. They sent a letter to our CEO and even arranged for the DragonSearch account team to be given special tokens, that had great symbolic meaning, in front of our entire company. Does that make a difference? Indeed it does. While every client wants to think that they are their agency’s ONLY client, we all know that that’s not the case (though we do our best to make you feel that way, too!). Think about which client YOU would want to work for: the screaming micro-manager or the gracious partner that appreciates your work. Give a round of high fives, in some form, and see how motivated your agency team will be to recreate that feeling of success.

On Our Way to a Beautiful Relationship

The agency client relationship is always in flux. Agencies must strive to be more than just a vendor, they must gain the trust of their clients and become a valued partner. Clients must also work towards that end, allowing the agency the freedom to use their expertise on behalf of their clients. This kind of mutual respect and focus on the goals, is the foundation upon which client-agency relationships that last for years are built!

 

What is the biggest challenge you’ve had managing an agency? Share it in the comments below.

 

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