Order Connected Culture NowConnected Culture

CONNECTED CULTURE Blog by Jerry Allocca

Now, more than ever, we’re all connected. What does it mean to be part of the Connected Culture? Share your thoughts and ideas here!

Traditional SEO: Going Old School Pays Off

Hoffice-594132_1280ow many historic phrases have ended with “- is dead”? For us in the world of internet marketing, the words “SEO is dead” rang like a death knell and algorithmic updates to Google and other search engines were the ones holding the bloody daggers. Over dramatization and hyperbole aside, the “death” of SEO was a dark day for many who honed their skills at website optimization to help their clients climb search engine rankings. Quality content became the new name of the game. Old dogs would have to learn new tricks or fall by the evolutionary wayside for refusal to adapt. They new mantra for internet marketing sounded as though a bold new monarch was claiming the throne of a decrepit, deposed, and dethroned former ruler. “SEO is dead. Content is King.” That death declaration was a bit premature, though, as traditional SEO pulled a Lazarus to remind everyone of what was so great about it in the first place, and to rule with King Content as an advisor of sorts. See, to call something that is still used, but in adapted ways, completely dead is naïve. Traditional SEO and modern, content-driven best practices drive and inform each other to truly improve a website’s rankings. It’s not enough just to have great content if no one is going to your website to read and consume it, just as it’s moot to drive people to your website without relatable, informative, useful, interesting and engaging content that will encourage further action and conversion. This begs the question, “How can we use traditional SEO in the modern era for the best pay off?”

To evaluate what traditional techniques can be adapted into the new era, one must first circle back to the motive behind search engines’ actions against SEO. Black hat SEO, dubbed so for the unethical manipulative tactics used to increase a site’s rankings, was a major driver for search engines to “get smarter” and ultimately “kill off” the remaining value of traditional SEO methods. If one uses white hat SEO techniques and pairs them with writing quality content, it becomes a symbiotic recipe for success. Building quality links, using keywords wisely in optimized, quality content, optimizing meta tags for any images or content on the site all still hold their value. Don’t be afraid to kick it old school and raise the dead. There’s a lot to learn from the past.

Read More

The SEO Cheat Sheet

computer-767776_1280The cheat sheet. To some, it’s a dirty word and tactic. To others, it’s a godsend. No matter what school of thought one prescribes to, it’s clear that a cheat sheet is designed to give someone a leg up on something. (Besides, we’re sure that when you were in school, you delighted in the rare occurrence of a teacher allowing a cheat sheet for a test!) All debates and school references aside, in the working world, particularly the modern and mutable dominion of domains we call internet marketing, any sort of (ethical) advantage is a welcome gift. The problem with seeking out such advantages, as with anything related to the internet, is knowing where to find and identifying reputable resources. If you are in the internet marketing field, and/or SEO, you are most likely aware of how search engines work, the frequent updates their developers implement to prevent spammy content from showing up in results, and how to read a URL, meta tags, and the pages themselves for red flags.

Well known sites with reputations as good SEO resources such as Moz.com are great places to look for tips and cheat sheets of all kinds. Some cheat sheets cover the bare-bones basics of SEO, while others go more in depth. Cheat sheets may come from different perspectives- from those of web developers to bloggers to SEO’s. Down below, you’ll see a very simple sample cheat sheet we’ve drafted. What would you include in your cheat sheet?  This one is formatted as a questionnaire of sorts and only touches on some very basic SEO aspects.

  • Tags
    • Are any pages not being indexed? (Do they have a noindex tag in the site’s coding)
    • Is there an appropriately formatted title tag on each page? (Using a keyword and under 70 characters)
    • Does each page have a meta tag using keywords, a call to action if applicable, and under 160 words?
    • Does the page have more than one H1 tag?
    • Do images have alt text/tags?
  • Content
    • Is the content an appropriate length (ie is the site full on lengthy product descriptions but thin content)?
    • Is the content engaging, keyword rich, and appealing to both readers and search engines?
    • Is the content spammy?
  • Other
    • Are redirects and status codes in place?
    • Does the site have a sitemap submitted to Google?

Is the site user-friendly to navigate?

Read More

Build Your Online Fingerprint: How to Create a Unique Social Media Presence

SEO-FingerprintIf you’re just getting started in the world of online marketing, you’ll likely hear the word “unique” repeated over and over again. Everyone wants unique content, a unique audience, a unique online presence. But what does that really mean, and how do you go about achieving it? Fortunately, building your unique online fingerprint is simple once you’ve figured out a few key things about your business.

Consistency Is Key

Too many businesses make the mistake of thinking that being unique means having a “crazy” string of images and content with no consistency. Nothing could be further from the truth! You want to figure out a simple, clear, elegant style and stick with that for as long as you can. Define a color palette that you want associated with your content, and highlight it in your logo, your promotional material, and your online content.

You want your audience to see your colors and immediately think of your business. Likewise, come up with a short, powerful mission statement or message and repeat it in your promotional material until it’s become part of your audience’s psyche. A single striking message is much more powerful than a hundred bland ones.

Know Your Niche

In the past, companies tried to market to everyone by creating big box superstores that sold everything. These days, with the online market so diverse and fragmented, it’s much more effective to dig out your niche and cater to that.

Figure out who your particular audience is, what their tastes are, what kind of media they consume, and build your online identity and content around that. Understand that your product is more than just a set of features and solutions. It’s an expression of identity, and the more deeply your audience can connect with that identity, the more loyal they’ll become to your business.

Read More

Turn Likes Into Loyalists: How to Engage Your Social Media Audience

seo-2You’ve completed the online legwork to build up an impressive audience on social media. Good job! It is a great accomplishment and immensely beneficial to have thousands of people from all over the world ready (and hopefully willing) to listen to what you have to say. Now you must consider what to say to them. Building up Facebook “likes” or Twitter followers is only the beginning; now you have to engage them with quality content so they don’t end up ignoring your future posts. Here are some ideas for how to create engaging and effective social media content.

Pictures and Videos Should Grab Their Attention

Now that you’ve got an audience, you might feel compelled to share lengthy articles or product descriptions. If you have that impulse, here’s a tip: don’t! Focus instead on eye-grabbing pictures and short, interesting video clips.

You have to remember that on social media, you’re competing with thousands of people and pages all clamoring for clicks. You should be posting material that will grab a reader in the two seconds that your post is on their smartphone screen before they scroll down. Focus on funny or visually striking images that are easy to understand and digest, which will create a high share rate.

Contests Will Keep Them Engaged

Want to keep your audience coming back to your page? Create a regular contest or sweepstakes. By hosting a monthly or weekly contest, you’ll be incentivizing your audience to return to your page regularly. They’ll show up to see if they’ve won, and they’ll stay to browse your page (if your content is interesting and eye-catching enough).

Give Them a Peek Behind the Scenes

One of the biggest opportunities of social media is the fact that it gives an audience a chance to peek behind the curtain and see what content creators are like in their daily lives. It’s actually a disadvantage to project your company as a soulless machine these days; show them what you guys are like goofing around, and you’ll come off as more relatable.

Read More

How Does Your SEO Hold Up Internationally?

online-communityWhether you’re a company that offers services to business all over the world or you’re selling your products to an international audience, if you’ve got visitors to your website from all across the globe, you should be thinking about how your SEO holds up internationally. Local SEO can be confusion enough, right? Fortunately there are some very obviously things that you should be paying attention to in order to ensure that your SEO is just as effective internationally as it is locally.

Here are somethings that you should consider for complete international optimization:

  1. Localized and Appropriate Content: If a large portion of your consumer demographic lives in Paris, France, be sure to utilize details that those in Paris, France would most relate to. Include appropriate currency and time zone to make your site most effective. You should also consider cultural norms between societies. For instance, what citizens in the United States may find humorous, another culture may find offensive.
  2. Language Differences: When targeting one specific region, you should make sure that all of your content is in that common language.  If you’re targeting multiple countries with different languages, consider having separate websites or subdomains for each region.
  3. Geotarget: Use geotargeting tools found with search engine tool such as Google Search Console to ensure that your website is targeting those which you are trying to reach.
  4. Link Earning: With international SEO comes the need for international link earning (formally known as link building). Consider whether or not international websites are linking back to you. Are international bloggers writing about your services or products? International links means better international SEO!
  5. Go Beyond Google and Bing. Sure, Google, Bing, and Yahoo! are the big names in the United States, but individuals across the seas utilize a variety of search engines that you may not be totally familiar with. Register your website (or international websites) with international equivalents, such as Yandex, Naver, and Seznam.
  6. Consider a Local IP Address: If you can, consider hosting your website, or its international counterpart, on an IP address that is local to the region which you are targeting. This will help your site to receive more relevant traffic  from those who exist internationally.

Ensuring that your SEO holds up internationally can be confusing, but when you consider these fundamental elements, you’ll be on your way to creating a well-rounded international audience!

Read More

Google Search Console: The New Webmaster Tools

True or false: You must be a master to understand Google Webmaster Tools. False! But it certainly does sound like you should be well-equipped when it comes to the internet, right? If you’ve been intimidated by the mere thought of Google Webmaster Tools, you’re not alone. Sure, SEO expword-clouderts, marketers, and developers likely know a thing or two about online optimization, but what about the hobbyists, small business owners, or bloggers who aren’t well, experts?

Simply the title “webmaster” may deter certain individuals from utilizing the tools available through Google Webmaster Tools. That’s why Google is taking an initiative to rebrand Google Webmaster Tools as Google Search Console. According to Google, they hope that all types will utilize Google Search Console – webmasters and internet novices alike.

So what is Google Search Console and is it any different from Google Webmasters?  In a short answer, no, Google Search Console will not be any different, although Google does constantly add new tools to their service. The main purpose of Google Search Console (previously Google Webmasters) is so help websites obtain more traffic through search engine optimization. This is done through a number of tools and programs found within Search Console. The main purpose is so help better understand what is going on within a specific website.

From a very basic standpoint, here are just some of the things you can do with Google Search Console:

  • Assign which pages you would or would not like Google to crawl
  • Gain insight into sites that link back to your own website
  • See which keywords are most frequently found by Google when crawling your website
  • Assess your overall site performance and bounce rate

So there you have it – if you’ve ever been hesitant to utilize Google Webmasters, give it a try – or, should we say, give Google Search Console a try. It’s not just for webmasters, after all!

Read More

‘What’s in it for Me?’ Upping the Ante for Link Building

Business man drawing social network structure

When it comes to creating a reputable online presence, link building is a key ingredient that is often overlooked. Thinking of your online presence, you’re likely to primarily focus on writing content, such as website content and blog posts and perhaps building a social media presence. However, link building helps you to further build relationships with other websites, with other businesses, and with potential audience members. Perhaps more importantly, link building helps to build a positive reputation amongst search engines in an effort to boost your search engine rankings.

If you’re new to link building, the process of obtaining links may seem overwhelming. However, there are a variety of ways to obtain links, all of which can be utilized by a variety of different industries and identities:

  • Natural links—As the name suggests, natural links come “naturally” to you or your business. This means no real effort needs to be done on your end, aside from, of course, being interesting and newsworthy! If you or your small business is heavily involved in the community, a local newspaper may cover your efforts and link back to your website in an online article. Or perhaps your business has won an award of some sort and is cited online? Congratulations! That’s a natural link!
  • Manual link building—Manual link building refers to creating links through outreach on your end. This can be done in a number of ways. One way is through submitting your URL to directories like DMOZ and Yahoo. Never pay for links, that will get you in trouble. Another way is to simply reach out and ask! Email bloggers asking if they’ll take a look at your product or service and write a post including a link back to you. If you’ve got an event going on, reach out to journalists to cover the story with an online article linking back to your website.
  • Self-created link building—The easiest but least successful way to gain links is to include a link back to your website within your social networking profiles, blog comments, news forums, and other places where conversations take place. Do this only where it makes conversational sense to do so. Don’t create these types of links as a link building strategy as those links will not help your seo efforts, but they can lead  to qualified traffic visiting your site which is always important.

While the credibility and search-ability of your name or website largely depends on polished content and an established social media presence, link building is a great way to further get your name out there and to form relationships. Keep these three SEO link building methods in mind in an effort to boost your online presence!

Read More

Three Email Marketing Metrics That You Should be Tracking (But Probably Aren’t!)

There’s no 1denying that for e-commerce businesses and organizations, email marketing is a great way to further interact with your clients. Through weekly or monthly subscriptions, you can convey to your customers ongoing deals, current promotions, the latest news, and more. If you’re utilizing an email subscription newsletter in your marketing strategy, chances are you’re tracking some conversions to ensure upmost success.

Subscription and unsubscription rates are a no-brainer.  Chances are you easily aware of just how many people are subscribing and unsubscribing. However, there’s more to maintaining your off-line presence than tracking these basics! As we embark further and further into 2015, consider making it a daily practice to track these process metrics:

Inactive Subscribers
Chances are, if you’ve got an email newsletter of sorts, you are aware of just how many people are subscribing. One vital component to understanding whether or not your newsletter content is effective? Check in on inactivity! Checking in on this often overlooked detail will allow you to assess how many subscribers are actually interacting with your newsletter. Knowing this allows you to re-strategize and retarget those subscribers that aren’t actively opening or clicking through to link.

Share Rates
It’s one thing to have readers open your email blasts, but it’s another thing to have them pass on your little golden nugget to others! Tracking share rate allows you to see how often subscribers are forwarding your email newsletter with friends or sharing them on social media. Knowing this also allows you to see where your target audience most prefers to share content. Are they more prone sharing news through email or through a quick Tweet?  This information can further allow you to target them in the most appropriate and effective way.

Spam Rates
You already know the importance of tracking unsubscribers, but how about those who are marking it as spam? If users can’t easily unsubscribe to your newsletters, or if the content doesn’t look professional, they may be sending your emails to their spam box, which can be a hit to your credibility and trustworthiness as a business.

Paying attention to these conversions will further allow you to assess the success of your subscription email blasts or newsletters. Furthermore, they will provide you with insight needed to make any changes to your current marketing or targeting strategies, ultimately boosting your credibility and trustworthiness as a business!

Read More

Content Marketing Hack: How to Repurpose Your Content Effectively


There’s no doubt about it: effective content is imperative to the success of your online presence. However, coming up with creative content isn’t always easy and when you’re stuck in a creative rut, it can be quite time-consuming! Fortunately, there are some very easy and effective ways to repurpose your content, extending its overall reach and effectiveness.

First things first: Create one great piece of content! At this point, don’t worry about its potential to be repurposed – just worry about making it attention-grabbing, effective, and overall well-crafted.  If you’re in a creative bind, go through past content and look for a piece that was very effective, or, that you simply really enjoyed. Perhaps you saw great success with a blog post you wrote a few months ago. Perhaps a tweet went viral. Or, maybe you just really enjoyed that video you created!

Once you have a great piece (or pieces) of content, it’s time to get to repurposing. One way to repurpose is to think about your audience for the piece you’ve already created. Consider how you can restructure the piece to target another audience segment. Can you rework your blog post to attract another age group or demographic?

Now that you’ve considered this option, take a look at different ways to showcase your content. Often times, information from a blog can be translated into an infographic, offering a fresh way to showcase details. Content within an infographic can then be translated into a videographic. Look for new channels that you haven’t used before to reach an entirely different audience segment. Consider podcasts (a perfect option for repurposing past blog posts), Twitter (great for repurposing Facebook status) or slideshows (great for infographics).

The power of repurposing content is that you can save time in compiling data and information. After all, once you’ve got great info to share, you want it to reach as many people as possible! Utilizing different platforms is the best way to do just that.

Read More

Infographics 101

pencil-190586_1280When it comes to content, visuals are growing more and more vital in the world of marketing and social media. After all, the general public tends to be drawn to images – they are colorful, bold, and make accompanying content easier to understand. But how can one effectively incorporate graphics and information without one overpowering the other? That’s where infographics come in!

Infographics can be defined by the artistic visualization of information and they are popping up more and more frequently on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Pinterest. Additionally, they are commonly seen on business websites as a method of displaying information or services. While infographics certainly are helpful, they aren’t necessary for every little bit of content. Infographics tend to be most effective when conveying:

  1. Lots of information
  2. Difficult to understand information
  3. Opposing ideas or thoughts

When beginning to incorporate infographics into your content strategy, there are a number of free or inexpensive services that can help in the creative process. These kinds of services will create the graphics for you after you input the information, allowing you to edit the display as needed. Charts, graphs, and simple graphics are often included, allowing statistics and information to truly take form in the minds of the viewer.

When promoted on social media, infographics tend to do very well. To increase the effectiveness of your infographic, it is important to consider a few stylistic elements. Creating an interesting and catchy title is the first vital step. You should also pay attention to font choice and amount of text that is incorporated. Too much text will take away from the simplicity of an infographic and too “frilly” of a font will lead to illegibility. Simplicity is key!  Providing sources is imperative, just as it would be for any other kind of content. Most frequently, sources are found in one easy-to-read spot at the bottom of the infographic.

Linkage is also possible through infographics, providing additional ways to boost your search engine optimization, in a stylistically pleasing way. This can result in more visitors to your website and an overall higher search engine rank.

As you embark on creating your next big marketing campaign, consider incorporating an infographic.

Read More