Chances are, you don't update your website all that often. You're time-crunched enough as it is running a veterinary clinic or another small business. However unintentional, you ignore your business website until the company decides to move, offer a new service, or something else you consider newsworthy. This makes for a static website that may not draw the attention of the search engines that you had hoped. The search engine optimization (SEO) benefit you receive from regular blogging is just one of the many reasons why your company needs to incorporate it into its overall marketing strategy.
We have been (slowly) rolling out a series of blog posts about Why Blogging is So Critical to your business, and where to get this content. But, once you have the text that you're going to publish on a page, there are a few tips and tricks that help that content not only get found, but help your reader quickly and easily capture the critical points of what you are saying. Recently, Microsoft conducted a study surveying the attention span of humans. What do you think the time frame is?
Shorter than that of a goldfish.
I linked to the study above, and I do hope you read it (likely, if you share characteristics of the participants of the study, you'vealready left my page to check!). But the study also highlighted something critically important. That attention span isn't necessarily a bad thing--in fact, people actually are in a mode of wanting to be consistently mentally engaged. Their brains will quickly discern any new knowledge and quickly move on to the next piece of information. What does this mean for you?
Your content needs to be strategically formatted to allow your readers to capture a maximum amount of information, in minimal time.
How can your web content be enhanced?
- Bulleted lists of items
- Engaging images which support your text
- Bolded titles
- White space
- Concise, error-free content
As you'll note, that quick little list was easy to read--using the tips included help to allow the reader to scan bite-size pieces of information, rather than a novel.
Where can you find great images to correspond with your content?
- iStock Photo (paid subscription service)
- Thinkstock Photo (paid subscription service)
- Pixabay (images free of copyright, even for commercial use and are distributed under Creative Commons)
Those are our favorites, but there are many more. Just a few rules:
- Remember to read the attribution requirements carefully, as blogging often requires photographer attribution.
- Google images are not free for the taking.
- Even if you have an in-house photographer, it's appropriate to attribute his or her work.
Just a few extra moments of time can strategically improve the impact of your writing, and help cater to the attention span of your readers.
A few months ago we started a series of blog posts regarding the huge importance of ultilizing blogging as part of your website and search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. We're following up today with an answer to a question we frequently receive:
Where do I get content for my blog?
There are a few sources for great content, and unfortunately lots of sources for bad content. It's highly important that sites that provide "spun content" or key-word stuffed blogs are avoided. These not only are detected almost upon first glance by your readers, but can also harm your site ranking. Google gives preference to sites that have authentic and valuable content. Avoid cheap, easy methods of site ranking. If you have more questions about the many ways that black-hat (overly aggressive and often unethical SEO can harm your site) drop us an email to help devise a better plan.
Now that we have that out of the way, let's discuss great ways to find content!
Here are some of our favorites!
- Case studies
Take an example of a client for whom you provided a service. Chances are, there are multiple other clients out there with the same question or situation that needs to be addressed. Case in point? If you have assisted a dog with a seasonal allergy with high success, post before/afters and a brief description of ailment and treatment. Leave the high-level medical lingo aside--and remember to write at a level of approximately an 8th grader. (Remember our article here?) Provide a way for your clients to contact you with ease.
- Business Events
Have an upcoming open house? Participating in a local community event? These are fabulous ways to provide details, content about event, and give your clients a way to connect with you in person. Additionally, any philanthropic events help you connect at an even more respected level. An event gives you an opportunity for at least three touch points: Prior to event, day of event, and follow up. Don't let these opportunities elude you!
- Seasonal Information
How do the seasons affect your business? Can you highlight a different product or service based upon the time of year? Do it, and provide a reason for your recommendations. Additionally, provide contact info and/or source of obtaining the discussed items/service.
- Guest authors
Do you have a strategic relationship with another company? For example, if you're a dentist who refers clients to a trusted orthodontist, or a veterinarian to refers to a specialist in chiropractic or oncology, give the referred partner space on your blog. This is a spectacular way to contribute to increased SEO rankings for one another, in addition to getting quality content. Don't forget to link to the referred partner's website!
......Hire professional copywriters.
There are many wonderfully skilled writers out there. A specialized segment of them have additional SEO certifications that can provide you a double-bonus when placing content on the web. We are fortunate to have skilled writers as part of our team at Saris Web Design/Saris Media. With just a few brief questions regarding the article you would like to generate, they are able to write impactful, pillar content that makes you look good, and also focus on the career that you have, saving your time and opportunity cost.
Happy writing (and blogging!)
In many cases, your website is the first introduction that your potential clients have to your business. If it is one that offers a product that is non-culture specific, then perhaps it is a good idea to evaluate how well your website tailors to those coming from different language and culture backgrounds. If your audience includes (or you want to begin including) those from a non-English language and culture, then, just like any good business, your website should tailor well to the needs of your clients. Although some websites simply translate their content into the many other languages they want to reach, this may not be a financially viable option for most business owners, nor may the translation be culturally accurate (especially if using an online web translator). Here are a few ideas and things to keep in mind as you expand into non-English cultures and languages.
Remember that language and culture go together
Language is a reflection of culture. Many things that we say, in any given language, are idiomatic in nature, and don’t always carry over to another language precisely because they reflect a unique aspect of that language’s culture.
A good example of this are the many words that Eskimos have for “snow.” Because snow and ice form such a large part of their culture, Eskimos have many ways of expressing the variety of forms of snow and ice. For example, the Eskimo word “patuqin” would be equivalent to “frosty, sparkling snow” in English. (Perhaps a perfect reference to what is heading in the direction of MN today, anyway!)
Another example are the indigenous tribes in some parts of the Indonesian islands. In the most remote areas high in the mountains, some tribes have a large amount of words for green and brown, due mostly to their direct contact with the infinite variety of greens and browns found in the flora of that region.
Well, chances are, you probably don’t have any Eskimo or Indonesian clients. The point is that as you develop your website, keep in mind that the way you say things, and even present your products, may be very one-sided. Keep your mind open, and ask yourself as you include new content how innately “American” it is, and whether or not other cultures can relate.
Case in point, the infamous "Got Milk?" commercials.....unfortunately the direct translation to some communities was "Have you given your family enough milk today?" (or quite frankly, a bit worse, but you can Google that on your own....)
One would definitely hope to avoid falling into the delivery of a message that was not quite the intention, but much worse, something offensive.
Keep the needs of your audience in mind
A good first step to take when it comes to expanding beyond an English-speaking audience is to determine which languages and cultures you want to reach. Once you have a good idea that you want to open up to the Spanish-speaking community in your city, for example, then the next step is to adapt your message to the needs of your audience.
A good question to ask yourself is, “How or why would Spanish-speaking community use my product compared to an English-speaking community?” As you do so, you should reach out to those who are most familiar with the public you are trying to reach. In this case, someone with experience in the field, who is also a native-speaker of that language or is a native-born in the culture, would be your best help.
Let’s say you own a doggy daycare, and you are considering a push to open up more to the Hispanic community. You may want to find answers to questions such as the following:
- “What similarities and differences exist between the Hispanic community’s needs for doggy daycare, and the Caucasian community’s needs?”?
- “What messages/images would the Hispanic community find appealing?”?
- “What messages/images would the Hispanic community find offensive?”
- "How can I bridge the gap between what is the essential meaning of my message, and how I can effectively state it?"
And so on. As you find answers to these questions, adapt your website to suit the needs of your audience--in order to clearly communicate your intention.
Think in translation terms
When Disney makes a really big production animated movie, they don’t worry about whether or not the message is going to hit home with the global community because they prepare it to be localized to each language and individual culture. As the text is prepared, it goes through a process of globalization, which consists of an important step: internationalization. All references to specific American culture and language are removed, and they are replaced with the general meaning or overall idea, so that they can be later localized to match the target audience.
The idea of internationalization can be adapted to your business’ website as you open your doors to non-English languages and cultures. Prepare your content so it suits the needs of all your target audiences, rather than just the typical English-speaking American. For example, according to 2011-2012 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, many non-native English speakers believe that it is a better idea to purchase pet food at the grocery store instead of their local pet store. If you sell quality pet food, and want to reach more members of a specific community, you may want to tailor your website around the fact that the pet food you sell offers more health benefits, and savings in pet health care in the long run, thus increasing the value of the service you offer in the sale of that particular item. Your site, in essence, is providing an educational service of enormous benefit in this regard.
Best idea? Consult a translator to most effectively communicate the point that you are wishing to portray.
Since Google’s latest upgrades, (Panda--a refresh of previous algorithm-in late January 2013, and Penguin in April of 2012) website owners have been wondering how to avoid being thrown into the Panda/Penguin penalty box. i.e. having sites with less than desired ranking and presence, and even marked decrease in both. Essentially, Google has made an effort to improve the overall quality of websites it recommends to its users in the search results. Therefore, the search engine giant has made high quality content a requisite for avoiding Panda/Penguin penalties. If you want to avoid losing your website’s search engine results page (SERP) ranking or want to improve it, you need to focus on SEO, blog writing, content writing, frequent website updates and social media integration because these are the main things Google is now focusing on when evaluating the quality of your website.
1. SEO - While search engine optimization (SEO) has always been important for ranging well in the SERPs on leading search engines, the latest standards put forth by Google are requiring a new approach. SEO was once a game of tricking the search engines by using keywords very heavily throughout content. This strategy was referred to as keyword stuffing. Although this was once an effective SEO practice, the new approach focusing on seamlessly integrating carefully targeted keywords naturally into high quality content. Less is actually more in terms of SEO and keywords.
2. Blog Writing - Blog writing is now an essential part of establishing your website as a credible, high quality website. In order to avoid getting slapped by Panda/Penguin, simply produce a consistent flow of blog posts to your website. Place a heavy emphasis on quality and relevance to your website. Integrating keywords into your blog posts should be a part of your SEO strategy, but make sure you use them judiciously. Posting consistently will help keep the content on your website fresh, which is critical to your success in a Panda/Penguin ruled Internet world.
3. Content Writing - Content writing is similar to blog writing in importance and application. You need to produce a consistent flow of content on your website in order to have it rank well in the SERPs after Panda/Penguin. Focus on creating content that will engage visitors to your website. Research keywords and integrate them into your content so that you are sure to be attracting high quality visitors to your website. Content writing now plays an essential role in determining the quality of your website in the eyes of Google.
4. Frequent Website Updates - Google wants to provide its users with the very best recommendations for their searches. They do not want to be sending users to websites with old content. Therefore, you need to frequently update your website with new content. In addition to improving your SERP ranking, you will also attract repeat visitors to your website if you frequently add content. People will also be more likely to share your website with their friends and social media contacts if it is a regularly updates and reliable source of information and resources.
5. Social Media Integration - Social media engagement with your website’s content now plays a role in how your website is evaluated by Google. Therefore, you need to integrate social media into your website so that visitors can easily interact with your content through their social media accounts. Sharing, comments and likes are all important activities that search engines now take into account when determining the value of your website.
Staying on top of changes is extremely critical when monitoring your website. If you think you've been affected by the Google Panda or Penguin changes, you'll want to analyze why you've been penalized. Likely one of the points listed above may indicate an area of your site to improve. 2013 is all about the quality of what is being put on the web, and following the steps outlined previously will help keep your site where you want it to be seen.