7 Quick No-No’s on Mobile Site Design

irritated mobile userWhen it comes to mobile website design, keep it simple. Less is more is a good motto.

Remember your mobile website users are fast-paced. When they are on their phone, they want everything easily accessible and on the fly. They do not have the time or patience to sort though website that is clunky and full of salesy BS trying to sweet talk into their wallet. They want to get right down to the point and get their fast. Make sure you that the first thing they see when they land on your mobile site is the most important information.

Here are 7  quick mobile website design no-no’s:

1. Using Pop-Ups. Pop ups can be a pain in the you know what, and just downright annoying. On mobile devices they are a HUGE problem! The mobile user has to fight to try and get the screen just right in order to be able to close the pop up. Don’t leave them on your mobile website to distract that on-the-go mobile user.

2. Burying Company Contact Info. Make sure your contact info is easily accessible. After all, don’t you actually want the customer to be able to contact you if they are interested in your product and services?!

3. Too Much Text. People using mobile devices are moving. They want to find the information that they need as quick and easy as possible. So don’t make them sift through loads of text and other crap that they DON’T need in order to find what they DO need. Less is more when it comes to mobile website content.

4. Links and Objects Too Close Together. It doesn’t matter who you are, ALL fingers are fatter when navigating on a mobile device! When links and objects are placed too close together it leads to wasted time, effort, and energy for all parties involved.

5. Buttons Too Small. Guess what?! Fat fingers strikes again! Buttons should always be big enough for our fingers. And they should be a safe distance apart so users are not tapping the wrong button. That is so frustrating to be meaning to hit one button but hitting another because it is so close to it. Then you have to spend twice as long navigating you way around because you have to keep backing up. This can lead to mobile users just completely abandoning the effort involved to view your mobile site.

6. Burying the Call-to-Action. As you know, mobile screens are very small, so keep your call to action within the visible screen people see when they land on your mobile site or your conversion rates will suffer. I mean if they can’t see your call to action they certainly probably aren’t going to do what you desire them to do.

7. Long Confusing Forms. Remember your mobile users are on-the-go and often in a hurry to get the information they need. Only use a form if absolutely necessary, and be sure to ask for as little information as possible. If it isn’t essential, save it for your desktop site. The best forms are probably just name and email address unless it is absolutely necessary to obtain more information from the user. The last thing you want is them to get frustrated having to fill out a long form and just abandon your mobile site. We have all been there and done that.

By using the tips above when doing your mobile website design you should create a better overall user experience for your mobile website users, making them appreciate your brand and efforts. Hopefully you will see great strides in your conversion rates. And don’t forget to have your analytics set up for your mobile site as well! You want to be able to track your efforts!

Quality Over Clickbait: Standing Out on the Web

I’m not usually a big fan of The Onion, but this headline got me:

Study: Online Content Creators Outnumber Consumers 2,000 To 1

qualityAll satire is rooted in at least a little truth, and with every passing year, the more people who get into the content game, the more crowded the field is starting to seem. Brands are told they can’t just make products or offer services anymore—they have to become publishers. In order to do that, they need people to create all that content they’re now expected to publish, whether in house or through outsourcing to marketing or content development agencies.

And those content creators and marketing agencies need to publish their own content, too. In order to do that, they need people to create all that content…

You see where I’m going with this.

So with everyone clamoring to tell their story and be heard above the cacophony the Internet has become, what can you do to stand out, be heard (or read), and reach that all-important audience you’re trying to connect with?

Forget the Trends

Have you noticed how lately, even headlines from authoritative and normally staid news outlets are emulating the Upworthy model? Check out this one from the Washington Post:

Released from the hospital, a rabbi assumes he’s okay. That’s when things take a turn.

And this borderline one from NPR:

Ex-IRS Official Invokes 5th Amendment Again, Then Things Get Hot

While Upworthy’s headlines do generate a phenomenal click-through rate, the company itself has said it’s not their headlines that make their content successful. It’s that people share their content. And why do they share that content? Because they like it. And why do they like it? Because it’s funny, enlightening, educational, insert positive adjective here.

But I think people don’t share Upworthy’s content just because it’s good. I think it’s because the content makes them feel good, and who wouldn’t want to share that?

Focus on creating good, high-quality content that speaks to people. The breathless, hyperbolic headlines may draw people in, but if you’re not backing those headlines up with substantial, meaningful content, you’re wasting your audience’s time, and your own.

Create Something Worth Sharing

OK, so now that you’re not relying on clickbait headlines, and are trying to create content with a little more substance, exactly how do you go about that? How do you know what people will want to read and share?

Well, here’s where metrics come in handy. Whatever tool or tools you’re using to measure social actions and interactions, use that data to see what’s working, and then try to emulate—not duplicate—those efforts.

But there’s a more personal way to go about this, too. Ask yourself what would speak to you. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Practice empathy. What would you want to know/read/learn/share? That’s what you need to create.

But remember there’s a fine line between empathizing and pandering. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope from time to time, and create content that challenges the status quo or makes people think.

That said, there’s also a difference between creating content that is genuinely meant to offer a different perspective and encourage discussion, and creating content meant solely to provoke and divide. Do you want your brand to be known for encouraging critical thinking, intelligent discussion, and positive reactions? Or for instigating conflict?

Remember you only have control over how your brand is represented and perceived while you’re creating your content. Once you release it into the wild, people can share it with any sort of editorial comment they may have. Try to encourage those comments to be positive, and your brand perception will be better for it.

Repurpose Your Content

Your audience will not always be in one place. If you’re trying to cater only to your blog readers, you’re missing out on a big world of potential readers—and customers. While your blog should always act as your home base, it doesn’t have to be your exclusive outlet.

I do not have a green thumb by any means, but you know those plants that when you take a small cutting, it actually promotes their growth? And then you can plant that cutting somewhere else, and it takes root and grows too?

That’s your blog.

Take something from your blog, and plant it somewhere else. YouTube, SlideShare, an e-book, a resource page on your site, a conference presentation, or some combination thereof. Put your ideas in front of more people in more places, and you build not just a broader audience, but a stronger brand.

Repurposing only works when the original content is substantial enough to support it, though. Which takes us back to the beginning. Create something worthwhile first. Make it something people will want to share. Put it in more places in more formats to reach more people. Then do it all over again. And again.

And pretty soon, you won’t have to shout so loudly to be heard over the hyperbole.

Interview with Dave Rohrer: See Him Speak at @Pubcon NOLA

dave-rohrerDave Rohrer, Sr. SEO Strategist at Covario, will be speaking about content marketing at Pubcon NOLA on Tuesday March 18, 11:30a 12:45p in Salon C. He will also be speaking on the In-House Team Building and Training panel on Tuesday 4:00p 5:00p on Salon A.

Dave started his online career in 1999 as a web developer where he quickly gravitated towards SEO and online marketing. He spent 10 years in-house as an online marketing manager and SEO manager where he gained a deep understanding of how all facets of online marketing work together. In his free time he is helping startups with their SEO and PPC campaigns

You are speaking at Pubcon NOLA about Content Marketing. Can you give us some hints on what you will be discussing?

I am going to cover two Ps of content marketing – process and pivot. I am going to give the audience some ideas on how to best organize themselves to create content and then measure what is working to pivot as they need.

You have been an in-house SEO and worked at an agency so you understand the importance of content marketing in regards to SEO to businesses. What do you think businesses need to understand?

Not everything you do is going to blow up and drive 100s/1000s of links, retweets, likes, or plus ones. You should have an overall strategy with lots of small projects and a few “go big or go home” projects mixed in. This overall strategy should have goals, metrics and be tied to the business itself but be flexible enough to jump on opportunities as they come up.

What are some content marketing mistakes that make you cringe?

There are many, but two that quickly come to mind are:

1. People assume that ‘this’ is going viral

2. ‘This’ should be easy and not cost anything. Even with the best content, plan, and outreach you aren’t guaranteed anything. Your audience may not care, your timing may be off or a competitor will launch something similar just a week prior (had it happen). Nothing is easy and doing diligent research, creating visuals, hiring developers and writers all cost time and money.

What are 3 general recommendations you could make to any business in regards to content marketing?

Just three is all I can give? For any business I think I would ask myself these three questions prior to any new project and then answer them prior to moving forward:

1. What is the goal of this project, how does it fit in with our overall marketing strategy and how are we going to judge its success?

2. What is our budget and resources to put towards it?

3. What is our overall plan for research, production, and promotion?

Do you have a favorite content marketing #fail?

Does Pepsi Clear count? How about New Coke? I don’t know that I have a favorite specific fail that comes to mind. I do however count any project that is being led by someone that has perhaps seen “Field of Dreams” one too many times a #fail

You have to build it right and promote it! It takes hard work and luck for something to go BIG.

If people want to learn more about effective content marketing strategies what resources would you recommend?

I think you can learn quite a bit from just looking at different companies/industries and seeing what is working and failing. What have your competitors tried and what has worked/failed for them? I’d also suggest watching for the type of content people share on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest that you know but more importantly what your target customer shares. You can always create a Private List on Twitter and “follow” people and companies. I also suggest checking out what this guy Matt does and says. Lastly, I suggest giving a read to Todd’s  “The Link Baiting Playbook: Hooks Revisited” which I often use to help brainstorm ideas on how to frame a project.

Do you have any recommendations for Pubcon NOLA attendees?

Put down your phone and/or laptop. Tell your husband/wife/boss that you have to go. Then go to the exhibit hall, go to sessions, go to dinner and events and meet people from the conference. My goal at every conference is to try and meet and then get to know at least one or two new people. I’ve written about this in the past (Pubcon Networking Above and Beyond), and so has Ralf, and the key take away is just this – get out and network and meet people! If you want another example I can give you a recent tweet from Joe Hall where I personally know and have met 8 of the people (Joe included) on that list through conferences over the years.

Fun Possible questions – (conference fodder)

  • Biggest Pet Peeve – Having to repeat myself (sorry Mom, I understand now!)
  • Mac or PC? PC – I tried banning Apple products, but the wife snuck one in (and
  • eventually more)
  • Beach or Snow? I live in Chicago, have you heard about our winter? Beach please!
  • Beer, Wine or Neither? I will look to George Thorogood on this – “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” but please hold the scotch
  • Star Wars or Star Trek? Original Star Wars

Thanks Dave!

We really appreciate your time and fantastic answers. We will see you on March 18th! If you haven’t been able to hear Dave speak yet I highly recommend you go see him at Pubcon! You can find Dave on Twitter @Daver.

7 Reasons It Kills to Have Awesome Content

What Makes a Good Infographic chart by DashburstIn the music world, a one-hit wonder is a group that hits it big with one song that rises quickly in the Top 40, but then that group is never heard from again. Think Pseudo Echo’s “Funkytown,” Calloway’s “I Want to Be Rich” or Billie Meyers’ “Kiss the Rain.” Being a one-hit wonder is great in the moment — you get tons of attention and make a little money — but most singers would rather have a career like the Beatles or Madonna, who produce consistent hits that stand the test of time.

So it is for content marketing. It’s easy to become a one-hit wonder with a fluke infographic or video that goes viral. But it’s much more rewarding to offer consistently impressive content that remains relevant a week, a month or even a year from now. Among the many arguments for high-quality content, the most convincing is the many long-term benefits of using this strategy. Investing in content can pay off in a plethora of ways, not the least of which is more sales. In fact, 90 percent of consumers say that custom content is useful to them.

Here’s a look at seven reasons why it’s worth offering awesome content and how that strategy can work for you.

1. Increase Your Search Engine Presence

It stands to reason that the more content you put out there, the greater your online presence. And the greater your online presence, the more chance there is that someone will come across your site on Google. When you’re publishing lots of high-quality content, that’s a lot of information for Google to crawl. Make sure you are optimizing it correctly, which will help you show up in results more often. On average, a site with a blog boosts indexed pages and indexed links by a whopping 434 percent.

Some high-quality content you may want to consider publishing:

  • Blog posts
  • Studies
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • White papers
  • Podcasts

 2. Offer Link Bait

It only makes sense: The cooler the content you publish, the more people will want to link to it. Link bait is essentially anything that is so compelling, so unique and so interesting that it draws people in, and prompts them to link to it from their own sites. There are many forms of link bait. “How Tos” and “Ultimate Guides” are two approaches that tend to get a lot of link backs. Infographics are also a rich source for link bait.

3. Build Trust with Your Potential Customers

Advertising is a proven way to raise awareness of your business. But if you want to really connect with consumers and teach them what your company is all about, content marketing is the best approach. Seven in 10 consumers say they would rather learn about a company by reading articles than through an advertisement. Your content should convey not only your mission statement, but the essence of what’s important to you and your business.

For instance, CJ Pony Parts is in the business of selling Mustang parts to collectors. But its owners are also car enthusiasts who care about Mustangs, as reflected in their recent infographic The Reveal of the 2015 Mustang, which demonstrates the company’s giddy excitement about the new reveal.

 Mustang infographic

4. Grow Your Newsletter

Part of creating great content is training people to look to your company as a source for great information. When you consistently offer new information, unique perspectives and invaluable advice, you’ll have people clamoring to get your newsletter so that they never miss a post. As a business, this is valuable because you have a greater chance to reach out with them through newsletter posts, and thus also a better chance to close a sale.

5. Drive More Social Shares

Loose Threads infographicWhen you post something that is out of the ordinary or has popular appeal, you will get more shares on social media. People like to show others the things that make them laugh or make them think. When your content engages them, they will want to know what others think about it, too.

One smart way to do this is to piggyback on a topic that many people are interested in, such as a pop culture event. For instance, rehab center Clarity Way had great success with an infographic about “Breaking Bad,” the popular AMC drama. The Loose Ends that Could Unravel Walter White went viral in 2013, getting tons of traffic from Facebook and StumbleUpon shares. Plus, a pop-culture-focused topic like this is just fun to produce.

6. Increase Your Social Following

Not only will you earn more social shares with top-notch content, you’ll also build up an audience of loyal followers who want to hear from you. Think about your own social media accounts. You follow people who have interesting things to say and who share information that you want to pass on to others.

By sharing blog posts, studies and infographics, things your followers can’t find elsewhere, you’ll establish yourself as an expert in the field. And experts tend to have a huge social media presence. Just look at Moz. The search engine optimization site has established itself as one of the top-shelf experts in the field by publishing engaging and informative stories, and that’s reflected in its social media. Moz has 287,000 Twitter followers and almost 146,000 Facebook fans.

7. Close More Sales

Ultimately, closing sales is what your business is aiming for, and you can achieve that goal by employing smart content marketing strategies. This approach helps turn visitors into customers, especially when you employ sales-driven content, such as:

  • Product pages
  • Product content blogs
  • Product awareness surveys
  • Sales training presentations
  • Product digest emails

The Smart Approach to Marketing

There are many benefits to offering high-quality content to your customers. In addition to establishing your company as a thought leader in your field, it can also pay off with greater sales, increased social media reach and a boom in newsletter subscribers. Just make sure that the content you’re producing is actually high quality. Pumping out oodles of low-quality blog posts and mediocre infographics is not going to have nearly as great an impact as smart, well-researched content.

5 Ways I Eliminate Potential Clients

WarningI am not the most experienced person out there, but I have enough experience to have learned to watch out for particular warning signs from those that are reaching out to me for work.

Sadly, I learned these warning signs from dealing with difficult clients. So, I want to share some tips that might help you avoid dealing with a difficult client that will end up making your life miserable.

This post was inspired by a conversation with Dave Rohrer.

1. I Don’t Reply to an Inquiry For a Minimum of 24 Hours

I know if you are really needing the work this may seem like a dumb idea, but just stay with me for a few minutes…

Someone calls about needing your services and leaves a message. Same day, 1-2 hours later they either call again, email or use your contact form to inform you that they called. Then, they either contact you again the same day or the next morning angry that you have not responded.

danger

WARNING SIGN!!! This person has an inflated sense of self-importance. They believe that you should stop whatever it is you are doing and reply to them immediately! How dare you not be honored at the idea of working for them? I shiver just thinking about it!

If you chose to work with someone like this let me spell out what the next few months will be like:

  • They will expect you to be at their beck and call days, nights and weekends.
  • They will not stop calling even when you tell them you don’t work on nights and weekends.
  • God forbid you let a few hours go by after an email – you will receive an email or 4 about how they are dissatisfied with your professionalism.
  • They will have unrealistic expectations in regards to, well really everything.
  • They will not EVER have real respect for you and it will show in how they treat you.
  • You will spend so much time managing them and their expectations that when you tally up the time spent on them you will see you are losing money.
  • They will stress you out and you don’t need that kind of stress.

There are exceptions to this rule like when there is a crisis. Example, the time Godaddy got hacked and millions of sites were messed up. Those people were desperate and needed help and they paid well to get the help.

2. “I Need Your Services and I Have an MBA!”

stuckupmoron

Oh man, if someone has to scream at you about their MBA and how smart they are on the initial contact this is someone you don’t want to deal with.

I will swear on a stack of Bibles that every time I have worked with someone like this they are the dumbest people I have ever worked with. YET, they believe they are smarter than everyone else.

  • They don’t listen.
  • They question everything!
  • They double check your work even though they really have no idea what you are doing.
  • The insist on changes constantly because they believe that they know better, an MBA an all, so changes must be needed!
  • They want constant meetings, because they think meetings are what are really important. Tons of meetings, yet they never give you what you asked for in the meetings.
  • They are argumentative and there is often a level of narcissism that will irritate you like nails on a chalkboard.

I AM NOT SAYING anyone with an MBA is like this; I am saying those that have to say that they have it right away and explain how smart they are like this.

3. They Want to Talk on the Phone for Advice First

phonecreepI will admit that when I first started I would talk on the phone and I gave away too much free advice and these people never ended up paying me a dime! If they say they want to hear if you have solid advice first you will be wasting the time you could spend with a paying client.

There are people that excel at getting on the phone and getting free information and they have no intention of ever paying for it. They won’t become a client, they are sneaky people! So, if someone calls and they have a legitimate business question and they want to know if you can help, okay. You can help, but don’t you dare give them anything for free.

Also, if someone really respects you they will believe you deserved to be paid for your time. Always remember that.

4. “I Need Your Help so Bad, But I Have Little Money”

no money!

There are so many of these that come in that it is crazy! I tried back in the day to work with some of these folks and here is what I discovered:

  • Many of them had plenty of money to spend, but were cheap as crap.
  • All of the low paying clients took more time than any other client.
  • I lost money on every single one of these clients!!!!!
  • They kept wanting more for nothing.
  • When they didn’t get what they thought they deserved (unlimited help, website changes, etc.) they were rude.

These are some of the most stressful clients to have and you won’t even make any money, so walk way before it starts. If you have clients like this now let them go before your brain explodes!

At this point in my career if I am giving you help I am getting get paid well for it. You get what you pay for.

5. “I Want a Quote for X, Y, and Z Services”

QuoteIf these people have no interest in speaking to you or communicating and state they just want the quote, period, they are doing one of two things:

  1. Collecting 20 quotes for their boss & the cheapest one wins (which means they know nothing, so you don’t want to work with them anyway).
  2. They are a competing agency acting like they need services to get info on your prices.

Those That Want to Talk on the Phone or Email

Some of these people will want to talk, but they don’t understand why you need to get a lot of information before you can give them a price. Basically, they don’t understand that you need to evaluate how much work will be needed before you can calculate a price.

I would say 15% of the people get it after I explain why I need to gather info first and then tell me I am the first SEO person to even explain that. BOOM, trust created and possible client. The other 85% are like, “Well that is all fine and good, but this other company quoted me $XX a month. Can you match that.” BOOM, instantly not a possible client. These folks don’t get it and they won’t and they also fit in the #4 category above.

So, If You Run Your Own Business

It is really up to you which clients you take and which ones you don’t. In the beginning everyone takes every client they can to build up their business and they deal with nightmare clients. It is kind of like paying dues, but as your experience and reputation grow you  should get to choose who you want to work with. I say “Aim for Sane!”.

It is better to have less money and be less miserable than it is to have extra money and want to shoot yourself in the head every night.

Guest Blogging Hacks from a Guest Blogger

helpful tipsThis title probably seems all wrong because no one should be “just a guest blogger,” but even if there was “just a guest blogger” he/she shouldn’t be using any kinds of hacks or shortcuts (at least not according to Matt Cutts). Nevertheless, we all know that guest bloggers still exist and guest bloggers have little tricks they use to be successful.

It’s true that guest blogging should be about more than links and shouldn’t be your only tactic when it comes to SEO, I agree with this completely, but even when you’re following these rules and doing everything right it helps to have a few hacks to get your by. As a full time “guest blogger” (who is also an editor, in charge of outreach, analyzing data, following trends, etc.), I know a few of these tricks and I know how helpful they can be, so let’s get right to it!

Top Guest Blogging Hacks Only a Guest Blogger Would Know

You still have some of your obvious guest blogging rules (put out quality content and make sure you edit being number one), but below are some tips that I’ve found you only learn from experience:

  • Have an article ready to go when you pitch your ideas, just in case.

It’s always nice if an editor has something to work with right off the bat. This shows that you’re serious and shows that the process doesn’t have to take too long. Always offer to send other story ideas, but send something so he/she can get a feel for your writing right away.

  • If you have a good portfolio, mention that before you even utter the word “guest post” (this includes in the subject line).

Many times an editor will be so annoyed with people asking to gust post that he/she won’t even continue reading an email if it seems like that’s where the message is going. However, if you have a good portfolio and have worked with good sites in the past, chances are that editor will want to work with you. You’re the one out of hundreds, remember, so it’s best to get all of that out there before you mention guest blogging. I usually use the subject heading “HigherVisibility Inquiry” as opposed to “Guest Post for Your Site,” and I’ve found this really works.

  • Don’t mention links back to your website at all. Put your author bio at the bottom of your article and be done with it—by now most good editors understand that you want one link back to your company.

This point is coming directly from Matt Cutts himself. In his announcement about guest blogging for spam, he gave an example pitch that talked about needing a link and how the company was willing to pay for it. Even if you’re not necessarily asking to buy a link, it’s best not to mention it at all. Talk to an editor about your experience and what your article is about, and let the obvious speak for itself.

  • It’s who you know more than what you know. Name-drop and ask for introductions.

If you have a close relationship with one editor who happens to know another editor that you want to work with, see if you can get an introduction. This will go much further than sending out an email on your own, and it’s usually well received in the SEO world. It’s also not a good idea to name-drop in your pitch unless you clear it with the person you’re mentioning, but name-drop website names anytime you can!

  • You’re going to get ignored, but keep those sites on the back burner. On that same note, a follow-up email goes a long way.

I oftentimes find that a website will get back to me after I’ve sent a follow-up email. It shows I’m serious and it gives them a reason to actually respond (after all, a spammer isn’t going to send a follow-up email). If a site ignores you after a follow-up, record that and then try to circle back in 6 months. It could be under new management or remember you from before, which again, shows you’re really serious.

The Takeaway for Small Business Owners

This might be an article catered toward writers, but even if you’re a small business owner some of this information can be helpful. By understanding how guest blogging works and some of the techniques that go into being successful, you will be able to weed out some of the better writers out there.

Are you a guest blogger with any tricks you’d like to share? Any stories you’ve learned from in the past? Let us know your thoughts and your story in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock marekuliasz