6 On-Site Elements That Offer Evergreen SEO Swag

seo-page-elementsOnce the mantra that SEO professionals lived by, keyword optimization has turned into somewhat of a distasteful word today. The hundreds of backlinks that we begged, borrowed and bought are now taboo for fear of Google’s wrath. The Google authorship that every content professional worked so hard to cultivate lies in the dust by the wayside.

While it is tricky to predict today what may become untouchable in SEO tomorrow, there definitely are a few educated bets that one can make on what will still matter five years down the line. Given where we stand today on SEO, here’s my take on which site elements will be your best friends for the long haul from a rankings perspective.

1. Page Title

If your face is the first thing that another person notices about you, the page title of a web page is the first thing search spiders notice about a website. The page title is like the calling card of each page that tells search spiders as well as users what the page is all about. Of course, these page titles also get displayed prominently in search results.

The page title is one constant on-site ranking factor that hasn’t changed ever since optimizing for search engines became something that marketers actively did.

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As we see in the example above, the browser is not very generous in terms of number of characters it displays to the user. Which means it makes sense to keep those titles short and to the point. Under 60 characters is a good bet to begin with.

A good page title describes what your page is all about and preferably does this using keywords that matter to that page. Unless you are an established brand already, putting your brand name at the end of the page title and putting your keywords closer to the Beginning ensures that users see the page description with the right keywords in the SERPs or the browser, leading to higher CTRs which in turn lead to better rankings in the long run.

2. Site Speed

Google is testing a bright red ‘slow’ label on its SERPs that warn users about the speed of each site listed in its search results, much like the ‘mobile friendly’ label it has already rolled out. This brings into action what Google has been encouraging website owners for a while now. In the words of Matt Cutts cited five years ago, “Speeding up your website is a great thing to do in general. Visitors to your site will be happier (and might convert more or use your site more), and a faster web will be better for all…”

Even if site speed was not ranking signal, it would make sense for any website owner to consider it as a key priority. Web users are notoriously impatient and a delay of even a single second can lead to drastic results for your conversions. According to a study by Radware, a six second page load time meant a 40% drop in conversions for an average website in 2010. Fast forward to 2015, and a six second load time will earn the site a further drop in conversions taking the exact loss to 50%.

So, in the interest of pampering those impatient customers as well as staying in Google’s good books, you need to:

  • Test your site speed using Google’s own Page Speed Insights tool or a third party tool like GT Metrix or Pingdom.
  • Identify roadblocks that slow down your site and actively work on removing them.
  • Insist on developing light and quick loading pages for any new content that you host on your site.
  • Pick a good web host with a reputation for high speed servers and site load times.
  • Search your site for plugins that you don’t use anymore and remove them right away. Many older, unused plugins tend to clog up site load times.

3. Intuitive URLs

This one is another oldie that has stood by us.

Since search crawlers index websites in the form of URLs, optimizing a URL to be easily discovered by a search engine is a great way to rank high on search results. The idea here is to ensure that your page URL describes the contents of the page so that both search engines as well as users know what they are clicking on. By describing the contents of the page, a URL usually ends up with at least one of critical keywords for the page. However, working backwards, i.e. stuffing keywords into your URL is a strict no-no.

The early days of SEO saw a mad rush to buy exact match domains for your business. While the idea of having your keyword in your website URL is not a bad one, using just the keywords is like trying to fool search engines into giving your site importance it may or may not deserve. When simply too many black hat SEOs began misusing EMDs with thin or unrelated content, Google stepped in and began penalizing such practices, effectively putting an end to them.

That doesn’t mean you should not have your keywords in your URLs – you just have to be smarter about it, because after all keywords in URL are still an on-site ranking factor. A keyword tracking tool like RankTrackr allows you to group together similar keywords and build URLs that cater to each of these. This way not only does every URL on your site relate to a specific keyword or search intent, you also get to see which ones perform better from an SEO perspective and focus your efforts on the high performers.

A good URL:

  • Is short. Under 100 characters works best.
  • Describes the contents of the webpage. Avoid gibberish URLs that only contain your domain name followed by a combination of letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Contains a keyword relevant to the page. In the case of local SEO, ensure you mention your city in the URL to rank better.
  • Offer a clear breadcrumbs navigation structure that includes site categories making it easy for search spiders to dig out the right pages for the right search.

4. Content That Connects

There was a time when the biggest aspect of search engine optimization was keyword optimization (read ‘stuffing’) across the site. Today, the best part of an SEO practitioner’s day is spent in content marketing.

The seeds of content marketing were sown years ago, but they firmly took root with the back to back Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates from Google within a span of two years. These three updates tied together three important features – content quality, backlinks and semantic search – which today make up the backbone of content marketing.

With the focus on content marketing today, Google encourages brands to help users in their own domain. Instead of optimizing web pages by overstuffing them with keywords, overusing keywords as anchor text or building spammy backlinks to one’s website; Google expects marketers to create content that answers user queries that happen to be related to their areas of core competency. The focus has clearly shifted from keywords to user intent.

Google (and other search engines) no longer process users’ search queries based on specific keywords alone. Instead they understand the context behind the query and are capable of understanding natural language patterns.

This focus on semantics and contextual search results is now an expected UX search functions on websites. While a tool such as Swiftype allows content publishers or blog sites to quickly refine results by date, author, location and content types, ecommerce merchants can take advantage of an offering like Unbxd that for personalized site search with faceted search, autocompletes, and context-aware product suggestions.

Winning content across various websites tends to have some common characteristics. Content that consistently gets ranked high on search engines is:

  • Relevant to users’ search intent
  • Contains keywords that matter incorporated in a natural way
  • Unique and extremely high quality
  • Fresh and constantly updated
  • Belongs to sites that enjoy high domain authority

5. Clear Internal Link Structure

Just as re-sorting the clothes in your wardrobe helps you dress faster before work, a clear site structure with a place for everything and everything in its place helps search engines retrieve specific pages quicker. The way your URLs are structured tells search bots about the way different categories relate to one another as well as their relative levels of importance.

Make sure your content links to inside pages of your site wherever relevant. Not only does this help in clarifying the point you’re attempting to convey through your content, it also provides some much needed visibility to webpages that are buried deep inside your internal site structure. Just the way backlinks from external sites at as votes in favor of your webpages, the presence of internal links across your site perform a similar function though at a relatively muted level.

Keeping your XML sitemap updated in real-time is a great way to show a search bot exactly what pages your site hosts and how they relate to each other. This helps search bots in indexing your web pages as well as retrieving the correct one when needed. The other benefit of a clear internal linking structure and XML sitemaps is that search engines get alerted about new content in time and this new content gets crawled and indexed correctly. In an age where Google can slap a Panda penalty on your site for duplicate content, an updated XML sitemap that reflects new content every time you publish it helps establish that you are the original creator of such content.

Some aspects to keep in mind when tweaking or improving your internal link structure include:

  • Stick to an easily understandable category structure for your webpages. Make sure your page URLs reflect this category structure and information hierarchy clearly.
  • Never forget to create an XML sitemap for your site for the benefit of search bots – both desktop and mobile.
  • Update your sitemaps each time there is new content posted to your site so search bots can index the new content right away.
  • Avoid creating too many internal links on a single page. Google and most other search engines only crawl through the first 150 to 200 links per page. Any links that appear beyond this figure typically falls into the dark zone from an SEO perspective.
  • Create a coherent linking structure between all your webpages. Pages that can only be accessed through onsite searches will most likely not be indexed at all by search engines.

6. Optimize for Mobile

The predictions of web pundits finally came true last year as internet browsing via mobile devices officially overtook that via desktop computers. The explosive growth of smartphones has not only transformed web browsing but also e-commerce, app marketing, digital advertising and social media marketing to name a few affected disciplines.

This move from desktop to mobile prompted Google to launch their ‘mobile friendly’ tags on search results pages that called out websites that were optimized for mobile and ranked them higher than those that were not.

With future trends pointing to an ever growing dependence on mobile devices and wearable technology, this focus on mobile optimized sites is only going to get stronger. To qualify as a mobile optimized site, your site needs to

  • Offer responsive design. While mobile only sites or adaptive sites are alternative ways to serve data on screens of different sizes, Google by its own admission prefers responsive design thanks to its versatility and SEO friendliness.
  • Simple and intuitive layout that carries over from desktop to mobile in a robust manner.
  • Uncluttered design with adequate white space. This will prevent users from clicking inadvertently on wrong sections on smaller screens and reduce the associated frustration.
  • Use images that are responsive as well to be visible on the small screen.
  • Be light and quick to load. Heavy sites that take forever to load incur high mobile data charges and can often deter users from entering them.

In Conclusion

This is not an exhaustive list by any means. There are a host of other elements that hold promise as potential SEO superstars for the future, like optimized site images and schema markup. However without clear indications from Google about the importance it places on these secondary factors, your core focus for a long term SEO vision should ideally revolve around these evergreen site elements.

Learning How to Everything Part 1: 5 Tools All Online Marketers Should Use

Marketing-tools

Wearing multiple hats in the online marketing world has become a necessity. With the Internet and leading social networks constantly developing new protocols and guidelines for online business success, it’s essential to have multiple skillsets and to adapt quickly.

Very rarely will a social media specialist only focus on writing Facebook posts and an SEO specialist only work on optimization. Many online marketing roles tend to blend together, for the better. A social marketer who has a basic knowledge of SEO and keyword terms is more likely to produce better clicked-on posts. Same goes for the blog writer who has a decent understanding of keyword research.

Running around in circles trying to crack Google’s new algorithm, while watching Zuckerberg’s latest statement can be stressful. These five tools will help you not only succeed in the online marketing world, but survive.

​Project Management – Basecamp

When managing a team or working directly with clients, it’s important to have a central database to stay organized with. Basecamp is the perfect product to combine client and employee interaction as well as daily to-dos, file management, and approvals. Imagine logging onto your computer each day and having your to-do list already sorted for you, by priority, and an overview of what your week is going to look like. Welcome to the world of Basecamp.

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Image Source: Basecamp

Pros

  • You can access Basecamp from anywhere! It’s mobile-, tablet-, computer-friendly so you never have an excuse to miss your next deadline. Check your daily to-dos over morning coffee, communicate with clients, and open project files from your phone or tablet.screenshot-01-7a745d6b7c345a05e59ec99ac87ad5a8

Image Source: Basecamp

  • Basecamp is very user-friendly. It’s dashboard is extremely self explanatory making it easy to communicate with clients and delegate new projects with coworkers. Adding new tasks, projects, or members, as well as removing them, is simple with Basecamp.
  • You can duplicate already created templates saving time on creating new project folders with deadlines and tasks.
  • Basecamp offers the first two months for free. Unlike most 30 day trials, Basecamp gives you two months to really implement it’s product with your day-to-day systems.

Cons 

  • Repeat reminders or a deadline with a clicking clock would be helpful for us marketers who suffer from Sticky Note Syndrome. If we don’t have something staring at us in the face or popping up to remind us, we forget everything. Similar to notes on your phone, a project management tool needs to have pop-up alerts reminding you of deadlines and countdowns. Basecamp has similar features with their milestone email reminders that go out when it is assigned and 48 hours later, but misses the overall point of reminders. Checking your calendar and to-do list on Basecamp regularly is your only hope of reminders, so you may want to keep that stack of sticky notes on your desk.
  • You can create duplicate templates, but not recurring to-dos in Basecamp, which can be a huge face palm when your daily to-dos consist of 15+ of the same tasks. Repetition at it’s finest.

SEO Management – Authority Labs

Well, duh. We couldn’t talk about managing your SEO and keyword research without at least mentioning our homemade SEO software. We’ll keep the breakdown quick and to the point, to avoid any biases.

100awesomeImage Source: Honesty For Breakfast

Pros

  • Avoids having to login to multiple tools. AL is a one-stop SEO shop that provides accurate and reliable SEO tracking, competitor tracking, and keyword insights all in one place.
  • Tracks local rankings and recover the really annoying not provided keywords
  • You don’t have to download any additional software onto your computer. Just login and use.
  • Can share reporting internally, as well as with clients, to help keep everyone informed of SEO efforts.
  • There are no contracts, so you can cancel anytime. Not that you’d want to.
    Authority-Labs-screen

Cons

  • Being too awesome.

Social Media Management – Sprout Social

The debate between if Hootsuite or Sprout Social is better can go on forever, but as a social media specialist who has to use one of these tools, I prefer Sprout Social. Sprout’s dashboard alone makes me more inclined to use it over Hootsuite. With it’s clean and easy to use interface and client reporting features, it helps managing several different social media profiles easy as pie.

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Image Source: Tumblr

Pros

  • View all of your profiles and messages at once and organize how your feed looks. If you want to focus on a specific client and the messages they’ve received on all of their social networks, just check the box. Same goes for viewing different profiles. If you have similar clients or a client who has multiple profiles, you can filter them all at once or one at a time just by checking the box.

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Image Source: Zack Sylvan

  • If you have a social media team, Sprout Social makes it easy to manage who is in charge of what with their “Tasks” option. Internally message your team or direct a person to be in charge of scheduling Facebook posts for your new client. Follow-up and create dialogue all within Sprout Social.
  • Make the social media reports (CSV or PDF) from Sprout Social your own with their free branding option. It allows you to embed your logo and business information onto the report so it feels as if it is coming directly from you.
  • Everything you need to perfect your social media marketing comes with Sprout social, including their ViralPost feature that determines the best time to schedule posts based on your audience, ability to monitor your brand keywords, and shorten website links all in one program.

Cons

  • Sprout Social currently doesn’t offer it’s services for every social network out there, specifically Pinterest. It connects with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Pinterest has it’s own analytics and is a network you don’t really schedule things for anyway, so it may not make a huge difference for your marketing.
  • The cost for Sprout (starting at $59) is higher than Hootsuite (free to $9.95), but some argue it’s features, reporting, and tracking are well worth the increased cost.

Online Marketing Education – Lynda

In any industry it’s important to never stop learning. Want to learn how to produce stunning visuals in Photoshop? Need specific info on how to create a WordPress plug-in? Lynda is a great tool for online marketers who wear several different hats and want to polish up their skillset. Lynda offers a variety of online video tutorials and training, especially for graphic design, SEO and social media marketing.

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Image Source: Lynda.com

Pros

  • When you’re a member you can take as many courses as you want 24/7, with as broad of topics as you’d like. If you have a week off and want to learn how to master Google Analytics, Lynda can help.
  • You receive a certificate for each course you complete. This is great to share with colleagues and add to your resume.
  • The teachers aren’t just classroom instructors. They’re people who do what they’re teaching for a living, and are experts at the subject, giving you the most up-to-date information.
  • Catch up on courses on using your tablet or mobile phone. You can access Lynda from any device.

Cons

  • Lynda doesn’t always have the exact course you want. For very specific topics you want to learn, you may have better luck on YouTube or following industry blogs. For overall ideas and a better understanding of online marketing topics, Lynda has just what you need.

Content Marketing – Buzzsumo

Even the best writers eventually run out of ideas. Buzzsumo is a great idea generator, as well as research tool for content marketers. Discover what kinds of content people in specific industries are reading, linking to, and responding best to. Buzzsumo helps content marketers generate new ideas for topics that are already succeeding and being shared online.

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Image Source: buzzsumo.com

Pros

  • Identify key influencers and their topics
  • See who is linking to and sharing specific kinds of articles. You can recreate similar articles to reach a similar demographic.
  • The analysis report Buzzsumo provides goes back 6 months and provides you with tons of information like how many articles were published with that topic, the average shares per social network, most shared domains for a keyword, and more.
  • Link builders, also known as “Guest Posters” can use Buzzsumo to scrape new potential blogger relationships, as well.

Cons

  • Buzzsumo isn’t the most cost effective tool for small businesses. Starting at $99 a month, Buzzsumo can take up a pretty large amount of the marketing budget for small and local businesses.

There are hundreds of other equally helpful tools to streamline your day-to-day tasks, but the above tools are a great starting point for any online marketer. Did I miss one of your favorite tools? Comment below with the tools you use most to help succeed with your online marketing.

Getting Ahead of the Facebook Marketing Curve – Part 1

Future-FacebookThe users of the largest social network on the planet are not the Facebook audience you think they are.

Yes, you read that correctly. The Facebook audience you think you know is only a small slice of the social marketing pie.

How Facebook is Used Today

Watching the live stream of this year’s f8 Facebook Developers Conference reminded me of the very first live stream broadcast a few years ago. Mark Zuckerberg’s statement at that time that Facebook was making the shift from an internet company to a mobile company got my attention and stuck with me, as I’m sure it did many others in this industry.

My first thoughts as Zuckerberg got into the meat of his keynote this year, was that Facebook had indeed succeeded in fully realizing the goal of being a mobile company. Facebook is no longer a website that users access during their free time on their computers. Facebook is now a family of mobile apps with Groups, WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook, and Instagram at its core.

Truthfully, the only segment of the Facebook users that spend a great deal of time looking at Facebook through the lens of a computer monitor are the administrators of business pages on Facebook. Even for them, Facebook has put much of the page administration and ad management into mobile apps.

So, here is the first hurtle for business owners and their community managers to surmount. How do we step away from our powerful desktop marketing tools and open our eyes to the reality of a mobile and highly diversified Facebook audience?

In this two part series we are going to dig into the realities of what the Facebook audience really is, the future of effective and engaging Facebook content, and how to connect with active Facebook users in mobile apps.

Mobile – Diversified

It is absolutely possible to be an active daily Facebook user without ever using the core “Facebook” app.

In other words, you can have a Facebook account and use it to access Instagram, Messenger, or any number of apps developed by third parties to integrate with Facebook and their data collection. Zuckerberg pointed out that from this moment on they will continue to roll out enhancements to their core family of apps and introduce new apps to satisfy all of the ways people want to connect with one another and the world around them with the device they carry on their person at all times.

For instance, while the core of the original Facebook audience continues to age, younger users are shifting to much more private, selective, and intimate ways of connecting with the people and media they like best. It doesn’t mean younger audiences don’t use Facebook, they just use something other than the core app that most people currently recognize as Facebook.

Blowing your mind yet?

Future of Newsfeed Content

Does this shift in the use of the core Facebook app mean that placement in the newsfeed will become less valuable? Highly unlikely, but again a paradigm shift must occur on the part of brands to keep up or spend placement dollars on fruitless campaigns.

Right now photos have taken the top content spot away from text status updates, with user created video content hot on it’s heels. Not only do videos already silently auto-play in both desktop and mobile newsfeeds, but Facebook is so determined to be your video host of choice that they launched an embeddable Facebook video player. Now brands and users alike have a choice to post video content to Facebook, just like they might on YouTube or Vimeo, and then embed the video on their own sites. Content creators are also able to embed properly attributed video that leads directly back to the Facebook source.

Want to get more out of the videos you create for Facebook? Learn how to embed the Facebook video player on your blog.

Posted by Firestarter Social Media on Friday, April 3, 2015

Businesses Must Adapt for the Future

Better video tools are for the right now. If you want to really get ahead of the curve of user content demands, you need to be thinking about virtual and augmented reality. The team at Facebook isn’t satisfied with serving up passively consumed content, they want to give users a much more immersive experience. Keep your eyes peeled for support of fully interactive spherical videos in the Facebook news feed.

That’s right, Facebook is going to give you the ability to let a prospective home buyer virtually tour a property in Facebook. Can you imagine targeting a walk through of the new product you’re launching to all the Facebook users that have visited your website in the last 30 days?

And how might this enable the growth of an audience for Facebook’s Oculus devices? Yet another part of the Facebook crowd you probably haven’t been thinking about. As you lay out plans and budgets for marketing efforts to come, you will need to take these innovations into consideration.

But, virtual reality is well into our marketing future at the moment. There are plenty of opportunities opening to us in the here and now. In part 2 of this series we will cover the business opportunities in the Messenger platform, take a look at App Analytics, and gain a better understanding of the Facebook Audience Network.

Need to see what the future will be like for Facebook? Watch the full f8 opening Keynote:

Full Video: Opening Keynote F8 2015

Posted by Facebook Developers on Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Beginners Guide to Video Marketing

Adding video to your marketing is not as hard as you think and is more important than ever. According to iStock, 88% of internet users are now spending more time on sites that have videos on them. That’s a huge percentage of users who won’t be bouncing immediately off your site if you have a video embedded. Videos also help increase your conversions on landing pages by 86% according to Wishpond. With technology becoming more and more accessible, it’s now easier than ever to create your own marketing videos and share them with potential customers. How so?

Glad you asked! Let’s explore the several different ways you can use videos to enhance your overall marketing efforts, and look good doing so.

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Image Source: iudm

Client Video Testimonials

Having video testimonials help draw the line between fake reviews and real ones. It also shows how dedicated your customers are. They are not only taking time out of their day to do something for your company, but agreeing to be on camera and say nice things about how business was conducted. This is personable and real in a world that has become so disconnected.

Think of 3-5 of your best clients. Give them a call and introduce the new idea. Send over an example you shot in-house and instructions on how they can do something similar. You are more likely to receive a positive response if you have an incentive to give. I have worked with companies in the past who’ve offered free items like massage coupons or Starbucks giftcards to customers who posted testimonials on their social media pages. Asking your customer to shoot a video testimonial is a wee bit bigger of a favor, so make sure and give them a great incentive to do so.

Hosting Video Contests

Instead of submitting photos or taking polls like traditional contests, host a fun and interactive video contest for your followers. Just about everyone who would be interested in entering your contest has a smart phone, which means they have the capability of making a video and entering.

Video entries give people a unique way to interact and get excited, while spreading the word. One of the best ways to host a video contest is by selecting the winner based on votes and utilizing the company’s social media profiles. This encourages users to share their video, and your company’s branding, on their own social networks for votes.

An Inside Look At Your Company

Do you find yourself searching for info on a company before calling? I know I do! I’ll catch myself deep in a Google image search trying to see what every seat in the house looks like before choosing where I’m going to dinner. Being able to envision the type of business you’re about to give your hard earned dollars to is a big part of consumer decision making.

Don’t believe me? Remember that one time you went to Vegas and booked a room at Hooters? Imagine if you were able to see past those unrealistic stock photos and see how tacky and outdated the hotel rooms really were before you booked. You probably would have chosen another hotel, one that actually resembled what it advertised. The Signature by MGM Grand does a great example of this by offering users a video, photo, and a virtual tour of the rooms, giving an inside look at what they can expect.

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Using Video for Search

Video has so many positive marketing benefits, including rankings. Embedding videos to your website or adding them to third-party hosting sites like YouTube has several SEO benefits when optimized correctly. Just posting a video tour of your new building and titling it, “The New Building” on YouTube doesn’t do much for your SEO. Here are a few tips to ensure you’re optimizing your marketing videos properly:

  • Embed your video on the webpage that makes the most sense. Having a tutorial video is great, but it doesn’t do you any good search-wise being on your “About Us” page. Instead, embed the video on your “How-To” page or the page that is most likely to receive a video rich snippet. This includes pages that have terms like tutorial, how-to, video review, learn how, etc.
  • Optimize your keywords on third-party hosting sites. Using YouTube, Vimeo, or Vine are great ways to increase your viewing audience while promoting your company. To help stand out against the thousands of other videos hosted on these sites and increase chances of your video showing up in search results, use specific keyword terms in your title and description. To ensure the right keywords, you need to do thorough keyword research on your video topic, just as you would for a PPC campaign.
  • Create a video sitemap. Search rankings = obeying Google, so make it easy for Google to find your video and give them the exact information about your new video. Google provides plenty of rules and detailed instructions on how to set this up here. Make your life easier and follow their instructions to install it correctly.

Photos Are Soo Yesterday

Photos used to be the go-to for posting on social media, especially on Facebook. But, the times they are a changing! Marketing Land recently posted an article discussing this change and how photo posts now have the lowest average organic reach and video posts are seen twice as often. Images aren’t as visually attractive on social media when we have technology like GoPros and HD smart phones to capture unique video with.

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Image Source: Marketing Land

Tips For Creating Your Marketing Video

Now that you have a better understanding of the different ways to use video marketing, here are a few tips to help you shoot a professional video, without the expensive equipment.

  • Plan out the content and scene ahead of time. Envision what you want to accomplish with the video way before you actually shoot it. Have your goal defined and where you will be posting the video so you can shoot according to that audience. You’ll also want a clear development of the overall idea, different angles, who will be in it, and a basic overview of what they will say.
  • Keep it simple, keep it short. No one has time to watch a 20-minute product video, unless you’re teaching us how we can make it ourselves. The shorter the video, the more likely it is to be watched in it’s entirety.
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Image Source: The Next Web

  • The brighter the better! Make sure the room or environment you are shooting has bright light from several different angles. You can also enhance the brightness and contrast using video editing tools, but I highly recommend if you’re going to invest in anything for your video marketing, invest in quality lighting.
  • Eliminate background noise. This is especially difficult if you’re shooting outside, but background noise can come out louder than it sounds while shooting. If you’re using a mic, avoid areas where there is a lot of movement for the mic to pick up. You’ll also want to make sure the mic is close enough to your mouth to help ensure it picks up the noise you’re projecting.
  • Don’t have a microphone? If you don’t have a mic or the budget to purchase one, make sure whoever you are shooting is very close to the camera (or phone). The closer you are, the easier it is for the device to pick up the subject’s voice with clarity.
  • Film in several takes. Trying to shoot everything in one take is a great idea, if you’re perfect. It’s best for whoever is shooting the scene, as well as the subject, to shoot in several takes. Practice your scene a few times before shooting and then shoot a couple takes of each scene. Watching after each take will help you adjust exactly what needs to be adjusted then, instead of waiting until you get back to the office to realize the mic wasn’t on.
  • Smile. Being in front of the camera is nerve wracking, unless you’re Beyonce. Remember to breathe, talk clearly and have fun. We can all tell when you’re nervous, so why not relax and have a little fun with your video?
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Image Source: Guy Code Blog

How I Work Remotely for More Than One Company

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If you had told me 9 years ago that I would work hard for 7 years to create a consulting business and then basically walk away from it I would have said you were crazy. However, that is just what I did, and I don’t have regrets.

I worked a lot when I worked for myself, but I think I work a lot more now. I am going to break down what is required to do a good job working remotely, how I work, the tools I use, the help I need, and how I stay sane.

Who I Work For

First, let me explain what I do. I am have been an associate at Moz for over two years. I currently handle social from 8am-12:30pm Eastern Time and I help out with certain aspects of YouMoz. When my shift is over I jump right into working for AuthorityLabs doing a variety of tasks, but the main focus is editing and social.

What is Required to Do a Good Job

I am going to give you my philosophy on this and please note that what I say has nothing to do with Moz’s or AuthorityLabs’ beliefs – this is what I think and what has worked for me.

#1. Work your darn butt off!

Give them everything you have and be the best worker you can be. People are trusting you to work from afar, so be someone they can completely depend on.

The truth is you can be replaced at anytime by a remote worker or someone in-house. That is always something that hangs in the back of my mind. I feel like I have to give more because people aren’t right there with seeing how hard I work, nor are they forming the same attachments they would with in-house co-workers.

What is so great about what you offer a company? Try to offer something great. Working hard and caring a lot about doing great job – this is not something that is easy to find in a worker. Become as invaluable as you can.

#2. Be as diligent as possible.

Watching social for a brand is really an extremely serious job. Complaints, or saying the wrong thing, can turn into a crap storm real quick. So, when I say I watch social for Moz from 8am to 12:30pm I mean I don’t take my eye off it. If I get up to get a drink the laptop is coming with me, or my phone with social tool apps right in front of my face. I take the trust they have placed in me seriously and I don’t want to let them down.

I suggest going beyond and be as diligent as possible.

#3. Learn as much as you can about the company.

Moz and AuthorityLabs both offer tools. I have tried to learn as much as I possibly can about their tools, their support teams, their strategies for everything and upcoming changes. What can you do to make things easier or better for others? I focus on this daily.

Fact: You can’t run social without knowing all the things I mentioned above because you are the one that has to answer the wide range of questions that come in.

#4. You HAVE, HAVE, HAVE to be self-disciplined.

If you can’t work hard every hour of everyday and want to achieve “more” without someone pushing you to do it then you cannot be a remote worker. Part of your job is essentially to make the lives of those you work for/with easier.

Additionally, when you are sick or unhappy or have distractions all around you work can’t stop. Without self-discipline you won’t make it.

How I Work

There are few things that make my work life easier.

Computers

A very smart man named Todd Malicoat, AKA @Stuntdubl, told me to never feel guilty about buying good computers because they are what supports my work. So, with him yelling “Push the button!” I bought an iMac (and later a Macbook Pro).

My computers are expensive, but they work non-stop without any problems. This is what I need and what the companies I work for deserve.

Managing Both Moz and AuthorityLabs

The strategy that I have found works best for me is to have a dedicated browser for each company. Moz has their own browser with all tools open for work in tabs; this includes email. The same goes for AuthorityLabs.

All tools with apps for both companies are on my iPhone and iPads. No matter what I can chat with either company or access tools. This is REALLY important when you have unreliable Wi-Fi (if you follow me on Twitter you know which company I have).

Food and Drinks

Believe it or not, there are times when 4 hours will go by on social and you haven’t had a second to take a break to make food or a drink. I have a back up of frozen foods and canned drinks for these occasions. You can’t let your blood sugar drop and be grumpy on social :-)

Giving More Time Than You Are Paid For

While both Moz and AuthorityLabs pay me for about 5 hours a day of work I actually give them more time than that. To do a really good job for these companies I have to keep up with as much as possible, all day.

Moz

Moz is a large company with several moving parts that never stop. If I just stopped working at 12:30 and never looked at anything I would not be ready for work the next day. Reading all the team emails is critical to doing a good job. What is happening, what is changing, what do I need to know about, what do customers need to know about and what is happening tomorrow – all these things have to be looked at daily when my shift is over. 8pm for me is only 5pm for them & these people work beyond 5. I check Moz emails until I go to bed, usually around 12:30-1am.

AuthorityLabs

With AuthorityLabs I keep an eye on the company chat rooms for the exact same things I mentioned above with Moz. I talk with Brian LaFrance all day about work agendas, events, social, SEO, traffic and a billion other things. This happens along with editing and social. They are based in Phoenix so their day ends far into the night for me. I try to keep up and be prepared for the next day.

If you work remote you have to give a few more hours. 

Scheduling Personal Social Shares

I would say about 95% of the things I share on social are planned the night before or during a break. Thank God for Buffer, it handles all my accounts. If you need to keep up with social for personal branding you have to schedule shares while you are working.

Tools!!!

I won’t say which tools I use for each company; I am just going to break down the tools I use daily. Whenever you work for a company remotely it is your job to make sure you know how to use the tools they use well. This requires a bit of studying and practice on your part.

My Daily Tools I suggest everyone learn to use each of them.

  • Buffer – how I love the Buffer!
  • Trello – great for organizational planning and tracking.
  • Hootsuite
  • Tweetdeck
  • SproutSocial
  • Followerwonk
  • Flowdock
  • Slack
  • Intercom
  • Zendesk
  • Twitter Analytics
  • Google Analytics
  • True Social Metrics
  • BuzzSumo
  • Copyscape
  • Google Docs
  • Skype
  • Google Hangout

Getting Work Help

I am a mom that works, but a mom that wants to be involved as well. When AuthorityLabs offered me 25 hours a week of work I knew I couldn’t handle all the work I had alone. I had clients, Moz, a home to maintain and a child heading into middle school.

So, my husband and I made the decision that he would quit working and come work with me. It was a tough call and financial risk, but the truth is I couldn’t handle everything at home and working 10 hours a day by myself. He handles all work I can’t do until my shift with Moz is over. I now have support, help with tasks that could distract me and when I don’t have time to eat he brings me food <- this is no little thing (low blood sugar). Having my husband work with me was the best decision we ever made.

Avoiding Burnout

While my philosophy of working your butt off has worked for me thus far, it also tends to burn me out. I have had to find ways to avoid burnout. Some strategies I use:

  • Force myself to take a couple of breaks a day.
  • Try to eat breakfast and lunch.
  • Drink water – seriously :)
  • Vent when frustrated.
  • Super decompress on weekends – start Monday ready to go!
  • Get some additional sleep on the weekends. Sleep later or take naps, or both.
  • Include humor throughout the day – memes, videos, tweets.

 Staying Sane

Mistakes kill me and I try so hard to avoid them. I made a mistake last year and people were upset and it totally wrecked my day…I admit there were tears and to this day it bugs me.

My challenge – I have to remember that being perfect isn’t possible. I tend to push myself really hard and have had to tell myself mistakes are okay (every once in awhile).

Be honest with those you work with. If things are not going well, just tell them.

The only way to really stay sane is to know yourself well and be able to notice when you are about to be pushed beyond your limits.

Before You Choose to Work Remotely…

Be honest with yourself. Do you need to be around people? Do you need that one-on-one with others? Can you push yourself to work hard throughout the day on your own? Are you organized enough to create a system that works for you? Are the companies you want to work with supportive? If the answer to these is “no” you will need to evaluate if you can make working remotely work.