Leaning Tree Digital Marketing

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Archive for the tag “seo”

Maximize photo images for search engine optimization

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Wisconsin entrepreneurs and Wisconsin business owners already wear many hats, are pulled in every direction, work non-stop, put out fires, pay bills, and manage payroll all in an average day of work.  The added responsibility to ensure that the business is found in local search is not just another task, but a critical one for the survival and successful longevity of the endeavor.

There are two ways to label your images:  In the context of search engine optimization, most people seem to “get” the importance of keywords and links but images are often overlooked.  I’m not just referencing images on the company website, but also those used for social media posts, content, and just about anything that can be posted and shared online.  Labeling your images can be accomplished by using “alt text,” (alternative text), and/or “image title.”  Both are considered ‘tags.’   Depending upon the browser you’re using, you’ll likely to see one or the other when ‘hoovering’ over a picture. In regards to their purpose, however, these two labeling actions are not created equal when attempting to optimize for better Google Search Results.

Picture Titles vs Alt Text for Images:  Adding an image title is a simple task, usually found through basic image display settings.  Just as it sounds, it’s basically just a label that’s relevant, short, and catchy.  An image text is meant primarily for visitors.

Alt text or alternate text is an attribute added to an image tag in HTML and is more important for crawlers.  Depending where you’re placing your image, you may need to select the “gear” logo or “advanced image settings” drop-down. After completion, your “alt text,” will show inside the image box outline when the image can’t be displayed. It helps search engines understand what your image pertains to.  Alternate text is also very helpful in case images on a page cannot be found, or if someone has chosen to disable images on their browsers.  Without it, your photo may be seen as an empty box icon.  (Not ideal.)  In addition, Google can’t see your photo, but it can see your alt text!

 Image Tagging Best Practices:  If you’re still confused about how to tag your images to provide the most results, do both! Use just a couple of keywords, keep them short and sweet.   Adding a title and alt text to your images will help search engines “read” them and add value to your efforts. It never hurts to include a title for those looking at the image, and an alt text for crawlers indexing the image.

For more information, digital strategies and services for entrepreneurs and business owners, visit The Leaning Tree Marketing website, and follow the links below.

Where to find royalty free stock images online

Google guidelines to help your site appear in search results.

Search for any image on Google

Ten reasons why your business needs a digital strategy

leaning tree digital marketingMarketing is about reaching people.  Technology aids in getting that  job done.  Technology advances have led to, and continue to mark major marketing milestones.  The printing press, radio, and TV are examples of technology breakthroughs that changed marketing forever.  At their highest points, they were cutting-edge technology that ONCE HAD the capacity to reach the largest numbers of people.

By far, however, the most impactful marketing inventions included the computer, internet, high-speed cables, and software applications.  These new developments have created a fragmented market of new choices and mobility.  The mainstream adoption of digital technology allows the connection to networks and people just about anywhere, anytime they want to use it.  Today, more than 1/3 of the global population had access to the internet, and that number continues to grow.   As technology pushes forward, the world of marketing has become far more complex, and exciting at the same time.   The most important piece of advice:  “If the audience has become digital, so must the business!”

Why you need a digital marketing strategy

#1        Only the internet has the capacity to broaden reach and narrow target at the same time.

#2        Digital marketing is less expensive, easier to track, and more productive.

#3        Nothing spreads “word of mouth” faster than the internet.

#4       Without a digital tie-in, traditional media will not work like it used to.

#5        Internet offers unmatched tools, techniques and tactics to engage with customers.

#6        A relevant website, SEO and/or SEM, is what displays your business in search results.

#7       Social Media is the best way to build, retain, and reward customer relationships.

#8        Mobile Marketing, email marketing, content marketing and display are all digital.

#9        Internet platforms builds authority, legitimacy, public relations and brand perception.

#10      Without one, you will miss opportunities, become less competitive, and lose business


 

leaning tree gravatarAbout The Leaning Tree Marketing, llc:  The Tree was established late 2009 to offer local business many years of advertising, marketing, sales, research and promotions experience.  Today, The Leaning Tree has become an expert in branding, bridging the gap between traditional and digital while harnessing the unlimited potential of digital marketing for business success.

*For interesting statistics and research regarding the growth of the internet: www.internetworldstats.com

Google Algorithms Penguin and Hummingbird

hum bird penguinGoogle changes or updates its algorithms 500-600 times per year.  (yikes!)  For a small business, this is a lot to keep up with.  Having a webmaster that keeps up with these changes will make a big difference in your bottom line.

Had changes recently in your search results?  Knowing when the Google algorithm updates took effect may help explain those changes:  SEO MOZ list of major algorithmic changes that have had the biggest impact on search.

August 2013, Google Hummingbird

Hummingbird was created to help provide better “conversational search” results, paying more attention to every word in a query, rather than pulling from a few key words.  When you speak a search topic such as, “Place to buy Green Bay Packer jersey?”  Traditional search engine may have focused on matches for the words, “buy” and “Green Bay Packer,” for example.  Hummingbird takes the search a step further by focusing on the meaning behind the spoken search words.  If you’ve shared with Google, it will recognize your location and compare it to your search.  It may understand that “place” means you want a brick-and-mortar store. It might get that “Green Bay Packer jersey” is a particular brand and type of clothing carried by certain stores. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.

October 2013, Google Penguin

Penguin is not a replacement for Hummingbird, but rather a part of it.  Hummingbird is like Google’s entire ranking engine, whereas Penguin is like a small part of that engine, a filter that is removed and periodically replaced with what Google considers to be a better filter to help keep out bad stuff.  Penguin is a part of Google’s overall search algorithm, designed to detect web spam and remove it from results.  If links are showing high in search results, but appear to be “Paid links” or “spammy,” Google will penalize your search results.  They just want to ensure that the results appearing in SERPs are all relevant and provide quality content pertaining to your search.

Over the years, there have been many update versions of the penguin algorithm.  (Penguin 1, 1.2, 2, 2.2, etc.)  If your site was affected by the most recent Penguin update, you would have noticed a marked drop in traffic over the past week.  How to fix the problem?  Get rid of those paid links.

Web Masters keep in mind, “Relevance and Quality”

Content on sites must be relevant and sector-related to fair well on Google search.  Web masters should double check to ensure links are relevant to their specific topics and that they have developed organically.   It is also vital that the content on your site is frequently updated and changing.

Consultants, Contractors, Who’s on Your Team?

networking picAt least you can take comfort in the fact that your team has your back, right?  Not always.

Team Players.  Having the right people in place is critical to your business success.   Just because someone has been employed at your company for ten plus years doesn’t make them a star employee.   There should be a motivational relationship between your business success, and the rewards/success of each team player.  However, it’s impossible to be responsible for all of the motivation behind each team member.  A good employee will have a deep sense of obligation to work hard, no matter what the circumstances.  If they become too comfortable, lazy, or unmotivated, there are plenty of eager and hard-working people ready to take their place!

Consultants and Contractors. The next question is, “should you hire a new employee or contract out for services?”  There are a lot of advantages to hiring a professional contractor or consultant.

  • Reduce overhead. Reducing expenses is a real attraction to hiring an independent contractor or consultant.  Lower overhead means less stress to cover costs.  New business can go right into your wallet and ensure the future success of your company.
  • No health benefits are necessary.  According to the EBRI, employers traditionally spend just over 29 percent on employee benefits.
  • Cost control.  With more employees, your office will probably have to move to a bigger space, but more office equipment, etc.  Not so with a contractor or consultant.   Another method of cost control would include scaling back on spending during seasonal or slow periods.  Basically, you’ll have the ability to take on opportunities as they arise.
  • Highly specialized.  Many consultants and contractors come trained and highly specialized, giving your company a leading edge towards greater profitability.  No successful business works in a vacuum.  Hiring an independent consultant or contractor offers flexibility to the changing work demands of your company, as well as the changing demands of the marketplace.
  • Require less management.  As your employee numbers grow, you become less involved in practicing your trade and more involved in people management issues.  THIS IS A BIG ONE!  You have to worry about worker-related lawsuits, putting out fires and ensuring that everyone is doing what they are supposed to be.  Independents and contractors are self-employed.  Due to the fact that they are more motivated and accountable, they require far less management, if any.
  • Well-networked and well-informed. Many consultants and contractors come well-networked to freelance experts, sales reps and business professionals of all sorts.  In order to remain relevant, they have to stay on top of trends, continue training and make sure they remain well-informed.

To find a good contractor or consultant, ask around.  Some of the best referrals will be from people you already know and respect.

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The Leaning Tree Marketing is an advertising freelance professional, well-respected in the Milwaukee WI marketplace.

Their complaints may be your next Big Idea

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It’s a known fact that the internet and social media have amplified customer voices, and it’s not a bad thing.  Yes, there are those who use online outlets to vent rage and obtain some sort of power from posting unwarranted comments.  But, because these internet ‘personalities’ are easy to peg, their comments mean next to nothing in the long run.  Of course, every business owner welcomes a positive review and customer feedback.  After all, what’s not to love about a customer expressing their satisfaction and delight regarding the services and products that you offer?  These words can define the difference between your business and the competition.  Encouraging words and praise can lead to some well-deserved free ‘word-of-mouth’ advertising and encourage new business in the future.

But what about the customer that expresses otherwise?  It’s true that most business owners fear complaints and dread a customer revealing a negative experience online.  However, I believe there are important lessons to be learned, and bigger opportunities to be discovered from a legitimate negative comment or customer concern.

Valid reasons not to fear the LEGITIMATE Negative Customer Complaint:

  • Having some negative comments mixed with positive ones will make your business reviews appear more relevant and believable.
  • Negative reviews add to the total quantity of reviews a business has which is important, providing more confidence in star ratings (represent an avg. across all reviews).
  • Customers who bring to surface and issue want to be heard.  If they have taken the time to express their concerns, they are more likely to return when the issue is resolved.
  • Resolving a negative complaint allows opportunity to present a special offer or incentive to motivate that customer return and satisfaction.
  • A dis-satisfied customer who doesn’t complain in a public manner could harm your business by talking behind your back and amplifying it’s negative effects without your knowledge.
  • After a situation has been exposed, your business can take action to obtain the upper hand, change the tone, and gain a new-found respect from current and potentially new customers.
  • Responding and resolving a negative comment allows you, the business owner, a chance to be heard and seen as a business that cares about its customers.
  • Your customers are always right.  Your customers know the competition better than you do.  Their questions may be your answers!

Be sure to PLAN for complaints…. as they are guaranteed to happen!  Make resolving those complaints a priority and conduct yourself professionally, especially online.  Compensate an unhappy customer for their inconvenience. Really listen to what customers are trying to tell you, especially if you are hearing the same type of concerns repeated.  Knowing and understanding customers wants and needs will absolutely create new and positive opportunities for your business…the next BIG IDEA.

What are you waiting for?  Tap into it!

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Local Marketing not just about Search

local biz marketing pictureIt’s true that “word-of-mouth” recommendations from family and friends are the top means for getting a good referral; this is precisely why social media is so important to business.  Social sites allow customers to quickly see, or ask what their social connections have to say about your business.   In addition, some of these social sites have become so sophisticated that they are soon become mini-search engines of their own.  However, to get results, it’s important to be active and interactive…the more involved you are, the better the results.

Be sure to select the social media outlets that best represent your business and potential customer base.  Not only can you gain the trust and respect of potential customers, but it will also help with retention, branding, search engine optimization, and ultimately…more sales!  Information derived from social media will also provide valuable information for planning future marketing and advertising campaigns.  When planning your next campaign blitz, don’t forget that it’s absolutely critical to connect social media to purchased advertising.  I call it “cross-platform marketing,” ensuring that your business branding or promotion is well-connected, and consistent.  This will extend the reach, frequency and ultimate success of your campaign.

Business uses for some of the top social media sites

LinkedIn:  LinkedIn is a professional social networking, and outstanding business-to-business, LEAD GENERATING marketing tool.   Your profile is essentially your business card, so make sure it’s public and search engines will index it!  New company pages allow you to update business products/services and add special offers.

Facebook: New graph search feature allows users to search for businesses according to both location and recommendations from friends.  Keep your Facebook page is categorized correctly and consistently updated with new and relevant information.

Foursquare:  Allow users to check in, find specials and rate your business.  Users can share offers with their friends, extending your message reach.   Ask for feedback from your most loyal patrons, and pay attention to which offers customers have responded best to, and keep them coming back!

Twitter:  With the new ‘anyone know” search, Twitter has become closer to a search engine tool.  Your twitter activity can boost Google search results for your business.  But, you have to do a little bit of work here; converse, respond, talk and interact!  Connect with relevant friends and industry peers to get the most out of it.

YouTube:  Did you know that the second largest search engine after Google is YouTube, yet the tool is often underutilized by businesses?  This could mean big opportunity for you!  In terms of SEO, titles, descriptions, and tags are the most important content elements.  And, of course, video…

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Online Visibility; free tools and helpful links

mouse n keyboard picYears ago, building a brand and gaining marketing share was much more simple.  Placing your brand in front of the ideal demographic was more simple because large audiences could be found in fewer places.  A single traditional media, (TV, Radio, billboards or Phone), could be utilized to generate an excellent return on investment, and guerrilla marketing worked wonders for the small business.  However, digital media and the internet changed the advertising world forever.  89% of US internet users search online before they make a purchase, even when the purchase is made at a local business.  Today, a prerequisite to traditional media or guerrilla marketing success depends upon how connected they are to the internet, and how your business is found online.  Therefore, a high level of importance should be placed on search engine results, your website, social media, inbound marketing, and other online marketing efforts.  Creating an online presence which aligns with your company goals and objectives; maintaining an online visibility, managing online activity and managing third-party directories related to your business is critical towards the effort of maximizing profit potential.   This is a big job, which is why 70% of small businesses say they don’t have the time to manage online listings on all of the sites that consumers use.  If your business is ready to compete and gain market share, opportunity knocks.  Below are some tools and tips to get you started…

See how your business is found online:

  • Start by searching for your business name on Google, Yahoo and Bing.   (Be sure to erase the ‘history’ before doing each search.)
  • Then, search for your competitor.

Review your website content and analytics:

  • Lead Sources
  • Unique Visitors
  • Bounce-rates
  • Conversions

Review your website SEO to see where you can improve.

  • Keyword density
  • Page Rank
  • Competitive Website Comparison
  • SEO Title
  • Traffic Ranking
  • Page Load Times (especially important for mobile)
  • Incoming Links

Chrome has a free Apps you can download from their store.

SEO Book has free SEO tools on their website.

The Leaning Tree Marketing  provides services such as online, (eReputation Management), to encourage reviews, create a cohesive brand and ensure that you’re utilizing all opportunities to increase online visibility through improved organic search engine results.

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Content Marketing and Google Algorithms

google logoRecently, Google rolled out some new quality controls for content marketing which will play into algorithms important to organic search results.  The change is designed to place relevance on the QUANTITY of new content, and will affect 35% of all search queries.  For businesses who are constantly updating their blog, social media sites, website content, and participating in inbound marketing….this is great news. For those who are not, this change could put a little fire in the seat to do something about it.  Stated in a Google press release,  “Search results, like warm cookies right out of the oven… are best when they’re fresh.”

If you want a piece of the SEO action, be prepared to push out more blogs, tweets, posts, and join in on discussions related to your products, services, and industry at any moment!

Don’t wait another minute to check your Google+ Business Places accounts and ensure you are within the guidelines.  The penalty?  Google will remove your business information and your business will lose precious search engine leverage.

Just because Google is asking for more quantity doesn’t minimize the importance of current and relevant information.  If you buy Google AdWords, familiarize yourself with Google’s Quality Score.  In addition, here are some basic definitions for marketers and business owners alike:

  • SEO:  abbreviation for “Search Engine Optimization,”  how to appear higher in search engine results.
  • Inbound Marketing:  Marketing efforts focused on getting found by customers rather than traditional marketing which is more intrusive.
  • Content Marketing:  Technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract and engage an audience with the objective of driving profitable actions.

All of the above utilize blogs, social sites, websites, Press-releases, etc.  Instead of merely “selling” your products and services, you’re delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent.  Not only that, but consumers don’t respond to traditional marketing like they used to.  It takes more to catch their interest than an online banner or TV ad alone.  multi-color-LEANING-TREE-logo-with-rep-mgmt small for FB cover

Google updates for Business

Google organic search results.  As you know, SEO is important to your business because it gives you the ability to be found and to connect personally with your potential customers.  Organic or ‘natural’ online buzz is what helps build your site’s reputation with both users and Google.  Try to keep your online material interesting and relevant to your customer by using a variety of rich media, fresh content, interaction and consistent activity.  Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any other factor.

Search Engine algorithms.  Every business out there wants to know what it needs to do in order to rank on page #1 in organic search.  What Google uses to determine search result ranking is called ‘algorithms.’  Users know good content when they see it, and they will be likely to direct others to it as well.  Search engine algorithms now take into account the social shares that your blog has, as well as emails, forum activity and SOCIAL MEDIA INTERACTION on sites such as facebook, twitter and Linkedin.

Google Pages.  Has died.  (To be blunt)  If you were managing the site before, you can still get into the page to make changes today.  However, those changes go nowhere.   Google merged business place pages into the Google Plus environment.  (I call the new page the Google Plus Business Page.)  Google allows you to add adminstrators to your new business plus page, much the same as Facebook.  When you go into your Google Plus account to update or change your Google Plus Business Page, you may need to obtain another pin code for verification as was done when originally claiming your Google Places page.  To be safe, check online to make sure any changes you’ve requested have actually been done.

Google Plus & Search. Setting up a Google user account is important, but it doesn’t stop there.  Google calls friends/followers on their network “Circles,” and there is a lot of emphasis on the activity that happens there.  NOTE:  Google Plus is not just ‘any other’ social media outlet.  Let’s say you +1 and article you like, or post a comment that shows up on your profile, visible to all the people in your circles.  Whenever you +1 something, and whenever your post gets a lot of reads, you’re letting Google know what you like, and what everyone else likes too.  The Google search engine is all about bringing you relevant information, so…..what could be more relevant than telling Google what you like?  (By using +1.)  At the same time, what can be more relevant than the buzz that happens when others like what you have posted?  Google will personalize your search results based upon your +1’s and by what the people who you have in your circles show as relevant and interesting.

Summary.  It is a HUGE benefit to meet your potential customers at the point closest to purchase in organic search.  Therefore, I’m really going to emphasize the importance of Social Media and Google Plus activity, engagements and updates to stay current.

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