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Think beyond text on a webpage for your content marketing

beyond textContent marketing will continue to get a lot of attention as websites adjust to Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm, which was quietly rolled out in August and formally announced at the end of September. This release is the first entirely new rewrite of the company’s algorithm since 2001, and it changes the way Google looks at keywords. Hummingbird is a move toward a more contextual, semantic search; that is, rather than just focusing on individual keywords or keyphrases, the search engine will try to discern the whole meaning of the text a user enters in order to return results that more accurately reflect the searcher’s intent.

How does this affect your firm’s effort to continually better your search rankings and increase traffic to your site? If you have been keeping abreast of the series of updates known as Panda and Penguin, then it is unlikely you will have to make too many (more…)

Speak to client needs by turning features into benefits

benefitsAttorney marketing is tricky in many ways. You must sell a service that only a certain percentage of the population will ever need, and you do not have the same ability to manufacture demand as large retail companies like Nike or Apple. Attorneys are also restricted in many different ways by a variety of recommendations unique to each state bar’s interpretation of best marketing practices. Lawyers must even approach marketing differently than other service providers who face fewer constraints on they ways in which they can present themselves to the public.

However, attorneys can learn from traditional retail marketing in one very important way: The predominant message of successful campaigns is a focus on benefits rather than features. This is true of top national brands that may not mention a product at all until the end of a spot to local businesses. A commercial for a landscape architect will not showcase (more…)

Pinterest adds article pins to its collection of rich content

article pinsPinterest announced on its blog last week that it would be expanding its current bundle of rich pins to include article pins. Article pins will contain additional information, like the headline, author, story description and link to the article, within the pin itself. The feature will be rolled out over the coming months, with larger publishers already seeing access to the new pins.

Previously, when a publisher pinned an article, the post would contain only a picture associated with the article and a link to the story. (Remember, always attach pictures to your blog posts and articles if you want to encourage pins.) People had to guess from that limited context whether the pin was relevant to themselves or their followers.

Pins present a particular challenge for attorneys, whose business is much more difficult to visualize than that of other industries, like fashion or food and beverage, that can (more…)

8 Ways to Get the Most our of Your YouTube Channel – Part 2

Part one in this two-part series can be found here.

youtube one channelLike most social networks, your ability to benefit from YouTube One Channel relies heavily on the level of involvement to which your firm is willing to commit. At a minimum, you should brand your channel and fully fill out all meta data, like titles and descriptions, so your videos will be correctly categorized and easy to find. YouTube is now using the title of your channel rather than your user name to display in search results, so make sure it is simple and relevant (and please, no keyword spam).

Here are some additional things you can do to maximize the benefit of your channel:

Take advantage of YouTube Analytics. Google has made a real effort to make YouTube’s analytics more useful by, among other things, adding charts that help you visualize how well your videos are performing. For smaller publishers, the charts (more…)

Google+ Adds Automatic Authorship and Post Embedding

authorshipGoogle Authorship is a method for attaching a specific author to online content so that the author can be associated with his or her work across the Internet, no matter where it is published. Google advertises Authorship as a good way to validate content, help get discovered and attract more readers.

The little pictures you see next to some search results are displayed because of Authorship. If you see those images, it means Google has determined, through both markup and a linked Google+ account, that the person shown is responsible for the content being presented. There is still much discussion in the SEO community about whether or not adding Authorship helps with search marketing, although many people have reported positive results in terms of both ranking and click-through rate post implementation.

Google recommends using Authorship as one method of building reputation and establishing trust. At the March 2013 Search Marketing Expo (more…)

8 Ways to Get the Most our of Your YouTube Channel – Part 1

youtubeYouTube rolled out its new One Channel platform over the spring and early summer. By now, whether you have set up your channel or not, any YouTube accounts you have should have long been converted to the new design. With the changes, Google is attempting to make the site more of a subscription based destination, rather than a video hosting site. As the name implies, all users now have a channel to which others can subscribe, and additional ways of promoting their channel. The new design and functionality also provide more opportunities for engagement and community building.

Since Google is providing you with several new tools, it is worth the effort to understand how they can help your firm. Here are some things you can do to take advantage of One Channel:

Choose the right banner and channel avatar. Responsive design has come to YouTube. The One Channel design is similar to the (more…)

Google Looking to Review Under-Performing Small Business Websites

submit siteGoogle is giving small business owners a chance to have their sites personally reviewed by engineers on Google’s webspam team. If you have a smaller site that you think should be ranking better against your larger competitors, this is your chance to plead you case.

Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts put out the call on Twitter for owners of smaller websites to submit their information via a simple Google form.

If you choose to submit your url, you will be asked to provide details about why you think your site is better – or higher quality – than others that rank more favorably and why you think you should outrank other, perhaps larger, sites.

Google has made it clear that submitting your site for review will not affect your rankings. This is purely an exercise in collecting data, but it could be an indication that Google is taking seriously the complaints of (more…)

How to use negative space to enhance user experience

white-spaceOne of the challenges of website design is combining many disparate items like text, pictures, links and illustrations into a harmonious page. If a layout is not well thought out, even the most beautiful design elements will suffer from poor display.

Some websites succumb to the misconception that visitors must be given as much information as possible as soon as they land on a page, which leads to an attempt to cram too much stuf into a limited space. Studies have actually shown that people with fewer choices tend to pick one of them quickly, whereas those with too many choices may not pick anything at all. Consumers say they want choice, but the reality proves otherwise. They want direction. The items you present to visitors should be carefully pared down and displayed in a way that gives people’s eyes a place to rest. Negative space plays a critical role in (more…)

Nine types of blog entries to help generate good topic ideas

bloggingMarketers have been telling attorneys to blog for years, since it became obvious that content would rule the online marketing world. Scheduled blogging makes your website relevant to visitors, gives people a reason to trust your expertise and provides a consistent stream of content that is helpful when building organic links to your site.

Good blog entries take time. If you are blogging on a regular schedule, it can seem like you are under constant pressure to produce. You should just be able to sit down and hammer out a bunch of content, right? But creativity does not always work that way – with a sudden flash of brilliance that all the Web will recognize. Thoughtful blog posts that present a solution or give practical advice (and are by definition more likely to be shared) require your attention for longer than 30 minutes. But that does not mean that you should (more…)

Branding is more than a buzzword, it could influence your search ranking

handmade brandingGoogle has had an active summer, much to the chagrin of many, from a high-profile Penguin update to changes to its link scheme guidelines. But, as Eric Enge pointed out in an article about Google’s quality control process, the search giant doesn’t really care whether it ranks your site accurately. Google is interested in increasing overall search quality, not in small, individual cases. The best way to stay ahead of changes – which will continue – is to meet their demands for value and diversity.

In the wake of the latest round of algorithm updates, some trends appear to be emerging. One, relevant to businesses large and small, is that the websites of companies with a comprehensive branding strategy have been least affected by the changes. This confirms the advice that reputable marketing companies have been giving for years: shortcuts and schemes don’t work (at least not for long). Good search (more…)