Smart Solutions Blog

The Internet Community and the Election

November 6th, 2012

From Smart Solutions

Google and Bing are tracking votes in real time, as well as hosting fun front pages today; Facebook is counting votes according to its own application; and countless other websites around the web are joining in on the Election Day excitement. First, get out and vote – then watch as everything unfolds.

(Click the pictures to go to each of the respective pages)

Google – their Election Day Doodle, and an interactive map that gets updated in real time!

Google Election Doodle google-election-image

Bing – their colorful homepage and another map to keep track of how the election is going.

Bing Election Results 

Facebook – their fun map that keeps track of users that use their voting application.

facebook-election-image

New Linkedin Business Page Design

October 9th, 2012

When you work in the area of Internet marketing, you get used to lots of change. New networks to pay attention to, new ways to market your business, new tools to help you measure successes, and new designs on all the websites you use the most.

Social media websites tend to get hit the most with new designs, and Linkedin is the latest to get a new design on their business pages. We just updated ours this morning, and it looks pretty good! The design may remind you of a certain other social network that recently hit one billion members, but we think it’s a step in the right direction for Linkedin. Their old design wasn’t much to look at, and this one is a huge improvement.

new-linkedin-business-pages

They don’t make this design easy on you though—the new area for your main profile picture (just to the left of your business name) is an odd size. We sized our image to 374×174, and that seemed to fit well. However, our logo isn’t usually that size, so it took quite a bit of adjusting.

linkedin-new-business-page

The cover photo is somewhere around 646×221, and offers a chance to brighten up and keep visitors more interested in your Linkedin business page. (to the right are a few examples of how businesses are using the cover images so far!)

If you’re one of the administrators on your company page, you’ll see that Linkedin has placed this cream-colored box across the top of the page! Administrators have it easier than ever with sharing and editing on the new business pages, and overall, we think it’s a great change.

new-linkedin-business-page

Are you ready to start optimizing your new Linkedin business page design? Head on over and check it out, or interact with the new design on the Smart Solutions Linkedin page.

Social Media Advertising

September 27th, 2012

Ads are everywhere online, and growing steadily on social media channels. Log into Facebook, browse Twitter, search Linkedin, watch a video on YouTube—you’re going to see ads. While you may not click on many of the advertisements marketed to you, you do see them, and chances are you remember them.

But are they viable? Are Twitter Ads and Facebook Sponsored Posts a quality investment of your marketing budget? Let’s examine three of the top social media advertising options available to businesses today.

Twitter Advertising

This is a form of advertising that we’ve been seeing a lot of lately. Not just seeing ads in our Twitter streams, but Twitter pushing us to pay for our own ads.

twitter-advertising

You can choose one of two types of ads—either Promoted Tweets or Promoted Accounts. Choose your type based on what you want as a result: Either increased views on one tweet, or an increased amount of followers to continue tweeting to over time.

twitter-ads

Twitter Advertising isn’t something that we recommend for small businesses, because it isn’t a time-tested advertising method yet. However, for medium to large-sized businesses with a little extra in their marketing budget, we say give it a try!

Want to see who else has benefited from Twitter advertising? Check out the success stories.

facebook-advertising

Facebook Ads

While it can seem like Facebook is too big for small business advertising, it differs from Twitter in one (very important) area—it’s more personal. The way Facebook is put together allows for a more personal experience that Twitter simply doesn’t have. Geo, gender, interest and age targeting allow you to zone in on the exact audience you want to see your ad on Facebook.

Facebook also allows for a few different types of advertising. One is the typical ad to the right of your screen, which links to either your business Facebook page or an external URL.

Another is the promoted status, which will show your ad to friends of the users who like your page. This is a great option to choose if you have a promotional campaign running for a certain product or service.

Check out some of the businesses that have benefited from Facebook Advertising: Facebook Ad Success Stories.

Ads on Linkedin

linkedin-ads

If your company is specifically business to business, advertising on Linkedin might be your best bet. Linkedin is the social network for professionals, and people are more likely to be looking for business services on a site like Linkedin, as opposed to Twitter or Facebook.

Ads on Linkedin look a lot like those on Facebook, and can link to any URL you’d like—a company page, personal page, products/services page, careers page or an external URL.

Linkedin also offers a very cool feature—up to 15 variations in your ad, in order to test which style of ad is best for your audience! Facebook allows you to do several ads as well, but not as easily or quickly as Linkedin’s service.

Not convinced? Take a look at some Linkedin success stories!

What Social Media Advertising is Right for You?

We’d love to discuss it with you! Give us a call or send the web marketing team an email, and we can talk about how to make social media ads work for your company.

Keep Track of Your SEO Measurements

September 7th, 2012

SEO measurements imageSEO measurements (tracking and reporting) are essential pieces of any SEO strategy. Knowing how your site is being affected by your marketing team’s effort is necessary if you want to know what is working and what is not.

There is a plethora of available search measurements that you can track, and we’ll list off a few below, to help you decide which measurements would be best for your team to keep track of.

Search Engine Ranking

This is typically the most used tracking by SEO businesses. And it is a big one—moving up in search engine rankings isn’t easy and doesn’t happen quickly! This one is great to monitor because it’s all about visibility on Google’s SERP. However, it shouldn’t be the only SEO measurement that you track, and shouldn’t be considered the most important

New Visitors

Tracking your new visitors is fairly easy in most analytics programs, and it’s a great feature to keep an eye on. Do you know if your website visitors are mostly returning or if they’re new? Instead of taking a guess, track your new visitors vs. your returning visitors! Figure out if your current SEO efforts are helping to bring in those new customers.

Bounce Rate

This type of tracking doesn’t deal with SEO efforts so much as it deals with your website’s design. Which aspects of your page are converting and which are holding you back? You can test your bounce rate by using different designs, button styles or calls to action, and track which ones get you the conversions you want through A/B testing.

Conversions

This tracking is where the money is. Literally. It’s most often used on e-commerce sites, but a conversion can be anything you want it to be. Forms or landing pages are two easy-to-track types of conversions—but you can choose what it is. Whatever you want your potential customers to do on your site—track it! This is the most valuable kind of tracking—because you know what each one is worth!

SEO Measurements for Your Website

It all comes down to what is most important for your business and your website. What is most important to you, and most valuable for creating sales and connections on your website? THAT is what needs to be tracked.

There are tons of free and low cost SEO tools out there that can help you keep track of your SEO measurements. And if you need any help with SEO work or SEO measurements, give us a call or contact our web marketing team at any time!

Regular Web Content Creation

August 31st, 2012

Web content creation is a fancy way of saying something simple—writing for the web. We’ve discussed writing for the web before, but it’s such an important subject, that we want to make sure we’re getting our point across—regular content creation cannot be ignored!

Blog Posts vs. Website Pages for Content Development

This aspect of web marketing covers a lot of ground. Most online businesses handle content creation in one of two ways—by hosting a blog on their website or simply adding a number of new pages to their website every year. Both aspects work great, and there are reasons to use both. We lay out the pros and cons of these two below:

Content Creation by Keeping a Blog

Businesses choose this option in order to keep a steady flow of conversational language. This option also allows you to write on time-specific subjects—which don’t work as well as actual pages on the website, because they become outdated and need to be removed from the site.

Content Creation by Adding New Pages

People choose this option in order to have more long-lasting pages. Blog posts from the past are often difficult to find, so by putting pages directly in the navigation of the website, people can find them more easily. However, it’s important that these pages be written to stand the test of time, unlike blog posts.

Reasons to Participate in Regular Content Development

There are multiple reasons to have a regular content development schedule—and we certainly won’t list them all—but here are a few to convince you:

Keep Your Site Fresh

If you go the blog route, don’t make the mistake of thinking one blog every 2-3 months is enough. When people see that you aren’t updating your website, they might conclude that you treat your customers in a lackadaisical manner as well.

Keep Spiders Coming Back

If Google’s spiders come to your site 4 times in one month and see no new content each time, what is going to bring them back another 4 times next month? It won’t expect any new content from you, so it won’t feel the need to crawl your site more than once or twice a month.

Keep Visitors Coming Back

Don’t forget—it’s not just about spiders! If you’re providing interesting, relevant information on a regular basis, your visitors will want to come back too! And one of those visits might result in a purchase.

Content Development Subjects and Topics

There are a couple of questions you’ll want to ask yourself, when putting together a schedule of topics for your website content creation:

What kind of keywords do you want your business to rank for?

Choose a few target keywords for every page or blog post you write. Know what you want your business to show up for on Google’s SERP.

What subjects do you want your business to be known as an expert in?

Choose subjects that will assure customers that you’re an expert in your field. A bakery website would be a great place to have an article about different types of flour, but a law firm probably wouldn’t benefit from articles on that subject.

What information relates to your industry that you could write about?

If your business is pet grooming and you’re writing articles about wine storage, you’re probably not drawing in the audience you want to read your work! Choose subjects that relate to your industry that your target audience will be interested in.

If you need help putting together a content creation schedule, or would like to bring someone on to participate in content development with your team, contact our web marketing team to learn more about our services!

What to do with Google Algorithm Changes

August 23rd, 2012

The usual route that webmasters take for handling Google algorithm changes is to freak out every time Google announces one, and run scrambling to figure out how your website can benefit from (or at least not be ruined by) it. Surprisingly enough, there IS another option—one that involves a lot less stress and pulling out of hair. It’s revolutionary and controversial, but here it is:

Make a good website.

We know, it’s a little crazy, but here’s the thing—Google just wants to know that your site isn’t full of spam. They want to know that your site is well designed, user-friendly, easy to navigate and provides quality content.

This is what Google is trying to move toward—an index of better websites than they have now. The best way to get ranking well is to make a better website. The list of qualities we listed above is important to have in mind when you’re building a site and when you’re updating it. We expand each quality below:

A Well Designed Website

Google’s spiders won’t see your design the way that a website visitor will, but they do see the HTML—how clean it is, how orderly it is, and how up to date it is with new trends in web development and programming.

User Friendly and Easy to Navigate

Google can judge how user friendly your site is by bounce rates, as well as how your site is set up on the back end. Don’t hide or orphan pages, and make it easy to get from one page to another.

Provide Quality Content

Stop spinning articles and write good copy that relates to your industry. Continue to update it as it needs to be updated, and add more content as necessary. Keep searchers in mind as you write, and incorporate keywords that are applicable.

Make a good website—it’s as simple as that. Keep an eye on Google algorithm changes, but know that if you’re making a website that incorporates these qualities, Google would be hard-pressed to find a reason to drop your site in their next algorithm update.

Do you have more questions about how to make a great website? Contact our web development team to learn more.

Google Analytics’ Social Media Features

August 17th, 2012

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it another million times—every website owner should be checking their analytics consistently. The time of letting your website work as a business card is long gone, and the time to learn more about how your site is performing is now.

Google Analytics makes it much easier to see how your site is performing, and they’re constantly adding new features. A feature that was added in just the last few months is this: better social media tracking. Google Analytics has always tracked traffic from social media, but not as a separate entity—this feature will (or should) transform the way you handle your social media accounts.

How to Use Google Analytics’ Social Media

If you log into your Google Analytics account, you’ll find the social media feature under “Traffic Sources” on the left hand side of the screen. The last option is “Social.” Our favorite social media tool on there (and the one we’re examining here) is “Social Visitors Flow.”

The social flow is a chart that shows you where each of your visitors arriving from social media is going. The major social networks bringing traffic to your site are all listed there, and you’ll see right away which ones are working for your business. At Smart Solutions, we came to the startling realization that although we were putting the majority of our social media time into Facebook, the best visitor performers actually came from Linkedin—one of the sites we hadn’t put much effort into.

Google Analytics Social Flow

[picture from analytics.blogspot.com]

Examining this chart for your business website will help you to segment and distribute your social media time into the social media sites that are actually bringing valuable visitors to your business website.

If you don’t have Google Analytics in place for your website just yet, go get it set up! It takes only a few minutes to install the code on your website, and the benefit you get is well worth the effort.

Google’s Social and Search Integration

August 9th, 2012

If you’re still resisting joining Google+, stop. Google is not backing out of their new social network, and any resistance at this point is only hurting your business. They continue to integrate Google+ into their search engine more and more, and every sign points to rewarding websites that use their social network.

In this post, we’re going to quickly examine a few of the ways that Google has integrated their social network into the SERP.

Google Author

This integration is the most noteworthy—it’s something you’ll see whether you’re logged into your Google account or not. Bloggers with Google+ profiles are able to get their content featured a little more distinctively on the SERP. Google will pull in a profile picture from their Google+ accounts, if they simply add a bit of HTML to their blog posts. See our blog post on Google Author for more information.

Google Author Example

Google Places Becomes Google+

The Google Places to Google+ crossover was probably the most drasticof Google’s social integrations. All of the local businesses that set up accounts inside Google Places were moved over to a new look—the Google+ look.  URLs changed over to plus.google.com and reviews were changed from the 1-5 star  to the 30 point Zagat system.

Google+ Local

Google+ SERP Share

This only happened (or at least was only noticed) a few weeks ago on Google—sharing enabled from right on the results page of Google. This isn’t a huge change (you can only see it if you’re logged in), but it’s just another sign of how Google is integrating Google+ into every aspect of their search engine.

google-plus-share-image     google-serp-share-image

So what are you supposed to do now that you have this information? Embrace Google+ wholeheartedly and learn how to use it best for your business. And remember if you need help, your team here at Smart Solutions is available to assist with social media inquiries.

Google Supports the Olympics

July 30th, 2012

How does Google get involved in the 2012 London Olympics? By making it WAY easier to get information on how your favorite teams are doing! But Google has taken it to a whole new level this year—instead of just sending you to the website with the right information, Google lists everything you need to know right on their homepage.

Google and the Olympic Countries

Is there a certain country you’re rooting for? Type in “[country] olympics” and you’ll see something similar to the images below. The number of gold, silver and bronze medals they’ve won, which sports have been their best and a schedule of when they’ll be playing next, in your time zone—Google has you covered when it comes to information on the 2012 Olympics.

USA-google-olympics-image china-google-olympics-image

Google and the Olympic Sports

Maybe instead of wanting information organized by country, you have a favorite sport in the Olympics that you want to keep track of. Google has you covered there as well! Type in “[sport] Olympics” and voila—you get the images below! Learn which countries are leading the way in that particular sport, and find out when the next competition is.

google-olympics-swimming-imagegoogle-olympics-archery-image

Google was very smart this year, and their knowledge graph is growing by leaps and bounds. Google is moving farther away from directing searchers to external websites, and starting to keep more people on their search engine result pages.

Google Doodles and the Olympics

Other than getting searchers information about the Olympics, Google also has fun with doodles for each of the sports. So far, they’ve had doodles for the opening ceremonies, archery, diving and fencing! For as long as the Olympics are going, there’s sure to be another doodle on the Google homepage. [click to see the images larger!]

google-doodle-olympics-fencing  google-doodle-olympics-opening  google-doodle-olympics-archery  google-doogle-olympics-diving

Everyone wants a hand in the Olympics, and Google is doing a great job of keeping them covered! Another search engine that has had some Olympic-themed images is Bing—we assume that they’ll have more fun images as the London 2012 Olympics continue!

Facebook Admin Roles Have Changed!

July 12th, 2012

In the past few months, Facebook has changed up a lot of their business page features in a great way. They’ve really stepped up their game when it comes to Facebook business pages, and we’re seeing a lot of new options available for businesses. The last one we featured on the blog was the new Facebook scheduler feature, but the latest is new administrator roles.

A few months ago, after Google+ business pages launched, we analyzed Facebook’s admin system vs. the Google+ way, and the newer social network came out on top. Now, however, Facebook is offering something not unlike Google+ admin roles.

Five Different Facebook Roles

Facebook offers five different admin roles: Manager, Content Creator, Moderator, Advertiser and Insights Analyst. You can refer to the table below to see which abilities each role is given. The manager is the only one allowed to add, delete or change administrator roles, unlike before when any administrator could.

facebook-admin-roles

Many small businesses won’t even need to mess with these roles—the most important thing is to know what your administrators are doing. If you’ve only hired someone to handle your Facebook ads, then you don’t need to make them any more than an “Advertiser.” However, if they’re also posting statuses and adding landing pages, you’ll want to give them the control of “Content Creator.” As a general rule, it’s best to keep only the business owner as “Manager.” Falling outs can happen in any company, and compromised Facebook pages are never a good thing!

So if you have multiple administrators on your Facebook page(s), make sure you edit their roles! If you haven’t touched your admin page since the change, each person will be “Manager.” Also, all new administrators will default to “Manager.”

You can read more about this change on Facebook’s help page!

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