Predictions for SEO in 2018

What Is Around the Corner for SEO in 2018

The world of technology is ridiculously fast-paced. Where some careers take decades (sometimes centuries) to implement changes and adopt new practices,  Google algorithms apply small changes in policies on a daily basis, and drastic changes on a yearly basis.

This creates an ever-present challenge for online marketers to predict the next factor that will count for or against building a web presence through SEO. There is an ever-growing obstacle of web designers and online advertisers struggling to answer the same questions from clients “How are you going to put my website on the front page of Google?”

I am not going to claim to know everything about the subject. After all, we are a small Alabama SEO company that has been building websites for about a couple of years. There are people with more resources who have been watching the trends for much longer than we have. However, just because we are a small Alabama SEO company, doesn’t mean that we don’t take pride in our research skills. We also want to equip our clients and other up and coming online marketers with the latest Google Updates and SEO trends.

That’s why, today, I am going to be covering the up and coming SEO trends for 2018.

 

Website Staying Power

For a long time, Google counted how many clicks to your website towards your website ranking. However, there are many “Web Gurus” who have opted to cheat the system in order to grow their ranking quickly. This has been done by the use of clickbait headlines on social media and hiring the use of “Click farms“.

alabama seo company, seo trends, 2018 SEONaturally, after the clickbait became rampant in the last few years, Google decided to transition away from counting just clicks towards web rank.  Instead, they added an inclusion towards its algorithm.

Dwell time, is the amount of time visitors stay on your page after the initial click.

Google has had algorithms in the past that point toward the implementation of favoring dwell time over clicks, but with major social media sites, like Facebook adding it to their own algorithms, chances are this will be a stronger implementation for SEO to come.

 

 

Mobile First Formatting

 

It is no secret that the number of smartphone owners is rising every year. And they are not showing any signs of slowing down.

smartphone, mobile friendly,

Worldwide, the number of smartphone users are on the rise in both developing and advanced economies. They are even used and owned by refugees from places like North Korea and Syria for its map function and other important reasons.

So, there’s little surprise that mobile friendliness is going to be an even stronger factor for ranking your website. In fact, when building a website, experts recommend you design with mobile phones in mind, not the desktop computer.

If you aren’t sure if your website is mobile friendly enough, then you are in luck. Google has provided tools that can test your site, and judge it on its mobile-friendly qualities.

 

Voice Search Optimization

voice based search, echo,

This one is a little less apparent compared to most SEO trends. Nonetheless, it is predicted to be a huge part of upcoming SEO trends by influential members of the tech and advertising industry. Voice command technology is a relatively new and has seen its fair share of setbacks. However, as of at least last year, voice-activated search engines are becoming more integrated with consumer technology.

Alexa, Cortana,  and several other devices were created solely as a voice-activated machine that are attached to things like Google, Youtube, Amazon, and MapQuest.  Sort of like a more compact and limited form of JARVIS from Ironman.

Naturally, that means that Googles ranking will come to favor less from what someone will type down as a keyword and more from organic queries that people speak out loud.

When typing down something, humans have a sense of self-monitoring. We are trained in schools to type things quickly and accurately, in lieu or typing down organic thought. When it comes to speaking, however, unless you are in a formal setting, we tend to blurt out what is on our minds immediately.  So instead of speaking to Alexa like someone with pure keywords such as “Cheap Alabama Web Design” we instead ask it full queries, “Alexa, Where is the Cheapest Alabama Web Design company?

If you take the time to pose and answer a direct question on your content, you are going to get more results and most likely indexed by Google through both voice-activated and organic queries.

 

Do you want to know more about this topic? Click here. If you want to know about our services, Check Out Our Front Page!.

Web Design By Purple Tie Guys Decatur Alabama, alabama seo company

This was brought to you by Purple Tie Guys, an Alabama SEO Company dedicated to educating and providing quality client service.

By | 2017-12-30T14:25:04+00:00 December 30th, 2017|Post|Comments Off on Predictions for SEO in 2018

Facebook Cracking Down on Spammers

Facebook is Penalizing “Engagement” Bait

It is no secret that Facebook has been trying harder to crack down on spammy behavior since at least last year. They have gone out of their way to reduce links that lead to poor quality content, news hoaxes, and fake videos.  Already, they have penalized the practice of click-baiting in their algorithm since 2016. But just what are these practices? What does it mean for the Alabama SEO company trying to grow their business through social media? Does it have any major impact on your SEO?

Today, I am going to dig deep and answer the questions as best as I can.

 

What is Click Bait?

For those of you who don’t spend a good chunk of time on the internet, the term might not be familiar. Do you remember watching your favorite tv show and at the ending, the whole thing cut off before you knew what was going to happen to the characters on the screen?  Will the judge rule the main character guilty or innocent? Can the hero survive hanging off the edge of that cliff?  It leaves you, the audience, infuriated that you will not know what will happen until next week. It also makes you eager to watch the next episode, or sometimes wait for over year for the next season to come on.  This is a writing tactic known as the cliffhanger, and click-baiting is the internet equivalent of that.

 

Spam, clickbait, Facebook

 

Usually, click baiters engage social media users, by showing an outrageous but effectively engaging headline of an article.  “Find out How I Lost 100 lbs“You won’t believe what he or she said…” Click baiters pique the interest of the user by posing a question or stating an outrageous claim. If the claim is intriguing enough for the user, they will click the text, and get sent to a web page with the article that answers the question but also filled with all sorts of spam offers, ads, and sponsorships that get in the way of that answer, or the answer is mundane and unfulfilling.

The practice of leaving a strong headline as a marketing tool isn’t a bad tactic by itself. After all, how else do you get readership if you don’t grab the attention of your audience?

The problem is that it has been most often been utilized by spammers, hackers, and websites that aim to increase their social ranking artificially.

 

What is Engagement Bait?

Engagement bait is a term coined by Facebook in their latest algorithm update announcement.  Their definition of the term states, that it is a  “tactic that seeks to take advantage of our News Feed algorithm by boosting engagement in order to get greater reach.”

As the current algorithm stands, if a post receives a constant stream of likes, comments, and shares, it starts to show up in other people’s news feed, in order to create a more widespread following of a popular post.

facebook, engagement bait, clickbait, spam

Copyright Facebook

 

The problem is that the same spammers are capitalizing on this algorithm thus far by a few variations of this tactic to create a larger reach.

Average Facebook Users and Facebook itself see this as a variation of click-baiting, so naturally, they are changing the algorithm to reward users who don’t engage in that behavior and punish those that do.

 

 

What does it mean for SEO?

It doesn’t do major damage to your web SEO if you have legitimate engaging content. Likes, Shares, and Comments, do add up to your social media score for your website, but that is only a fraction of what Google puts into your SEO ranking. Google uses social media, the content on your site, tagged images, relevant keywords, outbound linking and inbound linking to rank your site. It is only a small part of a larger whole, so if you fail it, it isn’t the end of the world.

The whole point of this new Facebook policy is to create authentic value for user interactions and prevent the idea of growth hacking to cheat the system. If you have legitimately good content, then you have nothing to fear, except for the occasional misunderstanding.

Conclusion

The official motive does sound admirable, but we have yet to see if the execution will help or hurt legitimate Facebook businesses. After all, no human is perfect, and neither is any string of complex codes. It could backfire on small businesses if the algorithm lacks any sort of nuance.

Facebook did provide a link to their new guidelines about how businesses should behave themselves on Facebook, and are allotting at least a 7 week adjustment period for bloggers to learn how to navigate with this new algorithm that is being applied.

For now, only time will tell.

 

Written by:

Web Design By Purple Tie Guys Decatur Alabama, alabama seo company

An Alabama SEO Company dedicated to getting your business Web-ready all over the globe. If you liked this article, click here to read another one like it.

Other Sources:

https://marketingland.com/facebooks-latest-news-feed-tweak-penalizes-pages-solicit-likes-shares-230493

https://www.theverge.com/2017/5/17/15654730/facebook-news-feed-update-kill-off-clickbait

https://thenextweb.com/facebook/2017/12/18/facebooks-crackdown-engagement-bait-long-overdue/

By | 2017-12-26T22:15:05+00:00 December 26th, 2017|Post|Comments Off on Facebook Cracking Down on Spammers

Why is it So Hard to Rank on Google?! – Part 2: Inbound Links

Part 2 – Getting Google to Like You

I mentioned last week that Google, much like a sophisticated lady,  is a classy entity that does not favor just everyone. It is a respectable index that has, since the beginning, relied on its own set of rules in order to keep its reputation as the most popular search engine. If you play by the rules and stay patient, Google will notice.

We touched on the “Know” part of the “Know, Like, Trust” business model last week. We talked about SEO Keywords, Outbound Linking, and Readability. All three of these things play a part in letting Google know that your website is being taken seriously. Believe it or not, while it takes a lot of effort,  that was the easy part.

Writing and editing your website does take effort, but there are tools, widgets and instructions that help. If you misspelled something, don’t have the right amount of words, or need to change your keywords, you can go in and edit it yourself.  The “Know” part is the outcome of your actions. You aren’t paying for the consequences of anyone else’s actions or inaction.

However, the “Like” part of the Google equation is contingent on the actions of other people, and that is what makes it so hard. You have to convince other people, on the internet, to vouch for you.

 

like, facebook

 

Like

There is a universal truth when it comes to social interactions that most people learn about when they go through kindergarten or first grade. The harsh reality when it comes to social situations is that no one has to like you. There are going to be things that people are willing to do for you because they like you and there are going to be things that people won’t bother with because they don’t care about your needs. Add the anonymity of Internet users and you can see why getting people to vouch for your website can seem daunting. But, you still need those users to vouch for you. How do you do it? What can you ask of them, and how can it be accomplished?  Well, according to Google you need Inbound Links from other reputable websites to vouch for yours.

 

What are Inbound Links?

Inbound links are when other websites link to your content on their website. When other websites link to yours, it increases credibility to your site and boosts your reputation when the search engines start to rank you inbound linkagainst your competition.  While the concept and the actions behind inbound linking seem easy enough, you still need to get people to care about your content enough to go through the effort. There are multiple ways to try and convince other users to show off your website for you, but Google still has a list of rules that you must abide by to get each one of them to count.

Don’t Cheat

If you wanted to date a girl or boy that you think you might like, but you do questionable things beforehand (stalking comes to mind), there is still a possibility of you reaching your end goal. However, that comes with a huge risk of this person finding out what you did. If they did, they’d call you a creep, dump you on the spot, and tell all of their friends.

Google operates the exact same way.

According to Google, there is a right way and a wrong way to get backlinks. If you try to break the rules of conduct, you will get penalized for it. Some of these are considered “common sense rules of the internet” but others are a little more surprising. A few examples of ‘cheating’ with backlinks include:

 

  • Paying for Backlinks 
  • Auto Generated Links
  • Hiding Links in CSS or JavaScript
  • Low-Quality Guest Posts
  • Comment Spam

 

If you want to read more about link penalties and what to avoid, check out here and here. They go into deeper detail about the subject matter.

 

Ways to get Inbound Links

 

inbound linking content

 

The right way to gain inbound links takes much more time and effort but significantly decreases the chances of being penalized by Google. This can help you build further trust between Google and your site. These include but are not limited to:

 

  • Create Consistent Content
  • Encourage others to Share your content on Social Media
  • Speak at Events IRL
  • Offer Sneak Peaks or Free Samples of your Content
  • Review Something Everyone is Talking About

 

Check out these sources here, and there.  They go into further detail and offer a variety of ways to get other people to share your content!

 

Need marketing advice? Contact us! Want to read an interesting guest blog? Check this out!

By | 2017-12-14T15:03:57+00:00 December 14th, 2017|Post, Social Media Marketing|Comments Off on Why is it So Hard to Rank on Google?! – Part 2: Inbound Links

Why is it So Hard to Rank on Google?! – Part 1: Intro to SEO

Part 1: Getting to Know your Site

 

I’ve watched multiple clients wallow in the frustration of trying to figure out how to show up on the first two pages of Google. “My website isn’t getting any views!” “Why isn’t anyone visiting my page?” “Why am I not viral yet after a few days?” You may think that I was mocking you just now, but the truth of it all is that I have done the same song and dance as anyone who doesn’t grasp the concept of how Google works.

 

google, ranking on google, seo

Google seems to consistently change its rules every couple of months, and your efforts don’t seem to get any tangible or measurable results. I want viewership now, dammit?! Why is this not working?! The answer is a little bit more complex than you think.
Getting ranked on Google is much like trying to start a long-term relationship. You need to put in the effort, perform the right steps, and work with who you are compatible with. You can’t expect instant results with little to no effort, and you can’t take any shortcuts.

Businesses often refer to relationship building within companies as the “Know, Like, Trust” model. Over the next few articles I will explain this while making dating allegories to put it in a perspective that everyone can understand.

 

Know

Think about the art of dating in the pursuit of a romantic partner. Do you expect someone to commit to another person in a relationship after the first date?

relationship building google

A surprisingly old-fashioned search engine.

Of course, you don’t. Because real relationships aren’t based purely on physical intimacy. It is based on mutual trust over time built between prospective partners. And the only way to do that is to get to know someone.

Google desires long-lasting relationships with other websites. How does Google get to know your website? Through finding out what your site is all about with Readability,  SEO and Outbound linking.

 

 

 

 

 

Readability

A sophisticated woman on the dating scene has a certain standard of etiquette that she expects from the gentlemen who come to call. She expects the person that she is dating to be polite in their speech, mannerisms, and grooming habits.

The same can be said for Google when it comes to readability. Google has a certain standard when it comes to spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, and word count.  Usually, there are tools that will spell it out for you before you publish a post. This is mainly to the benefit of your audience but benefits Google by giving it more clarity in how it should index each relevant page.

Google looks at copy with these standards :

  • How easy it is to read for the general population.

  • The length of the paragraph.

  • The limited percentage of how many sentences have more than 20 words.
  • How many sentences contain a transition word.

  • How many sentences are written in a passive or active voice.

SEO

There are diverse types of websites all over the world. They could be about niche subjects like a buddy cop show from the 70’s or it could be broad, like religion.  But, until you declare what type of subject your page is about, you are nothing more than a stranger to Google.

SEO, ranking on google

This is where SEO comes in. When you declare a keyword that is relevant to your website and provide a proper description, you are signaling to Google, “Hey, this is what I am all about!”

From there, Google is able to sort you into the right category, because it knows who you are.

However, you want to be careful about repeating the same keywords over and over.

Just like any intelligent woman, if Google hears the same keyword over and over again it will either assume you aren’t taking the conversation seriously enough or that you are just a boring, one-note, individual. Take the time to expand on your subject matter by offering a variety of SEO keywords for each post.

Outbound Linking

linking, seo, indexing google

The ultimate way for Google to get to know you more.

How does any girl learn about someone who she might be interested in pursuing a relationship with? She learns about who the people who are in their life and watches how they treat them. From there she can gauge their values and personal interests further.

 

Outbound linking, aka “citing your sources,” is the webpage equivalent of this.  The larger the frame of reference that you give on where you

get your ideas and compile your information, the more likely you are to rank higher up the list of search results for the related keyword.

By | 2017-12-14T17:10:18+00:00 December 6th, 2017|Post, Social Media Marketing|Comments Off on Why is it So Hard to Rank on Google?! – Part 1: Intro to SEO

In remembrance and preparation: How I got where I am.

Y’all, we’re not doing a podcast this week. So, instead, I thought it’d be nice if I gave you some background on me and how I came into this weird, wonderful world of advertising, SEO, design and marketing.

Let There Be College

I graduated high school and started college in 2000. I was majoring in “classic art.” Drawing, painting, sculpting, the classics. After a solid year of trying I was still struggling with Drawing 201 (it sounds really sad, but trust me, it was VERY hard to please that instructor). This was my biggest struggle, at the time. I was having a pretty standard college experience, I think. Hanging out with friends in my off hours. Working after school and on the weekends. My sister was still in high school so she was preoccupied with high school girl stuff.

June 30, 2001

I remember it very clearly. I was sleeping in the living room of my mom’s house after a LONG night of playing Super Smash Brothers with my friends, some of which had decided to stay over instead of driving home. It was early when the phone rang, around 6AM. Mom got up and walked to the kitchen, she didn’t have a phone in her room.
I heard her say something like, “Uh huh. Okay. Thank you for calling.” She walked into the living room and gently shook me.
“Sweetie, wake up. We’ve got to go,” she said in a gentle voice. I rolled over, rubbed my eyes and put on my glasses.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, groggily.
“Your father was killed at work,” she said, stone faced. “We have to go identify the body.”

The next few hours are blurry. I remember getting dressed, no shower. I remember mom wanted me to drive. I remember going to the hospital. Mom asked if I wanted to go inside, and at the time, I felt like a coward for saying no. Now, at the age of 35, I feel like I probably made the right choice. I don’t remember anything else between then and the funeral except a fleeting memory of a church pot luck where everyone brought food for us. I always wondered about this. I knew a lot of the people who were there, but we didn’t go to church. Any church. I thought it was nice of them, but I didn’t, and still don’t, understand why they did it.

The day of the funeral came, and I hadn’t shed a tear. I knew I was in shock. I wasn’t close to dad, but he was still dad. And I loved him. After him and mom were separated, my relationship with him had actually begun to improve. I saw him more often than when he lived with us. At the funeral, my cousin, Edie, gave the most amazing eulogy. She started off with a perfect line that completely describes my dad.

“One time …” she started and her voice cracked. She was trying to keep it together, to get through the speech without breaking down into tears. She started again.

“One time, Uncle Omar (my dad’s nick name from the Army) came over to the house, and I said to him ‘Well, you sure do smell good!’ He said, ‘I just farted.’ and gave me a big hug.” There was laughing. Laughing at a funeral. It was exactly what dad would have wanted.

I went home, sat on my bed, and cried for hours.

September 11, 2001

When you say 9/11, everyone knows where they were when it happened. It’s like watching the moon landing.

I’d started school in August and was well into the routine by this time. Why did I pick an 8AM math class? Because I was still too young to know better. I was driving to school when I heard on the radio that, somehow, a plane had accidentally crashed into one of the World Trade Center buildings. I was shocked, but didn’t think too much of it. By the time I made it to school the second plane had hit. I walked into the student center and every TV was tuned to a different news station, all reporting the same thing. I didn’t really know what that meant at the time, and went about my day. I called mom and talked to her briefly about it, and she seemed concerned but who wasn’t, right? My last class for that day ended at noon, and I started driving home. On the way my cell phone rang.

“Hello?” I asked, about to pull into my driveway.
“Sweetie, it’s mom,” said mom, her voice shaky.
“Mom? What’s wrong?”
“I think I’m having a heart attack. I’m almost home, I’m right down the road.”
“Why didn’t you call 911?! Where are you?” I was parking in front of the house by this time.
“I … I’ll be home soon.” Click. I immediately called 911.

We spent the night in the emergency room, my sister stayed with a friend.

The Next Day

After no one telling me anything, I finally got mom to tell me what was going on. She’d had a panic attack. And she’d been having panic attacks since dad had died. She told me later that she’d heard that because of what had happened with the World Trade Center that the draft was being re-instated and I was going to be sent off to fight in the new war on terror. She had been having small panic attacks during the day when she first heard about the planes, but on her way home she had her first major attack. She went on a long work hiatus and I quit school so I could work full-time to help pay bills.

Moving to Raleigh

After her panic attack, mom had asked me what I truly wanted to do. I’d always wanted to be an animator (although I called it a cartoonist when I was little because I didn’t know there was a difference). There was this technical college in Raleigh that taught 3D animation that I’d visited while I was in high school, and it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen! So, she agreed that if I’d use it for tuition, she’d help me get my portion of my dad’s death benefit money to get me started.

That ended up being what led me to where I am now. I learned a few of my crucial skills there. I haven’t animated anything since leaving school, but I use the concepts taught during my design classes every day. That’s also where I met Robert. After I started working with him, I moved to Alabama to start with this business.

By | 2017-12-14T17:49:24+00:00 September 12th, 2017|Post|Comments Off on In remembrance and preparation: How I got where I am.

Successfully Selling to Millennials

Successfully Selling to Millennials

It looks like the odds are completely against you, the business owner, when it comes to selling anything to millennials. They are cynical of advertising, they aren’t brand loyal, they don’t like long-term purchases, and they research everything.

But believe it or not, there are ways to check millennial cynicism and to recruit them as business prospects.

Let me give you an analogy. If you’re fishing and the fish aren’t biting, you don’t give up and never go fishing again. You analyze the problem and figure out one of or all three root causes; You are in the wrong location, you are using the wrong technique or you are using the wrong bait.

If we translate that analogy to advertising and leads, you need to make one or more of the following changes.

  • Your Message Platform (the location)
  • The Appearance of the Message (the technique)
  • The Message itself (the bait)

The Right Location: Social Media and Mobile Devices

millennials, social media, mobile devices
Millennials were born in or around the age of the internet, so it would make sense that they are the generation that adopted quickly to technology. Because Millennials are so technologically literate, they use their mobile devices for everything. Especially shopping.

According to targetmarketingmag.com, “mobile devices were crucial for Millennial mothers to search for the best possible price on a product (79.4%), read reviews (68.9%), and download coupons (67.1%). Even in-store shopping was greatly influenced by Millennial mobile users, with over half (52%) comparing prices to other retailers.”

There are a multitude of social media apps, and it is impossible to use them all. That’s why you should plan your social media strategy around which platform works best for you.

Do just want to spread the word quickly about the latest discount in your store?  Facebook or Twitter might be the place for you to announce it. If you run a restaurant, encourage people to send pics of your dishes on Instagram or Snapchat for a discount. There are endless possibilities if you apply the right platform to the right message.

 

The Right Technique: Authenticity and Transparency

millennials, authenticity, fact checking

Make no mistake, Millennials are information savvy and are much more prone to research while they shop. Granted, if you give them an option to purchase through your website, they will be far more likely to buy. However, that purchase happens after they read the reviews and compare to other products.

Most millennials in the United States lived through or were born in the 1980’s and 1990’s, a time when marketing to children exploded. So, they’re quite used to spotting the traditional marketing tactics from a mile away. In fact, the pushier you are about your product, the more likely they are to be non-responsive.

The best way to get the message out there for millennials isn’t to desperately shout, “Buy Now” from the rooftops. That would make anyone run screaming. Instead, you announce with clarity, “This is who we are, this is what we offer, and this is why make it!”

However, if you stand behind your product and fully explain, “This is who we are, this is what we offer, and this is why you should choose us!”, you will get much more respect and attention.

You might start to get worried about the effectiveness of the message. How are you going to get your message across if you aren’t actively spreading your message to everyone you meet?

Don’t panic.

If you are honest about your information and you deliver enough useful and unique content, millennials will help increase awareness of your brand for you through digital word of mouth. The more authentic you are, the more trust you are likely to build from your target audience.

The Right Bait: Experience not Status

Up until very recently, people determined value through ownership. For example, in America, if you didn’t own land, you couldn’t vote until 1855.

However, cultural attitudes towards status and ownership started to shift drastically over the last few decades. Ownership does not determine status anymore; competency and experience do instead.

The more a millennial can experience something different, learn something new, or the more something can enable a better experience, the more valuable a resource is to them.

If you are selling a product and reading this, it sounds like you are doomed from the get-go.

experience, millennials, not ownership
However, you can still craft your pitch to make your product less like something that creates ownership status, and more like something that creates an ownership experience.

For example, if you sold something like tennis shoes, instead of promoting it like a status symbol, promote its features as something that will enhance the personal experience of the wearer. It increases the utilitarian value of the product to the target audience and increases the chance for a positive response and sales from the millennial generation.

This example increases the utilitarian value of the product to your target audience and increases the chance for a positive response.

 

If you have any questions, or if you want to know where to find more articles like this one, check out our home page!

By | 2017-07-17T11:46:35+00:00 July 17th, 2017|Post|Comments Off on Successfully Selling to Millennials

No Podcast This Week – Instead, here’s a Chatbot!

Delmus Singleton - Born Dec. 28, 1951 Died June 30, 2001I couldn't find an actual picture of Robert's dad, Robert Martin Sr. This is close enough.You guys may not realize this, but we usually record the podcast on Sunday mornings.  And this Sunday happens to be Father’s Day 2017! So, Happy Father’s Day! Something else y’all may not realize is that Robert and I both have lost our fathers. I lost mine when I was 19. Robert lost his a little over 6 years ago. In honor of our father’s we opted to take Sunday off and just chill. And instead of a podcast, you’re getting this little blurb about what I’ve been working on all weekend. If you’re looking to listen to a podcast, check out our Blog page or head over to our Libsyn page that houses all of our past podcasts.

Chatbots

That’s right, chatbots. Specifically, the chatbot for the FavGeek Facebook page. It’s taken me most of Saturday to rewrite the entire backend, but it’s done. And it’s working! I’ve already had an unknowing participant in my tests. And it worked like a charm. Here’s what I did, why I had to redo it twice, and why I’ve learned so much.

Design

The main reason we decided to implement a chatbot on the FavGeek FB Page was so that we didn’t need a human to answer the questions we got through the page. It was mostly pricing questions (that’s usually what we’re answering on the phone, too), and I knew that we could setup a chatbot to do the dirty work for us. And that meant that I wouldn’t have to answer the Facebook Page anymore! I’m super excited about that. You guys don’t even realize how many times I’d have to stop what I was doing and answer questions on the Facebook page. Now, granted that wasn’t how it was all the time, but it was often enough that it became a problem that needed to be solved. Enter chatbots.

When I first made Oliverbot – the FavGeek chatbot – I just sat down and started making things. I used Chatfuel, and it was very easy to step in knowing absolutely nothing about chatbots. In less than a day I had a working, functioning chatbot. It wasn’t polished, and it wasn’t very useful. But it was there, and it was answering questions (sort of).

I done goofed.I didn’t do any research or really think the flow through on that first go around. When I say “the flow” I’m talking about how people usually interact with us through FB messenger. They start off with a question and want an answer. I started off presenting them with various options they didn’t’ need or want. I put an option for hours up there, but they’d just come from the FB page. It has our hours listed. They don’t need that, and no one is going to click on it! Derp #1. There are also limitations to the amount of options I can put on a single block, and instead of finding a better way of presenting all the options, I just plowed forward using a BUNCH of small blocks. It was hard to navigate and aggravating to go through.

I hadn’t thought through the design of the chatbot. I was just writing to put something down. I’d done no homework. I hadn’t really thought about how it would work at all. It was a disaster.

Redesign

I done goofed.One day last week Robert and I had a business meeting with an associate. At some point last week this associate had tested the chatbot at Robert’s request. He said that it was okay, but it was hard to find what he was looking for. I asked him to be more specific. He said he couldn’t find the price to fix his phone screen. I said that was ludicrous. There was a price button right there on the first screen. He said, yes, but that wasn’t what he was looking for. He was looking for the “broken screen” option. I immediately understood. Derp #2. The customers aren’t looking for the price, they’re looking for the problem.

So I rewrote the entire chatbot, problem first, answer second. That’s how our customers naturally found out their answer so that’s how I wrote the chatbot. The first go around, I actually made a woman mad because the chatbot was so poorly designed that she became aggravated interacting with it. I had to shut it down and respond manually. Like I said, disaster.

Marketing

How does this help you and your business? I don’t know. What kind of business do you have? Are you selling pizza? If so, your chatbot may me an online ordering system! People can go to your page, talk to your chatbot, and have a pizza paid for and delivered without ever talking to a clumsy human. Are you selling women’s country apparel? Chatbots can take those kinds of orders, too. Take payment and tell you that you need to ship an item. There’s a lot chatbots can’t do (humans will always need to be in the loop without some MAJOR programming), but the stuff that takes up a lot of time, answering the same questions again and again? Yup, chatbots have got you covered.

By | 2017-06-28T15:21:51+00:00 June 20th, 2017|Post|Comments Off on No Podcast This Week – Instead, here’s a Chatbot!

Marketing Research 101: A Step by Step Process

Marketing Research 101: A Step by Step Process

Marketing, to the average person, can look like either a sort of business that involves levels of betrayal and manipulation on par with Game of Thrones or an ancient magic spell that only be conjured by the most powerful order to gain results. But if you peeked behind the curtain of the world of marketing, you will be almost disappointed to discover that the Wizard is merely a little man with the right tools at his disposal.

Believe it or not, all the skills that are required in good marketing takes is pattern recognition, research, a base knowledge of sociological behaviors.  Below, I am going to list the most basic of processes we undertake when we dissect and problem solve a typical marketing case.

 

Step 1: Define your Problem – Perform an Analysis

The standard marketing student would immediately declare that they would do a SWOT analysis, while the business owners shrug and shake their heads in confusion. So, I am going to break down this particular jargon, so you can gain some sort of understanding of what you are working with.  A SWOT analysis is merely breaking down the concept into four digestible parts to mitigate what is happening.

  • S – means strengths – In this case, is defined by your companies better qualities that can be used to its advantage.
  • W – means weakness – Is defined by the things that can hurt your company that you are able to change.
  • Oopportunities – Are defined by the things that weren’t in your control but could be used for the benefit of the company.
  • Tthreats – Threats are defined by the things that aren’t in control that can hurt your company.

Marketers tend to develop a sense of strategy after looking at these four factors because it more or less serves as an outline of your particular case, and it is easy to pinpoint a problem there.

Step 2: Develop a Research Plan

Once you have the basic analysis,  marketers usually at this point create a hypothesis based on the conditions of the SWOT. How you create it, comes from asking the right questions:

 Is your business not getting sales because there are fewer visitors at your store?

Is your industry type succeeding or failing? Why?

How can that be fixed?

Are there plenty of visitors but your products aren’t selling? Why?

Who are the return customers and why do they shop at your store?

Why do you have foot traffic but no sales?

These questions scrape only the surface of what a market analysis looks like.

Each business has different problems, different opportunities, different goals, and different strengths. There is no one size fits all when it comes to branding yourself and that is the ultimate challenge of marketing.  It takes an inquisitive mind and a keen eye for detail to ask the right questions and make the right hypothesis for each case.  It’s less like magic and more like detective work.

 

We have to go deeper…

Step 3: Collect the Data

Once you figure out what you have and what you don’t have and how you can adjust, you want to figure out who can benefit from your product and service the most, as well as their motivations, so you can find more people like your current customers.

But it isn’t as easy as it sounds. For instance, once you find out who your target is, if you don’t know how they communicate, you are not going to get the information you need. Not everyone uses a computer, not everyone answers the door, and not everyone answers their phone.

There is already some statistical data about the response rate of certain target demographics like age, gender, and education level, and it is a good place to start but the data represents only the majority of the demographics. That means that there are exceptions to every rule and not everything is set in stone when it comes to data.

Some marketers tend to use more than one form of data gathering to get more results,  such as one member of the marketing group is hosting a quiz for Facebook, combined with someone else from the group knocking on each door in the neighborhood.

Every avenue has its benefits and its drawbacks so be careful when looking for the right data gathering method.

Step 4: Interpret the Information

Once the data is collected, it takes the clearest of minds to mine through the data that has been collected by the entire team, and that is where accuracy is of the utmost importance.  Did a person not fill out the quiz on Facebook all the way? Did they at least fill out the information relevant to your study? If they didn’t do at the very least the last little bit, then it doesn’t count towards your data pool.

Not only do you have to mine the data and compile it as a marketer, but you also have to draw up a presentation, and compile it in a way that the reader can understand so that they can understand what they need to do to change their current situation.

If your reader is a client who hasn’t read past the 11th-grade level in quite some time, you want to avoid special jargon and make the visual data just easier for your client to understand for the sake of transparency between the marketer and the client.

If your reader is your marketing professor, you use every single word in your marketing vocabulary and wrap it up in a proper paper with the best grammar known to man.

Step 5: Draw a Conclusion

Once you have the data compiled and interpreted to your target audience, you recommend what needs to be done and leave them to fix the problem. If they need additional help from time to time but are unfamiliar with what they need to do, it’s okay to reach out and offer a helping hand. In fact, I do encourage a follow up a month from your presentation, just so you can see the fruition of all your hard work, and make a few adjustments.  But the minute that their successes and failures hinge on you entirely and long after you made your case and presented the steps they should take, you leave immediately and work on your next case, unless you are working in-house for a major company.

But the minute that their successes and failures hinge on you entirely and long after you made your case and presented the steps they should take, you leave immediately and work on your next case, unless you are working in-house for a major company.

 

By | 2017-06-28T15:20:26+00:00 June 6th, 2017|Post|Comments Off on Marketing Research 101: A Step by Step Process

Leaving Dex Media or Hibu Is Possible!

I may have ranted a little about the pet peeves that I have with large media dex media and Hibucompanies such as Dex Media, Hibu, or YP.  It has been a hot button issue with local web development and marketing agencies when they advertise their own services to other local businesses only to be told very quickly, “We’re not interested. I am already paying for a website that does nothing for me, I don’t need a website.”

As I have been researching the entire debacle, a question popped into my head; Have customers been able to leave big media companies with their websites intact?

Another small business web designer, marketer, and blogger, Teri Brooks from TBrooks Web Design, answered the question for me in her insightful article about the insane but still possible process of canceling an account with Dex Media, Hibu and other Big Media entities.  Click on the link below for the amazing advice.

http://tbrookswebdesign.com/blog-cancel-dexmedia.html

Thank you, Teri Brooks. You are doing good work out there!

By | 2017-06-16T14:00:54+00:00 May 17th, 2017|Post|Comments Off on Leaving Dex Media or Hibu Is Possible!

7 Deadly Sins of Web Design

I am going to be brutally honest here, readers. Culturally speaking, the United States doesn’t see art-related careers as an important skill set.  At worst things like designing graphics and building websites are publicly viewed a useless talent that leads to little hope for a career prospect and at best it is treated as a quaint hobby that anybody can do with a bit of hard work and no formal training.

Too often I have seen business owners and students with very little aesthetic know how, try their hand at designing a website only to have abandoned their project halfway through or worse, created one of the most outdated and worst looking websites known to the internet.

However, that does not mean that someone must have a formal education in order to do web design, but it does mean that they just have to take the time to learn the important rules of aesthetic appeal.  Because in the world of marketing and advertising, appearances matter.

That is why I decided to make a list of the worst mistakes that someone new to web design should their hardest to avoid.

 


Number 7: Lack of Content Organization

 

 

 

When you were taught to write in school, you started learning the structure speech, then words, then eventually you could sort them into essays and/or books with multiple paragraphs in a standard format that everyone could understand.

Web content has the same structure that makes it easy to convey the message of the site to the audience through both the use of words and illustrations.

The content in the center of the web page (much like the paragraphs in an essay) is supposed to be structured in such a way that the viewer can tell which section the content is supposed to belong to.  If the sections are clustered together with little space or too far apart, your website will look like an untidy mess, not unlike a kindergartner who has yet to master penmanship or grammar structure.

Content for your website needs to sorted in such a way that it looks cohesive to the audience and should follow the path that naturally draws the eye in a top to down and left to right direction with enough space in between for the reader which section is which.

 

Here are a few resources that can better explain what I mean:

 


Number 6:  Lazy Use of Graphics

 

poor website graphics

Have you ever watched an old television show or a movie at some point in your life and noticed that the quality of the footage was filled with grainy squiggle lines, or that you could see the edge of the film strip?  These visual hiccups deter the audience from focusing on the film completely and ruins the immersive experience almost completely.

So, when customers see your website with an image that has a watermark on it from the stock site that you took your image from, or left-over pixels where the background of an image used to be or just blurry photos, these visitors are not going to be interested in your business. Because these errors reek of unprofessionalism, possible copyright infringement, and outright laziness.

The general rule of thumb when selecting your images is that it needs to be at the highest resolution possible, aka the size with the highest number of pixels, only use your own images or images that are free for public use and to make sure that you download png images so that the backgrounds are transparent and not white.

 

For further resources, check these pages out:

 


Number 5:  Bad Color/Pattern/Texture Combinations

terrible website color

 

It is almost surprising how much colors, shapes, and visual textures could influence how people communicate with each other. The right combination of those elements can send either an intended message that can attract an audience and the wrong combination relay a poorly made, unintentional message that can turn potential customers and connections away.

Oftentimes I have seen websites that either too many textures, blinding/inappropriate colors, and patterns that make no sense.

Here are a few resources that will help if you are struggling with colors and patterns.

 

For further resources, check these pages out:

Number 4:  Bad Typography

 

When it comes to building a website, typography, aka the way that your letters and words are styled and sorted, is almost more important than your choice of colors and patterns for your website.  Good typography serves two important functions. It both must be easy for your audience to read your content and it must set the proper tone.

You would not believe how many times, I have seen site owners choose an ill-fitting font for their main typeface, or that the size of the chosen font was too small for anyone to read properly.  And if your customer or audience has to struggle with either the identity of your website or with reading the necessary text, they will not bother sticking around to try to figure it out.

Here is a link to a couple of resources that put you in the right direction as far as what fonts to use, and what to avoid.

 

 


Number 3: Lack of Site Updates

 

With various professional fields (especially when technology or medicine is involved), it is crucial to keep up with the ever-consistent changing tide of progress, lest you get swallowed in a sea of competition.  Web design is no exception to these rapid changes in not only aesthetics but in user experience and functionality.

Between the constant creation and updates for both mobile devices and computer programs it is important that you consistently update your design to keep the structure ‘up to code’. In layman’s terms check and see if the website builder you use is up to date or if the program is discontinued.

But even that is more forgivable than the lack of content updates to your website. If you have changed your address, your phone number, or if you no longer offer a service then it would be important to take the extra time to notify your customers of these major changes.  But I have seen many a website fail to make these updates and wind up literally turning their own customers away, simply because of the unnecessary confusion.

 

Below is a list of top website building programs and hosts that are more recent to more outdated:

 


Number 2:  Poor Grammar

 

a website with bad grammar

The English language is hard to grasp sometimes, and nobody is grammatically correct 24/7 when it comes to sending text messages or typing out paragraphs. However, it takes a special kind of trolling or an almost brilliant form of laziness, if your customer requires translation for the rampant chat-speak in your blog.  With no periods at the end of your sentences, no capitalization at the beginning of your sentences, and atrocious spelling that can make a third-grade teacher cry, virtually no one will have the patience or the time to take your website seriously or do business with your establishment.

 

To avoid this web design sin, you can either have someone edit your content for you, or you can consult the multitude of websites that can help you with spelling and grammar errors in the links below:

 


Number 1:  Audio Automatically Playing in the Background

 

Back in the days of Myspace yore, web pages took ridiculously long to load, and you have a very limited amount of RAM to navigate with on your home computer, so when you loaded a friend’s profile page and you heard the latest pop ballad or television theme song, you were pleasantly surprised and entertained while you were looking at the photos of your latest outing.

10 years later, you have at least 20 web page tabs open, along with a word processor program and a playlist of your own music and when you click on a link, you hear a second audio track that is playing loudly and you don’t know where it is coming from.

What has been an amusing gimmick in the early 2000’s has now become an utter annoyance that is not unlike having nails screeching on a chalkboard and unless you are a musician with a playlist that can be turned on and off, you have no business embedding any audio of any sort on your blog or website.

 

For a list of reasons why this would be a great design handicap for your website, check out the links below:

 


 

Do you agree or disagree with me? Or maybe there was something I missed on the list. If you want to talk about it, comment on this page or on our Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/purpletieguys

 

Image Sources:

http://www.theworldsworstwebsiteever.com/

http://philsandovals.com/

http://chainsawtreeservice.com/

http://www.danstours.net/

http://www.stereoandalarm.co.uk/

http://www.benefitadvisory.com/new/benefitadvisory/

By | 2017-06-07T13:17:22+00:00 April 10th, 2017|list, mistakes, Post, top ten|Comments Off on 7 Deadly Sins of Web Design