Monthly Archives: September 2015

Making Charity Easy

Posted on September 30, 2015 by - Websites

DonationWith great power, comes great responsibility. This saying is just as true for the power of the Internet and its applications. Over the years, we have seen Internet communities rally to support causes and projects they believe in through crowd-funding. More recently, however, we have seen companies beginning to use the internet to connect with customers by charitable means. We want to highlight a few easy ways for you to contribute to charities without changing any aspect of your daily life or requiring you to donate money.

Donate a Photo

When a company typically sponsors a charity, it is in the form of matching donations or allocating a percentage of profits. Johnson & Johnson has taken a different approach with its Donate A Photo website and app. The premise is simple: you take any photo and “donate” it. When you donate a photo, Johnson & Johnson will donate $1.00 to the cause of your choice. Your photo is not used for promotional purposes and can only be seen by others who donated a photo to the same cause. Each cause has a goal and tells you exactly how close it is to completing that goal. You can donate one photo every day. Instagram has over 75 million daily users. If every one of them donate the same photo they post, every single cause would meet its goal in less than one day.

Charity Miles

For those of us who run, walk or bike throughout our day, Charity Miles is a great way to give back. Simply select a charity, turn on the app and commence with your running, walking or biking. You don’t need to set up an account to begin. If you use a bike, $0.10 is donated per mile. Runners will have $0.25 donated for every mile ran. If exercise if a part of your daily routine, you can end up donating hundreds of dollars simply by staying healthy.

SurveyMonkey Contribute

Everyone has points throughout their day when they are bored. Fill those moments by filling out surveys on SurveyMonkey Contribute. You simply create an account, select a charity and start filling out surveys. For every survey completed, $0.50 is donated to the charity of your choice. You also are entered to win a $100 Amazon gift card for every survey you complete! Each survey can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes, but every cent goes to helping those in need. So even if you take one survey in the morning and one in the evening, you will end up donating $365/year to the charity of your choice.

If the average person (who walks about 2 miles per day) used all three of these organizations daily, they could easily donate $1,000/year. Not to mention that using all of these takes less than 5 minutes to do! So if you are looking for a way to donate more to charity, consider using these easy, free methods to help others.

Why You Need Schema Now

Posted on September 25, 2015 by - SEO, Websites

Periodic Table of SEO

 

Earlier this month we heard rumblings of a new change in Google’s algorithm thanks to a Hangout with Google Switzerland’s John Mueller (read more about the talk here). While no announcements have been made, what was said may create a new checklist item for SEO workers. The importance and utility of structured data and Schema has long been understood, but it may become a part of Google’s ranking algorithm. In order to understand what it means, we need to break this down into a few parts and answer some questions.

What is Structured Data?

Structured data (synonymous with Schema) is simply a very clear way to tell search engines what your website is. Typically, search engines crawl your website looking for keywords, titles, headings, etc. to find out what your website deals with in order to rank it. As a website administrator, you can add code to your website that clearly tells search engines your company name, hours, phone number, address and even cite specific reviews. This data then helps search engines place you in rankings and even show your information more clearly. For instance, if someone searches “ABC Restaurant hours” and ABC Restaurant has informed Google what their hours are, Google can display the hours of the restaurant without requiring the user to comb through search results to find this information.

Why Do I Need Schema?

Currently, the biggest benefit of Schema is given to users. While it allows companies to somewhat control their search engine presence, it eliminates a barrier between a user’s question and the answer. By doing this, not only are you helping search engines display your information, but you are answering some of the most common questions asked by your customers (both potential and current). Every company should be using structured data because it is an easy way to clarify what your website stands for, which both customers and search engines appreciate.

What if I Don’t Have Structured Data?

What Mueller’s comments suggest is that not having structured data could very well hurt your search rankings in the long run. While your rank is not affected by structured data yet, in the future it may be. Suppose that your company sells used cars. If you are Google and are trying to match a user’s question of “Used Cars near me”, would you rather show them a website that has clearly told you it sells used cars or take a chance that your algorithm has correctly defined another website. For Google, there is no guesswork in showing the website with structured data. If you are the company without Schema, it makes perfect sense for Google to rank your competitor above you.

If your website has yet to add structured data, contact Thoughtwire Media to begin helping your customers find you.

Seeing the Future of Responsive Websites

Posted on September 23, 2015 by - Websites

Responsive Website Design

 

With a few months having passed since mobilegeddon, now is the time to start looking at the future of responsiveness in websites. Search engine results are now customized based on what device you use, but only to a certain extent. As search capabilities are delivered to more and more devices, how will algorithms adapt? While no announcements have been made, it is expected that search algorithms will change to tailor results to TVs, gaming consoles and even cars.

Earlier this month, Apple announced that Siri would be integrated with the new Apple TV. While this may seem like a small step, it could mark the beginning of a major search market. If customers embrace this search technology, it would not be surprising to hear that Google will change their algorithm to rank “TV-friendly” websites. Perhaps instead of mobile-only websites, companies may begin creating TV-only websites. This will cause companies to embrace responsiveness as a standard instead of a trend.

Back in 2014, Dominos worked with the Xbox One to develop an application that allows users to order pizza while gaming without interrupting the experience. This was the first time we saw non-gaming companies beginning to integrate with gaming consoles. More and more, companies are finding ways to integrate themselves with alternative forms of media. With search capabilities only growing on gaming consoles, we may eventually hear about algorithm edits to help rank “gaming-friendly” websites.

Only recently has Wi-Fi become available in vehicles, so it is ripe time for speculation. Just like with gaming consoles, as search becomes more available in vehicles we might see companies developing websites that do not interfere with the driving experience. For instance, restaurants might begin to develop a “website” that allows drivers to make reservations at a nearby location while driving. Perhaps GasBuddy will adapt their application to find the cheapest gas near a driver that takes into account a vehicle’s MPG. As search becomes more and more integrated with vehicles, search engines may once again adapt their ranking algorithm.

The future of the responsive website may be one that not only adjusts to screen size, but one that adjusts completely to the device. Whether you are searching for walkthroughs on your Xbox or finding the top 10 parks while driving, the idea of responsiveness will continue to change, with search algorithms following closely behind.

Lessons Learned from CRO Case Studies

Posted on September 18, 2015 by - Development, SEO

Conversion Rate Optimization

 

Testing different versions of your website’s design and content is an important step in improving your website and increasing revenue. Unfortunately, most people do not have a site that generates enough traffic to run these tests easily and quickly. In the world of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), there are plenty of lessons to be learned by the experiments ran on other websites. Look below for some of the lessons you can take away from CRO case studies.

Advertise Your Most Appealing Offer

Every company wants to know what they have to offer customers to maximize their revenue. By using different versions and offers during an experiment (read more here), Electronic Art’s The Sims™ was able to identify which of their offers appealed most to their customers. By displaying that offer prominently, they were able to increase their game registrations by 128 percent. The lesson here: performing a simple content-switch experiment can lead to great results.

Pricing Page > Prices

In this study for Basekit, a redesign of their pricing page led to a 25 percent increase in purchases. They were not testing a new pricing model or seeing how a new offer might perform. All the company had to do was change their pricing table to a more modern, clean structure in order to increase sales. If you have a basic spreadsheet-like design for a pricing table, consider a heavy redesign to increase sales.

Never Doubt Color Psychology

Button color tests are one of the easiest and most profitable tests to run. Take this test for example. By switching a sign-up button’s color from green to red, Performable was able to increase sales by 21 percent. If someone told you that you could earn 21 percent more money by changing a color, you might break a finger trying to change that color so fast. There is no single best color to increase profits, but button testing takes minutes to set up and can potentially have huge payoffs.

The point to all of these tests is to demonstrate how website experimentation tools like Optimizely can unlock the potential of your site. If changing a button’s color earned you more money, wouldn’t you do it? If advertising “Offer B” instead of “Offer A” increased your revenue, wouldn’t you rewrite your website? With each experiment you run, there is a chance to increase your revenue.  Those hidden increases are spread across every page on your site. If you are interested in getting the most out of your website, contact Thoughtwire Media today to discuss how to optimize your website.

Quick Tips to Use YouTube for SEO

Posted on September 17, 2015 by - Marketing, SEO

YouTube Logo

 

In an age when video dominates how people receive information, SEO experts have looked to YouTube as another tool to be optimized for search engines. YouTube SEO is still a new field, but already there are tips and tricks to making your videos work for you. Whether your company is currently running a YouTube channel or is still in the planning stage, here are a few quick tips for using YouTube for SEO purposes.

Use Keywords in Your Video

No matter what type of SEO you are doing, keywords are king. Even with YouTube, including the right keywords in your title, description and video are important. Make sure to write long descriptions for every one of your videos (over 150 words) and include keywords in those descriptions. Also be sure to include your company name, address and contact information in the description of your video. If you want to take it one step further, then you can work to actually use certain keywords in your videos. By using keywords in your videos, Google will use its auto-caption technology to capture those keywords and associate them with that video. You can even transcribe your own videos if you want to be sure those keywords are captured.

Choose Your Topic Wisely

Your topic is even more important than your keywords. Your company does not want to be competing for markets of millions of customers. Finding a niche market in your industry that would benefit from videos the most is the best method for success. Use this SerpStats tool to discover what topics are best for your industry. Be sure to click the “only questions” filter once you enter your search term to discover what questions customers might be asking. Use your videos to answer those questions.

Understand How YouTube Recommends Videos

Now it’s time to understand how YouTube ranks videos. The best thing to understand is that subscriptions hold far more SEO power than likes. If YouTube sees that a viewer subscribed to your channel after watching a video, that video will rank much higher than if that viewer simply liked it. You need to build your YouTube campaign around gaining subscribers. So instead of doing a company overview video, create a playlist of specific videos that detail your company’s products. Be sure to answer industry questions and consider making a “Debunking ______ Myths” series to continually answer questions viewers might have. By building video series instead of single videos, you give viewers more reason to subscribe instead of like.

YouTube SEO is still a new field that is constantly changing. If you or your company needs help building a YouTube community, contact Thoughtwire Media today.

The Importance of Photographic SEO

Posted on September 16, 2015 by - Marketing, SEO

Photographic SEO

 

When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the list of tips and tricks can stretch a mile long, but they will forever be overshadowed by one fact: content is king. What you put on your site to gain a visitor’s interest will prove more useful than any SEO tactic. Ask yourself this question: “If my website had the first search engine result for my industry, would I be able to keep it by engaging users?” The fact is, even if SEO strategies work perfectly to drive traffic to the website, if your content does not engage that traffic then SEO is pointless. The best way to engage your visitors is through your visuals. We are going to talk about Photographic SEO, or the practice of using your website’s visuals to help SEO efforts.

Taking a Clean Picture

For many small businesses, the photos that are used on their website are taken by the owner on a basic $100 camera. The sad truth is that visitors can spot this instantly. When it comes to Photographic SEO, hiring a professional photographer to take the pictures for your website can do wonders. It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but clean, crisp photographs build a sense of professionalism to your site that builds trust and portrays quality. If you cannot afford to hire a professional photographer, then Shutterstock and iStockPhoto may become your best friend. If you plan on using stock photos, however, make sure that you exclusively use stock photos. If visitors see a high-resolution, edited photograph next to your cheap camera’s photo, the progress is destroyed.

Showcasing Your Business

Clean, quality photographs on a website are pointless if they do not show visitors what they want to see. Imagine navigating through a hotel’s website, but only seeing pictures of the outside or the surrounding area. Even if the pictures are absolutely beautiful, you won’t be purchasing a room until you see the inside. Better yet, imagine shopping for a car online, but never seeing an image of the entire car or the interior. Your pictures need to showcase what your business has to offer. If you are selling products online, then make sure to take multiple picture from different angles of each product. If you sell services then showcase customers using that service. Until a visitor sees what they are getting for their time and money, they won’t spend either.

If you are worried that your website’s visuals aren’t leading to sales, contact Thoughtwire Media online or by phone at (800) 367-2570.

Is Parallax Right for You?

Posted on September 14, 2015 by - Development, Websites

Apple's Parallax Website

 

One of the most notable trends in modern website design has been the shift to Parallax. If you aren’t sure what Parallax designs are, it’s probably because you haven’t heard the name, but chances are that you have seen a Parallax site. These types of sites use scrolling in place of the standard navigation style. This way, a user can see the entire site simply by scrolling down. To see examples of Parallax sites, check out the Apple or Lexus websites.

The big question, however, is whether or not you should switch to a Parallax design. The design has its pros and cons, but its usefulness relies heavily on what type of website or business you are running. We are not here to break down the pros and cons of Parallax in general, but instead we want to focus on which websites are/aren’t well-suited for the design.

Large E-Commerce Websites

If you run an E-commerce website that focuses on selling hundreds of products, you may want to steer away from using a Parallax site. Firstly, the key to any large E-Commerce site is making it as easy as possible for your customer to find what they are looking for in your sea of product offerings. Parallax sites are notoriously confusing for first-time visitors because the design is so new. Secondly, the design does not work well with categorizing and organizing multiple elements into an easy-to-navigate manner. If your user is browsing, a Parallax site might work well for keeping them navigating throughout the site, but if they are searching for a specific category or product, the design may cause confusion and frustration.

Blogging or News Websites

Even though Parallax might not mesh well with large E-commerce websites, it has the opposite effect for blogging or news-based websites. Check out this free parallax theme designed for bloggers. You can see that navigating through the website is an experience. Many users may want to keep scrolling to see the new animations pop up. The reason Parallax works so well for these sites is because their goal is to engage users and increase the time spent on the website which is precisely what this design does well. If your blog or news website focuses on a specific industry, the shift to Parallax could bring a new level of user engagement to your site. If you focus on general news, however, then this design is less useful.

Small E-Commerce Websites

We talked earlier about large E-commerce sites, but what if you only sell a handful of products or services? Take a look at this parallax theme that focuses on small E-commerce sites. You can tell that the simplicity of the site makes it easy for users to compare products in a fun, interactive way. For a site that sells three to five distinct products or services, a Parallax design could work well.

With that being said, your website’s design should reflect your company culture. There are Parallax designs that work amazingly for large E-commerce sites like this one. If you believe your site could use a fresh coat of paint, contact Thoughtwire Media online or by phone at (800) 367-2570.

Counterpoint: The Significance of the Apple Event

Posted on September 10, 2015 by - Mobile

Apple Event

 

Apple CEO Tim Cook took a stage in Cupertino, CA, yesterday morning with the promise of “monster” announcements. Whether or not that promise was fulfilled depends on your perspective. Many bloggers, including one of our own, were disappointed and underwhelmed by Apple’s announcements.

I’ll concede that many Apple products are overpriced and their functionality isn’t always as original as their cheaper competitors. Apple is obviously a massive corporation where profit-motive drives every move. Same with Android, Amazon, Google, Verizon, Microsoft and any other tech giant of 2015.

However, since 2007 when the original iPhone was introduced by Steve Jobs, Apple has helped fundamentally change the way people interact with their mobile devices. Was this change coming anyway? Probably, but Apple has been on the forefront of mobile technology for nearly a decade.

So what impactful changes did they announce this year?

iPad Pro

Apple’s new iPad Pro is nearly 13 inches, yet weighing only 1.57 pounds. It’s slim, but high-powered and should appeal more to business people and designers with new stylus and keyboard options. Its display size and resolution are greater than any other tablet currently on the market.

Apple TV

Its competitors, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Google Chromecast are available for $99, $99 and $35, respectively. Apple’s 32GB version of the new Apple TV will be available for $149 and the 64GB for $199.

The new Apple TV remote features Siri and a pretty cool swipe pad. However, Apple is asking people to pay $50-100 more for a product that may only be slightly better than the competition. People will pay, in large part because while the hardware isn’t vastly superior, it functions well with the iPhone and more app developers will jump on board with the Apple TV than say, Amazon’s Fire TV.

iPhone 6S

It was unusual for Apple to release a new model just a year after their most recent release. What’s new? A glass that is supposedly stronger than the previous generation, a rose gold option (try to contain your excitement) and of course, a better camera.

While I certainly won’t be lining up for the new iPhone, the 3D Touch feature is significant. While it may be confusing to moms and dads, I have a feeling it will be a norm within the next couple years. Basically, it allows your iPhone to detect how hard you press the screen. You’ll be able to preview messages and links and once app developers get a chance to utilize it more, it could change the way games are played on mobile devices and ultimately change the way we interact with our phones.

Improve Your Camera Phone for Cheap

Posted on September 10, 2015 by - Mobile

Consumer Backlash after Apple Overhypes and Underdelivers at Conference 

After the Apple conference earlier this week, the general consensus was, “Shame on you, Apple.”

Apple event camera phone

The new Apple TV was basically a more expensive version of the Amazon Fire TV Stick, and a year late. The new iPhone 6s doesn’t offer anything shocking or groundbreaking—it’s simply great marketing.

Apple knows that every time they release a new phone, certain consumers “must have it.” The new versions of the phone used to actually mean revolutionary new features and functions, like the addition of Siri to the iPhone5. Now, Apple has realized they don’t have to do anything except change the numbers next to the model or ad an “s,” and they’ll make a billion more dollars.

So before you go spend $600 on a new iPhone, or get under the thumb of your cellar carrier because you want to upgrade before you are “eligible,” understand you can get the new features without playing Apple’s profit-only game.

Over a third of all smartphone use is dedicated to pictures and video. The better camera is the only thing good about the new phone. So instead of spending $600, how about $20?

Check out the Acesori Smartphone Camera Lens Kit that is usually listed for $50, for $20: http://www.premierhotdeals.com/featured-front-page/acesori-smartphone-camera-lens-kit.html

It really makes a big difference on picture quality and what you can do with your camera. Do you have an Android? No problem, the lens kit is compatible with Android devices, too.

Get a camera that’s better than the new iPhone6 without getting ripped off or needlessly contributing to the world’s most profitable corporation.

Counterpoint: The Significance of the Apple Event

iPhone or Android questions or concerns? Need an app built? Contact Thoughtwire Media today at: 800-367-2570.

Your Next Social Media Channel

Posted on September 9, 2015 by - Social Media

Social Media

2015 will come to an end sooner than you think and if your company still doesn’t have a presence on Social Media, to say you should “jump on the bandwagon” doesn’t even apply anymore. You would have been jumping on the bandwagon circa 2011-12.

Social Media for business is completely mainstream and standard in 2015, with 98 percent of brands active monthly on Twitter, 94 percent on Facebook and 92 percent on YouTube, according to Simply Measured’s The State of Social Marketing 2015 Report.

In case you haven’t noticed, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, while still the most popular for companies, have plenty of competition. Want to reach a younger audience with consumer products? You need to be on Instagram, Pinterest and possibly even Snapchat/Vine. Is your company B2B? Start networking on LinkedIn!

Simply Measured, which is a social analytics company, compiled a brief 10-question quiz that will determine what Social Media platform you need to focus on in 2016. Click here to take the quiz, then contact us with the result!

At Thoughtwire, we want to take your Social Media strategy to the next level. Re-vitalize your Facebook or Twitter presence with a new ad-set, reach a new audience on a new platform and integrate newer, more high-quality forms of content, all while keeping your marketing message and company values consistent across all platforms! Call now: 800-367-2570.