QR Codes Are Making A Comeback in 2021

QR Codes Are Making A Comeback in 2021

Ever heard of QR codes?

Unless you work in the marketing industry, chances are you’ve probably only heard of them occasionally.

A QR code is essentially an enhanced version of the average barcode. However, they can hold roughly 350 times the amount of information that could be stored on a typical one dimensional barcode. 

QR codes saw a sharp increase in popularity when they were first introduced, but then started steadily declining in popularity when they were not widely adopted by Apple and Samsung smart phone manufacturers.

In addition, WiFi technology had made serving in-store advertising easier, which pushed QR codes further down the “must have” list.

During the month of June 2011, 14 million American mobile users scanned a QR code or a barcode. Some 58% of those users scanned a QR or barcode from their homes, while 39% scanned from retail stores; 53% of the 14 million users were men between the ages of 18 and 34.

QR code usage decreased to 9.76 million in 2018 but is expected to grow to a total of 15 million households by the end of 2021. This is largely due to the newer smart phones adopting the technology “natively”, meaning, you don’t need to download a third party app, it’s built right into the phone camera.

The pandemic also created a huge need for QR codes with contactless shopping and delivery. I t also created a need for communicating information without touching an item others had touched, too. This meant developing a way to communicate lots of information quickly without touch. Rather than reinvent the wheel, marketers and computer techs realized the power of QR codes to do exactly what is needed.

The humble QR code stepped in to provide a succinct way to communicate information and complete transactions. A business can provide a QR code for customers to scan that lets them instantly register for delivery programs, loyalty programs, etc. It provides a method of completing contact-free retail purchases via mobile wallet. According to Juniper Research, by 2025 about 2.2 billion people will use QR codes for payments. That’s nearly one-third of smartphone users – 29 percent.

What is a QR code?

The term QR code refers to a Quick Response (QR) code. A smartphone can read this two-dimensional code using its camera. This lets retailers place these codes in store windows or at checkout stands or on the aisles of a store to provide consumers with a way of quickly scanning to obtain more information.

Consumers can also create QR codes using the retailer’s website or an app. These codes can contain the information from a coupon, gift certificate, or online order number. By displaying their cell phone at the register, the sales representative can scan the item using the register wand. Neither party needs to touch, and the entire transaction can occur through a clear plexiglass sneeze guard.

Which country has the largest QR code adoption?

Asia, specifically China, uses QR codes most frequently. It has also seen the greatest adoption of e-wallets such as WeChat and AlliPay. In 2019, almost half of the point-of-sale payments in that country used QR codes, a total of 48 percent.

Plaid and PayPal have introduced a QR code option. This lets users of those two worldwide payment services use the technology to accept or make payments.

According to a 2019 Deloitte Mobile Consumer Survey, 91 percent of Australians own a smartphone. Only ten percent of those use QR payments though, says a Roy Morgan report from the same year. Australia’s mature market with widespread NFC and a massive 900,000 point of sale (POS) devices make it easy for the country’s residents to make contactless payments. In 2019, most of the country’s purchases were contactless – 83 percent. Since its populace would likely immediately adopt a QR code option, its federal government plans a national plan it will implement in 2021.

New Zealand joined the fray in 2020 when the Union Pay International (UPI) system it uses introduced a consumer payments QR code program. Australian retailers can also use the UPI system. Its competitor, Azupay, and the regional NSW government partnered to offer QR code payments.

QR Codes = Simplicity and Usefulness

As part of a payments system, the simple technology has grown quickly due to its easy adoptability and adaptability. It requires no extra hardware since the user’s smartphone can scan the code to complete the transaction. This use of existing hardware also makes the QR code more convenient. Although a tiny two-dimensional picture, a single code holds lots of information. Its data capacity is such that it communicate payment, identity, and loyalty.

Some older phones require a separate app. Newer smartphones come ready to scan though. They use built-in software. This means any customer with a smartphone can install the app needed to read the codes which are also free.

Its only two drawbacks include risk of fraud since a customer could scan a fake code which results in them completing a phone call they’re charged for or otherwise losing money and privacy issues. The customer may not immediately understand what information the QR code accesses or uses.

QR as a Marketing Tool

The QR code offers an opportunity for retailers to market their products or business more effectively. Because it can quickly communicate information, the codes provide a useful mechanism with many uses including:

  • Restaurants: communicating the entire menu through a code to eliminate hands-on menus. The restaurants’ website or app also enables touchless, contactless ordering.
  • Hotels: provide contactless check-ins, room service menus and ordering mechanisms, lighting and air conditioning controls.
  • Museums and art galleries: provide visitor maps and guides.
  • Medical facilities: communicate health education materials.

Other ways to use the QR code include as an advertising tool. Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram require a square photo or graphic.

When you create an ad on Facebook, it warns you not to use text. The reason for this is because ads with lots of text simply don’t perform that well. Using a QR code lets you embed the code in the center of the graphic, and this enables you to put all a large amount of text in the page which the QR code sends the visitor to.

You can communicate all the information you need in that one QR code.

Your one sentence headline can be concise and direct, while the QR code carries all of the extra information. Users can like your post and scan the QR code to gain access to more information. This lets you embed a paragraph on a code so you can provide users with details instead of the bare minimum.

Similarly, you use QR codes to sell products. A customer only needs to scan the code to order the product. You can set up an entire store on any platform even if it does not offer an e-commerce option or interface with a store environment like Etsy.

In Conclusion

QR codes can help you accept orders, take payments, advertise products, offer coupons, communicate information. You can create a QR code that houses your entire menu or sells a t-shirt.

Provide a QR code on a poster to link to a website with further information. Gyms can use them to educate consumers on how to use each piece of equipment or use them so patrons can check in on each apparatus.

Any time you need to graphically communicate lots of info at once, leverage a QR code. They’re not just for e-books anymore.

While they did wane in use for a little while, once people could not enter stores, they made a comeback.

Whether you use a tablet, smartphone, or a computer, you can create, obtain, or access a QR code. This makes it simpler for all sizes of businesses to utilize this technology and improve their sales, tracking, and customer service.

QR STUFF

If you’re searching for a free QR code generator, I evaluated and compared several tonight, and found this one to be best for my needs: https://www.qrstuff.com

100% Ad Free QR Codes

QR Stuff has QR codes that are guaranteed 100% ad-free, even for free users, so you can get on with promoting your product without someone else’s brand getting in the way.

I used this QR code generator successfully for my pest control Brezden Pest Control. They needed a QR code added on a few of their products so that technicians in the field could quickly pull up ingredient lists and instructions.

Here is QR Stuff FAQ:

Can I use the website as a free user?

Yes. You can create fully functional QR codes anonymously as a free user with no need to sign up or open an account. No sign-up = no email address harvesting = no spam from us 🙂

Also, unlike some others, our free QR codes aren’t crippleware that stop working 14 days later. Our free QR codes aren’t time-limited in any way, don’t expire, and are ad-free.

What’s the subscription fee for?

The subscription fee charged relates to providing time-based subscription access to the extended feature set of the website for the period of the subscription purchased.

Opening an account is required for paid subscribers in order to co-ordinate the functionality of your account and to allocate the QR codes you create to your account history (but still no spam!).

No component of the subscription fee relates to purchasing the QR codes themselves.

Will my QR codes “expire”?

No. The QR codes (and any underlying short URL’s) created by both free users and paid subscribers are permanent and will continue to function indefinitely, however temporary scan limits may apply as outlined below.

Can I use your QR codes commercially?

Yes. There are no restrictions on commercial use however temporary scan limits may apply as outlined below.

Are there any limits on use?

The short answer is Yes, but the reality is that the vast majority of users won’t be affected by them. These limits only apply to dynamic QR codes that use our (optional) URL shortener – QR codes that do not use our URL shortener (static QR codes) have no scan limits.

Free Users: While there are no limits on the number QR codes you can create as either a free or paid user, a limit of 50 scans per month is applied to each QR code created by free users. This monthly scan limit presently affects less than 0.001% of the QR codes in our system so it will not impact the overwhelming majority of users. If you anticipate that your QR code will be scanned more than 50 times per month, you should probably consider a paid subscription.

Current Full Paid Subscribers: There are no pre-set scan limits for QR codes associated with current (paid-up) full subscriber account.

Expired Full Paid Subscribers: A 50 scan/month limit is applied to QR codes associated with expired paid subscriber accounts. This scan limit for expired subscribers is a “per QR code” limit and is only applied to the individual QR codes that exceed the monthly 50 scan limit, and does not affect any other QR codes associated with the expired subscriber account. The scan limit is re-set at the start of each calendar month.

At our discretion a temporary Fair Use monthly scan limit may be applied to unusually high scan-volume QR codes (>30,000 scans/month) belonging to current paid subscribers. This Fair Use Policy limit is intended to ensure that the scan activity of a minority of users doesn’t adversely impact optimal platform performance for all users.

Don’t worry – current subscribers will be contacted well in advance if any of their QR codes are approaching a Fair Use threshhold so that we can work out a solution with them.

Collectively, these measures will only affect about 1 in every 10,000 users – the other 9,999 won’t even know that any limits exist 🙂

And just to reiterate – these limits only apply to dynamic QR codes (the QR codes that use our optional URL shortener). All other QR codes are unlimited.

What do I do if my QR codes are scan-limited?

Expired full subscribers simply need to renew their subscription and the scan limit status of their account will be automatically reset from expired to current.

Free users who upgrade to a full paid account (1 month or longer) can contact us to have the QR codes they created as free user moved to their subscriber account which will remove the 50 scans/month limit from them. This is a complimentary service for up to 10 QR codes.

Are your QR codes ad-free?

Yes. Both our free and paid QR codes are guaranteed 100% ad-free. If you see an ad after scanning one of our QR codes, the QR code scanning app that you’re using put it there.

Is a license required to create QR codes?

No. The QR code is clearly defined and published as an open ISO standard. Denso Wave owns the patent rights on the QR code creation process, and the methods used to encode and create them, but has chosen not to exercise those rights. The term “QR code” itself is a registered trademark of Denso Wave Incorporated.

The answer to the following questions is always “No”

  • Can I add a QR code to my account that I created somewhere else?
  • Can I get analytics from you for a QR code that I created somewhere else?
  • Can I have a free trial subscription?
  • I’m making my own QR code website. Can you tell me how you did everything on yours?

Improve Your Website Traffic With Schema Markup

Schema Markup For SEO

Schema markup and Structured data are an SEO tool that can help improve the click through rate of your website on the search engine results page (SERP).

While schema and structured data are not required they are highly recommended by all major search engines to help them pull the best data from your website in a way that makes it easy for users to view on a results page. 

Schema and structured data improve the look of your websites listing on Google increasing potential traffic and showcasing the products, services, or information offered on your website. This will potentially decrease user bounce rate and increase your organic traffic revenue generation.  

Schema gives you more control over how your website shows up on Google and the information users see when they search for your product or service offering. 

Having accurate schema markup will improve your website’s local search ranking and help Google prioritize your website above competitors that have not invested in this untapped SEO tactic. 

Schema Markup For SEO

This guide to Understanding Schema Markup For SEO will outline: 

  • The difference between Schema markup and structured data
  • How Schema and structured data affect a sites SEO
  • Types of Schema markup and structured data available
  • How to implement Schema and structured data on different web platforms

Below we will start by clarifying what schema and structured data are, how they are implemented on common web development sites, and what they can do to improve the search ranks of your site.  

What Is Schema Markup

Schema markup is a code that you put on your website to help a search engine pull the right information from your website. Schema creates better descriptions, accurate company information, and enhances the users experience on the search engine leading to higher quality traffic for your website. 

Schema is an open sourced code that anyone can use. To get a better understanding of how it works you can visit schema.org

What Is Structured Data

Structured data is a way to organize data in a standard form that Google and other search partners can easily pull from. Thinking of structured data like a database each item or description on your website will have its own structured data. Company information can be structured along with products and services. 

Structured data is how Google sets up shopping ads or understands which products are in stock on websites. There are many types of rich snippets and markup options for your site. 

How Do Schema & Structured Data Affect SEO?

Schema markup and structured data tell Google what important information should be pulled from the website. This improves search listings with accurate and well-thought-out descriptions and information. Structured data also helps Google know what rich snippets are available on a website. 

A rich snippet can be anything from a question box in position zero, book review, or FAQ. It is information pulled directly onto the search page to improve the users experience. A rich snippet increases the size of a site’s listing and allows for more information on the results page increasing the likelihood of a click through to the site.     

Structured data is not a ranking factor for Google, but it does affect a site’s overall rankings. 

Click Through Rate (CTR)

Schema markup will have an impact on your CTR. A higher CTR, will increase your rankings by signaling to Google that your site is a good result for that search.

Structured data can help you with CTR because rich results catch the eye of the searcher and provide an outline on the information they will find on site potentially lowering the bounce rate and improving on site traffic quality. 

Schema Markup Types Supported by Google

Schema Markup Types Supported by Google

Structured data is available for almost any type of product or service and a full list of available markup can be found on schema.org

There are also many types of rich snippets that Google has developed. You can find a full list of available rich snippets in the Google Developer

Common snippets include:

  • Position zero
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Reviews
  • FAQ
  • Ratings
  • Events
  • Products
  • Local business information
  • Recipes
  • Site links

Product Markup

Product based markup is required when running paid shopping ads on Google. Paid shopping ads are a form of PPC ads on Google Ads that list items for purchase directly on Google. Using Shopping Ads can give a product company an edge over the competition as the product shows without the need for a user to click into the website. Schema works hand in hand with the merchant center to list products seamlessly. 

How To Add Schema Markup On Your Website (The Right Way)

Implementing Schema on a web platform like WordPress and other eCommerce sites has become easier with WordPress schema plugins. If you are looking to implement Schema on a custom site it is best to hire a web developer to help implement the proper HTML code in your specific system. 

Here’s how you can implement structured data correctly on your website, on different platforms:

How to add schema markup on WordPress 

To add Schema Markup to your WordPress blog, check out the structured data & schema markup plugins in the WP repository. Most SEO plugins like YOAST and SEO PRESS also add basic structured data functionality to most websites including description and title tags.

How to add schema markup in Magento & eCommerce

Most eCommerce platforms such as Magento, Shopify, and Square Space will come with structured data already integrated.

If you’re not sure that your site has the proper structured data, use the structured data Google Structured Data Testing Tool

If there’s no Product section, it means your implementation is missing. There are always plugins and extensions so do a Google search and find what suits your platform.

Always fix the warnings and misinformation, they won’t stand in the way of your rich snippets displaying, but it’s always best to have accurate data.

Local SEO structured data

If you have a local business, structured data can really help your local SEO. You can mark up your NAP (name, address, phone) so that search engines can better understand that information.

This plugin for WordPress supports structured data for Local Businesses.

Custom schema markup implementation

If you’re planning on adding markup manually, make sure to validate your code with the Google Structured Data Testing Tool.

Why Doesn’t My Website Display a Rich Snippet?

Schema markup on your website does not guarantee that Google will implement a rich snippet on the SERP. The schema is only there to help tell Google what you want. If the information you shared is useful to the search Google will include your schema.   

The best thing for you to do is test your rich snippet to guarantee it is working with the Rich Snippet Validator.

Voice search is the future of how we will interact with our devices.

If you want your business to show up in voice search, you need accurate Schema markup and structured data programmed into your site.

Voice search is a natural way to ask for information and get results. It’s hands-free, eyes-free, and all about you. You can use it anywhere – in your car, at home or on the go – as long as you have an internet connection. And it’s not just for Google Search anymore! Now Siri on iOS 11 lets you access Apple Music with just your voice.

Schema markup will provide more information about your website and it’s content in order to make it easier for voice assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa to understand what you’re offering.

The goal is to make it as easy as possible for Google to understand the kind of content you want to show up when people search for specific things like “restaurants near me” or “movies starring Tom Hanks.”

Structured data and Schema should be your first priority when it comes to site wide SEO, it is an important step in improving the long term quality of your website traffic.

Like any other SEO tactic, Schema should be part of a larger strategy that focuses on the entire optimization of your website. 

Rich snippets and markup provide Google and other search information an easy way to improve a search result page and improve the user’s experience while on the search engine. The more information you give to a search engine in an easy-to-understand way the more likely they are to prioritize your site. 

Improving the quality of your website traffic can help increase inbound revenue generation. Schema markup and structured data is one of the best ways to improve the quality of your organic traffic coming from Google. 

25 Advanced Search Engines (Other Than Google)

It may come as a shock to learn that Google is not the end-all be-all search engine. There are many search engines out there, much more than the 25 included in this list.

Learning how Google stores and utilizes the information you search for may lead to seeking out a different, more private search engine.

Which search engine is right for you? It depends on what you are searching for and what you are interested in finding.

Are privacy and tracking options important to you? Are you looking for academic material or strictly for video clips? The search engines you use can help better define your search, and get you the answers you need more quickly.

Thankfully, you have options! Keep reading to find which search engine best fits your needs.

25 Advanced Search Engines (Other Than Google)
  1. Bing is one of the most-used search engines behind Google. Some users find it more visually pleasing than the info up front layout that Google uses. Bing, while similar to Google’s layout, offers trending images while searching.
  2. Yahoo is another popular search engine, which boasts a different layout than other search engines, including top news headlines and recommended articles.
  3. Baidu, which is the most popular search engine in China, has a similar design layout to Google, but is heavily censored.
  4. Yandex is Russia’s answer to Google. Powered by AI, they utilize cookies, and their machines are constantly learning in order to provide better search results for their users.
  5. DuckDuckGo is among the most popular alternatives to googling. DuckDuckGo is the search engine for those who want privacy. They do not track and consistently block access from others trying to obtain your search history.
  6. Swisscows is notable for its privacy settings, and does not store your data. Many parents utilize Swisscows and find their family-friendly privacy policies ideal for their children’s internet experience.
  7. Ask.com formerly known as Ask Jeeves is a laid-back and user-friendly search engine.  Ask runs a “question-answering based search engine.”  Ask a question, get an answer, simple as that!
  8. Ecosia appeals to the environmentally conscious. With every search you type in, Ecosia helps give back while you do your research by planting trees where they are needed across the world. They are privacy-friendly and utilize Bing and their own algorithms to bring you your results.
  9. Startpage offers an interesting service as it does not track your history or cookies. But it goes a step further in that you can install a Startpage plugin and keep using Google and its search engine, without the potential privacy issues.
  10. Pinterest, while it may not seem like a search engine, is a massive database of images and other creative content. Although a (free) account is required, you can pin designs and photos into categories, making repetitive searches obsolete.
  11. Keyhole sets itself apart as a search engine by allowing users to search the World Wide Web by keywords, hashtags, or @mentions. Keyhole can show you how a piece was shared across platforms and offers a live campaign tracker. Keyhole utilizes social listening online and provides analytics to help improve your online marketing strategies.
  12. Flickr’s advanced search specializes in all things media. Whether you are looking for photos, videos, illustrations, you can find a variety of content with what Flickr offers.
  13. SlideShare is a major database of slideshow presentations. If you missed your latest conference or are interested in brushing up on some topics, Slideshare may be a perfect search engine for you.
  14. TinEye is a reverse image search engine. You plug in the picture and TinEye will compile a list and show you where the image has been shared around the internet.
  15. LinkedIn Answers Search can help you find keywords used on the site. It’s a great place to seek advice from experts in your field or ask their staff questions.
  16. Social Searcher can track keywords and social metrics. This search engine can also show you a specific hashtag or @mention all in one list. This is great for monitoring your growth as a brand and on social media, and see what people are talking about.
  17. Wolfphram Alpha: some may remember this search engine from seeking help in understanding difficult mathematic equations. But Wolphram Alpha goes a step further as a search engine. The website offers expert knowledge in a variety of fields, and is a hub of helpful videos and examples to explain any question you may have. It is privately owned and doesn’t track your searches.
  18. Boardreader offers a unique search engine perspective. With Boardreader, you can search message boards and forums specifically, which is helpful with a narrow search.
  19. Yippy is a search engine that offers private browsing. It doesn’t overload the user with results, which some may find more appealing in the never-ending search for information.
  20. Buzzsumo offers a unique perspective as you can search by topic or by competitor. This search engine is helpful to users and marketers, as they find which article topics were shared most and can see articles related to the topics or keywords they are searching.
  21. CC Search, also known as Creative Commons Search, aims to show licensed works in public domain. They help users find and share creative knowledge straight from the creators themselves. If you or your company want to avoid copyright claims, using CC Search may work for you.
  22. Amazon is rising in popularity as a search engine as well. Keep in mind that their search results are geared towards sales, but can be a great resource for research as well as for purchasing.
  23. Gigablast is a huge database of billions of indexed webpages. This cryptographically-protected search engine is private, and has a directory of categories you can search from. It’s free and open source, with an advanced index search as well.
  24. WebCrawler is a beloved search engine, as it was the very first to provide full-text searches. Now WebCrawler pulls from other major search engines, but it remains a useful facet for crawling meta-data.
  25. The Internet Archive which features The Way Back Machine, is a collection of content and webpages from around the internet, uploaded by people around the world. There are billions of pages within this engine.

Privacy concerns are not the only reason users may seek out other advanced search engines other than Google. Some users have a more specific search request or want to search a database without the possibility of copyright claims.

From Swisscows, known for its privacy settings, to TinEye, an advanced image search engine, there are many search engines that hold their own against Google, by offering niche or advanced features.

Really it comes down to which search engine best suits your needs.

Which search engine is your favorite and why? Let me know in the comments below!

How To Create Blog Tags Automatically

Blog Tag Generator

Achieving a #1 ranking on search engines requires a diligent approach in all aspects of your online marketing. This includes your website, social media, and online communications.

Many of my clients use blogs to share information and educate customers and prospects, but the one key strategy they often miss is blog tags.

Blog tags are those words or phrases that are used to describe a blog post. They are usually about one to three words long, and are attached as labels to your blog.

One function of blog tags is to help the search engine crawlers get a quick idea of what your content is all about. When created with search intent in mind, blog tags can help propel your content to the top or search engine results.

Another great benefit of blog tags is that they help visitors navigate the content on your site, especially as you continue adding content. Many companies use WordPress to create and upload blog content to their web pages.

Part of the uploading process asks you to designate which categories and tags should be applied to your blog. Tags are more specific than the categories.

Even though they are not required, I still highly recommend you add tags to each and every blog right from the start. After you have a number of blogs, WordPress offers up a list of your most common tags that you can click on to add to your piece.

WordPress uses these tags to create topic archive pages. Visitors searching for specific content can use these pages to instantly retrieve the information they want. This might require you to plan some sort of themes for your blog posts.

For example, most of my blog tags focus around topics like email marketing, SEO, PPC, social media and website design. Tags are not made-up words; they are real words or phrases that potential customers might use to learn more about the products and services you offer.

Best Practices for Blog Tags 

  • Keep them concise.
  • Avoid redundancy.
  • Be consistent across blogs.
  • Broad topics are better than narrow.
  • Keep the number of tags to a realistic number — not too few, not too many. Usually between 5-10 tags is just fine, unless you have something really special to tag!

Automating the Blog Tag Process

One helpful tip for creating blog tags is to perform keyword research first. This helps to uncover the tags you might want focus on in your blog content.

If you are really on your content game, and create a number of blog posts every month, adding blog tags might be easy for you, but either way, the process of manually adding tags each and every time can get a little tedious.

Fortunately there are some options which can help automate the blog tag process:

  • Auto Tag Creator: This plugin automatically converts keywords in a post/product title and category to tags upon saving. It includes a user-editable list of words you want the plugin to ignore. Activate the plugin through the WordPress Plugins menu.
  • Smart Tag Insert: Once you have defined a tags list, this plugin adds a box in the post editing page which looks for relevant tags based on post content. The most relevant are automatically selected (although the selection can be changed). Selected tags can be added with a click.
  • TagΒee Post Tagger: This is a simple plugin which proposes tags for your content.

This post is a great opportunity to tell you about the WORD ROBOT. This is a tool I created, and offer for free on my website.

WORD ROBOT automatically creates blog tags for your blog post by analyzing the keyword density. Simply paste in your article content and VOILA!

It also converts lower case and upper case letters, capitalize and uncapitalize, convert to mix case, and transform your text.

  • Sentence Case: The sentence case converter allows you to paste any text you like, and it automatically transforms it to a fully formed sentence structure. It works by capitalizing the very first letter in each sentence, and then goes on to transform the rest of the text into lowercase, and also converts each single lowercase “i” into a capital. Every letter after a full stop gets converted into an upper case letter, but it will not capitalize names or places.
  • Lower Case: If you are wondering how to uncapitalize text, this is exactly what the lower case text converter allows you to do. It transforms all the letters in your text into lowercase letters. Simply copy the text that you want to convert into a lowercase font, paste the text into the tool, and select the “lower case” tab option.
  • Upper Case: Sometimes you do want your text to be in all capitals. The upper case transformer takes any text provided and transforms all the letters into upper case. It essentially makes all lower case letters into CAPITALS, but still manages to keep upper case letters as they are meant to be.
  • Capitalized Case: There are times when you need the first letter of every word in a phrase capitalized. This might be for something like H1 and H2 content in your blog. The capitalized case converter automatically converts the starting letter of every word into upper case and leaves the remaining letters as lower case ones.
  • Title Case: When writing titles, especially in a Word Doc format, you frequently get those annoying notifications that certain words in a title should not be capitalized. The title case converter is perfect for those who are a bit unsure on how to title an upcoming essay. It ensures the correct letters are capitalized within the context of a title. Words such “an” or “of” will be left all in lower case, and words that are important will be converted to capitalize the initial letter.

Writing blogs, keeping content fresh on your website and updating social media sites can sometimes be tedious work.

Fortunately today’s technology offers a wide variety of specialized tools that can help automate some of the most mundane parts of each process.

Check out these tools and let me know in the comment box below if they help your blogging efforts?

How To Increase YouTube Views

YouTube is inarguably the biggest platform for video creators to potentially reach millions of people around the globe. The problem many creators face is how to get those views. 

If you’re a marketer or content developer looking to boost your YouTube views for free, the process can take time and effort. But if done correctly, you’ll be rewarded with more views, a better user experience, and opportunities to grow your content and audience. 

Like most major social media platforms, YouTube operates on an algorithm that suggests videos that a particular user will most likely be interested in to keep them on YouTube for longer. This data is collected from the user’s viewership history and engagement on videos they have watched in the past. 

Thankfully, YouTube’s algorithm considers a wide range of variables when determining which videos are the best and should appear at the top of its search results. This algorithm is vital in determining if your video makes it onto the suggested and trending page.

Whether you’re just starting a YouTube channel for the first time or you’re seeking new ways to gain viewers, it’s important to stay on top of the latest methods. 

So, here’s 10 of the best practices for getting more YouTube views (bonus: don’t miss the 3 mistakes you’ll definitely want to avoid).

10 Best Practices For Getting More YouTube Views

1.) Allow Ads On Your Videos

If you’re trying to monetize your blog, allowing YouTube to run advertisements can be a great start. But if you don’t use the right kind of ad placements for your video, it can drive away viewers. If your video is longer, it’s reasonable to run an ad in the middle. Shorter videos should stick to ads placed at the beginning or end of the video. Even though studies show that visual attention is higher for advertisements on YouTube than on TV, you shouldn’t expect viewers to watch more advertising than content. So before you check yes to placing ads in every place you can, consider the perspective of the viewer.

2.) Keyword Optimization

For each of your videos, it’s imperative to embed unique keywords in specific areas. Creating strands of keywords for each video will improve the reach of your video. It will also place your video in front of the right crowd. If you haven’t been customizing your keywords for each video, you can open the data from previous videos by going to “Videos” in your YouTube Studio Dashboard. 

TITLES:  Write Youtube Titles that are descriptive and keyword rich.  Picking a good title is critical. Your title should not give everything about your video away but should be intriguing enough that someone would want to click on it with the promise of what the title is delivered in the video.   A engaging and descriptive title accomplishes two goals: it provides keywords for the algorithm to sort for relevancy, and it attracts viewers and informs them about the video’s content.  You can do your keyword research through a keyword planner provided by Google. Go to keyword planner and select YouTube search on the far right to see how common a keyword is on YouTube. By reminding users and search engines of what your video is about, optimizing your video content for the right keywords can help you gain organic views.

DESCRIPTIONS:  The video description informs the viewer what the video is about without giving too much away. You can think of it as a meta-description except for YouTube. A description that stands out and captures the viewers’ interest increases the click-through rate, thus generating more views.  Entice users with keywords you know they are looking out for when they search for a particular video. An excellent format to follow is to have a strong introduction of approximately 2-3 sentences, an outline that is about 150 words, and links to relevant websites and your social handles.

TAGS:  Video tags help create a niche for your video and your content so that the algorithm understands what viewers may be interested in when they watch your video and those like it. Tags, therefore, push videos with relevant tags to the forefront of a user’s suggestion page, increasing viewership. The best place to put these phrases is at the bottom of your description. But also remember to change the automatically generated keywords in the “Extras” section. 

Pro Tip: It can also be useful to keep a notepad or Word document with common keywords for you to add to your videos. Keeping this list can help you generate these words faster and cut down your uploading time.

Include keywords in these places:

  • Thumbnails
  • Tags
  • Video Description

3.) YouTube Subscribe Watermark

The more subscribers you have, the more likely viewers are going to see your posts. But how do you draw viewers into subscribing? By creating a “subscribe” watermark for your videos. Creating your own “subscribe” watermark is simpler than it may look. In YouTube Studio, select Settings > Channel > Branding. From this screen, you can choose an image for your branding watermark and the amount of time you would like it displayed on your video. Make sure the image design catches the eye and matches your channel.

Pro Tip: Casually reminding viewers in your video to subscribe and click the Notification Bell can be a great way to also invite new viewers to subscribe. This method is especially effective if you make it fun or unique to your channel.

4.) Aim to Entertain or Teach

There are two reasons most people watch YouTube: to be entertained or to learn something. If your videos are doing one or both of these actions, then you’re in a good place. The more entertaining or informative your videos are, the more likely people will share them, talk about them, and gain trust in your content. Gaining consistent subscribers and viewers in the key to growing your YouTube channel.

5.) Create YouTube Playlists

If you’re a content creator that dabbles in several different kinds of videos, you may have noticed that some of your videos will get different responses. Some viewers may only want to watch certain types of videos you’ve made. But how do they find all your past videos for these categories? One way to help viewers find the content they are looking for is to create playlists for each category of videos you make. Creating playlists generates a “binge-watch” mentality with viewers. It also gains you more consistent views.

Playlists give top-performing channels an extra edge over other channels simply because of Auto-play. From a viewer’s perspective, it takes effort to pull your attention away from an entertaining video, so it is much easier for videos to keep playing. 

The concept of loss aversion states that people feel more significant pain from losing something than gaining the equivalent. This can be visualized so that an individual is likely to work harder to keep $100 than earn $100. Auto-play uses this concept to keep viewers on YouTube. So instead of the ‘loss’ of clicking away from a video, a viewer would instead continue watching. Use this to your advantage by curating a playlist that the viewer is likely to watch for longer.

Pro Tip: Spend time organizing your playlists. It may seem logical to place them chronologically, but also consider the flow and topics of each video so they blend seamlessly together.

6.) Balance Following Trends and Creating Unique Content

Sometimes referred to as “newsjacking”, creating videos about current trends can generate more views for your channel easily.  Once a trend is picked up on YouTube, you’ll find everyone releasing videos about the same subject or content, hoping to catch the tailwind of viewers. The problem with many of these videos is that they regurgitate the same content without offering anything new or unique. There’s nothing wrong with creating content that people are already interested in, but try to create something unique which has your spin on it.  Be sure that what you create is true to your channel’s themes and other videos. 

7.) Create Relationships For Guest YouTuber Appearances

Creating bonds between like-minded channels can be a great way to increase viewership. Even writing engaging comments on popular posts can draw people’s attention to your own channel. Try contacting similar channel creators and ask if they’d like to do a collaboration video.  Having popular YouTuber guests on your posts can draw in new viewers, but it can also create a sense of community for both of your channels’ subscribers.  Collaborations are a massive part of the YouTube community. When YouTubers collaborate, they increase viewership by attracting viewers from all the parties involved and introducing them to other content creators similar and in the same community.  

8.) Be Present in Your Content Community

Engagement with your viewers and community is on the rise. This is because the viewer feels that they have established an authentic and organic relationship with their content creator. Doing so increases the chances that viewers care about your brand and are likely to subscribe and expand your knowledge and understanding of your particular audience.

9.) Link Your YouTube Videos on Your Social Media Pages

People that are in contact with you on other social media platforms will have an easier time getting to know your YouTube channel and the content you create with just one click. Pushing traffic from your social media profile to your YouTube channel also helps out with the algorithm as your video is seen as a source of clicks from other websites.

10.) Use cards and end screens

These tools help promote other videos from your channel and are a call-to-action. Doing so ties in with the concept of loss aversion used in auto-play. Cards are a tool that pops up at certain times during your video, relevant to what content you are going through at that moment. An end screen is a frame at the end of your video that wraps things up and suggests other videos created by you. This keeps viewers on your channel and increases the viewership of your other videos.

There you have it, ten steps that you can take to increase your viewership. Above all, focus on creating great content for your target audience. Then optimize your content with the above tips and watch your viewership grow. 

Gone are the days where YouTube trending videos revolved around funny, strange cats and dogs on skateboards. More than 500 videos get produced every minute on the platform. 

YouTube is now a thriving platform with various topics and subjects for everyone. It’s time to get your business on Youtube and start generating an additional stream of traffic to your website.

Boost Youtube Views

but what about the 3 mistakes to avoid?

3 biggest mistakes to avoid:

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Which of these tips will you put into practice?

Comment and share below!

How To Automate Your SEO Strategy

SEO Automation

To run a business successfully in the 21st century, you must develop a sound online marketing campaign. Search engine optimization should be at the center of it.

SEO is the practice of using algorithms to drive people to your website. It involves a complex array of virtual systems and structures that have a single aim: clicks on websites owned by your company.

It would be costly and inefficient for members of your workforce or even an independent firm to monitor and manage your SEO operations. You should instead automate as many SEO tasks as you can.

If applied effectively, SEO automation software can significantly improve the efficiency of your SEO process.

What You Can Automate in SEO

You cannot automate everything. But you don’t need to. You just need to automate the most tedious and time-consuming tasks and process. Here are some of the parts you should focus on:

1. Site monitoring

After you launch your new SEO campaign, you will need to monitor it to keep track of how it performs. You will need to figure out ways to improve the site and carry out any maintenance required. It is essential to assess page load time, broken links, site downtime, and other basic housekeeping issues.

This kind of monitoring can be automated. There is software that allows you to set up alerts if something goes wrong with your site. Automation will also help you collect data on your site quickly so that you can put it into action straightaway.

2. Rank tracking

The main reason for developing and implementing SEO algorithms is for your website to rank high when key words and phrases are used in search engines. You will need a way to track this ranking process. But when you have a multitude of sites and hundreds of pages with keywords in them, it is difficult to track each page’s ranking manually. The better option is to automate. Automation software will make it easy for you to see how your pages are doing is search engine rankings. It will also show how your rankings change and improve over time.

3. Backlink analysis

Backlinks are fundamental to your SEO campaign. Backlinks demonstrate the soundness of the content you have published on your sites. They enhance the authority of your brand and boost confidence and trust in your company over time, which leads to an increase in rankings.

You will want the best backlinks for your page. However, you will need to monitor them to ensure their quality. SEO automation simplifies this process. The software you use will make it easier for you to see who is linking to your websites.

4. Competitor monitoring

You are in the most intense competition with other businesses for search engine rankings. The more information you have on your rivals the easier it will be to create SEO algorithms and strategies to outdo them—that is, outrank them.

You may have more competitors than you think. The web is a kind of equalizer when it comes to business. You can be sure that your rivals for search engine rankings go beyond those you are already familiar with. There are probably hundreds of companies that you must contend with. Automating the competitor monitoring process allows you to see the biggest threats to your ranking and develop strategies to keep your business at the top.

5. Site audit

There may be a number of technical issues that prevent your sites from ranking as high as they should. While it is possible to identify such issues through a crawl, this takes a great deal of time. You should instead automate the process. You can set up a crawl program that will do most of the work for you and present the problems that may be holding you back. You can then focus on fixing the issues rather than uncovering them.

6. Reports

Creating and presenting reports is part of managing your business. Financial stakeholders, employees, clients, and prospective clients will all want to know how your business is doing. They will want to know the areas in which your company is strong and those places that need improvement.

Generating reports helps you get the financing and investment you need to operate and expand. It also helps you develop a strategy that will help you meet your business goals. If your company is based entirely online or is heavily dependent on the virtual sphere, your reports will focus mostly on SEO operations. The trouble is that creating these reports is time-consuming. Your executive team cannot spare the time to carry out this task.

Fortunately, report generation is a SEO task that can be automated. You can create a range of different reports, including those covering monthly SEO status, organic search positions, site audits, backlinks, and competitor analysis.

7. Log file analyzer

One of the best ways to assess how search engines interact with your sites is to analyze the log files of your sites. This is a little-known method of figuring out which of your pages are being crawled and which of your pages is the most crawled. It will also help you determine whether your crawl budget is being well-spent.

Use SEO Automation Plugin

When choosing an SEO automation plugin, choose a company that has a strong track record of delivering proven results. The SEO plugin you choose is a crucial decision because it will help streamline SEO tasks. The one we use is called “SEO Press” and is among the top names in the industry.

With SEO Press, you get all the SEO and optimization bells and whistles you need in one plugin. Special features include the ability to manage your titles and to create meta descriptions and meta robots for every post and page.

SEO Press can also improve your search engine crawling by providing XML sitemaps of your posts, pages, and custom post types. And it offers software such as Open Graph tags, Twitter Card, and Google Knowledge Graph to enhance social network sharing.

SEO automation can help you be a better manager, organizer, and entrepreneur—whether you run a growing independent company or you are part of a large and well-established firm.

I hope this post was helpful to you. I’d love to hear your thoughts about your favorite SEO automation tools and which ones you’ve had the most success with? Drop a comment in the box below and let me know!

How To Fix Spelling Mistakes Automatically

How To Fix Spelling & Grammar Mistakes Automatically

Perhaps you just started blogging or worked in journalism for years, but you still forget where some commas go. You need a spellchecker and grammar checker that works while you write. The search for the perfect checker may seem endless, but a few choices present themselves and a couple you may not have known about, too. You can find many free options, but few that provide accurate results for text on their own.

Microsoft Word Editor

The most obvious place to look for a grammar checker resides in your word processor. Microsoft Word’s free grammar checker misses a few things, but if you pay the $6.99 per month for Microsoft 365, you get Microsoft Editor. Its editor program conducts a more careful spelling and grammatical check. It also checks as you write and will auto-correct mistakes. You can add your corrections, too. If Microsoft Word continually marks your name as misspelled, you can add it to the spelling dictionary. You can also set it to automatically correct your most common typos.

Grammarly Options

Perhaps you want to avoid spending $7 per month for the 365 services. You can download the Grammarly plug-in, which spellchecks everything you type across cloud programs and browsers. It identifies mistakes as you type. You click on them to reveal your options. Once you correct it, you move on. It comes as a browser plug-in for chrome. On mobile devices, you can download the Grammarly keyboard that spellchecks as you type. Some users have complained that the keyboard misses many grammar mistakes, but it picks up most misspelled words. The plug-in does as well as the free website. You can use the Grammarly website as a word processor since once you create an account, it saves all of your documents. You can type directly into the cloud app, and it will identify your mistakes as you type. It does not auto-correct as Microsoft’s option does.

Grammarly’s Entourage

JSpellGrammarCheckScibens, and a few other sites are using Grammarly’s writing engine. They do not use their own program. Rather, they include a link to Grammarly, which you will find if you click the button for the “Deep Check” on GrammarCheck, for example. Most of the options you will find when you conduct an Internet search for a spellchecker or grammar checker include sites that are thinly veiled feeder sites for Grammarly. Each re-directs you to the site, so you can obtain “a full check.”

Paper Rater

Paper Rater stands alone as a separate program. It uses its own algorithms and programming to check each document. Like the free version of Grammarly, it does not pick up on all comma issues. Otherwise, it performs well. It also includes an option you can choose to have it “grade” the paper for you depending on the input you provide. You can set Paper Rater to check for readability at a specific grade level. It provides an estimated grade a teacher would give you.

Ginger

You can add the Ginger Software app to Microsoft Edge or download it to use in conjunction with Microsoft Office. Few people have had luck with this app. It talks a good game, but it cannot correct grammar as it says it does. It advertises that it corrects “5x more mistakes than Word can detect. 5x faster.” This assertion does not bear out though. It does not pick up comma splices and can’t tell where commas should go in between phrases.

Reverso

Ginger has its clones, too. Reverso is the best known. It offers a simple textbox interface. You paste your text into the box and can check its spelling and grammar in English or French. It does not turn up many mistakes and will offer you a more complete check in the Ginger app.

Screaming Frog

Unless you live in the United Kingdom or work in marketing, you probably have not heard of Screaming Frog. Digital marketers use this program to check their web copy, but you can use it to spellcheck your writing. This SEO tool lets you check a website by URL. You can check in 39 languages. It does require you to purchase a license, £149 ($207), so you can access all features. Once you correct the mistakes, you can spellcheck the site again without re-crawling it.

Problems with the Grammar Checkers

While some checkers let you adjust whether you’re writing for school, business, or casual, they do not let you set the checker for a specific style. That means you can not check a document against The AP Style Manual or The Chicago Style Manual, or Modern Language Association (MLA) style. Each checker typically uses the grammar of Strunk and White, which means that it misses many items that other writing styles consider incorrect. For example, AP style uses no Oxford commas. Chicago style does use commas. Many marketers must switch between writing styles, and academics must do so as well. Going from Turabian to Chicago style in a day creates confusion. No grammar checker on the market today addresses this issue.

Most spelling and grammar checkers do not let you train them. The Microsoft Word Editor does, and Grammarly will let you teach it new words for your personal dictionary, but you cannot customize the grammar. The other programs don’t let you add to the dictionary.

The Grammarly keyboard fails abysmally. It cannot detect a missing period from a sentence. None of the available options handle comma use effectively. They cannot address clauses nor when the Oxford comma is unneeded.

No one program can effectively check for all grammatical issues. Each grammar issue consists of what could be addressed by a simple “if, then” statement or machine learning. If the clause is of one type, the comma goes in a specific place. To obtain a grammatically correct document, you need to use multiple checkers.

Few people have the money to hire a proofreader for each paper or website and the time to wait for a human with a large workload. Having a single grammar checker that can provide one percent accuracy and let the user choose from a selection of style manuals makes sense but has yet to hit the market.

For now, you will need to combine the checkers to obtain the most accurate results.

Since you often need to combine programs, first determine which program you can most effectively combine to check spelling and grammatical checkers and obtain a genuinely well proofread and edited document.

So far, the best combination I’ve found is writing in Microsoft Word with Editor, then checking it in Grammarly. If you need to test web copy, write it in Microsoft Word with Editor, then check it in Screaming Frog.

How To Fix Spelling & Grammar Mistakes Automatically

The Impact of GDPR on Digital Marketing

The Impact of the GDPR on Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is a multidimensional industry that utilizes a vast amount of consumer data.

As a result, a well-implemented regulatory framework is required to ensure that consumer protection remains a high priority. Measures such as the California Consumer Privacy Act have been established in the local and global legal community to necessitate the urgent need for data privacy and protection in the digital marketing process.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was enacted and made applicable on 25 May 2018. This regulatory framework’s main aim is to protect an individual’s right to protection of their data, and it clarifies the process that companies need to follow to safeguard the rights of an individual who is a data subject.

There are many surprising benefits that compliance with the GDPR can bring to businesses.

For instance, it can provide enhanced cybersecurity measures because, since its implementation, GDPR has propelled digital businesses to enhance their data privacy and influenced the development of their security systems and practices.

Moreover, when companies adapt their data protection regulations, they can naturally build customer trust and loyalty.

But has the GDPR achieved its purpose? And if so, what new developments have been made since its inception into the digital business market in 2018?

Keep reading this article to find out more about the importance of this piece of legislation, the impact of the GDPR particularly in the digital marketing industry, and new developments in cross-border data transfers that could change the face of digital marketing.

The Impact of the GDPR on Digital Marketing

Why Is the GDPR Important for the Digital Marketing Industry?

GDPR has provided digital marketing with core benefits that have ensured to improve its overall performance by making it more efficient to personalize its product offering by providing customers the consent to allow businesses to utilize their data for marketing purposes.

The rules that are outlined in this regulatory provision require companies to comply with data audit processes that are essential to creating compelling and more personalized offers.

This has ensured that companies align with data-driven marketing strategies. As a result, more companies are raising their marketing profile by taking the lead towards developing the culture of data privacy that is required by the GDPR. 

By providing consumers with the option to opt into and out of their data being used for advertising, companies have more opportunities to enhance the data collected to communicate with their most valuable customers as well as prospective customers.

Having customers that are already engaged, ensures that sales get more qualified leads which benefits these companies by eliminating time spent on chasing leads, which inevitably increases productivity and sales. 

GDPR Websites

The Impact So Far

Individual user data has been utilized as a part of contemporary marketing strategies that rely on the use of personal data as a primary revenue source for digital marketing companies.

This increase in the use of personal data to generate leads and sales contributed to the implementation of the GDPR.

There are key principles that include lawfulness, fairness, and transparency that are set out at the beginning of the GDPR that require compliance as a fundamental component for the use of data. The main responsibility that digital marketing faces lie in the initial process of collecting data.

Before its enactment, companies could collect data without consent and use it for their marketing purposes. However, since the GDPR was enacted companies are not allowed to collect data as they please due to key issues that impact this process such as legal bases for the processing of data, obtaining consent, and the opting-in and out option.

Consequently, when companies use data to target sales, this data has to be collected and processed by the provisions of the GDPR particularly the seven key principles that are outlined in this piece of legislation. This has impacted the digital marketing industry by necessitating a legal basis for data collection by requiring companies to provide established privacy policies.

An evaluation report conducted and published by the European Commission in 2020 highlighted that the GDPR has met the majority of its objectives and that it has provided essential security solutions in unforeseeable circumstances that have forced the world to rely on data to propel businesses towards the digital economy.

More businesses have developed a compliance mechanism and utilize robust data protection as part of their competitive advantage strategy. Additionally, more consumers are aware of their data protection rights and use the opt-in and out option to preserve their data privacy rights. 

GDPR Websites

What New Developments Can the Digital Industry Expect?

The untimely pandemic in 2020 brought about many changes to the world of data protection regulation for the digital marketing industry.

The most notable of these developments was the California Consumer Privacy Act that was enacted in January 2020 which resulted in the ruling that the EU-US privacy shield was invalid rendering it unenforceable to maintain a free flow of data between these countries.

This ruling has highlighted that the transfer of sensitive consumer data is a high priority that needs to be adhered to by all parties.

Many countries are embarking on adopting and reviewing their cross-border privacy policies to ensure that they are compliant with the standardization and regulatory requirements as prescribed by the GDPR.

The European Data Protection Board has published draft recommendations containing rules that companies should abide by to lawfully transfer sensitive data information.

These developments are set to impact the manner that international companies collect and process data from EU citizens and uphold strict regulations for compliance with cross-border transfers.

The developments envisioned for data privacy protection will ensure that many countries enforce privacy laws and that they are in line with the new cross-border standards that are set out by the GDPR. 

What Are the Similarities with the CCPA?

These two pieces of legislation have similar principles and expectations when it comes to the protection of data subjects by providing them with the right to obtain and view personal data that companies have collected from them.

They both require businesses to disclose how they utilize personal data from subjects and cybersecurity security measures that provide data subjects with the option to have their collected data deleted from the archives.

Even though some businesses are not obliged to comply with both laws, failure to comply with one of these regulations can institute civil penalties. 

The Impact of the GDPR on Digital Marketing


The Bottom Line 

GDPR and other regulatory frameworks such as the CCPA have provided data subjects protection of their fundamental right to privacy by ensuring that companies comply with key principles such as transparency when collecting data.

Similarly, digital marketing has acquired a myriad of advantages aimed at defining its competitive edge. Compliance with GDPR requirements and taking appropriate measures that are designed to protect consumer data promote meaningful customer engagements and drive traffic of valuable prospects to your business.

So, if you are having trouble with maneuvering the drawbacks of these regulations, it would be in your company’s best interest to understand the core principles and advantages of incorporating the rules as set out in both the GDPR and CCPA to enhance your business strategy into the future success of your brand. 

The Impact of the GDPR on Digital Marketing
The Impact of the GDPR on Digital Marketing

What are your thoughts? Tell me in the comments below.

Is SEO the New PR?

Is SEO the New PR?
Google PR marketing

Way back before the internet had even been invented, companies hired PR firms to get their name out, build a brand name reputation, and help prospective customers learn about them. Public relations professionals would dutifully go about writing press releases, scoring feature stories, and negotiating product presentation opportunities in the name of finding more buyers.

Then the internet came along and everything changed. Press releases lost their power to serve as a news source because newspapers and magazines were folding. Feature stories weren’t read because they didn’t stand out in the sea of information. Product placement decreased in value because there were so many new ways of viewing content.

Fortunately, there is still a way of getting your name in front of prospects when they look for the product or service you offer. It’s called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. This is a way of formulating your website, blogs, and social media content to be responsive to online search queries. If someone uses Google to search for “hotels in Santa Barbara,” or “restaurants in Santa Ynez Valley,” you want your website to pop up on the first page of their results.

How to Blend SEO Into Your PR Efforts

Here are tips you can use to incorporate more SEO, increase your visibility in search engine results, and help the internet drum up more business for your business:

  • Make your website accessible: Search engines and potential customers need to be able to easily access your website. In addition to great content, you also want to get the technical parts right. You don’t want someone clicking to your website because you are the answer to their problem, only to get a “website not found” error. Check all pages for functionality, eliminate duplicate content, include title and H2 tags, and have a rich source of content.
  • Think about keywords: What do prospects search for when they need your product or service? Develop a list of words they might type into the search engine bar. If those words aren’t prominently included in your website copy, your site will not appear in their results. The content needs to be informative and natural; you can’t just add a list of keywords to the bottom of the page and hope it generates results. If there is a lot of competition in your field, incorporate plenty of terms which make your business stand out from the crowd.
  • Be a valuable resource: Look at your website as a potential customer might and ask yourself, “Does this help me?” You brought in somebody who searched for a particular term, so that had better appear right on your landing page. If you can’t see any benefits, then you’ve got some rewrites to do. Have content that is educational, helpful and easy to understand, and make sure it is current. There is nothing worse than navigating to a site that is chock full of old info. This effort helps prospects learn about you, and also signals the search engine algorithms that your site has something valuable to offer their users.
  • Provide a great website experience: Have a compelling website experience for your visitors. Most leave in seconds if they don’t think you can help, so have your prime selling proposition front and center. Make a clear learning path, avoid large blocks of content, and include helpful headlines that communicate key selling points. Include lots of pictures, graphics, and videos to quickly provide information. And make it easy to contact or buy from you.
  • Get social: Once your website strategy is in place, start bulking up your online presence through a concerted social media strategy. Have a Facebook page and Twitter account that offer useful information and drive visitors to your site. Provide the same branding experience across all outlets. This also increases the likelihood that the search engines will aggregate and incorporate additional contact opportunities for your company. Search results that include a website, Facebook page and LinkedIn page for a single company demonstrate a great deal of online flexibility. Use social media to encourage interaction and you’ll also boost search-ability.
  • Build more links: Search engines love it when other sites link to yours because this reflects your online credibility, but they can’t be random or low-quality links. Ask your current customers and contacts to link to your site if it makes sense for their business. You can provide reviews and referrals for complementary companies, and they can do the same for you. Bring in guest bloggers who will certainly link to your site from their blog, and you may even get organic links just because you have such helpful information in your blog. Make it easy for them by providing sample emails, tweets, or Facebook posts they can use to let others know more about you. You can also search for informative articles online and post comments on them that will introduce a new set of readers to your company.
  • Review sites: There are a number of online review sites that can help prospects find your business. You need to think in terms of Yelp, TripAdvisor, Open Table, Angie’s List, and other sites people go to gather insights. Initially, you just want to make sure they have the correct basic information such as address and phone number, but then you can ask your happiest clients to start posting reviews. If you’re in a more technical field, make sure your product specifications are included in industry sites.

If you’ve got a real news story, keep in mind that you can still generate PR with media outlets; it’s just moved online, too. If you’ve got a targeted customer base, check out your local media websites and look at ways you can provide news. They might have blogs or event calendars, or you might be able to email an editor or news director with a storyline about your business. SEO really can be the new PR for your company – you just need to know how to use it.

IMAGE SEO & How To Correctly Name Your Photos

IMAGE SEO & How To Correctly Name Your Photos

SEO (SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION) – THE PROCESS OF OPTIMIZING A WEBSITE TO GENERATE THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF ‘ORGANIC’ (NON-PAID) VISITS FROM SEARCH ENGINES.

THE CORRECT WAY TO NAME YOUR PHOTOS FOR IMAGE SEO

The question on many photographers’ lips these days is: How do I get seen in a sea of similar websites?

Correctly naming your image files for optimal SEO, is a great way to start.  Google can’t analyze the actual content of an image to tell what it is depicting, and whilst this technology is most certainly on the way, it’s nowhere near ready just yet. Instead, they rely on several indicators on a web page to tell them what the photo is all about.  One of these is, as you might expect, the filename of the photo.  You should never upload photos to your website with the standard camera-applied filename, like DSC_9764.jpg!  This tells Google nothing at all and its content.

When Google knows more about the content of your image, it can include it in Image Search (click the image tab at the top of a Google search page), and sometimes the top images even show right at the head of a regular search page.  Not only does it help people find your photos directly, but it also helps Google understand the content of the page that you posted the photo on, helping that page show up higher in regular search results for the subject.

DASH OR UNDERSCORE?

Instead of the default filename, you should be describing the contents of the image in 3-8 words.  Importantly, you should be separating the words in your filename with a dash (hyphen), and not an underscore!

(THESE-ARE-DASHES)

(THESE_ARE_UNDERSCORES)

The inner workings of Google’s search engine algorithm are a closely guarded secret, but every now and again we get a little snippet of detail from one of their representatives on the Google Webmasters blog.  For some reason there’s a lot of misinformation circulating around the web on this topic, but Google’s Matt Cutts, has clearly stated that dashes (hyphens) are the way to go on this one. Whilst Matt Cutts does say that the SEO difference between the two is relatively minor, that means there is a difference.

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH – DASH NOT UNDERSCORE!

EXAMPLES

– WRONG -> DSC_9807.jpg  

This tells Google nothing at all.

– WRONG -> blackcat.jpg  

Blackcat is not a word.

– WRONG -> black-cat.jpg

Whilst this technically does describe the image (assuming it is actually a black cat), have a think about how many photos of a black cat you’d be putting yourself up against on the internet?  Millions, I would imagine.

– WRONG -> a-black-cat-under-a-red-car.jpg

There’s no need to include stop words in your filename (a, the, it, to, etc.). Keep it short and simple.

– WRONG -> black_cat_under_red_car.jpg

Nope, the underscore isn’t a recognized word separator. To Google, this just reads as blackcatunderredcar.jpg! No good.

– CORRECT -> black-cat-under-red-car.jpg

Now we’re getting somewhere! Descriptive, and with the correct separators and no stop words.

USE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

Since the filename helps Google understand the content of the page that the photo is on, you can use this to boost your search rankings for specific topics.

EXAMPLE

You are a wedding photographer from San Francisco and on the About page of your website, there is a headshot of you next to your biography.

WRONG -> joe-blogs-portrait.jpg

CORRECT -> joe-bloggs-san-francisco-wedding-photographer.jpg.

SHOULD YOU RENAME EXISTING IMAGES?

If you’re using a photo portfolio service like PhotoshelterSmugMug (get a 20% discount here), or Zenfolio, with hundreds or thousands of images, there’s little point renaming all of those files to make the names descriptive. There are obviously some organizational benefits to a photographer’s standard archive file naming scheme when photos are hosted in large volumes. Hopefully with these kinds of online portfolio archive services, you’re making use of all the other SEO options to optimize them.

The ideal setup is to use a blogging platform like WordPress, to create a new blog post every time you upload a new collection of images to your archive or online print store.  In that blog post, you include a few of the images from the collection, and those are the images that you optimize with a proper name for SEO purposes.  With properly optimized page content, and images, you’ll rank higher in more search results and bring people to the blog post.  That’s when you can let them know that a full collection can be viewed on your archive site, or prints purchased from your print store.

But what if you’ve got existing blog images that weren’t correctly named?  WordPress doesn’t natively offer a way to rename images, but you can use the plug Media File Renamer. What you have to remember, though, is that the filename is part of the direct URL to that image.  If you do decide to change the filename, you’ll be altering the URL and it will reset any SEO juice that this image might have already gathered over time.

If you already have images that show up often in Google Image searches, you definitely don’t want to go renaming these ones.  Choose wisely when tackling this question… my thought is that if you have a relatively new blog of only a few months old, you can rename the files with this plugin and probably get more long-term benefit from it than a short-term disadvantage.  For older blogs, it’s probably not worthwhile.

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