Categories
Marketing

Saying Goodbye to Google’s Keyword Data

s the question that Tim posed a month ago in this post  Saying Goodbye to Google’s Keyword Data

(image via resource.com)

Is SEO Dead?

That’s the question that Tim posed a month ago in this post here. This question came after industry veteran SEOmoz rebranded itself as simply “MOZ”. So, if one of the largest SEO consulting companies is moving away from the branding of SEO, then it has to be dead. Right?

Not necessarily. What we’ve seen in the past few months hasn’t exactly meant that SEO is completely dead; it’s just becoming increasingly more difficult for marketers to optimize for targeted keywords.

And, Google just made it even harder.

Change is inevitable

In 2011, Google started making a percentage of keyword searches “(not provided)” in keyword data reports by sending U.S. users who were signed into their Google accounts to an encrypted version of their search engine. While Google is likely still tracking that data and using it towards their algorithm, they no longer would provide this data and reported they were doing this as a means of protection for their users.

Earlier this year, Google added the Chrome browser searches to their list of “(not provided)” keyword searches. Now, a little more than two years after the initial launch of encrypted searches, Google is expanding their “extra protection” for all users of the popular search engine. Google is rolling out an update that switches all searches over to their encrypted version.

Does this come as a shock? No.

The percentages of keyword searches listed as “(not provided)” has increased steadily over the past two years and in some industries, nearly 75 percent of keywords are not provided (via MOZ).

Is the marketing community outraged anyway? Yeah, probably. Even Rand Fishkin of Moz said Google is abusing their monopolistic position in the U.S.

Where do we go from here?

Thankfully, the vast Internet marketing community has already introduced us to a few suggestions for ways to recreate the missing data.

First, as Rand pointed out in his whiteboard Tuesday, we can compare the search traffic of website pages against the current ranking of that page in Google. If the page is receiving traffic but not ranking well, then you can focus SEO efforts on the keywords that page is optimized for.

Second, we can still experiment for different keywords using Google’s AdWords campaigns. We will still receive the keyword search data related to paid advertising effort and can use this as a basis for an overall marketing strategy.

Lastly, don’t forget there’s always Yahoo and Bing that are still providing keyword search data. While Google does play a big role, they’re not the end all be all.

What are your thoughts on the latest change from Google? What changes do you plan to make to your strategies going forward?

Categories
Design Services

The Web Design Process: From First Concept to Final Draft

Web design is something we take pretty seriously The Web Design Process: From First Concept to Final Draft

Web design is something we take pretty seriously.  We want the client to love how their website looks.

It doesn’t matter if we’re designing for a company that works internationally or one that operates locally; we do as many tweaks and revisions as it takes till we have a final product that our clients are happy with.

Even before a client sees the initial design, we critique and adjust it internally.  The first draft they see actually tends to be draft 3 or 4.   Of course, they don’t know that.  Most of the early concepts will never be seen by anyone outside of our office.

But today, we’re making an exception.

To truly appreciate the final product, you need to know the journey of how it got there, right?  So, using a very recent web design of ours, we’re going to show you what it looks like when Radiate Digital crafts a website.

The website was for a hair salon called Salon Marquee.

Starting Point

At the start of every design project, we send our clients a questionnaire asking about their vision for the website.  What color scheme to they want?  What sort of vibe should it give off?  Do they have pictures and/or a logo?  What are some websites they like?

In the case of Salon Marquee, they had both a logo and pictures.  Some of the pictures, however, weren’t quite ready when we received the answers to the questions.

Rather than wait till we had the pictures, we decided to get a start on the design anyway.

Research and Wireframe

Web design is something we take pretty seriously The Web Design Process: From First Concept to Final Draft

The wireframe is a blueprint for the website itself.  Depending on the website (and what sort of answers we received to our questions), this step can either be easy, or it can be the hardest part of the design process.

The research and wireframing is something I handle personally.  Before I began creating the wireframe, I scoured the internet, trying to find the best salon websites out there.  Our client also gave us a few websites to reference.  In total, I viewed at least 20 websites, trying to see what worked and what didn’t.

Once I had a vision of what the design should look like, I began piecing together the wireframe.

For the wireframe, it’s not just about placing boxes, lines, and text, but being able to see what the finished website should look like.  It’s not always easy when you’re staring at a glorified blueprint.

That’s why we usually don’t show the wireframe to our clients.  We used to.  Then we found it confused more people than it helped.  Instead, we finish the wireframe, type out a detailed description of what the design should look like, and send it directly to our graphic designers.

First Draft of Design

Web design is something we take pretty seriously The Web Design Process: From First Concept to Final Draft

Often, the quality of the initial draft depends on how well the vision of the  wireframe was described to the graphic designer.  In this case, a little too much emphasis was placed on simplicity.  Also, since we didn’t have any pictures yet (aside from staff pictures), our designer used stock images for the main slide and for the services.

While you can occasionally still get away with stock imagery, there was definitely too much happening in this design.

Web design is something we take pretty seriously The Web Design Process: From First Concept to Final Draft

Draft 1.5

The first change was made to the services.  Rather than using pictures (since we didn’t have any), I had the designer create graphic icons to represent the services.  This gave the design a little more personality and left it feeling less cluttered.

Still, the main image wasn’t cutting it and the design still looked flat.

Web design is something we take pretty seriously The Web Design Process: From First Concept to Final DraftSecond Draft

Though we still didn’t have any more pictures from the salon itself, we figured we would eventually.  So we threw out the other stock image and temporarily borrowed this “action shot” from Flickr.  I also had the designer stretch it from edge to edge on the sides since our websites are responsive (they scale with the size of the browser window).

We also decided to throw in a little texture on the bottom half with the brick pattern.  The design was getting there, but we still weren’t ready to send it to the client.

Third Draft(s)

Web design is something we take pretty seriously The Web Design Process: From First Concept to Final Draft  Web design is something we take pretty seriously The Web Design Process: From First Concept to Final Draft

Now we had some actual photos from the salon to work with.  It was a bit of a challenge because the image of the storefront was rather tall.  Right away, we realized that if we were going to put the storefront image on top, we were going to have to crop it a bit.

You’ll also notice we got rid of the call to action button on the bottom and worked it into the slider instead.  But having it across the bottom of the main slide didn’t make much sense to us either.

Web design is something we take pretty seriously The Web Design Process: From First Concept to Final DraftDraft 3.5

The biggest changes made here were moving the call to action and cropping the image of the salon.

Finally, with everything in place and proper images being used, we decided it was time to send the design to our client.

As we often do, we sent two different styles.

 

Fourth Draft(s)

Web design is something we take pretty seriously The Web Design Process: From First Concept to Final Draft  Web design is something we take pretty seriously The Web Design Process: From First Concept to Final Draft

Thankfully, the client liked what we sent them.  Ultimately, they chose the design on the left, and their requests for changes were pretty minor.  They asked if we could make the logo bigger and a bit more visible.  Our designer was able to photoshop some of the tree leaves out from behind the logo.

The other request was to make it so that the “Salon Marquee” on the image wasn’t cut off by the menu.  Truth be told, they had asked if we could move the menu altogether.  We didn’t see this as the most viable of options, so instead we made some minor positioning adjustments

We didn’t have a lot of room to work with, but we were able to get the menu off the logo.  At this point, the design was done.  But right as we were able to call it good, we received a couple more images.

Final Draft

Web design is something we take pretty seriously The Web Design Process: From First Concept to Final Draft

Salon Marquee is located on a beautiful lakeside.  Right at the end of the design process, they sent us some images of the lake itself.  We felt it would be a waste to not include one of them on the homepage.

So, removing the brick pattern (which none of us had been particularly attached to), we were able to slip in a picture of a dock located across from the salon.

We thought the picture was a perfect fit, and our client did too.  With that, the design was given final approval, and we moved on to the integration process.

And now you know how a website gets designed.  Pretty crazy, huh?

What do you think of our final design?  Are you surprised by any part of the process? Is it sad that so much of the work never gets seen?

Categories
Inside Radiate Digital

Facebook for Business: Statistics and Advice

Last night, Tim and I attended a local event hosted by two Twin Cities professional organizations, Minnesota Public Relations Society of America (MN PRSA) and Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA). The event topic being Facebook for business and was presented by a representative from Facebook itself, Joe Benarroch.

 Tim and I attended a local event hosted by two Twin Cities professional organizations Facebook for Business: Statistics and Advice

With such a broad topic, I was curious to know where Joe would take his presentation and if he would keep it at simply presenting high-level information that wouldn’t really interest the audience; which consisted of many community managers, agency executives and people already familiar with high-level information about the platform itself. Much to my surprise, the presentation was nearly the perfect mix between high and mid-level advice and statistics.

So what did we learn?

Here’s an overview of Joe’s presentation and a few key takeaways for businesses of any size to incorporate into their Facebook fan page strategies.

Facebook on Facebook

At the core of what Facebook is doing, they’re attempting to make the world more open and connected with one another. News feeds are becoming each individual’s personal newspaper. For this reason, the news feed is critical inventory on the social platform.

Your audience seeing a business mixed into their feed can give a bad feeling. So, it’s important that you don’t act and sound like a business. You should be acting like a person and like a friend. Your business will have a much greater chance of interaction with your audience by doing this.

The Numbers

Facebook has 1.15 billion monthly active users. From a mobile perspective, Facebook has 819 million mobile monthly users and 469 million daily mobile users. On average, each of these users spend 320 minutes each month using Facebook from a desktop computer and 785 minutes each month from mobile devices. In the U.S. alone, people pick up their phones more than 100 times per day and check Facebook an average of 14-15 times per day.

40 percent of people report checking Facebook while at the gym.

47 percent of people check Facebook while cooking.

46 percent of people use Facebook while they’re shopping or running errands.

The Mobile Reach

The Facebook experience is the intersection of technology and tradition. They consider themselves a mobile first company and they place an emphasis on it because that’s where the people are. Brands will follow because they follow where people are.

So what does this mean for businesses?

Businesses need to atomize their content for the mobile audience. They need to make it bite size and thumb friendly (in other words, easy for mobile users to interact with).

Targeting the Masses

Facebook has become the new mass media with their mantra being scale, targeted reach and measurement. To run an effective Facebook campaign businesses need to combine all three and then structure the campaign by following these steps:

1. Start with a business objective for your campaign (not a social metric).

2. Structure it for success by including the right people across the brand.

3. Art + Science: pair the creative with the appropriate measurement to prove effectiveness.

4. Leverage the scale by determining which audiences to target and how targeted you want that audience to be.

5. Unlike traditional channels, you’ll get immediate feedback on your work. Make sure you’re using this feedback to refine and improve over time.

Food for Thought

There were a few key takeaways that we learned from Joe’s presentation. First, a business needs to step back and think about what ‘likes’ do for their business. It’s not all about ‘likes’ but about getting them from the right people that will move that company forward.

Second, brands shouldn’t be afraid to be creative on Facebook because they really have a chance to learn and grow from the feedback they’re receiving and then change what they’re doing.

Lastly, brands don’t always need to be reactive, they should be thoughtful and proactive to drive the conversation about their own business mantra.

What did you think about the statistics and advice Joe gave? Was anything surprising? What brands do you see as innovation leaders on the Facebook platform?

Categories
Marketing

Small Businesses that Rock at LinkedIn

For the final post in our small businesses that rock at social media series, we’re looking at the world’s largest professional network. LinkedIn has more than 238 million members worldwide that companies and employees can connect with.

For the final post in our small businesses that rock at social media series Small Businesses that Rock at LinkedIn

LinkedIn offers company pages where businesses can post job openings, their services, products, an extensive about us section and updates on what’s happening with their business. What’s more important is company pages are a place where prospective employees can research a company more in-depth.

So, what does it take to rock at a LinkedIn company page? We found a few small businesses that are succeeding with their company pages. Here’s a quick peek at what they’re doing.

New Directions (http://www.linkedin.com/company/25051)

Having a detailed about us section will not only allow potential customers and employees find your company page, but it will share the best possible information with people researching your company. New Directions does a great job of outlining their business practices, services and steps for working with them. Anyone researching this company specifically or seeking services in their industry will know exactly what they’re in for.

Grasshopper (http://www.linkedin.com/company/52086)

Just like it is with other social channels, the image you choose for your company page is valuable advertising space. Grasshopper uses their image as a way to connect with potential customers. They use emotion as a way to get to a deeper level with page viewers in those first few seconds and make them want to stay and learn more.

Trium Group (http://www.linkedin.com/company/30701)

As with other social networking applications, updates are incredibly important. LinkedIn allows companies to share updates about their business with their page followers. Trium Groups is great at posting frequent and varied updates. As with their example, varying your posts between articles, images and videos will help reach a broader audience, especially since different people will click on different types of media.

Play First, Inc. (http://www.linkedin.com/company/playfirst-inc.)

Last but not least, we came across the company page for Play First, Inc. They were one small business that took advantage of two important features. First, they have a vanity URL that includes the name of their business. This not only helps with branding, but it helps with SEO efforts, as well. They also use the online real estate provided by the products tab and list all of the applications they have available.

What do you think of our list? Did we miss any of your favorite small businesses on LinkedIn? Let us know in the comments below!

Also, take a moment and find our company page on LinkedIn, too!

If you missed the other posts in this series, make sure you go back and see our picks for small businesses that rock at Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Categories
Design

What Yahoo’s New Logo Says About Graphic Design and Company Identity

  Others passed it off as a novel trick or gimmick What Yahoo’s New Logo Says About Graphic Design and Company Identity

Last week, we talked about Yahoo’s “30 Days of Change”.  For 30 days, Yahoo.com featured a different logo every day.  This campaign was designed as a lead-in for the revealing of a brand new, permanent logo.

The campaign has had mixed responses.  Some people simply don’t like change, so when you have 30 days of constant change, those people get down right crazy.  Others passed it off as a novel trick or gimmick.

I may be in the minority, but I kind of liked it.

Whatever the general consensus might be, the reaction goes to show just how much people noticed those little logos tucked away in the corner of their screens.  Yahoo got a lot of attention, and even non-Yahoo users, myself included, have waited to see what the new logo would look like.

Well, the waiting is over.  On Wednesday night, Yahoo revealed the brand new logo that you see at the top of this post.

And the response is…still pretty mixed.

  Others passed it off as a novel trick or gimmick What Yahoo’s New Logo Says About Graphic Design and Company Identity

Bevel? But Modern Design is Supposed to Be Flat!

Now everybody, let’s get our design hats on for a moment.  After all, the internet masses seem to think they’re graphic experts.

The initial reaction seems to be a combination of “Is that Optima (font)?” and “what’s with the beveling?”.

Though similar in certain aspects, the font is not Optima (and so what if it was?).

As for the bevel effect, there’s not denying it’s been put to use.  Beveling is what gives the letters that “three-dimensional” look.  Many are quick to mock the effect simply because it’s so easy to do.

Anyone with Photoshop can type out a word and make it beveled in 20 seconds.

But just because something is easy to replicate doesn’t mean it’s bad or unprofessional.  After all, modern design is simplistic by nature.  Many modern logos and titles could be replicated in minutes by someone with minimal photoshopping ability.

I would go as far as saying that modern design is less about creating and more about discovering.  It’s about finding those fonts, colors, shapes, and sizes that fit together to form the perfect branding creation.

So then the question becomes this: did Yahoo succeed in discovering a logo that represents them?

By eliminating the bevel or widening the font, the new logo would look like almost every other modern design out there.  As a company, Yahoo spent a decade copying the competition, and it didn’t work out so well.

I don’t love the logo, but I certainly don’t hate it either.  There definitely seems to be a battle of new design vs. old design happening in the logo itself, and for that I say it does an accurate job of summing up who Yahoo is.

It certainly isn’t easy taking a company in a new direction without completely forgetting who you are.  Yahoo is trying, and recently, it appears they might be succeeding at it.

This logo might be small in itself, but what it represents is something far greater.  Reflected in this design is the life and times of a multi billion-dollar company that’s nearly 20 years old.

When you try to display that in five letters and an exclamation point, there’s bound to be some mixed opinion.

Check out the unveiling video here:

What are your thoughts on the new logo? Did you like one of their logos more?  Are Yahoo’s best days behind them?