Why should social media be a component of my marketing plan?

What are social media used for?

Social media are a major component of the lives of the majority of Americans. People use a variety of channels to share daily updates about their lives, their beliefs, and their families. Posting to social media allows them to air their opinions of service providers, businesses, and current events. Individual citizens are not alone in their use of social media. Even the president of the US takes to Twitter to share his thoughts before he shares them with his closest advisors.

Many news outlets lead their breaking news stories directly to social media. Twitter has practically become a news ticker with late breaking events cresting and being amplified by retweeting. Additionally, customer service arms of major brands monitor social media and consumers expect to have their concerns listened to and answered by representatives from them.

The majority of people in the US use social media

Seven out of ten people use social media to connect with one another. A great majority of these social media users are in their prime years, between 30 and 64. The most popular social media platform is Facebook with 68% of adults in the US holding accounts on the platform. People of both sexes use social media actively. People with incomes greater than $75,000 are the most active users of Facebook – with 76% of them on the site. [Pew Research Fact Sheet on Social Media]

The percentage of US adults who use each social media channel

Why your business must not ignore social media

As a business, ignoring social media’s importance seems wrong headed. Instead of ignoring social media, you can actively listen. By actively listening [curating topical lists around hashtags, topics and individuals] to social media, you can learn what people think of your business, your competitors, and be among the first to spot new trends. You’ll learn about complaints and peeves so you can strategically align services to fit consumer expectations. Social media is a great resource of business intelligence for every type of business.

How does social media activity impact your website’s SEO?

Social media are also a way to drive traffic to your website where consumers can learn about your firm’s expertise and services. Visits to your website are an important factor to help increase your website’s ranking in search results.

According to SEMrush Ranking Factor Report, “Out of 12 factors we have analyzed, the number of direct website visits seems to be the most important page-ranking factor. Websites with higher authority consequently gain more traffic, and as a result, have a better chance of getting into the top.”

Your activity on social media not only increases awareness of your website and your authority, it (hopefully) provides others in positions of high reputation the opportunity to share your content. As an off page ranking factor which influences SEO, shares by those with solid reputations helps increase your content’s trustworthiness and SEO rank.

According to Alexandra Tachalova writing for MOZ, while “social media signals don’t influence site rankings, SEO isn’t effective without harnessing social media channels.” Ms. Tachalova further notes, “When you share content on SMM channels you’re not only getting engagement, but also bringing visitors to your site. This in turn helps you boost your site’s visibility: SMM [social media marketing] corresponds to SEO and indirectly influences website performance in Google.”

SearchEngine Land agrees with Ms. Tachalova. “Content that gets socially shared can, in turn, pick up links or gain engagement, which are direct ranking factors. As a result, paying attention to social media is important to SEO success.”

What role does quality play in the development of website content?

Social media in service to SEO depends on the highest quality content which is actively clicked and shared. This puts a large burden on small businesses to strategically develop and deploy content, monitoring and adjusting to tweak results that improve performance. To be avoided are “quick fixes” and too-good-to-be-true solutions which claim to automatically build your content in order to boost your search presence.

Content development should take a considerable amount of time, research and thought. Your goal is to create highly authoritative, insightful blog posts on your site, which can be shared across social media, and  which generate the type sharing behavior described.

How does a business go about building a social media relationship?

When it comes to audience development, your goal is to develop relationships with people who care about the causes, services or sector you represent. Finding strong advocates for your content will enhance engagement, improve virality and lead to better standing in search results. This is where your active listening streams and lists come into play. In addition, there are solutions which claim to help identify influencers so you can follow them. However, if you simply follow them, without significant interaction, with only the goal of getting them to share your posts, you’ll fail miserably. No one likes to be used for their position or influence, whether in real life or on social media. Cultivate actual interaction with individuals.

If you’re at all active on social media, no doubt you’ve seen hashtags such as #followback or people who proclaim that they can get you thousands of followers for no money. Remember, there is no quick fix. Cheap is as cheap does. Do not be distracted from the diligence you need to build your followers one at the time. Take to heart this guidance from SearchEngine Land, “participate on relevant social platforms in a real, authentic way, just as you would with your website, or with customers in an offline setting.”

Every business needs social media as a part of their marketing

The research is clear. Social media are a major influencer on website search presence and higher ranking. Any business who wishes to be found in search results by their target customer for the services they need must use social media as a component of their strategic marketing.


Header Featured Photo by Kait Loggins on Unsplash

10 steps to creating long-form content [How-to]

Why is long-form content important to your website’s ranking?

Did you know, long-form content, meaning content with almost 2,000 words get more reads and creates a dramatic impact on your site? According to Brian Dean at Backlinko “The average Google first page result contains 1,890 words.”

A decade or so ago, when people started using blogs to share their business expertise, they focused on giving pithy, brief insights that people could consume like a snack. The commonly recommended length for a blog post then was 300-400 words. As competition for eyeballs has increased, what is now the differentiator — and what causes a reader to stay with your site — is content which demonstratively increases their knowledge.

This makes absolute sense. We trust articles which we can tell are designed to thoroughly answer our questions. We trust material which is linked to verifiable, accurate, and credible sources. After consuming masterful content, readers frequently share it, furthering the trustworthiness of the author. Referencing trustworthy content is natural human behavior. Who hasn’t referenced their mentor when relating how they learned key techniques in their field?

What does long-form content do?

Frequently referred to as long-form content, extensive articles which are well researched and thoughtfully prepared stand out. Content of this type is designed to answer questions, inform, teach, or solve problems.

According to SEMrush’s recent report “12 Important Google Ranking Factors: Data-driven study 2017”

…word count, is one of the first things that forms the user’s opinion about the page…the main advantages of a text are its quality and relevance. However, long-form content creates the impression of in-depth analysis and, therefore, looks more trustworthy.

…the results of our research indicate that pages that rank higher have longer content on average. So, content length is important for your page’s success as long as it is valuable, well-written, and optimized, especially if you target high volume keywords.

Long-tail search queries, meaning queries which are complex and contain expansive keyword phrases, correlate to higher ranking of longer articles and content. SEMrush in the report observes, “…long-tail search queries have more content on average than short-tail ones — almost 20 percent more. For instance, an average top-100 article on ‘graphic design’ will be shorter than an average top-100 article on ‘graphic design trends in 2017.’ That is, if you are writing on a broader topic, your users do not expect a long read. If your article’s topic is narrowed down to a precise statement, then it should provide a more in-depth view.”

How do you develop long-form content?

Most of us struggle simply to keep our blogs and websites up-to-date. How many times have you heard that you *must* post everyday in order to rank well for your topic? Adam White for SEMrush calls this a myth. “The truth is there is no research to back up this claim that adding content all of the time will help you with SEO.” What we’re not as frequently told is that thin content doesn’t serve us. In fact, in the last 4 years Google has designed their algorithm to demote thin or brief content which is simple. We’re much better off when we create content with a focused goal. So, how do we do this?

  1. Define a problem you’re going to solve for your audience. Understanding the challenges your audience struggles with is the initial step to creating content which resonates with your reader. You can get these insights by simply searching Google and noting the queries which are suggested (at the bottom of a search results page.) OR by interviewing people who are within the defined group you desire to serve. Once you comprehend the problems your target audience wrestles with, you can delineate an approach to meet their needs.
  2. Identify how you can help. Perhaps your readers need a post on how to purchase a home, and you can solve their problem by identifying all the key steps along with tips and insights that will help them accomplish their goal. Your blend of accomplishments, knowledge and history should come together in a distinctive way in your approach.
  3. Analyze how your competitors have addressed the same problem. Repeating what someone else has said is not of help to your audience. You must differentiate your advice. Solving a problem with a new tactic, strategy or approach a sure-fire way to be of use to your audience.
  4. Take a stand. Explorers claimed land in the name of the countries which financed their explorations. You can stake your claim by looking at the problem from a new perspective. If we continue the example of how to purchase a home, your research might show that people can be successful purchasing a home without a Realtor. Since the majority of people purchase a home with a Realtor’s assistance, writing for those who do not use a Realtor, and providing detailed advice and how-tos on the topic will help you rank for the long-tail query, “How can I purchase a home without a Realtor.”
  5. Seek quotes and insights from credible sources. When we learned to write term papers, our teachers instructed us to use only credible sources. We were to cite them and use their points to validate our own arguments. When creating long-form content, do the same. Using our example of how to purchase a home without a Realtor, contact people who have purchased a home without a Realtor, and quote them. Find your sources by using services such as H.A.R.O. aka Help a Reporter. Ask them for their expertise, and quote them in your article. Or you can source insights from a trusted article on the web, linking back to that article and quoting from it in your post.
  6. Write like a feature story journalist telling a story. Approach your article like a reporter using the journalistic method. State the problem. Discuss why it’s important to the audience. Cite your sources, and cite your solutions. Do so with a storytelling approach. Continuing our example of a homebuyer purchasing a home without a Realtor, create reader interest in your opening paragraph. Use your sources’ quotes to amplify the important parts of your article.
  7. Create graphics to illustrate your points. Content with images is more appealing. Whether you need graphs or photos, source images that tell the story.
  8. Proofread and refine. Always have a few people read your article to help you refine any rough points. They will catch errors and tell you when something doesn’t read right.
  9. Write your headline and subheads. Your headline should have significant pull to get readers to dive in. An outstanding headline sets your readers’ expectations says Hubspot. Let it summarize your goal, and incite curiosity. Your headline is your pitch to your reader. However, avoid click-bait style headlines such as “You won’t believe what happened next when he…” Facebook and Google are onto these smarmy tactics. Write subheads to section your article. Subheads move readers into the next section by encapsulating a hint of what’s up next. Subheads also break up the wall of text, allowing readers to jump around if that’s their style, by guiding them to what they want to read within the article.
  10. Write your description. This is seen in search results and should succinctly tell potential readers the article’s purpose and what they gain from reading it. Blogs on the WordPress platform allow you to hand-craft an excerpt. Blogger and Squarespace allow you to do this too. Only the first 160 characters of the description (or if you cannot hand-craft a description, your full article) are seen in search results. For this reason, it’s crucial the opening of your article is enticing and informative.

What do I do after I’ve published my post?

After you’ve written your post, publish it to your blog. Then market your post by sharing it across social media. Get conversations started around your topic on Linkedin connected with your share. Keep marketing your post in an ongoing manner.

Monitor your Google Analytics to determine who visits the post and from which sources. Knowing where your traffic comes from will help you market your content in a much better manner. If you’re getting great results from your share, and comments to the post, find a new twist on it and share it again after a brief lapse from your first share of it.

In summary, don’t try to create this type of content every day. Or even every week. Longer posts require a lot of time and work. To make them really work for you, you need to put in the time, effort and creativity to get them right.

If you don’t have the energy, or insights to create the kind of ranking content we’re talking about, let us help you out. We create content for many Charleston area businesses. Give us a call.

Photo credit: Andrew Neel

Go Mobile Now or Risk Google Search Rank


Go mobile now

According to MarketingCharts.com In the United States, “three of every four US mobile subscribers aged 13 and older owned a smartphone during the 3-month period ending in December 2014.” The data comes from a comScore study published February 9, 2015.

People are using mobile devices to search and interact with websites in increasing numbers. In 2014 Google announced that mobile friendly websites would be denoted in search results.


On February 26, 2015, Google announced that as of April 21, 2015 the search engine will be, “expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.” It won’t be long before Google begins demoting sites which aren’t mobile friendly in rankings in favor of those sites which are mobile friendly.

Google will do this because the search dominator wants to serve consumers useful, helpful information that works for them. That is Google’s first and highest priority. Everything they do regarding search ranking is based on websites’ meeting this criteria. In the past sites which contained malware, or poor content have been demoted. We have seen the same for sites which have backlinks to poor quality websites. Now we will begin to see the same loss of rank for sites which aren’t mobile compatible.

Google’s tools

Google provides tools to use to determine if your site is mobile friendly. If a site is mobile compatible, the tool displays an emulation of how the site appears and a message that the site is mobile friendly.

Facebook-google mobile compatibility test

If the site is not mobile friendly, this is what you’ll see:

Not mobile friendly

The results of sites which aren’t mobile friendly are detailed in the results.

If your site is not mobile friendly, what should you do?

In order that your firm’s site rank well in Google search results after April, you must upgrade your site to one which is mobile compatible. That means you can update the site with a new responsive theme, or add a separate mobile only site. Of these solutions, we favor a responsive site which conforms to devices.

You can make your site mobile compatible with software, which is acceptable, but is not quite as good a solution as a site which is natively responsive and conforms to the device.

Learn more by reading Google’s guide to creating mobile friendly websites.

Need help creating a mobile friendly site? Contact us.