No Kill Switch on Awesome

I’ve had this cartoon torn off my Dilbert desktop calendar for over a year.  I just love the “There’s no kill switch on Awesome” line.  I don’t have any real message to add, just wanted to share this one.  It does remind of a few engineers I know!

Feb 29th is the Extra Day of Marketing

Every four years we get an extra day, the leap day. Another 24 hours to make our marketing more effective, to improve our ROI, to drive more online traffic, to gather more leads.

Or Go Fishing!

I’m going fishing.  So while I’m sitting in my ice hut, wood fire burning, jigging a chunk of work on a hook up and down, and enjoying an icy beverage, you should get to work on getting caught up on your online marketing.  Or better yet, take the extra day to become smarter about digital marketing to mobile users.

Digital Marketing to Mobile

Step 1: Turn off your PC.  Practice learning by doing.  Spend your time on your phone, browsing your company website.  Do all the activities you hope your customers/leads are doing.  Read your content, read a few blog articles.  Download your white papers and info graphics.  Complete the contact form and see how long until someone gets in touch to answer your inquiry.

Step 2: Repeat all the above on your competitor websites.  Make a list, or a chart, of which of your competitors is better or worse than you on all the key things you want your website visitors to do.

Step 3: Figure why doing this on mobile is important.  Want a clue, because mobile web access is the fastest growing device / access method.  More and more of your market, your future customers, are carrying their internet in their pocket.  Better figure out what works on your mobile site and what doesn’t.

More Leads From Mobile

Getting more from mobile means you first have to think the way a mobile user thinks.  You have to put mobile first.  when you build your website, when you develop content, think mobile first.  Test everything mobile first, then adapt to larger views of tablet, laptop, desktop.  That means making it convenient and easy for mobile users to intact with you on your website, placing calls to action in easy to access places.

Best Places to Test Mobile

If you really want to act mobile, then get away from your desktop and spend your time viewing the online world the way so many view it, mobile.  so go fishing, play golf, sit at the beach, or on your backyard deck. If you get frustrated with using your site on your mobile phone, then fix it, in March, but first, I’ve got a bite.

How Important is the Meta Description?

How do you use your website’s Meta Descriptions?  I have found three broad categories for answers to that question.

  1. I don’t know how to use it so I don’t
  2. We put our company tagline there for Marketing consistency.
  3. We write a unique description for each page.

If you answered similar to bullet number 3 above, then you are likely using your Meta Descriptions properly.

The Meta Description Marketing Opportunity

I like to approach the use of Meta Descriptions as a Marketing Opportunity, not as an SEO asset.  Search engines do not necessarily use the content of the Meta Description tag in any of their ranking algorithms, instead it is used as display in the Search Results Pages.  So how is this a marketing opportunity?  Think about the Meta Description as your last and best opportunity to convince a Google searcher to click on the link to your website page.  Your page appears in the search results, along with 10 other organic search results, as well as Pay Per Click ads.  The searcher has up to 15 listings to choose from.  The meta description you have carefully and skillfully crafted has the ability to influence and drive traffic to your website.

The SEO Value of Meta Description

Many reports and SEO experts indicate that the content of the meta description tag on your website pages is not used by Google or other search engines in their ranking formulas, so the content may be considered to little or no SEO value.  However, and this is important, click through rates on search engines are reported to be a ranking signal, on Google, and on Bing, perhaps on others as well.  An influential meta description therefore, which leads to higher click through rates, does actually contribute to SEO results.

Characteristics of Great Meta Tags

  • unique, each page on your website should have a meta description written specifically for that page
  • contains keywords early, words that match the search term will be bolded, if they appear early in the text, they will be more noticeable
  • 140 to 160 characters, the max visible characters depend on the character  width.  Keeping to 155 is a safe description length.
  • helpful, tell the searcher what they will find on the page

Sample Meta Tag Suggestions

Let’s say you advertise your prices on your webpages.  Include your price and product name in the meta tag, especially if you have a sale price.  If your price is competitive, you will get more clicks than descriptions without prices.

Do you have key industry stats on your page, include one in the description.  Stats drive interest, and curiosity, and clicks.

Does your page include pictures or information about famous brands or people?  Make sure to include this early in the description.  People are drawn to familiarity.

DO NOT try to make this a branding effort by including your company mission statement or other “company speak”.  “We are company MLK, the world’s leading industrial, commercial, residential high quality suppliers of gizmo style gadget for use with gadget MNO”.  The preceding sentence is 145 characters (yes, spaces count) of useless drivel.

EVEN WORSE: “Please visit the Home Page of Company MLK where you will find information all about our company, our products, and more information about our great staff.”  While this hits the 155 characters on the head, there is nothing (other than company name) that would match up to a good search term.

Meta Description is an Ad

The description tag is a marketing opportunity.  Treat it as a 155 character ad for the page to follow.  What can you say in 155 characters that would be thoughtful, informative and compelling?  Go put that in your meta description!

Sport Trivia Challenge, a new Mobile Website

Sports Trivia has a new Mobile Website home,

We just launched this new mobile optimized game for all sports fans.  Test your skill in a game of Sports Trivia or take on your friends in a Challenge.


What Year Does Your Footer Say?

Following up on our Website Resolutions post from a few days ago, we have another resolution, update your footer copyright message to the current year. I was looking at a friend’s website yesterday, he’s in the financial services business, and the footer copyright still had 2013.  Would you take advice from 3 years ago?

So go and update your footer.  There are the quick and easy ways, manual, guaranteeing you will forget sometime in the future.  Then there are programming solutions that will take care of it once and forever.  Choose the right one for your website.

Manual Update

The quickest way, for right now, is just to go in and make a manual edit.  If you are using WordPress, your theme likely has an option for this, either a footer widget, or a copyright field under Appearance.  Just change 2015 to 2016 and save the change.  Then set reminders in your calendar to go and do it again at the stroke of midnight every New Year’s Eve.  Got something better to do on New Year’s Eve?  Then we suggest you see the suggestions below to add a little website programming to auto update the year.

PHP  Method

Many websites are built using the PHP website programming language.  If you purchased the code for the site layout, then likely you have a footer function or a template that contain the header, navigation, and footer for your site.  Simply add this code to the footer section in template or function to replace the hard coded copyright date:

Copyright &copy; <?php echo date(‘Y’);  ?> Your Company Name

If you only want to replace the year, just put this:  <?php echo date(“Y”); ?> where 2015 currently is.

If you are using WordPress, you can usually find the copyright notice in the footer.php file.

PHP is a server side scripting language so the date is going to be based on the location of the server.  It is possible to adjust the date formatting to allow for your timezone, but that is more complicated than we care to cover in this post.

JavaScript Method

Similar to using the PHP code above, copy and paste this code to where you want the copyright notice, along with the date automatically updating.

Copyright &copy;<script type=”text/javascript”>document.write(new Date().getFullYear());</script> Your Company Name

JavaScript is a client side scripting language so the date is going to be based on the location of the user, and the date setting on their device..

Website Resolutions 2016

Are you all set to go with your digital marketing plans for 2016?  Surprisingly, many marketers begin their annual marketing planning in January!  By the time you plan, develop, and implement, it’s almost February, leaving you 11 months to get 12 months of results.

Start Digital Marketing on Day 1

Here are 3 website resolutions to get you started for 2016.

  • post 2 blog articles a month
  • commit to responsive website design
  • add easy SEO content once a month

2 Blog Articles a Month

A good blog article should take you between 1 and 2 hours to write.  Up front, spend a little time on researching any facts you want to include in your blog post.   For example, here’s a researched fact: a blog post which takes 7-minute to read will have around 1,600 words.  A little simple math then and if you think you can hold a reader for only 3-1/2 minutes, shoot for about 800 words.

Need some blog post topics?  Go talk to your customer service or sales team and ask them to tell you the most interesting story they have heard from a customer in the past week.  It may be a problem waiting for an answer, or a problem your company solved in an interesting way.  Use it!  Make it your inspiration to pass on some meaningful real-world helpful advice.

Need another blog post topic?  Walk into the accounting department and ask someone what was the last supplier invoice they just paid.  Then go and write an article about why that supplier is important to your business, and how their product makes your product better.

Commit to Responsive Webdesign

Okay, this is not a 2 hour project like writing a good blog post.  This may be the most important challenge you take in 2016.  In a recent study we performed on our own customers, the device used to access our customer’s websites the most often was a desktop computer, followed closely by a mobile phone.  Depending on the nature of the customer’s business, the two devices are now approaching equal use for searching and browsing the web, including your website.

A responsive website design adapts the display and navigation to the device, making for a better user experience.  Also, Google now tests your website for it’s “Mobile Friendly Test” and factors this in the search rankings on mobile searches.  If your website is not yet responsive, add this to a project you need to start in the first quarter of 2016.

Add Easy SEO Content Once a Month

Search Engine Optimization is about convincing Google that your website pages offer value to users, on topics they consider important.  Nothing influences Google more than providing great content to your users.  We have already talked about writing a couple blog posts month, above.  Now let’s talk about more permanent content.  Page content tends to come in a few forms, promotional, transactional, reference, and educational.  Promotional content includes your pages on your product descriptions, generally explaining what your widgets do and why your widgets do them best.  Transactional content helps to instruct users through a process or series of actions, such as ordering a product.  Reference content may be certifications or standards that your business conforms to and posts for credibility.  Educational content is different from all these in that the purpose is simply to inform, to help your customer better understand the how and why of your products, or other products like them.  Consider adding content to your website which explains common terminology in your industry, which may not be common language for your customers.  Something like a glossary of terms or definitions.  If you offer products, include pictures of the items or components.  An educated customer is further along the buying cycle and if you provide the education, your brand is associated with being an expert.  This itself is a great benefit.  Now add to this the fact that Google loves this kind of content, and you have a double win.

Need another page topic?  Grab any instruction manual your company provides and read it twice.  Now write the second page of instructions from memory.  Did you get them right?  If you can’t remember the instructions, then they are to complicated.  Write a supplement to the manual in easier language to make it easier to use.  Again, easy SEO content that is useful for your customers.

It’s 2016, Get back to Work

Now you have a few ideas.  Get to work on your content, and get your website set up for any device.  Don’t wait for February!

New Responsive Website – PRTox

See our Portfolio article for a new website project to deliver a fully responsive website design for PRTox Consulting.

Mobile First

In a recent meeting with a client, he was describing the several year process he had to go through to convince the rest of his executive that a shift from traditional advertising to digital advertising was essential for the growth of the company.  As we reviewed the website analytics of their sites, we identified a couple of significant trends.  The first, and most obvious, was that digital traffic is still in a growth phase.  Across the board, across 6 websites, traffic growth was up.  Increases in organic traffic, referral traffic, PPC traffic and social traffic.

Our analysis of their web traffic started at the desire to answer three questions.

  1. Where did they come from? (source)
  2. What are the doing on our site? (content)
  3. What are they on? (device)

Digging into the third question was the most insightful.  The stats related to the first two questions were mostly similar to previous.  But the device usage among their customers is showing very strong trends towards mobile usage increases, in fact, on several sites, mobile has become the device of choice.

Testing Mobile User Growth in the Real World

But one customer does not reflect a whole market, so we did a similar analysis on nearly all of our customer websites, looking to confirm the trend to mobile is reaching the tipping point of mobile being the dominant website access device.  We wanted to confirm this using actual users, a real-world set of data based on customers here.  Based on what we observed happening with our own customer base, we re-phrased the “Digital Shift” to the “Mobile Shift“.

Tablets are not Mobile

We do not believe in classifying Tablets such as iPads as mobile.  While many studies will include just about anything non-PC as mobile (that is, not a desktop or a laptop), we disagree.  We only count mobile phones as truly mobile devices as we believe the majority of tablets are used only in what we call “local mobile mode”, that is, moving around the house or office.  This differentiates Mobile as truly transportable and focuses the attention on mobile user stats where we believe they belong.

Mobile Shift Leads to Digital First Thinking

With mobile now, or nearly, the primary device used to access websites, this leads to a much different mindset from traditional website design and information architecture. While mobile bandwidth with nearly ubiquitous 4G / LTE cellular access now eliminates the mobile choke point, the primary consideration now shifts to display usability.  A laptop, desktop, or tablet has a comparatively large viewing surface.  As big as the new smartphones are, they still do not.  Which means to truly cater to the customer, on the device they are choosing to use, means viewing your website through a Mobile First approach.

Mobile First is not the Same as Responsive Design

Responsive design is the current design methodology used on most modern websites.  Build a website with upscale design, high impact graphics, amazing image / slider transitions, cool menu builds, and then let responsive design adapt it to mobile devices.  This is OK, really, it’s OK, but it’s backward.  It still results in a useful user experience, one which permits the user to navigate on their phone with relative ease, without constantly zooming and sideways scrolling to access navigation and key features or content.

It also helps you pass an increasingly important test, the Google Mobile Friendly test, which will help you maintain good positioning in mobile search results.

Mobile First is About the User Experience

So, now shift your design criteria, and your approach to information architecture to the user, the mobile user.  A mobile user sees less content in one screen and needs to scroll more to see some of the content a laptop/desktop user will see “above the fold”.  It is important that you do not make your mobile website visitors work harder than necessary to get the job done.  Make sure that your Call to Action buttons and links are all readily available.  One first consideration is to put your phone number, address and email (or at least an easy link to them) at the top of your page header, every page.  Consider the user driving down the road (let’s call them passengers), phone in hand, who needs to find your location or phone number.  Position this at the top of the page for easy access and you will notice an increase in phone inquiries.  Make sure your phone number is a tel: formatted link.

Continuing to think about making the life of a mobile user more convenient, put the other action buttons where they will be found at key times during the user experience.  Put your Buy Now buttons, Contact buttons, Get Help buttons near the most important content on the screen, such as near product images or prices.  Think through the visitors sequence.  Locate the product wanted, select options, view the price, decide to buy, click the button.  If your user has to scroll their screen sideways/up/down, you will guarantee you lose sales.  Do not assume your visitors know which way to look, based on where on the desktop display the action buttons can be found.

Measuring Mobile First Success

Mobile first is about getting the user to their desired place on your website, efficiently and easily.  Most user engagement reviews will suggest that measurements such as time on site and page views are important in measuring engagement success.  However, think differently about how you approach mobile user success.  Consider the objective is to get the user the page (content, function, etc.) they want, and allowing them to perform the action desired with the appropriate effort.  Shift your success criteria not to quantity but quality.  How often do mobile users access your high value pages?  If you have a product oriented website, how often do your deepest pages get viewed?  If you have an e-commerce site, are your customers making purchases from mobile?  A customer who visits your site on a mobile device, drills down to a product page, and makes a purchase, is a more valuable visitor than one who views 10 pages and spends 7 minutes on your site.

Viewing and Reviewing Mobile First Design

Until Mobile First is ingrained as your approach, force yourself to toss aside the mindset of the desktop view.  When designing, avoid using a full screen desktop display to confirm your design changes have taken effect.  Instead, shrink your browser width to 320 pixels wide, or 480 pixels for landscape view.  I like to have two browser windows open, one at the portrait width and one at the landscape width, and refresh each with every change to cover both mobile views as I go.  At the same time, have your smart phone handy and frequently refresh your view. – Website Recovery

Read about our newest outfitter website recovery project for Blue Haze Hunt Club in our Portfolio section.

This is our 6th website recovery project for outfitters over the past 3 months.

Responsive Website for

An existing customer called us up and wanted to be more aggressive marketing their Texas Whitetail Deer Hunting.

The project included developing a Google AdWords campaign and a fully responsive website based on our “Mobile First” approach.  The site design, content strategy, layouts, and image galleries were all optimized for mobile.

See more in our Portfolio.