It's one thing to reach your target audience. It's another to turn them into your customers. CDG Interactive is a full-service agency specializing in web strategy that converts. Whether you need a comprehensive online strategy, an email marketing campaign, a content management solution, or simply a better way to increase your visibility online, turn to CDG and watch your conversion rate skyrocket. Contact us.

It's that time again. At CDG, we're beginning work on our fifth iAd. We've set the bar high for ourselves, and we're trying to out-do our extremely high metrics for user engagement and conversion rates. Let the concepting begin!

 

Brainstorming session for iAd

 

Above, the newest addition to CDG's design team, Marina Linderman, pitches ideas to Creative Director Matthew Snyder.

 

Capturing initial thoughts

 

Matthew records the ideas provided by the design team. At this stage in our creative process, no idea is too out-there or strange. We'll edit and refine them over the next week as we hone in on a creative concept on which to base the iAd.

Perfecting search engine optimization is a bit like playing whack-a-mole. Just when you have your eye on a sure-fire SEO tactic, it becomes moot (or less effective) and another one springs up somewhere else. Anyone who tells you they have the secret to perfect SEO probably also has a very affordable bridge to sell you.

Still, there are tried and true methods to optimizing your site for search, and some are not as obvious as you might think. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on the best way to optimize copy on a page-by-page basis. This is only one part of any solid SEO strategy (we’ll tackle other pieces, like link-building later), but it’s of course one of the most essential.

While you’re creating your content, pay attention to these items:

Keywords

Obviously, keywords are at the heart of any well-optimized page, so before you start writing, do you research. Be thorough, and make sure to not only look at the keywords you’re currently planning to target, but also research the keywords for which your competitors are optimizing. Google trends is a great starting point, and it’s free. It will tell you the terms people are actually using, what’s becoming more popular, and much more. Paid tools like SpyFu  and SEMRush are handy in looking at your competitors.

Once you’ve got keywords, you’ve got to know what to do with them. Which leads us to .  .  .

Page Title (Meta):

Your page title is the first thing people will see. Think of it as the subject line for your content. Only the first 65 characters of the title will be viewable to users, so keep it short. And for best results, lead off with your key words. For example, if you’re optimizing on “car insurance quotes.”

  • Good: Get Free & Fast Car Insurance Quotes from ABC Insurance
  • Better: Car Insurance Quotes: Free & Fast at ABC Insurance

 

Example-of-page-title-optimized-for-search
Example of a well-optimized page title for the search term "budget hotels in San Francisco"

Description Tag (Meta)

Aside from the title, your description is your most important meta content, as it also shows up in search engine results and can be very effective in convincing a user to click. When you write your description, use your keywords judiciously and focus it on what the user most wants to see.  If they’re searching for the best price on a hotel room, lead with your special rates, not the fact that you’ve been open for 25 years. If you take the time to craft a descriptions that are relevant to each page, you’ll increase the odds that people will find what they expect—and that will reduce your bounce rate.  And remember: Keep those descriptions to 165 characters or less.

Images

Images can be surprisingly effective weapons in your SEO arsenal. Make sure every contextual image has a caption and alt tag peppered with keywords. The alt tag is especially important, as the first 255 characters of it will show up in the increasing powerful Google image search. Use your keywords to intelligently label and describe.

  • OK: “child on a swingset”
  • Better: “child on a swingset with a nanny from ABC Agency”
  • Best:  “A certified nanny from ABC agency plays on the swings with a child in New Jersey”

And that’s not all. You can even improve your results by using keywords in the file name (e.g. ABC-Agency-nanny-with-child.jpg).

Page Content

A well-optimized page relies primarily on the content itself. (And really, what’s the point in driving people to a page with crappy content anyway?)  When writing your content, use—but don’t overuse—your keywords. There’s no magical formula to figure out optimal keyword density, but you definitely don’t want the page to sound like it’s been optimized. If you can read it aloud and it has a natural-sounding flow, you’re probably on the right track. Equally important is the structure of your page. Make sure to use keyword-rich headers and subheads, and make sure your code uses <h1> and <h2> tags to call those out.

Et voila! Implement these five steps and on your way to the world’s most dazzlingly optimized page. That’s only the start, though. Once you’ve dealt with your own pages, you need to look beyond your own site, with link-building, blogger outreach, social media efforts, etc. But we’ll save that for another post. Check back soon for more!

Need help understanding how to optimize your site for search? Contact CDG & let our experts work with you on a comprehensive SEO strategy.

Lisa-authorship-1Updated 5 November 2013.

Signs have begun to emerge that Google’s ranking algorithm, the formula it uses to determine where a website or page should appear in search engine results, is using authorship signals as a factor. (Originally, many referred to this as AuthorRank, anticipating that Google would eventually assign specific search value to authorship the way page authority is assigned PageRank.)

Authorship is Google’s way of identifying individual creators of content and tying that content to each author. The more quality content an author produces and the more relationships that author has online, the higher the individual's authority.

In turn, the content produced by highly rated authors is going to be ranked higher in Google's search results than similar content by authors that have lower authority, in the same way that pages with more inbound links are given more weight.

Although authorship clearly has benefits to individual writers, it has implications for publishers, too. If your business’s marketing strategy includes content marketing, such as a blog, it benefits the company blog if the individual contributors have strong authority.

Let’s say you have been outranking your competitor’s blog by a combination of link-building, commenting and other promotional tactics. But your competitor takes steps to increase the AuthorRank of the contributors to its blog. By doing nothing else, your competitor may now begin to outrank you.

How Can Businesses Maintain or Increase Their SEO in an Authorship World

First, don’t take your foot off the gas with your regular SEO efforts. Those factors still apply.

But now is the time to start building up the authorship factor for the authors of your business’s content, whether it’s on a company blog or the company website.

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Ways Authors Can Increase Authority:

  • Claim authorship of content. The first step is to have a Google Profile—which is now the same thing as a Google+ Profile.
  • Same domain. Ensure that either your work or personal email address is from the domain where you're claiming content.
  • Link up. Add a link from this profile to the company blog under the "Contributor to" section. Lisa-contributor-google-plus
  • Follow the rules. On the blog (or other content), there are a few specific criteria: each post must have a byline, and you should have an identifiable photo. The easiest way to accomplish this is with a contributor page where you can create the necessary author tag.  Insert the tag <rel=”author” link=”your-googlplus-url” /> (replacing the link URL with the URL to that person’s Google+ Profile).
  • Create shareable content. Volume of content isn’t sufficient to improve an author’s authority. Quality is much more important, and Google seems to define quality by shareability: likes, shares, +1’s. Although shares across the web will help, it’s a safe assumption that shares within Google+ will be weighted more.
  • Grow Google+ followers. Quality content is one part of the puzzle. Quality following is the other. The greater an author’s network, the greater the author’s influence, especially if the author interacts with high authority profiles. Think of it like Google’s version of Klout.
  • Check your stats. See your progress in Webmaster Tools under Labs-Author Stats where you can see information about pages for which you are the verified author.

Have you noticed that Google’s own social network, Google+, plays a big part in authority? It’s no surprise. The impact of Google+ on overall search rankings on Google continues to grow, as we first noted last January.

It’s rapidly moving from optional to mandatory as a part of a social media marketing strategy—as Google no doubt intended all along.

Learn More

Most businesses are too busy growing to be experts at social media marketing and SEO, too. That’s why we’re here. Instantly expand your marketing expertise with a consultation from CDG Interactive. We’ll cut through the buzzwords and tell you what to do next—and why. Contact us today.

Video-on-mobileIt’s no surprise that Google properties account for 66.7% of search queries, making Google the most popular search engine. What may surprise you is that many people go directly to YouTube (a Google property) and begin their searches there – it’s the 2nd most popular Google property for search.  As video becomes more popular and easier to upload and stream, particularly on mobile and especially tablets, video is going to become a more and more important element of many businesses’ digital presence.

What does this mean for businesses?

The short answer: the creation of shareable video content needs to be part of your marketing efforts.  (Fun fact: 92% of videos viewed on a mobile device are shared.) Here are a few quick tips to start building out your video assets, and getting them seen.


Finding the budget

Fortunately, you can now make many videos without a huge budget. In fact, most people don’t expect high production values from short, informative videos and screencasts. Just be sure you have enough time and resources to shoot and edit the video. Don’t expect that you’ll capture anything all in one go.

Getting ideas

Make sure your video has a specific purpose, and that it conveys something that can’t be communicated as well or better in other ways. You can get inspiration for your video content from several sources:

  • Search analytics from your website - what questions are driving visitors to your site and what questions are they typing in the search box on your site? Can you provide an answer in video form?
  • What can you show rather than tell? If your site has directions or explanations about products or services (how to hang curtains, how to take better photos, how to accessorize an outfit, etc.), see if you can demonstrate those activities on video. It can be a great learning tool for your customers.

 Creating & Publishing your Video

No matter where you get your ideas, and no matter what you’ll be showing in a video, here are some tips to help you create an effective video:

  • Think about the audience you want to reach – tailor your content to their sensibilities. Your video should be neither to elementary nor too complex for your desired audience.
  • Sketch out the story or tasks to complete in the video.
  • Practice ahead of time to be sure you don’t leave out any steps.
  • Speak clearly and take your time .
  • Include contact information at the end of the video.
  • Edit, edit, edit.
  • Don’t include music you don’t own. (You don’t want your video taken down because of copyright violations.)
  • Promote your video on your social networks and customers.

A Few More Words of Wisdom
At CDG, we have found that short, single task videos are more effective than longer videos. Rather than providing an entire product tutorial, break up the most common questions into short, question specific videos. This also allows you to target the search terms for each video more effectively and make the specific videos more shareable (not to mention more suitable for mobile viewing.) Other good ideas:

 

  • To improve the searchability and the accessibility, post it with a transcript.
  • Add keywords to your video - consider what specific keywords people will look for in a video (versus a Google search).
  • Share your videos – once you posted your videos on Facebook, be sure to promote them. Post them to Facebook and on your website

Not sure how which content is video-worthy or how to create winning videos for your company? Contact CDG Interactive. Our award winning creative team can help.

 

PinterestThat headline is not a rhetorical question. If you can’t answer it, you should absolutely, positively avoid any temptation to follow the herd onto Pinterest. Like any social media channel, Pinterest is just another way to reach out to a wider audience, and like all the others, it requires significant care and feeding. So let’s take a minute and figure out if it’s right for you.      

Pinterest Could Work for You If . . .

Just because “everyone’s” on Pinterest doesn’t mean you have to be there too. (Remember what your mom said re: jumping off bridges with friends?) Yet Pinterest is potentially an great channel for many different kinds of businesses, particularly if:

  • You have something to sell—If you’re selling something—from earmuffs, to gourmet meals, to hotel reservations—Pinterest could be a fantastic marketing tool for you. Consumers like to see what they’re getting and the richness of Pinterest’s layout allows you to showcase your products and services in a visually compelling way.
  • You have something to say—Non-profits and advocacy groups can use Pinterest to highlight key facts, slogans and taglines that support their mission. (CDG’s client, the Ms. Foundation for Women) does this beautifully.
  • You have something to teach—Data visualization, when it’s done well, is an incredibly effective way of communicating. Take a look here for some great examples. If you have key facts or numbers that you want your audience to remember, Pinterest might be able to help spread that message.
  • You have a story to tell—“Show, don’t tell,” is a tenet of good storytelling. Pinterest can aid you here. If your company or organization has a long history, an intriguing backstory, or compelling customer service stories, you may be able to tell those very effectively via images on Pinterest.

Great! Your business meets one (or more) of the criteria above. Hooray! Off to Pinterest!

. . . But Wait! There’s the Little Matter of Content

Yes, now I’m going to be a killjoy. Pinterest might be a great fit for your business in theory, but a terrible idea in practice. As with all social media channels, it boils down to one word: CONTENT.

Remember all of those Pinterest boards for your wonderful products? And your great infographics? And your snazzy quotes? They’ll need to be filled and updated with a steady flow of images. Before you get on Pinterest you’ve got to be darn sure that you have the assets to support your presence, now and into the future.

Do you have a photographer, a designer, and/or a graphic artist to produce your images? If not, think twice and three times about Pinterest. Because Pinterest is not only about images, it’s about beautiful, compelling images. The absolute worst thing you could do is to have a Pinterest account filled with sub-par imagery.

Make an Informed, Guilt-Free Choice

Using Pinterest well is a tall order for a lot of businesses. If it’s not right for you, that’s not the death knell for your social media efforts. In fact, it can be a great boost to them. Instead of wasting valuable time and resources on Pinterest, use them to make your Facebook page and Twitter account work better for you. In other words, it’s OK to walk away and say, “Hey, Pinterest, it’s not you, it’s me.”

Check out more advice on using Pinterest successfully for business. And if you need more help with your social media strategy, Contact CDG.

 

AA-screenshot-1

Worldwide, mobile now accounts for 10.01% of total web traffic. In the US, more than 120 million people now own a smartphone, and 48 million people own a tablet.  Half of all local searches are currently performed on mobile devices.

Clearly, you've got to make sure that your site is ready to welcome traffic from mobile devices, and to provide those visitors with a great user experience.

Even if you're not ready to completely overhaul your site, there are several quick and easy steps you can take to vastly improve the mobile experience.

Here 5 fixes you can implement right now to ensure your mobile visitors stay on your site:

  1. Control Pop-Ups: Either eliminate pop-ups for mobile users or ensure they are resized to not be larger than the screen.  Visitors will spend little time scrolling around looking for a way to close the window. If you must use a pop-up for some reason, be sure to watch your bounce rate for mobile visitors in your web analytics to ensure you’re not losing visitors.
  2. Push Your Buttons:Test the target areas of buttons and links for touching with fingers. Most websites were designed and built for clicking with the more precise mouse which allows for items to be placed in close proximity. At the very least, ensure that your purchase and cancel target areas don’t overlap and can be touched separately.
  3. Select the Right Keyboard: In any situation that requires user input, make sure your site serves up the correct keyboard to match the input you/re requesting from users – using the options for email, URL, telephone numbers and numbers will help your mobile visitors provide the correct information with fewer typos, resulting in fewer errors and less frustration.
  4. Turn Off Auto-Correct: Disable the auto-correct function for form entry. Nothing is more frustrating for a visitor than having to re-input information because the device “knows” better.  Depending on the form fields, you may also choose to turn off auto-complete and auto-capitalize.
  5. Never Think You're Finished: Okay, this isn't exactly a quick fix, but it's important. Between new products and user expectations, mobile standards are constantly evolving, so you can't simply "fix it and forget it." You need to keep vigilant and continually evaluate whether your site is still performing optimally, and whether you can improve it. (That goes for us too! At CDG, we regularly revisit and improve previous work.) 
If you need help refining what you’ve done or aren’t sure where to get started, CDG’s mobile development and design teams are ready to help. Contact us to get started.

Champagne glasses: Don't make resolutions for 2013; make plans with these marketing tipsPersonal New Year’s resolutions are notorious for failing within a mere month or two into the new year, only to be recycled again the following January.

We’re recycling our resolutions, too, but not because they don’t work—because they do. These are optimization steps to take every year, not just once.

This year we’ll be adding to them, not replacing them, based on the experience we’ve gained and the ever-changing digital landscape.

So in addition to these resolutions, we’re adding a few more. Here's are some resolutions that will help you make the most of your digital presence in 2013:

Analytics
  • Use event tracking (if you’re using Google Analytics) to collect more granular data about what and where your users are clicking.
  • Claim your site in Webmaster Tools and connect it to your Analytics account for additional information on search queries and landing pages.
SEO:
  • Review the keywords people are using most to find your site, what pages they are going to and which pages they are bouncing from; use this information to re-optimize your site.
  • Revisit your title tags and meta descriptions to ensure what your potential visitors see in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is reflective of what they will find when they arrive on the page.
  • Ensure that your inbound links come from a variety of domains; multiple links from one highly trusted domain aren’t as valuable as links from several different domains.
Content
  • Do a content audit: identify “dead weight” pages that aren’t being viewed & remove or repurpose them.
  • Create an editorial calendar for all of your digital environments (website, blogs, etc.).
  • Prepare for the content trends that will shape 2013.
Social Media
  • Review your dashboards from the past year and look for what worked and what didn’t; revise your efforts accordingly.
  • Consider expanding onto additional platforms, like Pinterest or Tumblr.
  • Sign up for the 8-week social media 101 email course at PowerUp Social.
Conversion
  • Create a segment or filter for visits with conversions; identify how these users’ behavior differs from those who don’t convert. Use this information to target them more effectively.
Now we want to hear from you. How will you be revising your marketing strategy for 2013?
Don’t get left behind in 2013. Contact CDG Interactive today for help crafting the marketing strategy that will drive more leads and more sales to your organization in the year ahead

To all of our clients, partners and friends, thank you for another great year.

Highlights of 2012 include the launch of new sites for the Ms. Foundation for Women, AFB's VisionAware.org and AFB.org and four markets for Cover-More Travel Insurance: New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia; as well as 2 more iAd campaigns for GEICO, including the Taste of Savings, and an interactive health care law tool for AARP.

From all of us at CDG Interactive, we hope your holidays are delicious and your New Year is sweet.

(Speaking of delicious, here are the entries to our fourth annual cookie smackdown competition, above.)

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks at CDG, punctuated by the launch of several high-profile international sites for Australia-based travel insurance company Cover-More. Over the past week, we’ve launched a total of four sites serving B2C markets in New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.

Cover-More New Zealand: An Immersive Experience

Cover-More Travel Insurance New Zealand is a major milestone in our ongoing collaboration to rebrand and enhance the online B2C presence for Cover-More. The core of new site is a streamlined and intuitive quote process that makes it easy for users to select and purchase the best travel insurance product for their needs.

Covermore_nz

The site’s design and content frames the quote process in an immersive environment that serves up customized information about the destinations where the user intends to travel.  (In addition to providing a compelling experience for the user, this vast library of content is also optimized to draw organic search traffic.)

Built in CDG’s content management system, ZeusCMS, the site integrates with Cover-More’s purchase process for a seamless user experience.

“We intended to create a site that’s not only highly usable, but that also pushes the boundaries of what you expect from an insurance site,” says CDG President Scott Adams, “We came up with an environment that both appeals to a traveler’s sense of adventure and presents Cover-More insurance as a valuable addition to your travel experience.”

Malaysia Airlines: An Integrated Approach

In addition to offering travel insurance in a B2C environment, Cover-More also partners with travel providers who want to make travel insurance available to their customers. That’s case with Malaysia Airlines. CDG worked with Cover-More to create an experience that integrates with the airline’s existing brand and website, while providing users with all the information they need in order to make a smart decision about travel insurance coverage.

Malaysia_air

Malaysia Airlines customers can get a quote on travel insurance before or after purchasing their tickets.  The travel insurance section on the site provides a fast and easy quote and purchase process, as well as comparisons of the available policies, and quick, scannable information about the benefits of travel insurance.

Customers who don’t initially choose to get travel insurance have a second chance after they purchase their airline tickets. An ad on the confirmation page provides a fast track to the quote process.

The travel insurance section is integrated into Malaysia Airlines' Singapore, Australia, and Malaysia sites.

To find out how CDG can help you create more effective digital environments, contact us.

Ms_foundation_logoScore one for 51% of the population! CDG has just launched forwomen.org, the new website for the Ms Foundation for Women. The launch marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the Ms. Foundation, which has been a driving force in the women’s movement since 1973.

The Ms Foundation is the premiere organization in the United States that addresses the entire spectrum of women’s issues—from reproductive health to equal pay to child sexual abuse and much more. In recent years, Ms had directed much of its energy to grant-making and grassroots activities and kept a lower profile with the general public.

Last year, the organization decided to complement its grant-making focus with increased supporter engagement. They were ready to be bold, provocative and even controversial, and they turned to CDG to execute a site and strategy that matched their vision.

The result is forwomen.org, an energetic and somewhat irreverent site that compels users to get mad, get motivated, and get involved on women’s issues. The centerpiece of the site is its “Action of the Week”; each week visitors to the site are given a new action to take on behalf of a specific women’s issue. (This week, Ms is asking you to tweet and email key members of Congress and tell them to pass the Violence Against Women Act before the end of the year.)

CDG also worked with Ms to streamline the site’s content and present it in a way that would appeal to a wider, yet targeted audience within the “general public.” Visually vibrant and arresting, the site highly integrated with social media, and is designed to encourage activism and education through sharing among an ever-expanding community of followers.

“We are thrilled to share our new website with the world,” says Kelly Parisi, vice president of communications for the Ms. Foundation for Women, “It is the perfect vehicle to raise awareness about our issues, reach a new audience, and expand our base. CDG truly integrated with our team to create an exciting and compelling digital platform to carry us into the future.”

We at CDG are extremely proud to unveil this powerful new site ForWomen!

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