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.
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.
creating your content, pay attention to these items:
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):
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 a well-optimized page title for the search term "budget hotels in San Francisco"
Description Tag (Meta)
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.
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
- 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”
not all. You can even improve your results by using keywords in the file name (e.g. ABC-Agency-nanny-with-child.jpg).
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
A Few More Words of
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
- 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
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.
Personal 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
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:
- Use event tracking (if you’re using Google
Analytics) to collect more granular data about what and where your users are
- Claim your site in Webmaster Tools and connect
it to your Analytics account for additional information on search queries and landing
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
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
Score 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
“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
at CDG are extremely proud to unveil this powerful new site ForWomen!
CDG is looking for volunteers for user
testing during the week of September 4th. We’re looking for female
volunteers who are politically engaged and interested in women’s/feminist
issues and social justice. We are seeking at least 2 participants under the age
of 30 and at least 2 participants between the ages of 35 and 50. The test will
take no longer than 1 hour, and will be conducted remotely; you’ll need access
to a phone and to a computer with Internet access. We will schedule a time that
is convenient for you, but the tests must be conducted during business hours
between September 4 – 7.
You will receive $25 for your participation. If you or someone you know interested in participating, email Elizabeth@cdginteractive.org or call 202-872-9500 for more details.
The recent severe thunderstorm event (aka the derecho) that raced through a large swath of the Midwest and Northeast on June 29 left millions without power--and very unhappy about it. Many of them took to social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, to express their displeasure with their utility companies. (Just check the accounts for @pepcoconnect or @domvapower for a sampling of customer sentiment.)
Responding to unhappy customers on social media is always challenging, but that challenge is magnified in a crisis or other severe event. Even if you’re not a major utility responding in times of natural disaster, any business would do well to be prepared to respond if a crisis hits. That’s why you need a crisis communications plan for your social media accounts.
Here are 5 tips for using social media platforms as part of a crisis communications plan.
- Respond quickly. If you wait too long after someone mentions you on Twitter or posts on your Facebook page, it looks like you aren’t paying attention or don’t care. No, you can’t spend 24 hours a day monitoring your account, but respond quickly when you are, and let followers know when the account will be unmonitored.
- Be authentic. Don’t just give the same canned response to negative comments; vary it so your account doesn’t seem like an unfeeling robot.
- Be polite. This can be a tough one, especially if thousands of people are venting virtual invective at you, but as with ordinary customer service, responding in kind will only escalate the communication. Keep it simple and keep it calm. “We understand you’re frustrated and we’re working quickly to resolve the situation.”
- Be transparent. Give us much detail as you can, as soon as you can. Once followers realize you aren’t trying to keep information from them, they’ll be more understanding.
- Have an end game. How will you continue communicating after the crisis passes? What will you share with customers to let them know how everything was resolved and what you plan to do to prevent or mitigate such an event in the future?
Remember, too, that your social media universe doesn’t just consist of Twitter and Facebook. If you have a YouTube channel, check for comments there. Ditto for other profiles your company has, such as on LinkedIn or Yelp. Don’t be afraid to call for help, either. If the level of response becomes too much for you or your team, augment your resources with a communications professional who can not only provide additional people power, but the experience to respond appropriately and quickly.
If you don’t know how you’d respond to a crisis, or who would be on your incident team, you need a social media crisis management plan. CDG Interactive can guide your brand through the process, from pre-incident preparation to response management and coordination to post-incident conclusion. Contact us today.
The weather's warming up, and it's time to start thinking about summer vacation, barbeques, and . . . the holiday shopping season.Yes, you read that right. It's not even June, but you should already be thinking about your end-of-the-year holiday strategy.
More than ever, that strategy needs to include a smart and efficient use of mobile platforms. Shopping in general is becoming more mobile-centric, and even more so during the holidays, when shoppers want to make the most efficient use of their time and dollars. If you (or anyone other decision-makers in your company) need convincing that mobile is a must this holiday season, consider these facts:
- Up to 65% of consumers confirm store hours and location, prices or product availability using their mobile phone before even heading to a store.
- 52% of US consumers use their mobile phones to search for information such as product reviews and competitive pricing while they are in the store.
- Mobile search will generate 27.8 billion more queries than desktop search by 2016. This trend has led Google to launch a new smartphone-specific crawler to return search results targeted for smartphone users.
If you don’t already have a mobile strategy in place, the time to begin planning and executing for mobile is now. Otherwise you’ll discover that it’s too late to be ready when the holiday shoppers should be lining up at your store (virtual or otherwise).
And of course, "mobile strategy" is not just a fancy way of saying "mobile website." Yes, a mobile-optimized website is a good start, but it comprises only part of a comprehensive mobile strategy. An effective mobile strategy will include a variety of tactics, such as:
- Optimizing your listings in review sites, Google Places, location-based social media (such as FourSquare)
- Testing new search strategies for the smartphone crawler as people search differently on their phones than on their desktop computers
- Creating mobile-specific PPC in addition to search optimization efforts
- Using mobile-specific functionality such as click-to-call and geo-targeting
- Incorporating QR Codes or short URLs in off-line channels to help customers find your mobile presence
If you need help getting "mobile-ized" for the holidays, contact CDG. We'll help you assess the behavior of your current mobile visitors, set goals, develop and optimize your mobile strategy and measure your success.
Photo Credit: Joe Buckingham on Flickr
With all of the sexy new upstarts in the social media space (ahem, Pinterest), it’s easy to forget about the stodgy older kids on the block—specifically, MySpace.
“MySpace? People are still on MySpace?” That was the reaction from one of the participants in CDG’s social media roundtable earlier this week. “That’s the most surprising thing I’ve heard in a while,” she said.
It’s true, MySpace is creaky and aging, and to be honest, its long-term prognosis just might be terminal. But it’s not dead yet. As recently as last November, MySpace attracted nearly 25 million unique visitors; that's more than Google+, Tumblr and Pinterest.
It’s also worth noting that those 25 million people are disproportionately young and diverse and less affluent than the general population. According to a recently released Pew Internet study on teens and social media, MySpace—along with Twitter—is one of the most racially diverse social media networks. It’s most popular among Latino teens: 35% of Latino teens who are active on social media have a MySpace account, compared with 22% of Caucasian teens. Also, MySpace accounts are more prevalent among social-media-using teens whose parents did not attend college. Thirty-two percent of those teens have a MySpace account, compared with just 18% of teens whose parents have at least some college experience.
These statistics are worth considering not because MySpace’s influence is likely to increase. Truthfully, unless there’s a drastic shift in the social media universe, MySpace will never again touch the dominance of a Facebook or a Twitter. But in 2012, ignoring MySpace altogether can work against you—particularly if you are trying to reach a niche audience that still has a significant presence there; for example, Latino kids between the ages of 13 and 18.
The larger moral of the story? Although things change at lightning speed, be sure to keep your eyes on the entire social media landscape and not just what’s emerging on the horizon.
For more guidance on social media channels and tactics, check out PowerUpSocial.com, CDG’s new resource about social media for business.
CDG has a history of providing interactive solutions across a broad spectrum of dynamic industries. Few industries today are more dynamic than the energy sector. With the advent of deregulation energy companies—and their consumers—face the challenge of understanding how energy consumption is changing, evaluating options, and exercising responsible choices. Mike Koch, CDG's Director of Business Development and owner of Firefly Farms takes a look at what’s on the horizon for the energy industry and discusses how interactive media can help bring the picture into focus.
I am a small business owner, interactive marketing professional, capitalist, and committed environmental protectionist.
Over the last few months, these sometimes conflicting passions have led me to educate myself on an industry that touches our lives and wallets virtually every moment of every day: energy consumption.
One of the big questions consumers are asking themselves is: “How can I ensure what I consume is locally and sustainably produced?” Witness the resurgence in our local food markets.
Framing that question around energy consumption, I started to wonder how many of us as consumers even wonder where we derive the electric current that literally powers our lives. (Is it generated from oil? coal? wind? nuclear reactors? natural gas? Where is it generated? What is its impact on our environment?) How many of us don’t bother to ask the questions, and simply take for granted that the lights will go on and the devices will recharge?
Educating Consumers Online
The energy industry is a heady, politically-contentious sphere where long-held monopolies fight for survival and consumer behavior is hard to change. As one of many Maryland business owners who recently testified in the Maryland State Legislature regarding proposed Marcellus Shale Drilling—a.k.a. “fracking”—I’ve witnessed this contention first-hand.
However, in many states these energy markets are actively being restructured to increase competition and consumer choice. With active deregulation at work, residential and business alike need to understand our options and how to exercise the power of choice.
Continue reading "Looking at Energy: Choice, Responsibility & Connection" »
Being based in Washington, DC, we at CDG are literally surrounded by world-class muesums. (In fact, if we hurled a rock off of our balcony, we could probably hit the Phillips Collection—not that we would want to, of course.) Plus, we count the wonderful Muscarelle Museum in Williamsburg as a client. We’ve begun to think more and more about the online presence that museums provide to their audience, from online collections to logistical help to mobile apps. This post explores the realities and possibilities of the digital museum experience in the first entry of a new blog series.
So, there is this big idea brewing among the minds and talents who curate and run museums across the country. It’s about re-conceptualizing the function or role of museum websites in order to enhance the user’s online experience.
Up to now, the typical museum website has basically been used as a virtual replacement for the brick and mortar building it represents (as well as a logistical guide for potential visitors). That approach made sense back when museums were first venturing online.
But we are living in a culture where Internet and mobile technologies are evolving rapidly (read: daily!) and people’s expectations of an “online experience” are different than they were five years ago—or even two years ago.
Museums should start thinking about ways to re-position their websites to serve new functions in order to meet the demands of a mobile-savvy and social media-captivated audience. After all, visiting a museum website is not like physically being at the museum. Why should it try to be?
We wanted to start thinking about how museums can start to create a new type of user experience. And we came up with three guiding words: enable, enlighten, and engage.
- Enable: For every person that can visit a museum, there are literally millions more who can access it through technology, mobile or otherwise. Rather than merely replicate their collections online—although that’s a good start—museums could view their websites as a way to experience their collections and content in new and expansive ways. Using social media, museums can also proactively enable their audience members to not only experience content, but to share it with others. By allowing the visitor to comment, tag, or pin information, the museum will reach a much wider (social) network.
- Enlighten: Museums, and the people who curate them, are regarded as experts in their fields. But the majority of visitors (online and offline) to museums are not experts—most are unfamiliar with the academic language of art, history, science, etc. Most museums have educational programs or components, so why not extend that online? There’s no reason that museum websites can’t interactively educate users directly on their sites. By exploring innovations in online education, museums could attract a younger, more diverse audience that could eventually translate into more actual visits to the physical museum.
- Engage: Museums have one incredible asset when it comes to the digital space--content. They should take advantage of the possibilities inherent in digital technology and innovate on the ways users experience content. Videos, podcasts, streaming collections and apps are only a few of the tools that museums could use to create a truly unique online experience for users.
These are initial thoughts about expanding the online museum experience.
[Edit 9.20.12]: The next post in this series reviews the interactive Smithsonian exhibit "The Art of Video Games" and how it leverages viewer participation through social media and other channels. In a future post we'll also take a field trip to the Phillips Collection to give their mobile app a try, and see how it adds to the museum experience.
In the meantime, if your museum is looking for a digital solution, contact CDG.