Organic Reach, Edgerank, and overall Facebookerness

A lot has been said about Facebook and it’s edge rank….. how organic reach to your fans has been on a steady decline as facebook pushes to make money. Here are three tips you can do if you want your content seen by more of your fans.

#1. The obvious answer is the one facebook wants you to have. Buy ads. Pay to have your content promoted and pushed. This comes in various shapes and sizes within facebooks platform. You have promoted posts, you can boost a post, you can buy and create ads that crawl for phrases you want to show up under. (If you would like more info let me know)

organic-reach-by-facebook-fans#2. Fans will see ALL your posts if they simply turn on the “Get Notifications” feature for your page. This is a bit more work on their part but well worth it. When you like a page if you put your mouse over the like button you get an option to “Get Notifications” check this option and you will see all the content from that page. If you aren’t asking your fans to do this you could be missing an opportunity.Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 10.22.26 AM#3. The third thing you can to do to combat the decrease in organic reach is post better content. Having relevant engaging content will raise your footprint as well. Of course this takes a bit more time. You will have to do a bit of research (or you could just post cat pictures lol) You might have to read a few articles. There is no substitute for good content on your facebook page.Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 5.04.00 PM

If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to ask. I don’t bite hard.
~Greg

Creating Content For Social Media.

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One of the greatest challenges for businesses in social media is coming up with fresh, relevant content for their social profiles.
This is partly because we are so used to selling our business, networking, creating the perfect elevator pitch, and all the things associated with promoting our business.

This isn’t wrong and you should focus on all these things, just not in social media. If you really want to begin to leverage social media and the wealth of opportunities it can create for you.

To understand how Social Media Marketing works, you first have to understand “Why” social networking works. There is a peculiar set of rules that most social networking functions under and if we as businesses want to use it and be successful we have to apply these rules to our content.

Rule #1 – PEOPLE DO NOT WANT TO BE SOLD TO.
The most basic rule of thumb for Social media is this. Stop trying to sell your goods and services. The reason social media became so popular was because people could go here and “retreat” and have the conversations they wanted to with out commercial breaks. The platforms we are dealing with in today’s world of social marketing are “Opt In” platforms. This simply means people choose the information they want and I don’t know anyone that wants to have a used car salesman type approach harassing them all day in social media.

So if this is the first rule of social marketing it creates a question that I have heard over and over again. What do we post in our social media that will create the most bang for our buck? This brings us to Rule #2.

Rule #2. – POST WHAT INTERESTS PEOPLE NOT YOU.
I learned a valuable lesson early on in my attempts at social marketing. I posted a question and asked “What is your worst marketing disaster you have ever had?” I waited patiently for the comments to come flooding in…. They never did. Nothing. The next day I posted “ Coke or Pepsi?” and I was amazed to see the comments begin to pile up as people told me what they cared about. They didn’t care about marketing, at least not right then, but they were passionate about their opinion of the best soft drink.
This is the rule of social marketing, talk about what interests your fans. We naturally want to talk about the things that we care about and that just so happens to be our business. So take a deep breath, relax and broaden your thinking when it comes to posting.

Stay tuned to our blog as I will be talking about posts that work and things that don’t.
Now let’s go have some coffee….

Greg Welch has over 8 years experience in Social Media Marketing and is the Creative Director and Social Media guru at Barta Media Group. BMG is a a web design, SEO, SMM and internet marketing company based in the Atlanta, Gwinnett, Gainesville GA area.

Good SEO and Google Rules – Try to Keep Up

The ‘Google Rules’ are an ever evolving set of wishy-washy guidelines (as they prefer to call them) that websites live or die by.  In its early amoeba-like stage,  Google and other search engines promoted sites that had the most keywords stuffed into it.  Hidden links, low-quality inbound links, bad content and more.  Gradually the algorithms evolved into more fine-tuned, human like engines that can now decipher hundreds, even thousands of domain and website related properties in just under a second.

Properties like: Does your site have the proper keywords?  Is there enough?  Are there too many?  Are they placed too close together?  Does your site seem spammy or is there good original content?  Are your meta tags descriptive or just keyword stuffed?  Do you have inbound links to your site?  If so, from what sites?  Are your inbound links from good, well ranking sites or low quality link-farm sites?  How old is your domain?  How old are the domains that link to you?  How many lines of code are written before the Googlebot arrives at your first keyword? Do social media sites mention, and re-mention your website?  When was the last time?  Does your content change or does it stay the same?  Is your site quick loading, or slow?  ETC. ETC. ETC.

There are hundreds of rules, I mean guidelines, that we strive to obey to get the results of top rankings.

However, there are still MANY sites that break these rules and still get good rankings. The fact is that there are very few absolute rules that make or break your SEO strategies.   Good SEO companies are trying to follow the ‘Google rules’ while many old, spam infested websites sometimes still get good results.   It seems that each particular niche has its own set of parameters that help certain sites to rank well.  We have even seen blank pages rank well.  BLANK.  That’s right ZERO content, ZERO meta information, ZERO links.  Nothing.  Nada.  Yet a site – full of rich, well written content ranked just below it. This can’t last very long but it can happen.

Sometimes you just have to keep playing their game while they make up their mind or finally lay down the law in your particular corner of search engine land.  Just hope that when that happens, your site has followed the rules with the proper groundwork laid, built from the ground-up with SEO (and Google) in mind.

Barta Media Group is a web design, SEO and internet marketing company based in the Atlanta, Gwinnett, Gainesville GA area.

Beware the SEO ‘Setup Fee’

Recently I had a long conversation with a salesman from another SEO company. Rather than stopping him short I decided to let him ramble on and on about their services and why they are so great. He told me about all their neat “tricks” to get my site up to the top of the search engines.

Little did he know that:  A. I’m already at the top of the search engines, at least the ones I care about (Google, Yahoo & Bing) and B. Every single tactic he described is the exact same set of things that every SEO knew after their first week of studying the topic – the basics.

It’s true that there are some fundamental procedures that every SEO must follow to achieve results, but you have to realize that it’s not just knowing about what to do (keyowrds, META Tags and links) but HOW to do it properly.

SEO is really and art AND a science.

So to get to my point. It’s not that the service they offered was completely worthless; that’s an assessment I couldn’t make after a single conversation.  What I did notice however, after several entertaining minutes of his spiel, was that their SEO setup fees were RIDICULOUS!  We’re talking multiple thousands for just a couple pages of SEO.  Their monthly fees weren’t too bad, but you really had to make a serious plunge to get the ball rolling.

So anyway, after holding the ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ face for several moments to the point that my face almost stayed that way (just like Mom said it would) I began to think about the logic.  ”What could they possibly be doing to justify that kind of money UP FRONT?”  I wondered.   Then it dawned on me:  It makes perfect sense to charge an exorbitant rate at the beginning of a project when you know you’re not really going to get the long-term results you claim to be able to get.  Who cares about the paltry monthly fee when you get a good years’ worth of SEO payments UPFRONT.  Who cares about customer loyalty and trust?  Do they really care about their clients’ business?

One of the things that makes SEO services at Barta Media Group unique to many (most) others is the fact that we rarely charge any ‘setup fees’ on the front end of an optimization project.  It is a rare occasion that we charge upfront and only on large sites that require a lot of additional upfront research.  We feel that when you offer the service at a reasonable monthly rate you build the trust of a client as you go forward.  Since it’s already important to educate the client about the long term benefits of a successful SEO campaign, it should be a much easier pill to swallow knowing that you don’t have to come too far out of pocket to start down the right track.

A large percentage of our SEO clients come from the fact that we took care of initial website design.  One of the colossal benefits of working with a Web Design Company like Barta Media Group is that we are able to build your site from the ground up to be search engine friendly.  Literally every line of code and placement of quality content is done with the search engines in mind.  In doing so our sites are poised to get higher rankings and more traffic right from the site launch.  In fact, in the vast majority of cases, sites that we re-built or overhauled from an older design see a pretty significant jump up the rankings right after the first post-launch indexing from Google.  The combination of new, clean code, a faster loading site and a refesh of the site content is a great combination for search engine success.

If you’re in the market for SEO, web design or have other marketing needs, contact BartaMediaGroup.com today.  We will offer you some fantastic options to help with you and your company’s ongoing growth and success!

… Finally, the SEO guy hung up and I can proof this post.

Custom Website Design

If you watch TV, listen to the radio or surf the web for more than a few minutes you are bound to come across at least one, if not several, advertisements for a template website or online website “solution” (the term used very loosely).  As a custom web design / internet marketing company who treats each customer with value, respect and individuality, it always stirs up any of a number of feelings:  anywhere from the basic rolling of the eyes to the shaking of the head and my least favorite, the occasional dry heave.

Despite the involuntary angst, we realize that are certain situations in which it might be necessary for some smaller companies to irrationally consider an off-the-rack product like that.

For instance some business owners may:

  • Have a very, very, very small budget
  • Still consider  the internet a fad doomed to failure and imminent non-existence
  • Think that marketing is a waste of money
  • Just want to ‘get something out there’
  • Simply maintain history of bad decision making and have multiple failed startups


GO CUSTOM OR GO HOME

Let’s take a look at just a few of the foremost advantages of the advantages of custom website design and some of the downsides to using a template program.

 

1. You are unique, your business is unique – and your website should be too.

Take a look at the picture on this page.  In an instant, you can identify the brand on the shelf.  Over the years this famous soup company has developed their brand so successfully that our elementary blurring technique didn’t faze you one bit.  If your company is to have any chance of developing a recognizable brand, you’ll need to do something that distinguishes it from the crowd.  By the way, just throwing a different logo on the top of the page isn’t going to get the job done.

Be unique. Be Identifiable.  Be You.

You may not have a creative bone in your body.  You may not even have a vision of what you like or dislike, but there are talented and creative branding and web design companies who can take even the most basic idea and turn it into something unique,  attractive and productive, helping you gain new clients to you regardless of your industry or product.

2.   Search Engines LOVE fresh, original content and code.

At least 90% of businesses on the internet do (or would) benefit greatly from first page search engine results. Therefore it also behooves a business owner to have a website that is unique to the search engines as well.  One of the top factors for a good search engine optimization campaign is to create and develop your own quality content.  Search engines like Google have specifically developed their algorithms to place higher relevance on sites that have their own, accurate content that pertains to their industry and helps to establish the site as a resource of ‘expert materiel’ for that search.

This is not only important for the content written on the site but also in the coding.  Most template websites have an exorbitant amount of code that is needed to ‘run’ the template programs.  Since this code cannot usually be edited or rearranged, even a top notch HTML coding expert will not be able to get into the code and make any improvements.   This becomes particularly frustrating when, as a business owner, you try to hire someone to optimize your site for search engines and they simply are not able to do several of the necessary steps to get it done properly.

3.   Credibility.

That word could possibly sum it all up.  When a client or potential clients arrives at your website (assuming they can find it) they make an immediate assessment of your business.  Yes, to most people who you have not yet met, YOU are your Website, and your website is YOU.  There is not distinction made between the two.  When the first impression, maybe the only impression, of your business is the website that represents it, it better be good!  It’s way too often we hear of people who have ‘shopped around’ for the best deal on a website so they could just ‘get something out there’ and thus magically attract new customers.  It never fails that in a few months of frustration and an ugly website they start to realize that you really can’t take shortcuts when it comes to quality marketing and business exposure.  That doesn’t mean that you have to pay tens of thousands of dollars on an overpriced site just to say you did, but it does mean that you are wasting time, money and valuable credibility points on setting up a site that wouldn’t have worked 10 years ago.

In summary

One of my favorite slogans that we’ve unofficially adopted from a client is: “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right”.  Do yourself a favor: make the investments into good quality website and a marketing plan so that you will develop a solid and identifiable brand that has credibility for years to come.

Jason Barta is the owner of Barta Media Group. Offering business visibility solutions, BMG creates websites that are attractive, informative, easy to navigate and search engine friendly.

Website Visibility

It’s a call we get at least once a week: ”Can you please help my website to show up in the search engines”? OR “No one can find my website – can you help!?!?” The fact of the matter is that website rankings are of huge importance to many, if not most, businesses on the web. A website that can’t be found is like having a storefront without a sign or a front door – unless you know exactly where you’re going , you’ll never find it.

Statistics say that 78.3% of the U.S. population are internet users* and that 92% Of Internet Users go to search engines** when they’re looking for just about anything they need: from plumbers to physicians, remodeling contractors to web designers – you name it, it’s searched for on the internet first and foremost. Should a growing business care about it’s search engine rankings??? YES!!!

What’s a business to do?!

There are several factors that help determine website rankings on Google and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo! From site content and structure to the underlying code on the page to inbound links off the page; the factors are many. Search engine companies had made their fortunes first on the ability the direct internet searchers to the content that most accurately describes what they are searching for. The algorithms that search engines are built on are more complex than most of us can imagine and yet the results they display are intended to be so simple and straight forward that even a child can find exactly what they are looking for.

A few main tips on getting and keeping your site at the top of the rankings are:

1. Content is king.

Back in the early days of search engines you could scroll down to the bottom of many web pages and find keywords and search terms packed together by the hundreds. Every word or phrase that was even remotely close to that website’s product or theme was packed in for miles own the page. Many of the words were repeated over and over again making no sense whatsoever.Website designers started even trying to get creative by coloring the text that same as the background so that users wouldn’t even know that text was there unless they highlighted it with their mouse or viewed the source code.

Well, a lot has changed since then – and search engines will certainly not fall that little trick any longer. Gone are the days of simply packing in as many keywords as possibly over and over again to get the search engines to notice you.

When writing content for your website, good, accurate content and descriptions of your product and services are paramount. It doesn’t have to Pulitzer worthy – just thorough and accurate. I find that most of the time if you write your content just like you would describe it in your 30 second elevator speech, that is sufficient. YES, use your keywords, just don’t overdo it.

2. Use your own, original content.

OK, so you’re not a writer. Your busy, you have don’t have time to try and write a website full of content describing your business and products. it’s not that your lay, you just really don’t feel like delving back into a writing mindset that you haven’t had to use since high school or college. So you decide to just copy and paste someone else site… STOP!!! This is a huge search engine “no-no”. Definitely don’t use content that someone else had used. If you think you can copy and paste someone else’s writing, you are not only infringing on copyright laws, you are also shooting yourself in the foot with search engines.

Modern SE’s (search engines) are now, and have been, keeping an eye out for duplicate content across the internet. Your site can and will be penalized if you have simply taken someone else’s text and put it on your own site. You can even go to “www.copyscape.com” to check and see if someone else out there is using your text! IT’s NOT THAT HARD to take a small amount of time to wordsmith your own ideas on and put them on your site- it WILL be worth it.

Start with a brief outline of each of the pages on your site (i.e. home page, about us page, services, areas served, contact etc).

Then put together a rough outline of what you’ll want on each page. Whiteboards or giant post-its are great for this.

Next: simply go to each point in your outline and write an “elevator-speech” version of what you want to say. For instance, on the about Us pages, you want to talk about the company history for a few sentences, a little about yourself or the owners, and what your driving passion is for your industry. Talking about each point like you would at a networking event is usually a great place to start. For certain items like services and even some products, going into more detail can be very effective not only for your viewers but also for search engine rankings.

3. Patience, Patience, Patience.

While we could easily spend hours and hours discussing SEO (Search engine optimization) tricks and techniques, one of the things we have learned over the years is this: IT TAKES TIME! There is rarely any one magic bullet that will shoot your site to the top of the SE’s; if there was everyone would be doing it. In fact, there are many techniques and tricks that can be done to improve your results if they are implemented regularly and consistently over time. Time is the key in most cases. Many companies are promising these unbelievable results for your website: “Be at the top in Google”, Reach Number 1 in the search engines Guaranteed” etc, etc.

BE CAREFUL FOR SEARCH ENGINE SCAMS! Any company that promises particular results in organic search engine rankings is almost always selling you a lie. Rankings in the main search results (organic rankings) simply CANNOT be guaranteed. As I mentioned before, if it could be guaranteed than everyone would be doing it!

However, a good, well designed and implemented search engine optimization (SEO) plan can, in time, bring and keep your site at the top of the rankings… and believe me, top rankings mean increased traffic, sales and – bottom line – more money for your business.

——-

WE CAN HELP! While this article is by no means meant to be an exhaustive dissertation on SEO and internet marketing, we wanted to help our reader understand just a few of the important concepts on the topic. If you need someone to help you with website designSEO, internet marketing or other forms of marketing Barta Media Group would be more than happy to help. We offer competitive and reasonable rates for our services and great results. Please drop us a line or give us a call today at 678-464-5785.

* from internetworldstats.com

** from The Inquistr - Search Engines Used By 92% Of Internet Users

Refresh Your Website Design

Every once in a while it doesn’t hurt to give your website design a refresh. It helps to remove older blocks of code which were slowing load times and costing you pageviews. It can also help to re-evaluate what you’re trying to do with your site and how your audience should interact with each page element.

Why are people visiting your website?

This may seem like a silly question at first but I’ve found very few webmasters truthfully sit down and ask themselves this. What purpose does your website serve your visitors? Along with that, how does your design reflect these ideas?

If you never asked yourself these questions when you started to design your website the best time to do it would be during a redesign period. You can figure out what your visitors are really interested in. Maybe it’s just the page content, or maybe they spend more time interacting with their profile, or leaving comments on posts. Whatever the actions of your visitors may be it’s key to define them upfront before starting to redesign your site.

This information can help you figure out what elements on your current site are hindering the accessibility and what you could do to improve the others. You may also find that your users are asking for some type of interactivity or widget that would be perfect for your site, but it’s strangely missing. The perfect time to add new features to a design would be during a refresh period. Make sure you collect as much data as possible before sitting down at the work bench.

Keep your Brand Consistent Throughout

A website refresh is a very different concept from a website re-branding. Many designers can’t tell you the difference but they hold completely different outcomes in the end.

To rebrand your entire site would take quite a while. You’d need to come up with an entirely new set of everything – new logo, new page elements, new color scheme, new graphics… basically hitting the drawing board from scratch again.

pencil-drawing-board

Refreshing your site’s current design is much different. The context here is going into your site to find out what parts of it are working and what aren’t. The goal is to then remove elements which are performing poorly and move around/fix up the one’s that can help.

You may also consider adding new elements or running trials for 2 or 3 different interfaces to see which of them perform the best.

Plot for your Target Audience

The “target audience” you’re hitting will change from site to site. Each website has a different goal in mind and provides a completely different service than the next competitor, thus it’s very important to define your target audience early.

target-audience

This isn’t a difficult step. You just need to consider your current niche and where you’re trying to appear in the market. If you run a blog about video game news you may look into a similar market as IGN or Joystiq. Consider their designs and who visits their site – what do they do right? Do you hold any of these traits on your website?

A gaming website is just one of thousands of niches to be found around the web. Google is your best tool for the job here since you can search by keywords and popular content you showcase on your website. Figure out what type of audience you want to draw in – younger, older, tech-savvy, TV enthusiasts. Once you know who to target it will me much easier to figure out what you need to do better to reel more in.

Identify Your Website’s Stress Points

Stress points are areas in your site where visitors seem to get confused, lost, or just give up and leave your page entirely. Not every design will have these but it’s never bad practice to go through your current design and see if you can pinpoint any obvious ones.

From a user experience perspective these could be anything. Links in your navigation too small or difficult to read, maybe paragraphs are spaced too closely or images take up too much space. I encourage holding a poll for your readers to help out during the refresh process. They are the ones experiencing the site after all, their opinions should be the most important as the designer.

If you can’t find any major stress points in your site design you may consider seeing what areas look “out of place” or just plain odd. These aren’t stresses for your visitors but chances are good if you think they look weird, others probably will too. Try messing around with page elements to see if you can fit blocks into your site easier. Sketching a new design layout on a piece of paper can sometimes help out when you’re really stuck in with a creative design block.

Whatever you may decide to change don’t bother trying to re-invent the wheel. Much of what you would need to do has already been done countless times over and it would be silly to do it all yourself. Save some time and Google around for whatever it is you’re looking for. Chances are good you’ll find a few articles or code snippits containing exactly what you want.

As web designers we can have a hard time letting go. This is especially true when it comes to our past design works. However your visitors and clients do not live in this same sense of nostalgia and you must adapt as your site grows and develops a community.

These are just a few simple tips to get you started on a brand new refreshed design for your website. It’s a fun process every few months to sit back and contemplate potential new features, releasing these updates 2 or 3 times a year. It keeps your visitors on their toes and helps your site adapt to an ever-changing Internet.

I grabbed this excellent article from WDL by Jake Rocheleau.  If you like it give them a visit and “like” the article.

If you’re looking for someone local to help implement these ideas or for new, custom web design CLICK HERE to contact us.

Barta Media Group.  Gwinnett Web design We are web designers specializing in websites that are attractive, informative,  easy to navigate and search engine friendly.  Get a great site AND great rankings!