Webconsuls - Web Design, SEO, and SMO Specialists

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

GOOGLE Wants Fresh Content So Think Like A Window Dresser

Window shopping at Simpsons department store. ...Image via Wikipedia
Yesterday there were a number of GOOGLE headlines that went something like this: "Ten Recent Algorithm Changes."(See links to other articles below) I don't know about you, but whenever I read the word 'algorithm' I start to shudder. So in order to calm myself I try to think of an analogy that I can relate to our clients and help put things into everyday language.

One of GOOGLE's changes is a new twist on fresh content. They believe that if you are searching for something on the web, then you probably want the "freshest" information. I could argue that a lot of my searches are for historical information, but we will talk about that another time.  The reason I want to talk to you about fresh content is that this is a guideline that Webconsuls' team discusses with their clients on a regular basis, so now GOOGLE is again validating what all of us have really known for a long, long time.

"If you are trying to sell something, goods or services, you need to think like a window dresser."
Do you know what a window dresser is? You don't have to live in New York City to understand the importance of the professional window dresser. I am going to venture a guess that in any city, town, village or hamlet the most interestingly dressed store windows get the best traffic and probably can boast the best sales.

Now let's think about window shopping. Old fashion window shopping is free! Do you see what I mean? The free part is you being able to take yourself or your whole family to a store…like Macys or to a mall and walk around and touch the items, try on the items, dream a little, put something on lay-away…and maybe, just maybe be so pleased by the user experience you will eventually make a purchase. Virtual window shopping is also free, but one can't "touch" or "try on the goods", so the content quality needs to be fresh and inviting.
"The success of window dressing and window shopping is dependent on fresh content."
This isn't rocket science. The word algorithm makes it seem so, but it is really social science. When a person is looking for information, goods, services, they now tend to look on-line. They can buy items from all over the country, continent, or world. So how do you get their attention?  Simple! Be clear about what you are selling (in every sense of the word) and keep your content current and relevant.  Let me tell you a story...
"Some 30+ years ago I lived and worked in Hollywood, CA area. My office was on Vermont Avenue and I lived on Barham Blvd.  There was a wonderful gentleman who lived in my complex and owned a sundry store near the corner of Sunset Blvd and Vermont Avenue. My employer sometimes would ask me to go to the bank to make the daily commercial deposit, so one day as I am walking down Sunset Blvd I notice Sanford's little store. The window dressings were so old and dusty that I almost didn't walk in, but I wanted to say hi to my friend. When I got in the store what I saw was more dust, shampoo bottles with contents that had already separated and then I spotted Sandy behind the counter. I started to giggle and picked up one of the shampoo bottles...I asked him who would buy this stuff. He laughed and said: 'Judy, I am not in the business of selling sundries; I offer a check cashing service for a fee!' "
There was no window dressing that said "Check Cashing Service", in fact you had to creep around the store to discern that this service was the primary business. Do you see the irony in this story? I know you do. You might call this the "sales prevention department!" Again, it isn't rocket science.

So what can you do to make sure your content is fresh and refreshing?
  1. Review your site for accuracy. Do this on a regular basis. Look for "dust"!
  2. Remember to keep your webmaster informed about new products, locations, staff members, sales. 
  3. Take new photos.
  4. Consider publishing press releases.
  5. If you have a blog, check to see when you last published a post.  Remember each post is considered fresh content by GOOGLE. 
  6. If you have a business Facebook page, be sure to have it linked to your business website.
  7. Link all of your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn) to your website.
  8. Make sure your GOOGLE Places page is current. Read your reviews. Respond to your reviews.
And yes, there is this new thing called GOOGLE+ for business page.  I will be back in a few days to give you a primer in this latest way to keep your content fresh.

In the meantime...pretend you are a customer, go window shopping on your website, then pretend you are a window dresser. You may not care about fresh content, but GOOGLE does. What changes would you make? How would you freshen up your virtual storefront?



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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cheers to Blog World Expo Los Angeles 2011

"Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you wanna go..
Where everybody knows your name
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
the troubles are all the same.
you wanna be where everybody knows your name..."
Somewhere around 1982, Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo wrote these lyrics for the new sitcom "Cheers!" And for some strange reason when I think of Blog World Expo Los Angeles 2011(#BWELA) these lyrics just seem to fit. And yes I do know that many #BWELA attendees had not been born in 1982...but I am pretty sure they all know the lyrics and have felt the sentiment. Heck, I have even been to Boston's Bull & Finch Pub which served as the exterior for "Cheers!" To me the lyrics fit because while many people in the on-line world may know your name...there is a pretty good chance they can't pick you out in a crowd of 4000+, but it is a lot of fun trying and they really are glad you came. 

This was my third time attending Blog World Expo having participated in BWE09 and BWE10. Many bloggers have already posted their reviews and I am going to link to a number of those below, but I just wanted to take a few minutes to give you my overview.

Blog World Team

Judy with Rick Calvert- #BWELA


I must start by talking about the Blog World Team. If you have ever planned an event - tea party, wedding, golf tournament, business meeting, Thanksgiving dinner...then you know just a tiny bit of what goes into pulling off an event of this magnitude. I am pretty sure by next week Deb, Lara, Allison, Julie, Nikki, Dave and Rick will be laying the foundation for Blog World 2012. Really? I am sure the infrastructure is already in the works for 2012. So to the Blog World Team I say thank you for a job well done, seamlessly presented and for making all of us feel welcome.



 Exhibitors

We all like to go to conference exhibit halls. It really doesn't matter the nature of the conference, the exhibit hall is like trick or treating...you walk around meeting new people, getting a few gifts and if you are lucky you can learn about new software or hardware and take home something tangible to share with your co-workers or clients.  This year I met up again with Brett Wiltshire of BLOGGER. It was fun to reconnect with Brett and learn more about BLOGGER. I also stopped and talked to Tin Dizdarevic of ZEMANTA. I love Zemanta and have used it here on our blog and deployed it on client blogs for the last couple of years. It is just a great tool. My new find this year is POND5.  It will be my mission to share information about POND5 with my teammates and clients.  I don't know about you, but finding just the right photo/video/illustration for a website can be exhausting and I intend to really check out POND5.

Keynotes

I attended four Keynotes this year.
Jim Farley
  • Shani Higgins presenting Technorati's State of the Blogosphere was enlightening. Nice to know that 61% of bloggers are hobbyists! While Shani gave us a lot of statistics to chew on, it was Mikal Belicove of Entrepreneur Magazine that did as Jason Falls suggested in his session "asked better questions" of Shani. It was the exchange between Mikal and Shani that made the keynote powerful.
  • Brian Solis made us all feel welcome by offering us a free copy of his latest book "The End of Business as Usual" and Brian certainly did a great job of interviewing Jim Farley - Group Vice President, Global Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford Motor Company. Jim has a great story including the fact that his grandfather was the 389th employee hired by Ford Motor Company.  Jim's message: "Let people speak...listen...speak like them!" Enough said. I will make it a point to visit Ford Social and I will read Brian's book. 
  • Mitch Joel handily moderated the keynote session Building a New Media Empire with Lisa Stone, Deanna Brown and Michael Stelzner. A couple of great quotes from this session: "If you see a hole - you can build a business", "the most successful people write about what they love", and "provide service and band together!" 
  • Jordan Cooper is funny and I am glad I got to enjoy his comedy as he introduced the closing keynote. 

Sessions

When you purchase a two-day ticket, as opposed to the full conference - you risk missing meaningful and powerful sessions. Next year I will not make this mistake.  That is not to say that I did not enjoy the sessions I attended, but a number of people that I wanted to hear and meet spoke on Thursday and I arrived Friday morning.  In all I attended five sessions (there were hundreds!). Hmmm...
Jason Falls talking about B.S.
  • "The Use of Digital Application and Tools to Change Behaviors to Improve Health" was interesting, but probably would have been more so if I were in the medical field.  But still good to know that the health field is trying to make the most of social media. 
  • Jonathan Fields interviewed Chris Brogan and Leah Segedie in a "Lifestyle Makeover Roundtable". This was a very intimate (small group of people) and personal discussion about going through a lifestyle makeover.  There was great audience participation. 
  • Jason Falls' session "This Is All Such B.S.: How to tell and what to do when you're being had in blogging, social media and beyond..."  The title is enough to make you want to hear what Jason has to say.  Jason had a lot to say but the big take-away was: "Ask better questions and do your own work!"
  • I happened upon "How Dad Blogging Can Bust the Fatherhood Stereotypes" featuring Bruce Sallan, Jim Lin, Ron Mattocks and Kevin Metzger. And yes, I know, I am not a father...but I had a great father and I wanted to listen to what these Dad bloggers had to say. Sadly this session did not have a lot of participants.  It would have been better in a smaller room, but the content was over the top powerful.  Each gentleman offered such wonderful insights and they were well prepared...I became so involved with listening that I forgot to take copious notes.  But at the end Ron Mattocks gave me a gift of his book Sugar Milk and he signed my copy. I have started reading it...when a book can make you laugh out loud, then you know it is going to be great.
Live #blogchat

Mack Collier leading #blogchat at #BWELA
Live #blogchat was my fifth session. I have been participating in the on-line Twitter #blogchat for over a year. Every Sunday at 8:00PM Central time people get together on Twitter to chat about blogging. So to be part of Blog World's live #blogchat with Mack Collier was much anticipated and Mack did not disappoint his live audience. The topper was Mack's invitation for all of the live audience members to introduce themselves with their Twitter profile names. So much fun to meet @Sherree_W, @wordsdonewrite, @BruceSallan,  and @kikolani and to sit next to @allison_boyer in this live #blogchat.   Great event!


 Meeting People

My favorite part of Blog World Expo is meeting people who I have come to know through their blogs/websites or twitter.  For example, I have written about 501 Mission Place and finally I was able to meet Rob Hatch who is on the 501 Mission Place team. Also I was able to meet Chris BroganJacqueline Carly, Mack Collier, Julien Smith, Justin Levy and get re-acquainted with Darren Rowse.

So here's to Blog World Expo and stopping by the Sheraton Hotel's bar where many knew my name, but few knew my face!

Allison Boyer, Judy Helfand and Julie Bonner


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