What do you see?

What do you see, Annie?

I like to play a game with my 2.5 year old. Every so often, I will ask her “Hey Annie, What do you see?”

Then, she will look around and tell me everything she sees. Usually, we play this game in the car, and her responses start off like this.

Annie: Mommy, I see the road. I see the sky. I see trees (stuff everyone sees when they are glancing, but not really looking).
Annie: I see a bird.
Me: What else?
Annie: The bird is flying.
Me: What else?
Annie: The bird is brown.
Me: What else do you see?
Annie: The bird is by another bird.
Me: What else do you see?
Annie: Now I see letters.

And the game continues…

I like to play this game for a couple reasons. First, it keeps her occupied. For any of you that have children, you know the value of an occupied child, especially while you are driving. Secondly, I’m trying to teach her to look beyond the obvious and really see things–to see things that others might not see, or to see things that even she would not see if she wasn’t looking.

What do you see as a freelancer and/or a business owner?

While this game is perfect for parenting, it’s also great to apply to our lives as business owners.

How often do we stop and look and really see things?

 

To finish reading the article click here to the original site where the article was published.

 

Recent Online Marketing Updates!

online marketing update

Here’s what you missed!

online marketing update

Have you been so caught up in the World Cup, you haven’t had time to keep up with your online marketing news? Well, here is what you missed!

YouTube just announced they will be launching an app to help content creators. The app is designed to give content creators the ability to manage their channel on the go.

Search Engine Journal recently interviewed a handful of SEO experts about the value of link building in light of Google search algorithm changes. Check out their website for information on how to adjust your SEO strategy. This is an article you don’t want to miss!

In the Google+ world, it’s important to note that you can now connect your Google+ Business Page to your Google Maps listing. Hurray!

For all of those who use the All in One SEO WordPress Plugin pack, pay attention. To forego any potential security breaches, update your plugin now.

Bing just announced the next version of Bing Ad Editor will have extended targeting enhancements to help you increase ROI.

Pinterest is now offering new and improved business tools including improved analytics to help you really understand what content people are pinning from your site.

Google Places’ bulk location tool will be updated to help you more effectively manage your account and your Google+ pages.

Google also announced they are making a big change in the authorship search results. Google is getting rid of the profile photo and circle count from the authorship search listings.

Finally, Facebook officially finished rolling out their new page design. If you haven’t yet switched to the new look, consider switching over today.

And, that’s all for this week’s marketing update. Stay tuned to Searchlight Content for next week’s updates.

Top 10 Benefits of Social Media Marketing

Top 10 Benefits of Social Media Marketing

Are you a business owner who is interested in understanding all of the benefits of social media marketing? This quick presentation will give you an idea of just how much bang for your buck you are getting when you invest in a social media marketing campaign.

For more information, contact us at Searchlight Content today.

How to Design your Website for the Subconscious Mind!

How to Design your Website for the Subconscious Mind

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 7.36.16 PM

Have you ever pulled into the parking lot, and suddenly realized you can’t remember how you got there? If so, you were operating with your subconscious mind – the trigger behind brain autopilot. This part of your brain doesn’t require you to really think or take action before making a decision.

As humans, we rely heavily on our subconscious instinct. Amazingly, 95% of the time our behavior and our decisions, including web actions and purchases, are influenced by the subconscious mind.

Understanding subconscious behaviors is the key to influencing the conscious ones (aren’t all those chocolate cravings/binges now making sense?). The subconscious mind is often how a user interacts with your website. This is why your website needs to keep users engrossed, not only on a conscious, but also on a subconscious level. One of the best ways to engage the subconscious minds of your audience is through design.

Psychology 101

Before talking more about design tips that will help your visitors stay engaged, it’s important to understand some basics of psychology. From the serial position effect in psychology, we know that people are most likely to pay attention and remember the beginning and end of sequential information. And, as the graph below displays, it’s true!

jess1

Additionally, web users spend 80% of their time looking at information above the page fold. This is because the brain doesn’t want to be bothered with more information than is necessary. Our subconscious brain is smarter and faster than the conscious brain. And, the browsing brain is frustrated by any tasks that take too long to figure out (e.g. think of the amount of concentration it takes for standardized test prep).

jess2

What does this mean for your website? It’s simple. Design your site so that the user’s brain doesn’t have to work to absorb the information. Gear your site toward the lazy brain.

Tip #1 – Put what you want visitors to see at the top

Website users have the attention span of 5 year olds. We all want fast and concise information. If your readers have to take effort to read or scroll down to the important content (be it text or visuals), you are more likely to lose your audience. Put the important information first.

Tip #2 – Consistency is key

Consistency is also important in web design. This tip isn’t meant to upset your creative flow as a designer, or trample on ideas you have to make your site stand out in the crowd. But, truth be told, people are motivated by ritual and superstition.When a website is consistent with rituals that are comfortable and familiar, it is more easy to navigate. Website users have developed habits over time that evoke a subconscious feeling of ease when used.

Sites that are built this way are trustworthy. Ensure your site takes into account these traditions. Websites that are difficult and force people to change habits to use them lead to high bounce rates. Review what highly successful Websites do to build consistency.

Some excellent examples include the following.

1. Tyright – Tyreright makes it easy to browse their website with their featured search bar. A visitor can do an immediate search to get to the content they desire. Their menu is accessible, and within the first heading you can get an idea about what they do.

jess3

2. Food Sense – Check out this design. Food Sense has a navigation menu directly where your eye starts to read, and all the important highlights at the top. Below the main photo, you can see additional content for visitors that wish to indulge a bit more, but it doesn’t take away from the clarity of the message above that the subconscious mind will notice.

jess4

Now, let’s look at an example of a site that classic site elements and ended up with a not so great user experience.

1. Lingscars.com –Yikes! Where do I begin? This site has so much going on, my immediate reaction is to close the site. It almost confused me with a pop up advertisement. Elements that a user is familiar with such as a traditional navigation menu, clean design and obvious navigation are not present at all. The subconscious mind may not have the energy to decipher through the mess of this site.

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Tip #4 – Design your content for both men and women

This doesn’t mean you have to include sports stats and makeup tips, but what it does suggest is to make sure you expose your information with images and visuals as well as providing specific information. This will encompass both genders. In this eye-tracking study, men and women were asked to view profiles users on a dating site. The results suggest that men spent most of their time focusing on the images, while women spent their time reading the information provided. If your site can accomplish both, you will effectively communicate with both genders.

Tip #5 – Use hypnotic words like “You”

What could be more “subconscious” that playing with hypnotic words? According to Bnonn with Kissmetrics, this is Sales101 – using you is an obvious plus. The reason, though, is because the hypnotic power this word carries plays on the subconscious mind. We refer to these words as hypnotic because of a psychological effect called Fundamental Attribution Error. It proposes that while we are naturally prone to be critical of others, our minds take a break when we are evaluating ourselves.

So, when people talk about us or to you, we to be captivated. What they’re saying bypasses the critical factor—and all that’s left then is to stimulate the subconscious mind. And to us, there is nothing as stimulating to us as our own interests, desires, ambitions, goals, yearnings and emotions. Let’s look at an example from MailChimp’s homepage.

Look at the use of the word you. It is used three times in the first sentence, the first time being the third word. It appears again as the third word of the second sentence. And to top it off, they also use the word “personal” to emphasize how much this service is for you. This example shows a clear motivation behind Mailchimp to play on the viewer’s subconscious. 

mailchimp

Now that we have talked a little about visual design and smart copy, let’s talk about the pattern of web content. We can apply this to improve our web design.

Tip #6 – Design with the “F” pattern in mind

Shane Jones highlights this study that discovered website users repeatedly consume web pages in an F-pattern. This pattern has three parts:

  1. Website users being reading horizontally across the top of the content area, forming the top bar of the “F.”
  2. Users move down the page a bit and then read across again horizontally, though usually covering less content than the first movement. This forms the second bar of the “F.”
  3. Finally, users scan down the left-hand side of the content, forming the stem of the “F.” The F-pattern finding has several things web designers and marketers can take away. First, make sure to include the most important information in the beginning where users can scan across the screen horizontally. Also, begin headings and lists with a couple resilient keywords to keep the users’ attention as they scan vertically. Remember, users rarely read text word-for-word, so your placement of information is key.

jess6

Take a look at your site and see what tips can improve the subconscious perception of your visitors. Don’t make their brains work too hard to absorb the message your desire. Key in on putting the most important information at the top, having a consistent design, speaking directly to your audience, including both genders and taking the “F pattern” to heart. You are sure to improve the user experience to your site and achieve maximum communication with your visitors.

Author

Jessica Stoker

 

 

 

 

@onanotherwhim, Jessica Stoker, flies the friendly skies. She’s a globetrotter, an ancient history enthusiast, a staff writer for Searchlight Content, and appreciates anything that touches the soul. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

This Week’s Online Marketing Updates in Review

online marketing updates

A quick review of this week’s online marketing updates from Searchlight Content

online marketing updates

Have you been too busy to read through all of the popular online marketing blogs this week? If so, you’re not alone!

At Searchlight Content, we know it can be hard to keep up with all of the updates happening in the social and search world, so we’ve compiled a short video to help keep you in the loop. Check it out! Transcript of this week’s online marketing updates

In the social media world…

Twitter added a MUTE feature to hush the people you don’t want to hear from. Muting deletes their tweets from your timeline. Awesome.

Facebook is rolling out a new “ask” feature for the relationship status that allows you to flirt online more effectively. Once you clicm on “Ask” about a relationship status, Facebook provides a space to expand upon your request.

Pinterest is beta testing Promoted Pins to make sure they are tasteful, transparent, and relevant. Stay tuned! This could be huge.

Social Media Examiner just released their 6th Annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report. Visit their blog to download it. It’s definitely worth the read.

In Google news…

There are 10+ new AdWords features including enhanced reporting, bulk editing capabilities, automated bidding tools. Go check it out.

Google also added new features for mobile app makers, making it way easier for you to get the visibility you seek. That’s not all from Google this week.

Google just made changes to the restaurant search experience on Android by allowing users to filter result. It’s easier than ever to find excellent cuisine wherever you are.

Finally, Google also just released the Panda 4.0 algorithm updates. In case that concerns you, keep this in mind from Matt Cutts.

Matt explains that small sites can compete with big sites on Google by providing superior content, focusing on user experience, and delivering more value.

There’s hope for small brands to become big brands as they focus on delivering quality. This week’s update was brought to you by Searchlight Content. Thanks for listening. And remember, stay tuned for next week’s update.

Author

By: Ashley R. Cummings, @ashleyrcummings, owner of Searchlight Content. Connect with her on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.

AshleyRCummings

Reasons Why Pinterest’s Guided Search is Huge for Search Engine Marketing

Pinterst Guided Search

Reasons Why Pinterest’s Guided Search is Huge for Search Engine Marketing

Last week was one of the most exciting weeks in terms of both social media and search engine marketing. The reason? Pinterest introduced and awesome new feature that, I believe, will change the face of both social media and search engine marketing—Pinterest Guided Search.

Pinterst Guided Search

 

What is Pinterest Guided Search?

Pinterest Guided Search is a new mobile feature that allows Pinterest users to easily discover what they want to find. Now a Pinterest user can type a keyword into a search bar, refine their search, and find awesome websites from Pinterest’s database of 30 billion pins. Here’s how Pinterest Guided Search works. 1. Login to Pinterest from your mobile device, and type your search term into the search bar at the top. For example, I typed in “travel.”

pinterest guided search

2. Scroll through different categories to refine your search. This feature allows you to browse through various options. I seleccted “Europe” as my category, because that’s where I plan on traveling next.

Pinterest Guided Search 3. Search through all pin boards, or just your own pins. This allows you to more easily find popular pins, and/or to find pins you’ve previously pinned.Pinterest Guided Search

4. Select a pin and visit the pin’s host website or blog.

Pinterest Guided Search It’s as easy as that. Once you’ve logged into Pinterest, you’re well on your way to spending a good 30 minutes of your day finding awesome stuff.

Why Does Pinterest Guided Search Rock?

There are a few different reasons why I’m super pumped about Pinterest Guided Search, and I’m actually quite surprised more Internet marketers aren’t happily freaking out about it.  Here are the reasons why I not only am spazzing out about this, but also feel confident saying that Pinterest is about to play a ginormous, if not leading, role in search engine marketing.

1. Visual content is at an all time high, and Pinterest is all about visuals. It’s no secret that a large chunk of your marketing budget should be spent on investing in visual content. The reason? Here are just a few stats from Wishpond.com and Hubspot to give you an idea of how influential visual marketing can be:

    • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual
    • Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster by the brain than text
    • 67% of consumers give more weight to visual content than product info or other text

One of the best ways to bust into the search marketing world is by taking advantage of visual content. It’s no secret that Pinterest does this better than both Google and Bing.

2. Pinterest is one of the fastest growing and most influential social media sites. Pinterest is only 3 years old (a toddler in the Internet marketing media world), and yet they have already managed to accomplish all of the following. Pinterest has:

    • 70 million users, and is growing every day
    • 30 billion pins
    • 750 million boards
    • 500,000 Pinterest business accounts

While these stats provide insight into Pinterest’s wide reach and huge growth, it’s important to consider why this is even important to marketers. Consider these stats from Social Media Today:

  • Conversion rates for Pinterest are 50% higher than conversion rates from other traffic sources
  • Pinterest is the highest converting social media site
  • Pinterest buyers spend more money than other top social media site users
  • 47% of online consumers (in the US) have purchased something recommended on Pinterest
  • Pinterest generates 4 times more revenue per click than Twitter
  • Pinterest generates 27% more per click than Facebook

That, my Internet marketing friends, is something to care about.

3. Pinterest guided search combines search and browse smartly. We all know that people like to search and that people like to browse. In fact, people conduct billions of searches per day on Google, and the average Internet user spends at least 37 minutes/day browsing on social media. The cool thing about Pinterest is it combines the best of search and browse in order to capture, and keep, the attention of consumers.

What does this Mean for Search Marketers?

So all of this information is fine and dandy for the Internet browser/social media user, but what does this mean for search markers? In other words, what can you do to take this information, incorporate it into your marketing strategy, and to capture leads. Consider the following tips in order to leverage this information to your advantage.

1. Pay attention to Pinterest – Pinterest is not just a social network for handy DIYers. It’s a growing social network that is making its way into the search marketing world. Pinterest has a huge following, and you should do everything to make sure you own a good portion of Pinterest real estate.

2. Pinterest can be a huge source of referral traffic – Pinterest is already a huge source of referral traffic, but now that it includes search, it can potentially mean even more referral clicks, repins, and authoritative links. Pinterest is a great way to grow your following, get referral traffic, and build relevant links.

3. Include visuals in your blog and on your website – Since Pinterest is centered on visual content, make sure you include captivating images on your website. If this means you need to hire a photographer and a designer, then do it. The return on investment will be well worth the initial investment.

4. Make your content Pinnable – If you are looking to increase your chances of showing up in Pinterest search, make sure to add a pin button to all of your images. Here are some quick instructions on how to add a hover pin button to your images.

5. Pay attention to your pin descriptions – Just like any search engine, Pinterest relies on your descriptions to understand what your content is about, and to understand how to sort your content. As such, it’s important to write robust pin descriptions, and even pre-fill your Pinterest pin descriptions. That way, when someone shares your pin, the information is already there for them, working to their and your advantage.

6. Use hashtags— Hashtags for Pinterest are kind of like keywords for search marketing. This means the same rules apply. You want 1-2 relevant and well-established hashtags included in your pin descriptions, but you don’t want to over-do it. That means you should have more than 2 hashtags in your pin descriptions.

7. Have fun – Pinterest is all about providing fun and cool content to people who are looking for it. That means take the time to create and pin content that you find fun and interesting. Even if you are pinning from a business, you can still make it personable and fun. The better your pinning strategy, the more people will gravitate to it, and that means good things for your marketing strategy.

8. Blog – What kind of content marketer would I be if I didn’t put in a quick plug for a business blog? It’s important to keep in mind that Pinterest pins come 100% from websites and business blogs. That means if you want to take part in the fun, you need to produce compelling content on your blog and/or website. One of the best ways to do this is through blogging.

For more information about online marketing, or for help creating a solid content strategy, please contact us at Searchlight Content today. We would be happy to help you!

Author

Ashley R. Cummings Freelance Writer
Ashley R. Cummings

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: Ashley R. Cummings, @ashleyrcummings, owner of Searchlight Content. Connect with her on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.

 

What You Need to Know about Facebook Marketing

Facebook marketingBecause Facebook is so ubiquitous, you may believe you understand everything there is to know about it. However, from a marketing standpoint, there are still plenty of features that may not be completely understood. And while most people generally agree that it is one of the best marketing venues available, there is no end to the complaints that business and marketers have about the platform. The underlying reason behind all these complaints, however, is not because Facebook is bad for marketing or difficult to use, but in fact because people do not really understand how to use it properly. And that’s okay—Facebook has rolled out a lot of new features recently that may make it more difficult to use, but also make it a better marketing platform. Let’s take a look at a few things you need to know about Facebook and Facebook marketing.

1. What are Partner Categories? In short, partner categories is how Facebook targets individuals. By linking up with a few other data moguls, Facebook now has access to piles of information about their users, and not just what they “like” based on the Facebook usage—but also what they have purchased, what they have searched, and analysis of what they are likely to purchase, based on those behaviors. While this may sound a little Big Brother-esque, it helps you as a marketer get your ads in front of the most receptive audience.

2. Failing organic reach is your problem, not Facebook’s problem. This year, Facebook made some changes to the way they compile the newsfeed, some of which have caused marketers some serious strain. For example, they cut down on text updates from brands, as most users reported that text updates were not adding value to their feed. While marketers took this as a personal assault, it is actually a reflection of the fact that most brands were failing to properly use their update capability. Pages that publish only relevant and useful content are actually growing, even in the face of this cutback.

3. Marketers need to utilize the bigger timeline picture format. Pictures on the newsfeed are now bigger than they have ever been before, and because pictures are reported to be more engaging than almost any other kind of post, marketers need to start taking advantage of this larger plot. Remember, Facebook as that 20% text rule, so pictures provide a great way to engage consumers without maxing out the text potential.

 4. Focus on quality. For some reason, there is still the expectation that if brands post a lot, it will keep their name at the forefront of the consumer mind. In reality, it will annoy the consumer and encourage them to disengage from your page. Focus on presenting quality updates, with real value to the customer—not just to the brand. The right balance is one to two posts per day. Any higher than four and most people will start to be annoyed.

Author

Emily Danielson is a freelance writer at Searchlight Content.

Why Hire a Freelance Writer for your LinkedIn Blog

linkedin bloggingIn the past LinkedIn’s blogging features was just for Influences. Now, with the capability open to everyone, many people are excited about taking advantage of this new platform, which can help to increase both authority and visibility. Even regular users can tap into the blogging platform, and every time the user publishes something, it becomes immediately available on their individual LinkedIn page and is shared with everyone they are connected to.

Even if you are not connected to some users, but find value in the content that they publish, you do have the option to follow their blog, and be alerted when they post new content. This means that even people you are not connected to can find, read, and follow your blog, expanding your sphere of influence beyond just your connections.

While this platform is still in Beta, the entirety of LinkedIn will soon have access to a brand new, highly useful blogging medium. What are you going to do with yours? As you carefully decide how you are going to use your blog, consider hiring a skilled freelance writer or content marketing agency. This is especially important for brands and marketers, who may not have anyone on staff who either has time or expertise to write useful, engaging blog articles about relevant topics.

These blogs do pose a potential danger to the life of a brand, if they are not used properly. If the updates are not carefully crafted, if they do not have the right level of engagement and value, the desired audience will not show interest, and the blog will fail to drive traffic. On the other hand, the right content can greatly increase a brand (or individuals) visibility and credibility. Even something as seemingly mundane as the content on this blog can be the clincher between new customers and disinterested consumers. As time continues, experts believe that brands with a blank blog will begin to be glossed over, as they will not show the necessary engagement in the social network requisite for consumers to show interest.

Instead of either leaving the blog blank or filling it with generalized content, do not be wary of farming out your blog’s content to someone who understands not only how to write an engaging blog post, but also how to make it relevant for your audience. The best part about hiring a freelance writer for your blog is that posts are not dependent on whether or not a member of the staff has time to write a post.

All of the research, writing, and promotion can be outsourced to someone who has real knowledge and skill, not only in the field of writing. The world of blogging can be difficult for a newcomer to break into—so look for an individual with plenty of experience, and one who can help you quickly build a foundation of informative articles, as well as a constant and consistent presence.

Author

Emily Danielson is a guest blogger at Searchlight Content.

 

Tips for Making the Most of LinkedIn

LinkedInLinkedIn is perhaps the most underutilized marketing tool, both for individuals and for business. It is, however, growing quickly and is the best way to make valuable business connections that can pay off not only online, but also in the real world. Some people relegate this business-centric social media simply to housing their online resume—but it’s so much more powerful than that. Not only can you create a marketable profile for yourself, you can also use one of the new tools LinkedIn has created to get in touch with relevant business connections.

1. Write and share articles. While other social networks are perfect for sharing humorous articles, LinkedIn is the perfect place to start building authority on professional topics. Use your LinkedIn page to share articles that are relevant not only to your interests, but also to your industry. You can even start writing your own articles, or outsource your writing to us, to increase how authoritative you appear on topics relevant to your career.

2. Get rid of irrelevant connections. When you first started out, you might have treated LinkedIn like any other social media, connecting with whoever connected to you. Now that you’re ready to really make the most of your profile, go through and drop the connections that really have nothing to do with your industry and that have no real business application. Be discriminate—and don’t feel badly about cutting out those who aren’t working for you. In truth, you’re probably not working for them, either.

3. Make the most of the information gleaned from the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” menu. Though most people believe that this features can really only be utilized when you are a premium member, even non-premium members can see how viewers are finding them online. Once you know where your views are coming from, you can start optimizing your page accordingly.

4. Join relevant groups. Through group-joining feels more like an activity for the Facebook crowd, joining groups on LinkedIn can help boost your visibility, especially in your industry. Not only can you expand your network this way, becoming a part of more exclusive groups will make your more attractive to potential business connections.

5. Make sure to endorse and write recommendations for your connections. Not only will this increase your own visibility, it will encourage those connections to make endorsements and write recommendations for you. When you write your recommendations, be sure to make them a specific as possible, so that they appear as sincere as they are.

6. Utilize the “Summary.” While it may be difficult to summarize your career and goals into one small box, try to include some relevant bullet points that are easy to scan and attractive for potential connections. Don’t be afraid to use keywords and buzzwords that will stand out to readers and that will make your profile easier to find through Google. If know that someone is looking for a “web design professional,” for example, use that keyword in your summary box.

Author

Emily Danielson is a guest blogger at Searchlight Content.