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Published by Chris Hlubb , September 23rd, 2017
Ok Google, why are my keyword rankings so low
 
Have you ever found yourself wondering about a particular subject and when the decision is made to look it up, you find yourself picking up your smart phone and uttering words like “Hey Siri, what is…” or “Ok, Google, find me…” instead of typing in your query?

In this day and age of the microwave society, everybody wants things five minutes ago and nothing is simpler than speaking to your device of choice, whether it’s a phone or something like Amazon’s Alexa. Research is showing that even as early as 2014, 55% of teens and 41% of adults are using voice technology on a daily basis. Even though the same task can be completed by booting up your laptop (or trying to use those tiny keypads on your phone), it’s just so much faster to speak than to type. In fact, according to a 2016 Internet Trends Report by KPCB, the average human can speak 150 words per minute vs. 40 typed words per minute. That’s almost four times faster – no wonder this method of searching has become increasingly popular.

The whole goal of a voice search, as opposed to a search that you type into your favorite search engine, is to get an immediate answer. While some typed search engines are getting better at giving “instant” answers, typically these will net you a return of a listing of links that pertain to what you’ve asked in which you need to decipher the information you want. And it’s this main difference that is very impactful on how SEO will be handled as this technology continues to move forward.

apple watch voice search seo Having a casual conversation with a computer may have felt like science fiction years ago, but now, computer voice recognition software is getting much better at understanding what it is we want. In an article written earlier this year by Xuendong Huang, Microsoft announced that they were successful in their efforts to reduce errors in speech recognition to 5.1%, which happens to be the same error rate as a human. And it’s not just Microsoft – Google and other companies are getting much, much closer to understanding your commands as if you were conversing with another person.

And here why this is important with SEO. While keywords are an important part of a search, voice commands are geared more towards a natural speech pattern. One thought is that when building your SEO program, you might want to think about using speech patterns to help boost your rankings. People don’t use voice commands the way they type.

For example, if I want to know what movies will be playing this weekend in my city, I’ll typically type in something like “movies” and enter in a date and/or location, but with voice commands I can say something like “what movies are playing this weekend?” My mobile device is smart enough to know my location and is able to pull in the desired information. Questions are very common with voice searches, so you might want to think what could be asked about the information on your pages/products and integrate them into your SEO program.

I'm not saying that the age of the keyboard has gone the same way as the dinosaurs, but with voice recognition becoming much more widely used (and it is only expected to grow) people will need to start changing the way they think of how customers are searching for their products and act accordingly. It’s just the next natural step in an ever-changing technology world.

To learn more about the latest trends in SEO, contact Jane Cirigliano or Abby Spung at 800-606-1610.
 
 
 
 
Published by Jane Cirigliano , August 31st, 2017
Google AdWords New Features
Millions of businesses use Google AdWords to promote their products and services on the world's most used search engine. As Google usage grows, you don’t have to simply increase your ad spend to keep up with the competition.

Google is constantly adding new features and interfaces based on user feedback, search trends and automation. These features often help companies of any size stay competitive.
 
Ad Variations
In September 2017, Google AdWords will be adding new features geared toward improving campaign performance. Google will add new variations of your existing ads so you can test the performance of Google’s suggested improvements. You can edit or remove these ads at any point, and you can opt out of the service.
 
Google's machine learning will help advertisers display high performance ads automatically. The Smart Bidding feature helps advertisers who choose to optimize for conversions.
 
Maximizing Your Daily Budget
More changes are coming at the beginning of October. Have you ever noticed that your ads never seem to hit their daily budgets? Google has added new features to ensure that advertisers meet their click and conversion goals. Campaigns will be allowed to spend up to double their allotted daily budgets.
 
While on the surface, this sounds like your online spending could get out of hand quickly, it is set up to balance out. Google plans to take budgets from days where you don't meet your daily budget, like weekends in the B2B sector, and reallocate those funds to your busier days. Google has stated that spending will not exceed your monthly charging limit. Starting October 4, you'll want to make sure to adjust your monthly budgets accordingly.
 
New Google AdWords Interface
Finally, Google has been in the process of rolling out the beta of its new AdWords interface over the past few months. The new (and faster) Google AdWords will offer more insights into what is driving your best advertising results, as well as a more intuitive user experience.
 
Look for the new AdWords interface to be available to all AdWords customers in October 2017.
 
If you need help optimizing your pay-per-click account to take advantage of the latest AdWords features, contact Bill White or Abby Spung at 800-606-1610.
 
 
 
 
Published by Elizabeth Godfrey , July 18th, 2017
Why Creative Matters
A great creative team should be engaged in all aspects of your business, from your overall brand, print and digital content marketing pieces, and internal communications right down to your actual product or services. Though businesses often need little convincing to see the ROI for the latest technology, design is still considered difficult to quantify and “isolate as a function.” While it is true that creative cannot be broken down into a measurement of output, there are ways to identify what makes it valuable.
 
Understanding the Investment.
We are all consumers. Though we might not consciously know why we like some package designs more than others, chances are we have heard about the impact product packaging plays. Research shows that improving your product is a great first step that compounds your return when combined with good creative. Design goes hand-in-hand with good customer service and a quality product, especially as more customers engage with your company through digital materials. But if you have the best product – that speaks for itself, right? Not anymore.
 
As technology continues to advance and the growth in online shopping expands the global economy, superior products and customer service are no longer enough to separate you from the competition which is fiercer than ever now. Research has shown that those who come top in sales do so through design-driven initiatives.
 
Design Management Institute (DMI) is a membership organization that brings together design thought leaders across industries worldwide. They strive to both define good design and quantify the return on investment. DMI, in conjunction with Motiv Strategies, developed the dmi: Design Value Index to examine the performance outcomes of 15 design-centered, publicly traded US businesses in relation to the S&P 500. The dmi: Design Value Index quantified the ROI of design in terms of sales, profits, market share growth, and market valuation and determined definitively that those who invest in good creative show substantial advantages over those who do not. In fact, over a period of three years, these companies outperformed the S&P in excess of 200% each year.
 
Marketing experts and business leaders have no doubt that investing in good creative delivers the greatest ROI – design increases profits, company value, and is the surest way to outperform the competition. Investing in creative has tangible, long-term benefits as the importance of design and the strategic advantage it offers is unlikely to go away in the near future. What’s more, potential customers often judge your creative design, and your brand, before they ever experience your product.
 
 
What is Design?
Design is more than logos and color schemes. Good design is an investment that leads to greater profits. It is a creative solution to your problems that relies on function as much as aesthetics. The science is there. We are hardwired to process images far faster than we can process the written word. Visuals grab our attention. Yet good design isn’t just about aesthetics. It is a direct connection to your customers that helps lead them in the right direction.
 
Your website is your business digitized. Without investing in a creative team that understands how to develop an engaging design as well as a user-friendly interface you cannot expect to see a compelling ROI. Content may be king, but without a good design no one will stick around long enough to read even the most compelling copy. Furthermore, while a good product will keep your customers coming back, engaging and effective design of all your sales elements will help customers remember you and make them more likely to recommend your company to others.
 
Businesses who had:
Adapted from the Design Council
 
The Design Council UK is recognized internationally as an authority on strategic design. The non-profit organization has spent 70 years championing the value of creative and sees design as a social responsibility as it is used to solve real world problems no matter how big or how small. The organization’s “Value of Design Factfinder Report,” determined that “businesses that see design as integral are more than twice as likely as others to see rapid growth.”
 
OffWhite has spent more than 30 years providing creative solutions to clients in a wide array of industries. We have seen first-hand the value our meticulous design brings to these businesses. Let us map your problems and develop strategic solutions that are backed by research, innovative thinking, and a true understanding of who you are and what your company can do. Contact Bill White or Abby Spung at 800.606.1610 to see how a design-centered approach can set you apart from the competition.
 
 
 
 
Published by Russell Cooper, June 29th, 2017
Leadership for Growth
In my first article of this series, I suggested that growth is the exception, not the rule, in business affairs. Over the last 25 years, I have come to see how leadership makes all the difference in the world. We all have first-hand knowledge of one organization or another where stagnation, if not decline, is the hallmark. Then, the ship turns and fortunes rise with relative growth and prosperity.

The most perplexing cases are those where many of the environmental factors did not seem to change radically. The available markets were about the same, the economy was about the same, state of technology was about the same - why even most of the employees, customers, and competitors were the same! The only significant change was a new leadership structure - a few key individuals - that encountered the same set of circumstances and decided to set a new course. As the old saying goes: Personnel is Policy.

Growth and change are sometimes treated as two separate subjects in business, but I would suggest they are one and the same. More obvious shifts in leadership can occur when new blood is brought in from outside the organization. But sometimes change in fortunes can also arise from within moribund firms.

Stagnation can lead to frustration, and when that reaches a breaking point, individuals, ideas, and agendas - heretofore not understood, considered too junior, or believed to be too costly or risky - are given an opportunity to be tested. If growth is to become the order of the day, a firm must look beyond traditional structures and promotion pathways of personnel. Interestingly enough, over the years, it’s at junctures such as these that many of OffWhite’s clients have first turned to us for assistance. New directions and strategies often require fresh insights and new tools.   

What drives one leadership team to seek growth and success, when other managements remain satisfied with simply coasting? We rarely have to look beyond the usual suspects of human nature – fame, control, or financial reward. The simple reality is that growth affords more publicity and profit to share than merely existing year after year. But truly remarkable leaders create objectives and incentives that align their entire organizations to the mission and its success. This is critical to harnessing what may have previously been idle talent, passion and commitment within the ranks.

The job of the leader has its essentials - creating a consensus of vision, developing the appropriate supporting strategies, recruiting and organizing the talent to execute these strategies, and marshalling the needed resources. Nowhere are these responsibilities more important than when a new growth trajectory is embarked upon. One other responsibility stands out here - the ability to communicate, internally and outwardly, the truth of how things will be different than in the past. It’s for reasons such as these that OffWhite assists clients to not only explain what they do, but how and why they do it.

Growth can be achieved by a variety of means - entering new markets, creating service components, marketing and licensing agreements, new product development, etc. Regardless of method, what is important is that old Peter Drucker gem: "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it."
 
Skeptics of growth exist in every organization; the leader needs to define larger markets and smaller shares as a starting point. Developing and selling new products is always more difficult than doing so with those that already exist; the leader needs to break out the measurement of the relative success of the growth strategies and project the expected future impact. New initiatives must be over-weighted early on with regard to incentives and reward; if this appears a departure from traditional expectations, leadership must make the case that something larger is at stake.
 
Finally, unlike managing a longstanding, stable business, successfully leading new growth initiatives requires a creative understanding of critical paths, key milestones, and important tipping points; this is because timing resource commitments, and aligning the returns from them, will be unfamiliar territory for much of the organization.

Sometimes, growth requires heroic efforts of its leaders, but this can be overblown too. More often than not, what is really called for is creativity and thoughtfulness, determination and perseverance, and the ability to communicate with, and motivate, others. It is best undertaken with a serious, yet cheerful disposition. I suppose a little luck never hurt.

If you find yourself in a new position, charged with engineering growth for your organization, and need to take stock of inherited marketing practices, or simply seek a new partner to support your efforts, consider giving OffWhite an opportunity to explain its services and past results. For more information, contact Bill White or Russell Cooper at 800-606-1610.
 
 
 
 
Published by Jane Cirigliano , May 30th, 2017
SSL Security and Google
An SSL certificate allows you to submit sensitive information securely over an encrypted internet connection. While SSL certificates have primarily been used for ecommerce websites in the past, recent Google algorithm updates are giving preference to companies who take security seriously.
 
Google's HTTPS ranking signal started with a low impact in early 2017. The search engine has indicated that the weight of security on rankings may increase in the future as Google wants to "encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web."
 
Not only does having an SSL certificate help your search engine rankings, it also alleviates confusion following browser security updates. For example, Firefox and Chrome now give users security errors on any form they fill out on a non-secure site (any site without an HTTPS prefix). Filling out a lead generation form or even doing something as innocuous as logging into a webmail account on a server that doesn't use an SSL certificate now looks suspicious.
 
 
As internet users become more aware of security when submitting their personal information, SSL certificates will become necessary for successful lead generation campaigns. Trust is key to prospects providing their information through contact and content marketing lead generation forms. If prospects are concerned that their personal information could be intercepted or misused, they are less likely to share their information.
 
If you have noticed a decrease in your website leads or search engine rankings over the past few months, the lack of HTTPS/SSL on your website could be the culprit. And if you haven't experienced any negative effects of new security updates yet, take preventative action now.
 
To learn more about the latest trends in SEO and how you can improve your business's visibility, contact Bill White or Abby Spung at 800.606.1610.
 
 
 
 
 
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