Last week, we launched a new website for Lane Leaders! Lane Leaders is an exclusive “one business per category” referral and networking group that we were honored to become a part of a little more than a year ago.
In just a few months, Deanna earned an award for being “Rookie of the Year” and throughout the pandemic, she has been moderating the ZOOM meeting sessions once a week (at 7am), working hard to help ensure that everyone stays connected.
The new website became a labor of love for our entire team and we’re very proud of it. It will promote and support the myriad of small businesses that are fellow members, and who we have become very fond of throughout the past year. We are now moving on to phase 2 of this project, which is for members only.
The new site features an awesome Business Directory. If you are searching for a service, restaurant, consultant, and more — start with Lane Leaders. Every business is vetted and highly recommended! See it here.
While the terms and practices aren’t new to us, you’ve probably never heard of them. However, in a day and age where more and more businesses are being sold a lie when it comes to Search Engine Optimization, we’re finding it’s important you (the business owner) know about white hat SEO techniques.
So why are we talking about headgear accessories? What does it mean in terms of search engines? Fortunately, white hat (and its opposite, black hat) are pretty simple terms, but they cover a comprehensive attitude toward SEO and a variety of techniques geared toward that attitude.
For the record – UplinkSpyder is strictly White Hat SEO – we don’t even dabble in that grey hat that everyone else seems to. Read on.
What is White Hat SEO?
In a nutshell, white hat SEO techniques are the good guy method of Search Engine Optimization. White hat SEO follows the rules, such as Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, while still maximizing the search engine rankings of a website.
Quickly defined, “white hat” is any practice that will improve search rankings AND maintain the integrity of your website AND follow the search engine’s rules.
Why are White Hat SEO Techniques so Important?
When a webmaster, or your amazing digital marketing firm (hint hint), delivers quality content with integrity in a fast, user-friendly format, that is white hat SEO. Marketing firms that employ white hat SEO make content easy to find through the use of descriptive keywords and meta-tags.
White hat SEO is important if you want to maintain a good relationship with Google, and thereby get better rankings and standing in search engine results. If you follow the rules, i.e. the Webmaster Guidelines, and keep the search engines happy, you can climb rankings, please customers, and not get banned by Google.
Why do People Use Anything Other than White Hat SEO Techniques?
It’s always a temptation to pick the “quick and easy” path to meet your goals, even if it leads to breaking some rules or using dishonest redirects, cloaking, etc. What a lot of people don’t like is that white hat SEO takes time. It’s natural and can be a slow process (especially for industries with lots of competition). Black hat SEO likes to speed up that process by using unethical techniques. It’s so common, unfortunately, that there’s even what some people call, “grey hat.” Grey hat is pretty much still black hat but deemed ok because “everyone else is doing it.”
Big Bad Black Hat
Black hat SEO is the practice of using tricks and manipulation to bump up traffic and engagement but doesn’t follow quality guidelines. Black hat practitioners think that by using underhanded methods, they’ll trick users into engaging with their content or giving them traffic; they consider fast and dramatic results are more important than building a loyal customer base or a strong brand.
Digital marketers who use black hat SEO don’t consider the risks or take them seriously. What’s really heartbreaking about this is innocent, hard-working business owners will hire these marketers and pay too much, only to have their site flagged by Google. And these days a website that can’t be found online can mean death for a new business.
Some Common Black Hat SEO Tactics are:
Keyword Stuffing: We just don’t do this. It’s dumb. Your target keyword should only be used as it fits in the content naturally.
Duplicate Content (stealing it from other successful sites): We use industry-standard tools to ensure every.single.word we write for you is absolutely nowhere else on the internet.
Splogging: This is where so-called writers or SEO experts throw keywords in a program that spits out “content.” If you’ve ever seen content that literally makes NO SENSE – that’s what happened.
Paying for Backlinks: Backlinks are your friend. But paying for backlinks is like paying for friends. Just don’t do it.
Google takes extreme measures against any form of spam or dishonesty; they may block part or all of a website, or merely drop that site’s rankings in search results. This is clearly not ideal.
5 White Hat SEO Techniques
At this point, hopefully, you see the advantages in knowing what the guidelines are for white hat SEO. Read on to learn the top 5 best techniques for practicing white hat SEO so you know what to look for when hiring a digital marketing firm.
1. Provide Quality Content
This is the obvious one, and the most difficult. It’s tempting to pull content from other websites or throw thin, quickly-researched content onto your site just so you have something for users to look at. Putting the time and work into creating and curating quality content for your users will reap the most benefits in the long run.
2. Research Keywords
Keywords are the best tool for finding the right demographic for your business and website. When users run a Google search for their keywords, you want the right users to find your content. In other words, the users who are most likely going to benefit from and engage with your content because they are the ones that are most likely to convert. Google’s Keyword Planner tool is extremely helpful for keyword research and your white hat SEO techniques.
3. Create Easy Navigation
Develop your website so that it is fast and easy to find specific content. Also, make sure to speed up your site’s loading times as much as possible so that users don’t have to wait impatiently. Making your site mobile-friendly is imperative so that you can engage with all of the smart device users. This will help you keep users who stumble on your site because it’s not difficult or time-consuming for them to use.
4. Follow Search Engine Policies
As mentioned earlier in this article, following Google’s Webmaster Guidelines will keep your website safe from penalties and is the mark of good white hat SEO. You and Google have this in common: you want your website visitors to be happy and to keep coming back. Following guidelines will help you do that.
5. Post Frequent Content
The more consistently you update and post on your website, the more you will build a loyal consumer base because they know they can depend on you for up-to-date and fresh information, whether it’s a blog, formatting updates, or new events or products.
So that’s the scoop on white hat SEO techniques and how you can use them to build a reputation for integrity and honesty online. UplinkSpyder can assist with any of your business’ web development or internet marketing needs. We are a full-service provider and dedicated to making our clients successful.
When it comes to the steps of brand building it can often be overwhelming, whether you’re a startup or simply rebranding. That’s why we decided to give you 5 steps in the brand building process that you can begin doing right now. So what is this branding thing all about? What does it mean for your business? How do you develop a unique brand that will not only draw customers in but keep them?
What Exactly is a Brand Build?
In an article written by Deanna back in 2015, she describes the building of your brand as “not one thing. It is the TOTAL experience you provide, either to your clients or your employees. Everything someone sees, smells, hears, touches or tastes, as it relates to your business, is a part of your unique brand.”
A recognizable brand is worth its weight in revenue. You want customers to think of your brand first when a specific need comes up, or to associate your brand with a positive business trait, such as friendliness, speedy service, or honest quoting. Building your business’ brand is an essential phase in creating a strong business presence, great marketing, and a devoted customer base.
However, how do you go about building a successful brand like that? Read on for our top five steps in the brand building process so that you will be ready to develop your own business strategically.
The 5 Steps of Brand Building
1. Research The Target Market for Your Brand
You need to make sure you know who you are selling to before you can strategize further on what you are selling them and how. With that in mind, you need to:
Identify your target market
Find out what they need
Brainstorm the best ways to meet their needs
Determining your market and finding out what makes them tick will help you understand what your short- and long-term goals should be. You want your ideal customer to feel appreciated and satisfied with the product or service that you’re providing them.
One helpful exercise for this step is to brainstorm “buyer personas” for your potential customers. What kind of person would be interested in your product? Your research should inform you of your target market’s geographical location, economic status, age, and gender.
2. Write a Mission Statement for Your Brand
This should address all of the following areas:
Your brand’s personality and voice. Is it sassy? Clever? Sensible?
Your brand’s business image and style. Is it professional? Informal? Thrifty? Top-of-the-line? What is your business aesthetic in advertising? What style of writing will stand out as belonging to your business?
Your brand’s specific strengths. What is your brand better at than anyone else?
Your brand’s unique place in the market. Why should customers choose you over others?
Answering these questions will allow you to set specific goals for your business to maintain consistency with your brand’s mission statement. Once you do this, you can make decisions based on whether an opportunity or idea matches your mission statement. This clarity will also help keep your business consistent, which will help you build a reputation as being reliable to customers.
3. Strategize Your Advertising
Promotion is essential to starting and maintaining a thriving business. Whether it’s online, in person, or on a billboard, you need strong advertising to remain consistent and thereby help your brand. Today’s digital age all but demands social media and a blog for your business.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the “Big Three” social media platforms that you should make a part of your brand building in order to maintain a presence online. A blog for your business is good, but not if you can’t update regularly. Consistent content online will keep you in the front of your existing customers’ minds and bring you to the attention of new customers. If you can afford other advertising, utilize the avenues that will be consistent with your brand’s mission statement.
4. Figure Out Your Pitch
This goes hand-in-hand with Step 3 but is geared more for fellow industry professionals and investors. Keeping your mission statement in mind, practice an “elevator pitch” for what your business is all about. This pitch will come in handy when you make contacts or develop relationships for your business. Along with a pitch, make sure you can quickly write or verbalize your brand’s strategy. You want to clearly and concisely interest them in getting involved or investing.
5. Network, Network, Network
Got your pitch ready? Good. This step is all about making friends and getting people interested in your brand. If your business has a blog, make a list of potential companies that might be interested in co-branding. Don’t look for companies precisely like yours; look for businesses that offer something that can complement but not replace your service or product. Reach out to them and see if they’re interested in linking to you (you can link to them in return) or teaming up on advertising.
Also- get away from the desk and computer and join your local networking groups. BNI is a popular one throughout the nation, and most towns have networking groups unique to them.
Following these five steps to brand building will provide positive results for your business. Besides that, however, it will make your work a lot easier: The more specifics you have nailed down for your brand, the less time you waste figuring out which direction to go or whether an idea is right for your business goals.
Most importantly, the better hold you have on your brand, the stronger it will appear to your customers, and the more they will remember it.
If you don’t have the time or resources to strengthen your brand yourself, consider hiring someone to help. Our team is equipped and ready to begin the steps of brand building for your company. Contact us today to set up an appointment.
We’re not saying you need to be Jimmy Fallon funny, we’re just saying it certainly wouldn’t hurt if you were. That’s because more and more studies are coming out confirming what we kind of already know – humor in marketing works.
However, we don’t just want to tell you what to do, we want to show how effective humor can be, especially humor in marketing strategies. Let’s take a look at a company that has mastered humor in their marketing and see what lessons we can take from it.
ChatBooks- Humor in Marketing Perfection
ChatBooks. Yep – you heard us right.
Chatbooks – those plain square books that pull your pictures from Instagram and categorize them all by the tag you choose, then print out the month’s pictures in a nice book – all for 8 bucks. If you go to their website, it’s expected. In fact, it’s kind of “ok cool, another automated something I could just do myself and save 8 dollars a month. That’s 2 Starbucks!”
Humor in marketing perfection. Absolute perfection. We know you’re LOTI (laughing on the inside) and thinking,“PRAISE THE BABY JESUS WHERE HAVE THESE BEEN MY ENTIRE LIFE?”
“And only 8 bucks! Take.my.money.”
All of a sudden, something you weren’t willing to spend 8 bucks on is something you now can’t live without and have to have. So what changed? Do you suddenly need to have these photo books? No. Not even close. We all grew up with those photo albums with the sticky backs and plastic covers from the 80’s just fine, thank-you-very-much.
Do you all of the sudden just lack the desire to make the memory books yourself, like you would have five minutes ago?
Nope, you’re still just as capable as before.
So, what in the world changed?
1. Humor Proves The Brand Relates to its Audience
Chatbooks related to you. On a seriously personal level, but in a way that made you laugh, because of #life, amiright?
Chatbooks took something that, deep down, all Moms (working or not) felt: the overwhelming exhaustion over the huge responsibility of raising kids and oh, by the way, don’t forget to write down everything because time is so fleeting – and turned it into pure comedy. And what most people miss about this: You can’t truly be funny unless you actually GET IT.
Deep down, that’s what people want: to be deeply understood.
Now, all of a sudden, you want these Chatbooks. These Chatbooks won’t only give you pictures in hard copy to look at it, but it’s somehow going to relieve that stress and help you just exhale and feel, maybe for the first time, understood.
And how do we know that? Because it already did, just by making you laugh.
2. Humor Tells the Audience it’s OK to Need Help
Isn’t that what we want all our clients or customers to know? That it’s OK to need your service or product? That they can’t, in fact, do everything on their own? Of course, that’s what we all want, and humor does this in a non-offensive way.
Nothing is worse than feeling like you have to keep up with a world where you take time to smell the freshly pressed, organic, free-range leaves, on your handmade photo album. Who has time for that?
Chatbooks not only relates to its audience with humor but uses it to say, “hey, if making photo books sucks the life out of you, it’s OK.” What’s brilliant about this is that there’s no fancy jargon here. No big words, and even, to be blunt, some slang. Chatbooks calls it like it is because it’s true. There’s zero shame. None.
By the brand having no shame, the target audience is given permission to also have no shame as they click, “order now” and get on their merry way.
3. Humor in Marketing Builds Brand Loyalty
When we share something as intimate as a laugh with someone, way in our brain and nervous system, all the happy chemicals are released. These happy endorphins are the same ones released when a mother has a child, when people exercise, or even when an addict uses street drugs. And the entire purpose of those happy endorphins is to create a bond, a need, an addiction of sorts.
Or, in the world of business, loyalty. Not only does a brand want to win new customers, but they want to keep customers, too. We could get all into the science about it, but we’ll spare you (you can thank us by sending wine or coffee).
Chatbooks, by getting you to laugh and releasing those endorphins, is tying that happy feeling to those books. So now, just by looking at the books, your brain will immediately go back to that feeling you had when you first experienced Chatbooks. A feeling of happiness and of being understood and relieved of meaningless stress.
Forking brilliant, Chatbooks. Brilliant.
How to Use Humor in Marketing
So, now what? How the heck do you infuse humor in your already-there brand? How do you make sure you’re taken seriously but still, you know, not? How do you be funny in a virtual world?
Blogs, by nature, are always more casual than website copy, so there’s a lot more freedom to just have at it. Blogs allow you to take the readers through a story where you can have them laughing in one minute, and converting in the next. Blogs make humor in marketing easy and natural and should be started as soon as you possibly can.
Here Are a Few Tips to Ensure There’s Humor in Your Stories:
Talk about something funny that happened, and tie it to what you want the reader to know.
Use relatable gifs or memes to drive home a point.
Refer to something trending and poke fun at it in a very nonchalant way.
Fun side note: We’re really stepping up our blogging and content services, as we’ve seen how vital high-quality content is to the success of our clients (that’s you!) so if blogging isn’t something you have time for, but know you need, give us call.
2. Facebook and Twitter
Facebook and Twitter are great ways to humanize the brand to consumers with humor. Don’t take things too seriously with these platforms and instead use it to poke fun at yourselves and show that lighter side.
While showing that more relaxed side of the brand does many good things, the most important thing it does is make the business far more approachable, far more “human.” This is that final push that people still in the informational gathering stage need to get up and walk through your door (or to click that call to action).
Here Are a Few Actionable Ways to Humanize the Company and Brand with Facebook or Twitter:
Skip the professional graphics from time to time and get a candid one of you, the team, the office dog, or the sink that decided to overflow (oh no!)
Do live videos. Forget about how you look and just do them. Don’t plan. Don’t script. Just get in front of that phone camera and educate your followers on how to use your product or service in a fun and light-hearted way. Bonus points if you’re like everyone else and have to hide in the supply closet to get one second without interruption.
Share funny and related memes that always seem to float all over FB and Twitter, and do so with a quick and witty caption.
3. Know That You Can Have Professionalism and Humor in Marketing
There seems to be this mindset that anything work-related has to be boring and “professional.” Yes, professionalism matters, but not to the point that the brand is forgettable and dry. Chatbooks does this perfectly – their website is professional and easy to use, but their ads are brilliantly funny and relatable. You can, and should, have both.
While we want to finish this off in a clear, professional way, we’re going to just leave you with another video ad that we find to be a-freaking-amazing in how it uses humor. Marketing in humor for-the-win (for more funny ads, just watch all the Old Spice commercials)!
Enjoy. Laugh. And don’t forget we’re here to help you navigate all things digital and funny.