Everyone knows by adding images and videos to websites and blogs it

can help visitors stay longer. That’s partly true. More importantly, do you just insert them or did you optimize them? Making an image “smaller” in size to load faster isn’t optimizing them. Why? Because search engines are much smarter how they view sites with images, and it can affect your rankings. You might be thinking “hey, I optimize my images by naming them”.  You need to do more than naming images.

Over the years I have named my images because search engines need content to identify and rank a site. Therefore, images need to be identified. If you ignore doing this, then SEO’s will rush through your pages and move on to sites that are more optimized. But wait, things are changing. Yes, it’s still important to name all your images. Now I’ll explain how to correctly optimize your images according to the new methods search engines are using.

The following information is what I found in the Yoast Report https://yoast.com/image-seo/#caption

by Michiel Heijmans. He is a partner and COO at Yoast.

After reading my post, check out his full report for a deeper explanation of how he explains the best ways to optimize your images.

Using images.

Michiel says, using the right image is as important as naming them. Try to avoid using stock photos. If you need to, then make sure it relates to your content. And naming an image correctly is also critical. He continues by saying “an image with related text ranks better for the keyword it is optimized for.” That means you should position your image close to the text that is relevant.

Identifying images.

The report breaks down very clearly the various steps you need to take to optimize images, charts, illustrations, etc. For example, choose the right file name. Don’t use a file name from a camera photo (such as DSC4536); rather name it using the main subject of the article/blog. An example would be if your article or blog were about a specific event (like a golf tournament, or a sports event, or a person) put the subject of the photo at the beginning of the file name.

Format.

Using JPEG, PNG or WebP is important. JPEG’s will give you a smaller file size when inserting photos or illustrations, while WebP can produce high-quality smaller file sizes. Using a reduced file size alone without optimizing it can reduce SEO’s reviewing your page(s). If you are real savvy and have specific audiences such as RVers, then know what types of browsers they use to know the preferred format. Check out this resource to find out what format is supported by browsers: CanIuse.com

Captions.

Why should you use captions? Because according to Michiel, people use them when scanning an article. Have you noticed yourself scanning headings, images and captions when you view a web page? This adds a positive experience for visitors.

FACT: according to KissMetrics, “Captions under images are read on average 300% more than the body copy itself, so not using them, or not using them correctly, means missing out on an opportunity to engage a huge number of potential readers.”

Another significant point to know; mobile devices now represent over 52% how people are viewing websites, doing searches, purchasing products, etc. So make sure your images are responsive as well as your website.

OpenGraph and Twitter Cards

This may not be a big deal, but since you are optimizing images, consider doing this. When you add the following HTML image tag to the <head> section, it will make sure your images are included in your share on Facebook as well as Pinterest.

The code is:

<meta property=”og:image” content=”http://example.com/link-to-image.jpg” />

I hope these tips about optimizing images will help you maintain good, high rankings to stay ahead of the competition. If you need more help with your website or social media, give us a call. We can help update your site. We’re only a phone call away!

Few industries are seeing positive sales increases during the pandemic, yet they wonder why should they advertise. If you manufacture sanitizing solutions, paper towels, and gloves or provide the services of selling essential products, then you probably are not interested in building your brand. Few businesses such as Amazon, Walmart (who has re-developed their online business), grocery and food delivery services are also enjoying this hey-day of sales, and so are RV dealerships and RV campgrounds. This will all change in 2021.  Businesses like restaurants, car dealerships, beauty salons, retail stores, and small businesses, should maintain their branding or it can be disastrous for them next year.

Branding and name recognition are going to be key for business survival.

What are you doing to prepare for the next several months and next year?

Have you written or updated your business plan to meet today’s marketing needs? If not, let’s discuss some reasons and solutions for you to consider.

Various states are updating their pandemic requirements to adjust our lifestyle activities. Fortunately for the RV industry, it is having a surge of sales and RV rentals that it hasn’t seen in over a decade. But soon their consumer-buying spree will peak. Your business may not be experiencing this activity, that’s why you need to be proactive.

Having a positive brand is critical to continue a business and to grow. It’s important to let your potential (and existing) customers know you are there for them.

You need to be developing a marketing strategy plan for the next several months so that you don’t miss future sales.

Knowing how to reach your customers and keep your name in front of them can be achieved by implementing different marketing strategies. We are talking about other marketing strategies that extend beyond social media platforms.

First, consider traditional advertising in various local publications (print and online). Many potential customers are working from home and they have more time to read about local news, events, etc. This can be an inexpensive campaign to keep your brand alive. Be creative with your ads. Don’t oversell. Take this a step further and look at different industries where your products and services can reach new potential customers.

Another suggestion is community events. Almost every city will have a program for locals to enjoy. Even if it’s an online event, consider being a sponsor. In lieu of money, you could provide your services or products for the event, or have a display.

Charities. This is an overlooked opportunity. When your business is involved with a charity, you are recognized as a business of caring and helping others. This will have a strong impact and create a memorable, positive name. The charity can be local, regional or national. It doesn’t always require a lot of money to participate. Be open-minded.

Publicity is often thought of as writing and submitting press releases to the media. Releases are only one form of communicating with reporters. It helps them learn more about your business. Publicity is more than that. Begin by establishing a relationship with local media/reporters. Invite them to your business when you are celebrating an anniversary, expanding your services, or honoring an employee, etc. Definitely notify them when you are partnering with a charity, etc. Create a Press Kit that can be sent to reporters, and post it on your website. Update the kit regularly.

Articles. Write an article about your business. Most businesses have a unique story about how they started or interesting facts about the founders. Submit that to reporters for their consideration. Sometimes this will spark an interest for reporters to follow up to do a story about you.

Remember, keep an open mind and look for opportunities. We are living in a new era of how we communicate; doing business as usual is old school.

If you need help or want to learn how to be proactive with your marketing, reach out to a professional for support. It could be the best investment to keep your business ahead of the competition. For a FREE 1-hour consultation and analysis of your marketing plan, call George Carson.

Businesses are starting to reopen, and many small to medium size businesses are concerned they cannot survive if their clientele has to be at a minimum to enter their facilities. Not all businesses can work remotely, and those who can, should also consider how to reinvent themselves to respond to the new way consumers will be purchasing their products and services.

We are witnessing how several major companies have reinvented their business. From automotive manufacturers to the apparel industry they are converting their factories to produce essential wearable’s providing products that protect first responders and consumers. Retailers and service businesses need to understand they too can reinvent themselves and realize there are different avenues available to survive in this new changing economy.

Think Outside The Box

Examples of businesses adapting are gyms and physical trainers. Several have created online programs for people to stay in shape. Exercise programs, some free, are being offered online. This helps current members know they are benefiting from their membership. Several doctors and wellness centers are doing telemedicine for non-emergency patients. Many traditional brick ‘n mortar stores are now getting aggressive by selling products online. Curbside service is only a small step for retailers to hopefully remain open. You need to think outside the typical box and be creative. Remember, every business today is experiencing similar problems, so team up with other companies to expand your opportunities.

Reinventing Does Work

A critical industry hit very hard are restaurants. My suggestion for this industry is to have online celebrations for anniversaries, birthdays, and office parties. Restaurants can deliver specially prepared meals and have an online video party for those celebrating that special time. An alternative idea could be for smaller restaurants to contact businesses in their area, like real estate agencies and sell prepared “congratulation meals” for the new homeowners when they move in. Bakeries and pastry shops should collaborate with restaurants to offer desserts with the meals. This can be especially effective when someone is having a celebration making it a very memorable occasion.

Expand Your Opportunities

Retailers who sell auto parts, home furnishing, appliances, clothing, jewelry, window coverings and even boutique shops could do tie-in programs with organizations or related businesses in their community. Offering discounts should not be your primary

marketing strategy. These are short-lived programs. Instead, work with other non-competitive businesses, which is a stronger and more powerful way to gain attention and establish customer loyalty. It becomes a win-win-win for everyone.

Keep Your Brand Visible

One of the most productive and cost efficient ways to re-build a business is by keeping your name in front of current and potential customers. Using social media is an excellent way to communicate. Be active on all platforms—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even LinkedIn. Do postings to let customers know what you are doing, such as; how you are making the environment safer for them, special promotions you are offering, tie-in promotions with other businesses, new services offered, community events, and more. Another good idea is to post articles about how your products/services can improve or help customers add more value to their lives. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes, and ask yourself “what would you want to know about that business?”

Be open-minded. Be creative. Think forward, not backward and you will discover how productive it can be when you reinvent your business.

For more than 50 years, businesses of all sizes have assigned an advertising/marketing budget to promote their services and products.

How they determine the amount to allocate will vary, depending on the industry, the management and the economy.

Let’s discuss the five methods that are used today and see where your business fits in.

Matching the Competition

Advertisers get caught in this trap because they believe to be competitive it requires matching what your competition is spending. For example, Coca-Cola will spend up to 18 percent (globally) of their gross income compared to Pepsi who will spend about 11.5 percent (globally).

Both are known as beverage companies, but Pepsi is also a major snack food producer. So, it doesn’t make sense for Coca-Cola, who is primarily a soft drink company, to match Pepsi. Each company has different marketing and sales problems and should not copy what others are spending.

Management Edict

This method can also be risky, whether you are an established business or a startup. Management determines a budget solely on what “they feel” they can afford. Usually justifying their position by seeing what competitors are spending, or what their business spent last year, or what amount of funds are remaining after other business expenses, etc.

To make things worse, a controller or accountant may advise what should be spent.

Percentage of Sales

This is established by using a percentage of gross sales (the U.S. Small Business Administration recommends 7 to 8 percent) and is popular because it’s simple and easy. Many young companies or startups use a “projected” gross sales figure to determine a percentage.

The problem: budgets are calculated without regards of the company’s objectives, goals, market trends, changes in the economy, etc.

The Task Method

This method is usually popular when a company is introducing a new product, service, or establishing a new image. Management wants to know what it will cost to meet their goals and sales objectives.

This has some validity, but only if you set a limited budget for a specific purpose, not use the “task method” to establish the overall advertising budget.

Task and Percentage of Sales

This is considered the best approach for most businesses. Although not without its issues. First, you should know what the average percent is used in your industry (the RV industry is about 3 to 5 percent).

Keep in mind, if you are a large RV manufacturer, or dealership with multiple stores, or a major supplier, your percentage will be smaller than someone half your size. Next, you need to look at your objectives and goals, the market size, increase in ad costs (such as media costs, digital marketing), how aggressive are your competitors, what share of the market do you want to achieve over the next year, etc.

The takeaway: Establishing the advertising budget isn’t an easy task.

It’s important to know what the advertising budget should include. For example, the ad budget covers media costs (digital and traditional), producing ad campaigns (TV and radio production), brochures, catalogs (printing of these items), package designs, logos, agency fees and services.

Areas such as publicity, events, trade shows (building of booths, attending shows), sponsorships, and sales aids are considered operational costs rather than advertising costs.

The Headline. And when to use a Subhead.

Of the 5Ws, the headline is the most important. When creating the headline, make it effective. Use this guide: Be Informative; Keep it Short; and Make it Relevant.

It’s ok to be creative, but not so much that it sounds like an ad, or too creative that it sounds untrue. Don’t mislead or make false claims.

Headline Examples

“Incredible Technology Boosts Mileage For Diesel Engines”. This is too sensational. Is the technology really incredible? What is the amount of the Boost? And is the technology new?

Stay away from headlines such as, “Limited Time Only! Amazing Deals On Step Ladders From The RV Ladder Store! Only $299!”

Although extreme, this does happen. Businesses get excited about their sales, or discounted products thinking it’s newsworthy.

Headlines should be 60-80 characters. Use a subhead to further explain the news. Subheads have added information to support the headline and not intended to be a stand-alone title. Here is an example.

Headline: “New York Couple Wins a Yamaha Quad at the Charity RV Show Last Month”

Subhead: “This is the first time Bill and Kathy Jones entered a contest and won”

Headline tips:

  • Make the headline impossible to ignore. Keep away from false claims and over sensational words.
  • Create interest so the journalist will want to continue reading the release.
  • Check for spelling errors. This is critical. Don’t just rely on spell check, proof read your headline for accuracy and clarity. Have someone else also proofread.

Body of the release

The opening paragraph should be concise. Use the 5Ws in this section. Keep the first few sentences short and to the point. The next paragraphs should fully explain the purpose of your release. Keep it informative. If you use quotes, they should be from someone prominent or important to the company.

End the release with “For more information, visit https://www.yourwebsite.com, or call Tim Daly at (555) 555-1111.

The boilerplate is a short paragraph that explains the identity of the company and what it does.

When to submit your release

As a general rule, Monday is a very busy media day and Friday reporters are usually finishing up stories. Wednesday and Thursday are typically good days to send your release. Tuesdays are also good. No matter what day you choose, always send releases before 9 am Eastern Time.

SEO Press releases

Yes, even press releases should be optimized. When not sending your release directly to a journalist, but to online news, using keywords and phrases will increase your rankings. Choose specific wording your customers type when they search for your type of product or service. The Internet can help you reach your target customer. In this case, your release becomes a mini webpage. Don’t “stuff” too many key phrases into the release. Stick to the guidelines we discussed, just optimize it. Include a photo(s) or video when possible. This will increase visibility and rankings.

Part 1 of 2 in a series

When it comes to writing a press release for your business, you should understand what it requires for an editor, reporter, or any journalist to even want to read what you send them. Keep in mind a press release is a way to introduce your business/product or service to the media. If there is interest, the release could turn into a story, or be published. Before I get into the heart of powerful press release writing, let me make a few points very clear.

  • There isn’t a “secret” formula to writing a press release. It’s knowing and using the 5 Ws in your releases: What. Who. Where. When. Why.
  • A press release is NOT an advertisement. Keep away from “selling” your product or service. Don’t write a release the same as you would an ad. Your release is going to the media, not potential or existing customers.
  • Releases are NOT articles. Look at articles in your trade and consumer media. These are not press releases, but stories.

No two businesses are the same, and this is also true of press releases. The only formula that applies is having a headline, dateline, opening paragraph, body paragraphs, boilerplate and contact information.

Do’s and Don’ts

The news media has a list of do’s and don’ts when receiving press releases:

Make sure it is newsworthy. Examples are:

  • announcing a new product or service
  • working with a charity
  • making a charitable contribution
  • starting as new division or acquiring another company
  • releasing a study about your industry and how it affects your business
  • sponsoring an event, or having a grand opening
  • taking your company public, or announcing stock offerings
  • rebranding or reorganizing your company
  • hiring a new executive
  • hosting a seminar
  • opening a new office or relocating your headquarters

These are just a few of the types of releases considered by the media to be newsworthy. Read and study other published releases, not all of them are good, but it will help you understand what that specific publication considers to be newsworthy.

  • Limit the use of adjectives and adverbs. Stay away from adjectives such as “exciting”, “fabulous”, or “revolutionary” to mention a few. Using adverbs like “really”, “extremely”, or “very” do not enhance the release, but will get it tossed.
  • Don’t use exclamation marks.
  • When making a statement or an opinion, be sure to support it.

Providing facts or referring to other studies or experts, it will give the release credibility.

  • Write your release to match the audience. If you’re announcing a new product make sure it is sent to media specific to that industry. It’s ok to modify the release to apply to different industries.

In Part 2 we will discuss catchy headlines, the best day of the week to distribute a release, how to make your release SEO ready, and how to rank high using keywords and phrases.

You see them every time you open a social media app. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and a slew of others are all hoping to get the attention of the user. For several months advertisers have been testing various ad formats measuring their effectiveness. These range from standard (static) ads, animated gifs to videos. Without reading further, which format would you guess has the most impact and effectiveness? Before you read further, take a guess. Ok, let’s explore the results and see if your guess is in line with the survey.

A recent survey conducted by KARGO and MediaScience tested the three formats–standard, animated (gifs) and video to learn how consumers reacted to these different formats by gauging the fixation times and follow-up looks. At first you might not be surprised that videos do have a high “user look”, but in reality, animated ranked higher in all categories surveyed. The categories were: Users Looked At, Seconds Looked, Fixations, and Follow-Up Looks.

My guess is the animated gifs, or short animations are pleasing (most of the time) and do not take long to view. On the other hand, while videos were gaining popularity last year, and they still are a powerful way to tell a story, they become too long taking away our precious time to see other social media posts, etc. Like all survey’s, it will depend on the subject matter. For example if you are into auto racing, or fashion design, food preparation/recipes you might watch an entire video because of your interests. But then again, if you are in a hurry, you might say to yourself “I’ll go back and watch it later”…well that usually doesn’t happen.

But don’t discount the standard or video formats. The reason, all three formats when tested in the survey were close in percentages in the different categories. For example, when users were asked to “recall” the brands they saw, 42% remembered the animated format while 33% remembered the videos and 32% the standard. Even in the “Users Looked At” category this is how they ranked.

• Standard 64%
• Animated 74%
• Video 54%

And to make this more interesting, 18% of those surveyed thought videos were annoying, yet felt (37%) it was entertaining, compared to animated with 9% saying annoying and 14% said it was entertaining. As we get deeper into the study we see videos ranked higher in “creative” 54% vs 27% for animated. So who gets the “Golden Award”? Ask a creative and they say they do, ask a marketer and they want to take the credit. No matter what you do, the bottom line is to use some form of movement in your format. Why? Because it will get the attention of the user and if your creative is good, it just might get them to enjoy what they see and click on that link to learn more about your product or service.

When your company is serious about getting results, give George Carson a call. He knows how to #MakeGreatThingsHappen.

Yes, even the “big” dominant media like Google recognize when it’s time to let go.
Hard to believe that it was only 7 years ago when Google decided to challenge all the social networking sites by launching its Google+.

If you are still active with Google+ you will have a few months to make your last postings before the social network is closed down. Google claims it will close in August 2019, but to be safe, I recommend quitting sooner than later.

So why did this giant company decide to call it quits? Several reasons. For one, Google+ had issues with its privacy bug. Hundreds of thousands of users had their data exposed to third-party developers back in March. But like Facebook, Google would not report the problem immediately because they didn’t want to bring attention to any regulatory scrutiny that could damage their reputation.

If you want to believe Google’s reason, they saw a big drop in usage and engagement, saying, and I quote “90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds”. Yeah, that’s another good reason!

From various sources I’ve read, it is safe to say that Google+ and +1 buttons will have no impact on rankings going forward. I hope that means Google Search will no longer look to see if your business was an active user and we can finally be ranked by our social networking, postings, podcasts, backlinks, etc.

Another reason you should feel ok, Google has admitted that today they do not use personalization in search. What that says is Google+ would show your personal assets, photos, emails, etc. that were based on your Google+ account directly in the search results. If you recall, Google suggested that searchers take their social conversations to Google+. It was a way Google was trying to drive more conversations to their social network.

With all the pressure Google put on social network users to post on their network, the more people rejected being told they had to do this or their rankings could be affected. Some businesses caved in, others chose to not be bullied. Another example you might remember. Google My Business. That name was replaced by Google Places, which later was replaced by Google+. Do you see how Google was trying to manipulate us?

Maybe this should be a lesson that all businesses can learn from. Don’t force something to work when the market isn’t buying your product or service. Look around and see how to better serve customers than make them want what you offer.

Get a “Tune-Up” of your social networks to see how they can be more effective for your business. Give George Carson a call.

Studies have proven that certain colors affect how we react to daily things in life.

This is especially true in business. For decades companies have been using color to make your emotions feel good or sad about something. We see this in all industries–your doctors office, a lawyers office, retail stores, food/grocery stores, movies and even your bedroom. We all buy products off the shelf because they have a certain appeal to your emotions, and hopefully you wanted that product!

Color plays a big part in our lives and it can have a strong influence on your emotions. For example, why do many companies use “blue” for their company logo? According to the chart below, and from research, it depicts TRUST, STRENGTH and someone being DEPENDABLE. And in a doctors office you would see soft blue colors and greens to calm a person so they don’t feel anxious, or worried. Law firms are known to use green for the same reasons.

If your company is thinking about re-painting the interior, look closely at the “Emotion Guide” and ask yourself, how do I want my customers to see us–Strong, Bold, Creative, or Optimistic. You could actually control (to a point that is) an environment when you have customers enter a room. Many companies will paint each room a different color to create the mood/emotion they want their customers to be in when discussing business.

I hope this Emotion Guide helps you in your business. I know I’m still trying to figure out if a striped wall using red with a warm yellow will give the impression of a Bold and Optimistic company. Your thoughts?

Colors that have an Impact!

Colors that have an Impact!

  • November 22, 2016
  • Posted by George Carson at 5:23 PM
  • Comments Off on What colors will change your emotions?
  • General

Boy, that’s a great question. Too often we find ourselves too busy or cannot find anyone at the company to take on this important responsibility. The answer is at least once per quarter–that refers to the website, not blogs. Even if you think your blog is enough, it isn’t.

You might think updating your company website is a waste of time and a lot of work, and maybe overkill to do this every quarter. But keep in mind, it is the “content” of your website with the proper back-links that help keep your rankings at the top of all search engines. You don’t need to change or update every page each time. I’m sure if you review your site every quarter, you will see that somethings can be improved and updated. It’s important to keep the site fresh. For example, you might be offering your products or services in a local or regional area, like Orange County. Updating this information will attract those businesses wanting to know who in their area offers the products/services that you do. Clients/customers will visit more often when you maintain the site with new content. That’s one reason why companies have blog pages within their website. But that alone isn’t enough to give the SEO’s a reason to rank your site higher.

Sometimes it’s just changing some photos to keep the pages fresh. One other thing, make sure that you title your photos. This helps the SEO’s “see” your content and that can help your rankings as well.

Publicity Orange CountyJust recently we realized it was time for us to update our own site. So we reviewed what our agency has been doing these past few years and decided to change the entire site–the look, navigation and update the services we offer. Even though we have been known as the publicity agency in Orange County, we wanted to remind those outside the area we have done national programs as well. So if you haven’t taken the time to look at your site, maybe it’s time to re-think the look and feel, or just update the photos of the staff.

Need help in designing or developing a new website? Give us a call for a no non-sense FREE evaluation of what it will take to “Get You Noticed”. Call George Carson today at 949-477-9400, or visit our new website for additional information: http://www.carsonmarketinginc.com