Alt tags help describe the appearance and function of each image that you upload. As you upload an image from your iPhones, stockphoto or other source, you’ll be presented with fields where you can provide a description, caption and alt tag. In general, if there’s a field, fill it out—it’s an opportunity to use your keywords and reiterate the name of your business.
Start by labeling your images
Rather than the default numbers that are automatically attributed to your images, start relabeling them with brief descriptions. My favorite naming convention is to label the image with the name of your company, underscore, brief image description, such as FordMotorCo_2017redSUV.
Why is alt text important?
Never forget that your audience will be reading your blog, post or website on a wide range of devices and sometimes images don’t load. In those cases, alt tags will be displayed to show readers what they would have been viewing. Those who are visually impaired, by using screen readers, will be able to read an alt attribute to better understand the intent of an on-page image.
Image SEO. Alt tags provide better image context/descriptions to search engine crawlers, helping them to index an image properly.
How to write good alt text
Describe the image as specifically as possible.Alt text should provide text explanations of images for those users who are unable to see them.
Keep it (relatively) short.The most popular screen readers cut off alt text at around 125 characters, so it’s advisable to keep it to that character count or fewer.
Use your keywords Alt text provides another opportunity to include your target keyword on a page, and another opportunity to signal search engines that your page is highly relevant to a particular search query.
Avoid keyword stuffing. Google won’t dock you points for poorly written alt text, but you’ll be in trouble if you use your alt text as an opportunity to stuff as many relevant keywords as you can think of into it. Aim for description and context. Be smart. Remember that just as good content has become nonnegotiable, so are good alt tags.
Don’t include “image of,” “picture of,” etc. in your alt text. It’s already assumed your alt text is referring to an image, so there’s no need to specify it.
Don’t neglect form buttons. If a form on your website uses an image as its “submit” button, give it an alt tag. Nothing surprising here—the button is a graphic and deserves an image label and alt tag in the same way that all of your other images do.
I’m religious about adding a call to action (CTA) to blog and social media posts. But time for a confession: I’m clearly not doing all that well because I’m not getting much response to my CTAs!
A CTA provides your reader with an actionable task
it generally appears as a button, an in-text link, or an image, and it’s usually at the end of an article or blog—but it doesn’t have to be. Play around with this a bit and try adding this after the first paragraph. I always try to frontload the most important information for lazy readers. Adding a CTA right after that first paragraph makes a lot of sense—don’t expect your reader to read the entire article, no matter how great a writer you are. A CTA provides direction; it should answer the question: “Now what?”
A CTA should help drive business–more clicks, sales and engagement
CTAs are especially useful in the online space because they’re trackable, and switching up a few words or the placement of your CTA can dramatically affect analytics. Get this: When SAP switched their CTA color to orange, it boosted their conversion rate by more than 32.5 percent. But even if you’re not specifically asking your audience to act on something, you do want to be taking action and asking them to engage with your brand further.
Asking your followers to share or reply is an excellent way to find out just how many people are listening and are interested in what you have to say.
Here are some CTA best practices that will help generate better response to your posts.
Use action verbs. Discover, find, or explore; it will help draw visitors in and nudge them towards the action you want them to take.
Value proposition. What’s in it for me? You need to make it clear how your audience will benefit.
Consistency. Keep the tone consistent with the rest of your content and your brand.At the end of a great article, you don’t want to jar your audience with a trashy CTA.
Clarity is key. Avoid jargon and be wary of trying to be funny—this can backfire.
Transition. Lead into your CTA with supplementary copy so there’s some context, a smooth transition.
FOMO. Americans suffer from an acute case of FOMO—the fear of missing out–and it can be incredibly powerful. Include expiration dates, offer ending dates. Call right now is better than Call anytime.
Make it mindless. Which is easier: Call today or Fill out this form?
Align with landing page. Align your CTA with landing page content. If you’re sending your reader to a landing page to sign up for something, let them know where they’re going and what the expectation is. Set the expectation to build trust.
Make contacting you easy. Make sure your contact info is clearly visible in multiple places. Transparency and open communication are huge selling points that are often overlooked by brands.
Personalize whenever possible.Grow your profits today vs Grow profits today.
Take a look at your website. Is it easy to find your contact information or does it take a little gumshoe work to find your phone number and intake form? Most people these days are attuned to looking for the Contact tab on your website—it’s generally the last item on the right if your navigation schematic is on the top of the page, the bottom item if it’s on the left.
But you can do more
You can make the intake form visible on all pages so it’s really easy for people to contact you. I just redid my own website, and I added a Schedule a free consultation button to all pages, but looking at it now, I realize I should move this up to the header area. Now the big test: how does this look on mobile devices? Make sure that you don’t lose your accessibility for mobile users.
These days when we’re all marketers, we’re constantly being assaulted with clever, new ways to engage our audiences. But content marketing in all of its manifestations—blogs, videos, infographics, etc.—is labor-intensive. It takes time to come up with good topics, time to fully develop them into well-written articles, time to come up with attention-grabbing headers and it takes time to find really good images that will enhance your blogposts. But let’s face it, you’re taking care of your family, your team and your clients and sometimes you just plain run out of time.
Let someone else engage your audience
If the goal is an engaged audience, why not let someone else’s efforts help you engage your audience? We hear a lot about content curation these days, and it’s an effective way to augment your own great content with quality industry articles and excerpts that can provide another perspective and offer value. Content curation is the act of discovering, compiling, and sharing existing content with your online followers. Something to think about: A full 68% of us rely directly on curated content as part of our overall content marketing effort.
Content curation can:
Help you establish yourself as a trusted source for quality industry information. You may now be recognized as someone who always generates great content—expand your reach a little and be known as someone who also finds great content.
Build your own list of blog topics, speeding up your writing by providing more great blogs.
Make reporting on earned media mentions much easier.
Content curation is still dependent on great content
You should be reading industry journals, subscribing to newsletters and publications to stay on top of trends and new technology. Read the articles that your favorite industry writers are publishing, then repurpose them to your own website. Be sure to source them and link back to the site. I like to personalize this—add an intro and a conclusion so you’re contributing something of yourself to the effort. Tell why you this article or excerpt caught your attention; explain why you follow this particular author, etc. Big publishers like HubSpot and Buzzsumo offer content curation services, but these come with a price tag; there are other tools that make it easy to do this yourself.
Content curation: Getting started
Start clipping or saving articles that you like or that inspire you. Choose a post that is relevant, and ask yourself how you can add something of value to the conversation. I found a really great tool that is making it easy to clip articles that I like—Evernote. Just create a profile, then download their little clipping tool that you use to clip articles into the application. You can add images and notes so that when you’re ready to use one of your curated articles, you can scroll through the displayed items, select one and copy and paste it into your blog. I’ve been copying and pasting articles, quotes, and links that I might want to use at a later date into a word doc, but it’s a total mess, making it difficult to really see what I have curated. With Evernote, every article is individually displayed, with notes as separate items. This is a huge productivity enhancer.
So what should curated content look like
On a page from a tech blog, Slashdot. Note the way they identify the longtime reader, Esther Schindler and link to her website. The two indented paragraphs are taken directly from Esther. Below that the author adds a brief commentary or summary.
Curated content: coming up with good content is still a challenge, but sharing it is easier!
Using curated content is still a great way to raise your SEO value and enhance your website with quality content. When you’re busy, curated content can be a huge time-saver. But keep in mind that, just as with your own blogs, coming up with well-written content that meets the needs of your audience can still be a challenge, but sharing it has gotten easier!
When it seems like the whole world has dummied down, when we’ve had our fill of mindless ads, Procter & Gamble, a big, big brand with deep, deep pockets, a company that spends lavishly on advertising, releases an ad that is creative and smart with a message that has important social implications.
P&G steps up for women and gender equality
In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, P&G released its latest gender equality initiative along with the #WeSeeEqual ad. This ad is a series of scenes showing men, women and children in everyday situations, interspersed with text, such as “Hugs don’t care who give them,” and “Equations don’t care who solve them.” It finishes with a woman telling a younger co-worker “Do it,” with the line “Equal pay doesn’t care who demands it.”
P&G launched its first annual citizenship report in 2016, outlining its aspirations to build “a world free from gender bias,” including initiatives such as “Share the Load” for its Ariel laundry brand in India, where it claims that 70% of men think household chores are women’s work.
At last year’s International Women’s Day, P&G hosted a panel discussion on unconscious bias, where chief brand officer Marc Pritchard stated: “What you have to do is make it conscious. We can’t gloss over it. You’ve got to dig a little deeper if you’re going to address it.”
Taking time out to take a stand
P&G, the company that owns huge consumer brands like Tide and Crest, reaches millions of people all over the world. But P&G just took a timeout from new product launches and merchandise plugs to take a stand on an important social issue, showing that there can be an altruistic side to advertising. P&G has taken on gender equality in the workplace, and they’ve created an ad that has now been viewed more than 50,000 times. This is a powerful ad that will likely receive thousands more views in its endless life on the web.
Not the first time P&G has supported women’s issues
But this isn’t the first time P&G has taken a stand for women’s rights. I wrote another blog about P&G’s #LikeAGirl campaign. The company did a brilliant job of harnessing the Olympic momentum and celebrating women athletes. Unfortunately, a lot of young girls drop out of athletics because they become self-conscience about their bodies or lose their confidence, and it’s a tragedy. Kids who are involved in sports form strong relationships that can last for a lifetime. They learn important life skills—how to be part a team, how to compete, how to win and lose. And of course, as P&G points out, sports help instill confidence in these young female athletes—something they’re going to desperately need as they get older and deal with the world we’re leaving them.
A video of young girls playing nontraditional women’s sports
The video interviews young girls playing sports—particularly those sports that have been traditionally considered suitable for men—weightlifting, boxing and rugby. These young girls clearly think that girls should not only be able to play rugby—a very rough sport—but also be captain of the team!
P&G calls for Olympic athletes and organizing committees to inspire a world where “every girl truly feels that she can play sports and will Keep Playing #LikeAGirl.” Of course this is a plug for Always feminine products, but the message is heartfelt and timely, and it’s never been more relevant.
I remember the first-generation websites that we all had a lifetime ago. They were clunky and slow and had way too much poorly written content, bad navigation bit-mapped images. They also invariably had FAQs because we really didn’t know what else to include. I’ve hated FAQs ever since—I’ve always associated them with those crappy websites.
But I’m seeing a lot of FAQs these days and I like them because they’re complete workhorses. They can be repurposed, they can improve organic search rankings, and they can even be used in your AdWords campaigns. I just used these very effectively on a recent project, and they were the perfect solution—consolidating potential questions about key company services on a single page.
Key benefits of FAQs
1.FAQs can be repurposed for e-newsletters, blogs and social media
What I love most: FAQs are easy to create. They’re cost-effective content for small businesses—the crisp format means they can easily be created by in-house teams without extensive review and approval cycles. Best of all, FAQs fill a need. I love the way they can ask a question and answer it. At their best, FAQs are problem solvers, crisp, quick and succinct.
What I like even more, since I want to get as much mileage as possible out of everything I write, is that FAQs can be repurposed.
E-newsletters.Extract a few of the FAQs and feature them in your monthly newsletter. Ask the question, provide a brief answer, then link to your website with a Read more methodology where your audience can find out more information.
Social media.This is really a no-brainer. Repurpose a single question/answer on your social media sites. Be wary of lengthy posts—people are much more likely to read short and accessible posts. Edit the text or think about Asking the question and providing a link to your site with the answer.
Print collateral/data sheets.If you share pdf files about your services, a nicely formatted, branded pdf file of FAQs is a great addition. Selected items from your FAQs are great additions to brochures or other print collateral.
2. FAQ pages can help with organic search rankings
FAQs are workhorses when it comes to Google organic search. By using keywords in each Q&A, then linking to their corresponding product pages where you more fully develop the description, the FAQ model nearly automatically optimize themselves for search. And because they offer useful information, they can help build links over time.
A page of thoughtful FAQs becomes a hardworking asset
FAQ pages are the unsung workhorses of content and search marketing. While any company can create and benefit from FAQ pages, they’re particularly beneficial for small manufacturers or other small companies looking for a way to quickly and easily explain what they do and answer potential questions about their operations. Easy to create and repurpose, they provide a lot of bang for your marketing buck.
Blogging is tough. Like a potato chip, you can’t do one. One means that you tried blogging and gave up. It was too hard. It makes you look like a quitter. If you can’t sustain a blog, don’t start. I blog every week, then post the blog along with an image to my website, Linkedin page, Blogger and 4 social media sites. It’s a commitment, but if you make it a habit, you can do it.
Your blog becomes the workhorse of your content marketing program
Quality blogs will drive your whole content marketing program. Not only will you be providing fresh content to your website, increasing your SEO value, but you can repurpose that content to your newsletter and use extracts on social media. A blog is a workhorse. Set aside time to work on your blog and own it.
Here are 8 blogging mistakes—reasons why so many people fail.
Setting an unrealistic publishing schedule. There are actually people who promise themselves they’re going to blog 3-4x/week or more. Forget it—this is a recipe for failure. If you can do one blog/week, you’re doing really well. Cut yourself some slack and try two blogs/month. You’ll soon find this is an aggressive goal.
Not using headers to break up text. This one kills me. When I see a big 6-inch block of text on my computer screen, there’s no way I’m going to tackle this. It’s a fortress. Break it up into manageable bites. Use subheads that guide the reader through the copy. Use bullet points to further delineate key points. Seduce your reader.
Using “Click Here“ in links instead of real keywords. The days of “check out our new website” and “click here” are over. Audiences have gotten a lot more sophisticated, and by using your keywords and inserting a link instead, you’re getting a lot more SEO bang for your buck.
Not Answering Your Comments. When someone takes the time to comment, you owe him/her a response. Remember that you’re doing this to build relationships.
Not Using Images. Big mistake. You may be an inspired writer, but the stats tell us that the average visitor will read just 20% of your content. The use of really good images that are relevant to your topic not only enhance your blog but draw in your audience. An estimated 67% of users say that images are more important than descriptions when making a purchase—and the whole purpose of your blogging is to grow your audience and get new clients, right?
Not Adding Social Media Sharing Options. I see this all the time. Time to integrate your messaging across all of your marketing channels. Make sure your website, social media sites, newsletter, business card and any other print collateral are all branded, integrated and connected. We’re looking for consistency of messaging.
Not Using Analytics. Do you know which posts your readers liked best? Do you understand how people are finding your information—what sites they’re coming from and if they’re clicking through your site? If you haven’t installed Google Analytics on your site, do it. Start using this to see what kinds of posts are getting the most attention. (Your comments will also be an indicator.) If you find that you’re getting a lot of response to one topic, you may—or may not—want to write more blogs on that topic and really promote them. Build a niche.
Not Showing Recent/Popular Posts. New visitors are often curious, so give them something to look at! If you’re clever about displaying your blogs, they’ll stick around to see what else you’re writing about. If there are places on your site to call attention to your blogs, by all means leverage them, such as a homepage banner with a title and a link to the blog. Many of the new website designs have tiles and other callout areas where you can post an image along with a message and a link—these are great places to showcase your blogs. On my site’s blogpage, in the righthand column there is also a list of my last eight blogs with their links.
Websites have a shelf life. I’ve been busy with other people’s sites and neglected my own—pretty common for people in my industry. It had been four years, and while my site was built in responsive design, ensuring it would adapt across all devices, and I’d updated the content and consistently posted my weekly blogpost, the overall design was dated and stale.
Applying a new WordPress theme to the old site streamlined my project
For my site, rather than starting from scratch and building an entirely new site, I engineered a makeover–a facelift of my old site, which dramatically streamlined the project. The site was in WordPress, which has more than 2,000 themes, or templates. We identified a new theme that was modern but not too trendy, and applied it to my existing site. This was a fairly seamless process, requiring only some minor tweaking and a little customization. This was infinitely easier than starting from scratch with a new WordPress theme and building a new website.
New landing pages and images
I added three new landing pages under the Services tab and identified vibrant new images for every page, which went a long way toward upgrading the site’s visual impact. I also gave my logo a little refresh. We ported over all of my blogs—more than 250, believe it or not—and these required very little adjustment.
Areas for messaging or to showcase what’s going on in your company
One great feature of many of the new site designs is the areas for messaging or calls to action. My site design includes four tiles across the bottom where we can upload an image and a brief sentence—these are great for calling attention to events, new products, new blogposts, etc. Since I want to call attention to my 250+ blogs (!), I’ve added an image, a sentence and a link to four blogs. On the homepage, there’s also a banner that I can swap out, which I will likely also use to showcase a blog.
The result: For all intents and purposes, a new website
A new look and feel. Updated content. High-quality images. Today’s sites are simpler, there’s less drilldown and menus have collapsed. Today’s new website designs are slicker with more opportunities for messaging and calls to action. I’m delighted with the visual impact and the new functionality of my new website.
Unless you’ve just crawled out of Sleepy Hollow, you know that there’s a bit of a controversy going on with the news these days—especially the news that’s coming out of the White House. We’re accustomed to never quite trusting our politicians, and while we’d like to have faith that our journalists are entirely objective, the times clearly have changed. The days of Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America, are over. People these days are getting their news from the internet, and they assume that because they read it, it’s true. But scan the morning news, from Breitbart to the venerable New York Times, and you’ll begin to see that the “news” varies dramatically, depending on who’s writing the headlines.
As our journalists report on the news coming out of the new Trump administration, the White House counters the facts with what they call “alternative facts”. What? There are no alternative facts. If we do our due diligence, we find that the White House is just plain lying. Again. We’ve never seen anything like this, and it’s lowering the bar on truth and integrity.
Facebook responds to alternative facts
Facebook has decided that, as a public application that reaches more than 1.86 billion monthly active users, they have both influence and a responsibility, so they have created a new Disputed tag that will appear beneath news stories on the site that have been deemed inaccurate.
Facebook has added a new Help page outlining how the system works.
Stories flagged as fake by users will be reviewed by independent fact-checking organizations, including Politifact and Snopes.com.
Those organizations will be signatories to a “Fact-checkers’ Code of Principles”maintained by the journalism nonprofit Poynter Institute. The principles include nonpartisanship and transparency in sourcing and funding.
Disputed posts and rankings
There’s no indication yet whether the Disputed designation will have a direct impact on how a story is handled by Facebook’s ranking algorithms. The thinking is that users will be less likely to share stories that have received the Disputed tag, reducing their likelihood of being spread.
A dependency, of course, is that the flagging process itself can take several days, which is plenty of time for a story to get plenty of attention. We all know that a story that is topical and sexy, accompanied by an attention-grabbing image, can go viral within a few hours. The internet and social media have made global communication immediate. One big dependency of the Disputed tag is its due diligence: it takes time to research the verity of a fact.
What does Facebook have to gain?
There’s another imperfection of this system that will likely satisfy nobody. Despite huge public pressure to tackle fake news, particularly from the political left, Facebook has no real motivation to tell its readers what to believe.
Potential for reduced user engagement
From a business perspective, filtering or flagging disputed news stories could reduce user engagement among those who had previously enjoyed a steady diet of alternative facts. The move has already invited scathing criticism from the right, potentially actively alienating a huge swathe of Facebook users who apparently feed on the fake news coming out of the White House.
A final thought: It’s an initial effort by a medium that reaches billions of users/month. While it may or may not be effective or completely successful, it may set the stage for other social media applications to look for ways to censor the rise of alternative facts.
Do you need help with your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and content marketing experts.
Bill Ryan lives in St. Helena, and like many people in the area, he came to the Napa Valley to work in the wine industry. Bill relocated from Rhode Island some 40 years ago, when there were fewer than 20 wineries, compared to more than 400 today. As the sales and marketing director for Beringer Winery, he helped grow the premium wine’s international footprint for more than 20 years.
As a mobile notary, he needed a web presence
Bill’s retired now, but he’s always busy. He fishes whenever he can and writes a fishing weekly column for the Napa Valley Register and another for St. Helena Star. He also has a little mobile notary business serving the towns of the Napa Valley—St. Helena, Angwin, Napa, Calistoga and Yountville. He’s not interested in being swamped, but he enjoys growing his business, interacting with his clients and meeting new people. Bill wanted a simple website—nothing elaborate–what can you say about meeting someone at his/her home or office to sign documents, after all? But if you’re in business these days, you need a web presence.
We discussed a few options and decided on Gutensite
I’ve build a couple of websites in this platform before, and was delighted with the results. The technology is responsive design and looks great across devices. It’s modular; the pages, such as blogs and testimonials, are autoformatted so they turn out looking polished and professional. I’ve tried using the so-called DIY, WISYWIG platforms like Wix and SquareSpace—they’re supposed to be easy and foolproof. I’m fairly savvy–I’ve worked in WordPress for years, but I think these applications are confusing, and I would never tackle a WordPress site on my own. Gutensite is very easy to use, and here’s the really great part: they have a responsive, courteous technical-support team who’s there for you to work through the small details that would completely sabotage you in other applications. Best of all, for a simple website, Gutensite’s price is hard to beat: $15/month, including hosting.
Do you really need WordPress’ 2,000+ themes?
The number of themes doesn’t compare to WordPress’ 2,000 themes, but if you look carefully, you will realize that each design distinguishes itself, providing significant options. By adding your own images, logo and text, you are going a long way towards customizing your theme. For those who need more functionality, Gutensite has more robust packages and also provides customized solutions.
For Bill’s site, we decided on just four landing pages
Home, About Bill, What to Expect from a Notary and Contact. I tried to sneak in a couple of modules at the bottom that would provide extra calls to action, but Bill wasn’t interested. He wanted to keep this simple, with just the relevant information. We purchased the domain name from GoDaddy, UpValleyNotaryontheGo.com and I easily managed the domain name transfer myself. I filled out fields for keywords and metadescriptions, made a few last-minute adjustments, uploaded Bill’s new headshot and we were live.
I literally created this site in a matter of hours. It helped that I had used Gutensite before, and I ran into a few issues where I had to reach out to tech support, but the process was seamless. Best of all, Bill now has a terrific new website.
Next up: I’m creating another Gutensite website for a retired banker who is a woodworker. He builds stunning customized tables for his clients. In addition to writing content and building the site, I’m going to manage a photoshoot to get professional images of his work that will flesh out the gallery section of his website. I can’t wait to get started.