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Your website sucks

By Mathew Chandler

It really needn’t.

If you’re reading this, chances are you may have some lingering doubts about the quality or performance of your website. When I think about web performance, I think about the entire reason it exists. To bring your customers. To build your brand. To make you a leader. To empower your audiences. To grow your business.

Your website might look pretty and have some cool gizmos, but the difference between what titillates you and engages or motivates your customers can often be poles apart. If your website looks like roadkill and has bad content, take a seat…your time in rehab might be longer than you expected.

So, the key questions to ask yourself are:

  • Do I know what my customers want?
  • Is my content marketing strategy working? Do I have one?
  • Have I optimised my content so my customers and potential customers can find me – beyond my company name and headline offer?
  • Do I rank ahead of my peers in search engine results? Am I number 1 or 400?
  • Have I optimised my images and video content?
  • Am I doing enough?
  • Am I leading or drowning?

Not sure? Here’s some tips to check up on yourself.

  1. Give your site a health check. The murky world of website performance need not be the sole domain (and expense) of web developers. You, too, can be an analytical genius – in just seconds. To find out how your website is performing – for speed, security, searchability and responsiveness – go to https://website.grader.com, https://woorank.com or http://nibbler.silktide.com/
  2. Be your own customer. Go to your favourite search engine and search for a topic or product that your company offers (without typing your company name). Where do you rank? Are you number 1? Number 2? Are you even on the first page of results? If you’re not, I guarantee you’ve just lost a potential customer? If you are somewhere in the outer reaches of the searchland, there’s a good chances chance your website says lots of things that are important to you but not your customer. If you haven’t optimised your content for human behaviour – that is, including key words and phrases that real humans would use to find your products – then your website probably sucks. And you need to fix it. Now. If you’re lost, hire a content marketing specialist like me. We’ll sort you out in no time.
  3. Ask yourself why you don’t get business from your website. I’ve heard it so many times I could scream: ‘we don’t get business that way’. ‘We get business through relationships’. Yawn. It’s not that your website doesn’t earn you business, it’s simply that you’ve failed to see the unlimited potential your website has to build your brand and your business. Your website says more about you and your company than you might think. If you’re not posting regularly, commenting on industry or products relevant to your industry, you’re losing speed while others are overtaking. Post, post, post and post – purposefully.
  4. Own how you look. Two of the most important ways people search for services or products are via images and videos. So, just as you Googled for a product or service in step 2 ‘be your own customer’, go to Google images and Google videos to see how your company is represented. Do you appear in the first line of photos or videos? Are you represented at all? Or are there photos of rockstars and weirdos? To own the space that is your name, make sure when you name your photo files or videos before you upload them that the file names bear your company name. Every. Single. Time. The search engines will love you for it, and you’ll increase your ranking. It’s far better to own your look – and your space – than be mired in the images of others. And don’t be afraid of running a YouTube channel. Embrace it. Build it into your annual content marketing strategy, the same way you would your written content and photography. Extra tip for free: Don’t like the photos the media use when they talk about your company? Send them new ones. Regularly. Make a habit of it. They’ll love you for it, and when your new photos appear in search engines, you’ll be all the happier for it.
  5. Know when you’re being talked about. Social media is a wonderful arena for giving complements and airing grievances, real or perceived. If someone has said something about you, chances are they’ve shared it on social media. You should always be the first to know. Check out what people are saying about you on https://mention.com or https://google.com/alerts

Mathew Chandler is the Managing Director of Acumentum Communications, a Sydney-based content marketing agency that specialises in building content that resonates.

 

Time not thyme

By Mathew Chandler

The rules of media engagement have changed in the past decade. If you’ve failed to notice, chances are you’re tearing down the walls of trust you are trying to build.

If your strategy is still focused on the long lunch or leisurely coffee catch up and some thyme infused hipster bikkies, it might be time to reconsider.

Just like you, journalists are increasingly time poor. As you labour over your menu decisions and notice your lunch partner fidget restlessly when you place an order for wine and the long trifecta — entrée, main and dessert, rest assured it’s just dawned on them that your lunchtime intention is to eat and make small talk, not fill the afternoon online edition or tomorrow’s column.

Disaster.

Instead of building media relations, your seemingly archaic method of relationship building has effectively deprived a journalist of what they need most—information and time.

So what to do?

The lunch here isn’t the sin; it’s your lack of value that’s letting you down. If you want to lunch, go right ahead, but follow these few simple rules:

  1. Plan ahead – Ask the journalist in advance how much time they have and what day of the week has them most clear of deadlines. Some journalists will accept your lunch invitation out of politeness and regret it the moment they sit down.
  2. Be flexible – Coffee, lunch or phone interview? Find out what would make life easiest for the journalist, not your boss. Sometimes a breakfast catch-up before normal working hours will work best for everyone. You can start your day with good conversation, and theirs without unwanted interruption.
  3. Don’t order the degustation – Unless the journalist has specifically said they have an afternoon clear, plan to eat somewhere that you know is high in quality but quick on service.
  4. Be transparent – If your plan is to catch up without any intention of contributing to a story idea, tell them in advance. The journalist can then decide whether to go ahead with lunch or whether to reschedule to a less busy time in their calendar. They’ll appreciate your honesty.
  5. Know your worth – The value you (or your boss) bring to the table is not your dazzling ability for conversation. It’s the newsworthiness of what you have to say, be it about your own company or what’s trending in your industry. Plan ahead and have something of news value to contribute. If you can’t think of anything, refer to rule 4 or reconsider catching up at a later date when you have something to say.

Mathew Chandler is the Managing Director of Acumentum Communications, a Sydney-based content marketing agency that specialises in building content that resonates.

A better way to explosive content

By Mathew Chandler

Every website needs a content plan but most web managers suffer from content exhaustion.  What to write next? We’ve covered that topic. I’m out of ideas.

The wonderful thing about the internet, the very place where your website lives, is that the answers are already right in front of you.

Say you’re in the property industry and specialise in office leasing. You’re tired of just writing about the space you have available – you’re desperate to add value and write about what’s important to your customers. You want them knocking on your door; an improvement in your website search engine rankings wouldn’t go astray, either. But how do you know what your customers are looking for?

Do you guess? Survey your customers? Ask your colleagues? Workshop ideas?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you’re probably working harder than you should. Why guess when someone else has done the thinking for you?

Here’s that one simple tip.

Go to your favourite search engine. For the sake of this blog, let’s say it’s Google.

Going with the example above, type in to the search engine: office leasing. Don’t hit return. Just wait for the pre-loaded suggestions to come up. You should get something that looks like this:

searches-related-to-office-leasing-acumentum-communications-1.jpg

So, your search engine is now telling you the things that people most search for when they are looking for office space. If you take your cues from here, you could now blog about cheap rents, sublet office space or creative office spaces.

Is that it, I hear you ask? But wait, there’s more. Scroll down to the very bottom of the page. You should see something like this:

Searches related to office leasing - Acumentum Communications
Google search – Office leasing – Acumentum Communications

More gold awaits in Google’s suggested searches. This is not guesswork – Google’s algorithm is giving you the answers you need. When people search for office space, this is what they’re typing in.

Want to dive deeper? Click on any of the suggested related search strings, and repeat the process from the beginning. The deeper you dive, the more story ideas you can develop. Just remember, when you’re briefing your copywriter to give them the exact phrases from the search strings. If these are included in the copy, and repeated if possible, your blog content will rank higher in searches.

You can do this exercise for each and every product or service you offer, or hot topic you wish to cover, taking the hard work out of content planning.

Mathew Chandler is the Managing Director of Acumentum Communications, a Sydney-based content marketing agency that specialises in building content that resonates. Contact him on 0458 110 042.

Engage. Challenge. Resolve. Articulate.

10 tips for building better brands.

By Mathew Chandler

I’ve been fortunate enough to work on evolving some great company brands―from the ground up or on a refresh basis. Regardless of the company’s size, prominence or industry, there are some common lessons to be learned:

  1. If you don’t have the CEO on board, involved and committed, your brand strategy has every chance of failure.
  2. You will miss the best ideas and struggle for buy in if you don’t invite active input from your coalface.
  3. Clear articulation is everything. If you don’t know what your product is, neither will your customers.
  4. Your brand story isn’t a wish list―it’s your true authentic offer. Evolve your story in line with your offer. Leave the blue sky mining to Midnight Oil.
  5. Avoid disappointment. Challenge who you think you are as a business, and balance your internal assumptions against real stakeholder feedback, or risk the ‘shiny new you’ being the old you in new clothes.
  6. Technology and artificial intelligence are changing what we do and how we do it. Have your team challenge your model; interrogate how your tomorrow will be different from today.
  7. If you don’t understand the reason your business exists, the gap in the market you are here to meet or the authentic things that differentiate you, you haven’t challenged yourself hard enough.
  8. Engagement is critical. When you align and incentivise your people to your brand strategy, you have every chance of delivering a brand that is authentic, understood and enthusiastically driven. Live it from the top down, and the bottom up.
  9. A tag line is not a brand strategy.
  10. Take a simple measure of success. If you (or your colleagues) can’t tell your friends what you do succinctly and enthusiastically, there’s a good chance your brand strategy isn’t working.

Mathew Chandler is the Managing Director of Acumentum Communications, a Sydney-based content marketing agency that specialises in building content that resonates.

 

Finally, a use for word mapping

By Mathew Chandler

What does your website say about you?

Think you’ve got your key messages down pat, and your stakeholders know exactly what you’re all about?

Here’s a quick way to check how your website content is weighted, and what messages you are really giving your customers. You might be in for a surprise.

Step 1: Head to your website.

Step 2: Once your website is loaded, hit control (or command) ‘a’. Then hit control (or command) ‘c’).

Step 3: Open up a new page in your web browser and head to www.worditout.com.

Step 4: Select ‘create your own’.

Step 5: Press control ‘v’ and load the text from your website.

Step 6: Finally, click on ‘generate’.

And voila. Your word map appears.

How should it look? The key messages/products/services should appear large, and the supporting text small. If that’s not the case, it’s probably time you beef up your messaging to focus on the subjects most important to you (and, more importantly, to your customers). Doing so will help how you are found on the web, and improve your search engine rankings.

  • Mathew Chandler is the Managing Director of Acumentum Communications, a Sydney-based content marketing agency that specialises in building content that resonates. Contact him on 0458 110 042.