Friday 13th 2020 is a good day to take action to stop things going Pete Tong or getting uber scary, and that includes making sure your brand is in the best shape possible to prepare for whatever 2021 brings.
Inspired by a networking event organised by Buzz Connect this week, here are my top 13 essential actions that will make your brand visible on social media and search, and ensure you are a trustworthy and loved brand that people want to use and recommend.
1. Does your website work?
Make sure your website is fit for purpose and that your platform is safe, secure and reliable. People need to trust you and the number one thing people look for in a website or app is reliability. Second to that is being able to find it, so start by check your website is visible on Google and that the pages can be indexed on Search Console. You will need to add a DNS code to the website and verify it first.
2. Ranking matters
See where your website ranks on Google for keywords – you can also check this on the Search Console. Focus your efforts on those that are useful and ranking on the first two -three pages if possible, as these are the easiest ones to boost to the first page.
3. How do people find you?
It is essential to know what keywords people use to find you. However, Google analytics won’t show you what keywords people use to find your site (yes, it’s annoying) so check on other dedicated software, like Moz (or ask us to run keyword ranking checks) to see if they are actually ones people are using.
Also check regularly how many people are coming in from social networks or referrers and ensure that they are not bouncing straight off. Making sure everything is aligned and working together will create the necessary social traction that you need to get your website to the top of the first page of Google.
4. Optimise well
Make sure all your website pages have the best SEO applied. This might be the name of your product if it’s something people will search for, for example. However, if there’s a lot of competition, you have a lot of product variations, or it’s a bespoke niche product, you will have to rethink your SEO so that:
- You aren’t duplicating terms – each page must have a unique keyword.
- Not optimising for something where you can’t compete.
- It’s something people actually search for.
5 Don’t forget the pictures
Check all your website pictures are optimised correctly. They should ideally match the search terms in the title/first paragraph on the page in which the picture sits, but if the picture is used in more than one place you’ll need to be more generic or redo the image so it isn’t a duplication and can have its own specific SEO applied.
The alt data should ideally be a description of what’s in the picture – think how you would describe it to a blind person and try and incorporate the keyword/s if it makes sense (hopefully it does!).
Make sure all your website pictures are loading quickly. Speed matters and large images will slow down site load, which will make people click away in frustration. Why does this matter? Clickaways count as bounce traffic – see below.
6. Reduce your bounce
Google hates bounces and uses them as part of their ranking assessments for SEPR (Search Engine Page Ranking i.e. what site is on the first page, etc for each keyword) along with slow load time. Check your site’s load speed on Google analytics and reduce the size of each oversized image to help reduce bounce. If there is still a high bounce, consider making more meaningful content – see below.
Also make sure you haven’t set up advertising or social media marketing that isn’t aligned with the content in the link (keywords, branding). Links should always go to an aligned article or specific landing page that loads quickly and smoothly, makes sense to the person as they arrive, and doesn’t jar.
Our bounce rate is consistently 1% or less, but most website’s bounce rate sits at around 30-40%. If yours is above 60% you need to take action fast.
7. Meaningful, focused content
Create meaningful, focused content groups around your top keywords. Meaningful means it actually says something insightful, it is interesting, engaging or entertaining (or all three!). Focused means the people you want to reach are searching for it. However, getting found for one keyword off one article is a tough, if not impossible, task. So find a good group of related keywords that matter to your audience and can be used to create meaningful articles, blog posts and pages as well as FAQs, and add internal links. Make as many as possible evergreen (i.e. not linked to current affairs or news) and add a few pictures to each one that can then be shared over a period on social media to increase engagement, reach and visibility. Oh and please write it well!
8. Be a trendspotter
Monitor trends in your industry and incorporate them into your content, social media, marketing and sales cycle – and FAQs. Check Google trends and also what’s trending on LinkedIn for your niches (you can set it up on your brand page) and Twitter (it’ll be based on your interest and contacts, but you can change focus to your locality). Create niche Twitter lists and monitor them to see what people in your different target audiences are talking about.
9. Be an expert
Add focused FAQs to your website and set them up for schema mark up. Make sure they are on point for what people are actually ASKING on Google and Social Media by checking trends and monitoring social media using hashtags and search terms, and lists on Twitter. Link to them from related content within your website. Share as evergreen content on Quora and other social networks.
10. Be a social media genius
Make sure your brand’s social media is on point and you do it well. This includes the basics, such as making that the brand is consistent at every touchpoint, the headers look good and the descriptions are up to date. Posts should all be on brand (colours, fonts, images, language) and not overtly salesy. Lift the lid on your brand and get personal (post about the office or the people) and your life (office cat or dog perhaps).
It also means being inspiring and exciting, and capturing the zeitgeist in a human manner. See our Social Media Genius Week subsite for lots of inspiration about that and how other brands are managing it.
Don’t be cold and too corporate – since the Great Pause in Spring 2020 and the shift to WAH people get turned off and a bit suspicious of bland, overly professional content because it doesn’t feel human.
Do not post naked (that’s not a being human thing, btw, but a technical thing!) i.e. always use at least one image or video, hashtag or link (or a mix of them) in your brand posts. Tag people if that’s of interest to them or you are in a buddy group with other brands. If you don’t have a buddy group, set one up.
11. Be engaging
Commit to engaging every day on the networks that are good for SEO (LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube) to increase your reach and visibility. By engaging I mean take actions on the posts shared by your network and associates – save the posts that are of interest to you, comment on as well as like the post. Share their posts if you really like it and it’s of interest to your network. Do not just like a few things or – even worse – just lurk, otherwise the algorithms will demote you and your brand will become invisible.
12. Be consistent
Post consistently every week as your brand on your preferred social networks, preferably the ones that also boost your SEO. Three posts a week are a minimum for good reach.
Remember the 30% rule – one post about your brand (an article or a sale or news), one about what’s trending, one about others (can be a share or a shout out, for example). Get your staff and buddies to like and comment and share.
Note that on Facebook and LinkedIn the brand page reach defaults at zero and it takes a lot of engagement and effort to get posts visible on business pages. In addition, if you always add a link in your post it’ll set your brand’s reach to zero. Mix it up by using pictures and videos, and put url links in the comment below.
Groups, on the other hand, are prioritised, so if your brand has a group post something interesting on a daily basis. Also share interesting posts as your brand in other groups. Read to our recent article about Facebook groups for more detail.
13 Be lovely – and loved
Incorporate Social Goodness into everything you post. By that I mean, always lead with what will do your people, your community and the wider world the most good.
In 2020 everyone is a bit bruised and battered and anxious, and no one wants a hard sell. Instead we all want brands to be human and to care, so be kind, considerate, compassionate, empathic and generous.
If you get all ballsy and pushy or desperate, it’ll turn off your audience. Then the best you can hope for is that you’ll be ignored. At worst you’ll be called out.
And never fake or exaggerate it. Greenwashing is on a par with virtue signalling for getting people very het up and angry. And rightly so. If you are an ethical brand (and you should be) be truthful about what you are doing well, and where you are still trying.
Why does that matter?
Because if you get ignored or boycotted it makes your brand totally invisible. This is because the algorithms won’t show your posts to many people if people don’t engage. Clearly of they can’t see it, they can’t engage and the downward cycle continues. Once that happens, it knocks your traffic and online traction, which means your brand has no chance of making e it to the first page of Google either.
If your brand gets called out you’ll find yourself having to deal with hate and abuse. It might also trigger a complete social media crisis, which isn’t good for your mental health, brand reputation, or your profit line.
As a brand you have a responsibility to be reliable and trustworthy. So commit to being honest, transparent, brave, ethical and caring. Build Social Goodness into your DNA; because love always wins.
As part of our marketing services we can help you with all of these essential actions, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need extra support. Here’s to your success!