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New to Mack Web, But Not to the Web Marketing Industry

By | Events, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

An occasion both sad and happy.

With June’s impending departure for the wilds of second-time motherhood, Mack Web Solutions is delighted to welcome a new talent to the fold.

(And, contrary to popular opinion, that delight has nothing to do with the fact that new people mean a free welcome lunch and occasionally cake. Nothing at all).

We are fortunate to have brought on Julie Sutter, a local marketing entrepreneur and writer, as the newest member of the Mack Web team.

We are excited to bring on someone who exemplifies the knowledge, integrity, initiative, and service that we hold at the heart of our company. We firmly believe that Julie will bring much awesomeness to her role as a Web Marketing Strategist.

(A certain level of awesome, in case you didn’t know, is the unspoken requisite for Mack Web employment).

The right person for the job.

Although she is a full-time employee for Mack Web, Julie also owns her own company, Unconventional Ink, an advertising and marketing copywriting and branding services business servicing the cultural and non-profit community (which, upon reflection, is quite the mouthful).

She’s also on the board for SpokesBUZZ, a community driven to amplify the local music scene and promote Fort Collins as a progressive cultural destination.

When necessity dictated that we hire somebody new, it soon became apparent that Julie, with her skills, experience, and name in the community, was a natural choice.

“As Mack Web Solutions grows and evolves, we are continually on the lookout for people with potential,” said Mackenzie Fogelson, our beloved founder and CEO.

“The relationships Julie has built with her colleagues, customers, and community exemplify who we are and what we do at the core of Mack Web.

“It isn’t just about web marketing, it’s about helping businesses transform into something better. The human element is extremely important and Julie understands and embodies that. She cares like we care, and we knew she was the right fit for our team.”

Getting to know you without the stalking. (Who knew that was an option?)

In order for the team and community to get to know Julie better, she’s opened up a bit to share the following vital information with you all.

Mack Web Team: When someone asks what your favorite book is, what do you tell them? Now…what is your actual favorite book?
Julie: The World According to Garp. For both answers. But I also like any book that has magic in it. Come to think of it, all books have magic in them.

Mack Web Team: What is your favorite quote?
Julie: For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
(That’s T.S. Eliot, we think).

Mack Web Team: What’s the most wonderful place you’ve traveled to?
Julie: It’s really hard to top New York City.

Mack Web Team: What is your favorite breakfast food?
Julie: Coffee, hands down. But if we’re talking solids: I never met a waffle I didn’t like.

Mack Web Team: If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, what would you choose and which character would you play?
Julie: I would like to be Samantha in Bewitched. Did I mention I like magic?

Mack Web Team: And, if you could have ANY super power in the world, what would it be?
Julie: Did I mention I like magic? Or do you need more specific magic? I think cheerfulness is a good superpower. So there’s that.

You can get to know Julie a little more by following her on Twitter (@juliemackweb) or circling her on Google+.

Coming Soon: Online Community Building Gold

By | Building Community, Events, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

A small obsession

You may have noticed, if you follow this blog at all, that we talk a lot about building online communities. In fact, were this not a digital medium, we might have wiped out a moderately-sized copse of trees with the pages and pages we’ve written on the topic.

(Please note that we would have replanted the hypothetical grove after we cleared it. We love the earth).

With our established interest in cultivating your online community, it probably won’t surprise you that we’re working to put together something a little special.

At long last

At this exact moment in time (unless it’s, y’know, nighttime or very early morning. Or snack time. Or if Firefly reruns are on), we are pulling together a comprehensive guide on growing/building/cultivating your online community (choose your metaphor at will).

We’re pretty excited about this resource and we think you will be, too. (If you’re not, don’t tell us. You’ll crush our little hearts).

A sneak peek (only not really)

So we won’t actually be showing you clips or screenshots of the guide  (tippy-top secret stuff, that), but here’s what we will be doing.

We’ll tell you about it. (Lucky you).

The Mack Web Solutions’ Truly Excellent and Fantastic Guide to Building Online Communities for All and Sundry (so, the title is a work in progress. For now, we mostly just call him Arthur), is going to be a complete guide on growing an online community from scratch.

All you need to get started is a few seed ideas and a basic concept of what you’d like to accomplish.

That’s not so very much, is it?

From that starting point, the guide will walk you through finding the right outlets, finding the right people, and starting the (we won’t lie) rather difficult work of reaching out to them.

But wait, there’s more…

You’ll notice that even in our absurdly descriptive working title, we never once call it a “beginner’s guide” to anything. That, friends, is deliberate.

Because even though the thing will work for beginners, it’s not just for them. Getting started is just, well, the beginning.

Our Awesomely Comprehensive and Objectively Beautiful Guide to Making Online Friends (yeah…maybe not that one either), will also:

  • move into the intermediate steps of coaxing to full-bloom the little seedlings that have started to sprout, and
  • the final stage in the cycle of keeping your community healthy and abundant once it’s established.

We will be embellishing all this lovely, practical information with case studies and real life examples and possibly the occasional overdrawn metaphor. And we’ll be doing all this with our unique and celebrated (frequently. with cookies) Mack Web flair.

You’re gonna love it.

Here’s what we need from you. Yes, you.

At the moment, we’re trying to gauge the level of interest the Handy-Dandy Guide to Not Being a Cyber Hermit.

Because we know that we’re pretty thrilled. (But then, we also find llamas oddly endearing, so…). We’re in touch with reality enough to know that not everyone shares our enthusiasms.

And, quite frankly, if no one cares about our project…well, we’ll be very sad. There were will be weeping and gnashing of teeth and probably rather a lot of ice cream.

And then we’ll move on. Life’s too short, y’know?

So here’s what you can do. We’re collecting a list of people who might find a use for it. So go to our Building Online Communities page (where on that glorious day the Currently Incomplete But Someday Absurdly Thorough Guide to Not Being a Meanie will live) and let us know.

And because we’re just that good, there’s also ways to share this exciting possibility with the world via social media.

Not so difficult, eh?

So, go. See. Sign up. Share. Then go out and enjoy the day. The sunshine’s on us.

 

Writing for the Web: Not as Hard as You Think

By | Uncategorized, Web Marketing | No Comments

Quick tips for a (sadly) essential skill.
Not unlike tying your shoes, writing for the web is simultaneously simpler and trickier than you think it is. (Don’t mock. The whole “around the tree” thing still baffles me. Rabbit ears all the way).

someecards.com - Learn to tie your shoelaces. Because you really need to quit trippin.

It’s like not-web-writing in a lot ways, but the main difference is your approach to your audience. A web audience is typically going to give you a lot less grace and patience. The nature of the internet is dynamic and quick; no one wants to linger on a single blog post.

With the preponderance of stuff on the internet, especially spurred on by rise of content marketing, this particular skill is more important than ever.

The simple solution, of course, is to outsource your web writing to people who already know this stuff. It’s a perfectly valid strategy. Here at Mack Web, we tend to split the duties 50/50 with our clients. We encourage them, as the true experts on their products, services, industries, and company cultures, to be involved in their content generation.

We usually get pretty good results this way. And, through trial and error, we’ve managed to figure out the most-encountered sticking points.

Now it’s time to get unstuck.

No need to re-invent the wheel.
The thing is, of course, that this writing-for-the-web-stuff is a topic that has been covered by…just about everyone ever. I’m pretty sure that if you go check out the Lascaux cave paintings, some of them will turn out to be the correct formatting and focus for web writing. It’s a practical topic on which nearly everyone is allowed their own opinion. (Which, in a fun meta-twist, makes it nearly perfect for blog dissertations).

Probably the best of these was done by Distilled just a few weeks ago. It goes pretty in-depth on the research, the value, the process, and even the formatting of writing for the web. It’s a good read and it’s more comprehensive than what I’m doing here. I recommend that you check it out if you’re one of those curious types who likes to, y’know, know things.

That said, if you’re a Mack Web client (or if you work with an agency that operates similarly to ours), you may not actually need to know all of those things for yourself. We tend to do a lot of the prep work on your behalf.

If we’re releasing you into the wilds of blog world, we should have outfitted you well with things like audience, purpose, outreach, guiding questions, and maybe even some keywords.

So what follows here isn’t the whole guidebook. Guidebooks give you the entire history of the place and its chief imports and exports and the obscure species of fish you might find if you decide to go snorkeling.

This is just the highlights, the quick tips and guidelines like “don’t forget to lace up your hiking boots” and “don’t walk your dog near standing water unless you want to provide a tasty canine treat to the alligators.”

These are a) the most important tips to remember when writing for the web and b) the ones we find ourselves repeating most often when we’re helping out our clients.

1. Put the first things first. And in the middle. And last.
Before you get started, do make sure that you know the audience and purpose of the post. Even if you’re not the one doing the research, please review the data and keep that in mind as you’re writing it.

With every point that you include in the post, check back to make sure that it relates to your central idea and that it applies to the audience you’re writing for.

In other words, if you’re writing a post with tips for house-training a pet monkey, don’t go off on a tangent about the history of circuses in the early 1900s. Your audience doesn’t really care about how much canvas they used to make the big top. They just want their bonobo to stop leaving them ‘presents’ in their shoes.

2. Start strong. End in triumph.
Your introduction is important. There are approximately a kajillion blogs and websites out there. Nobody has time to read them all. You need to give them a reason to spend the next ten to fifteen minutes reading yours.

Your opening doesn’t have to be long or epic. But it does need to catch and keep their attention. Otherwise, they’re going to bounce off your site and hit up Pinterest instead.

(And really, pep talk aside, who can blame them? Where else can you find this stuff:

Source: lolchamp.com via 3milly on Pinterest

).

The recommendation that I find myself giving over and over is that your intro can go one of two ways:

A) It can be so spectacularly interesting, intriguing, funny, or bizarre that it practically compels attention, even if it’s a little off-topic. My high school journalism teacher once went absolutely gaga over an article that started with, “There’s a killer lurking in our halls.” The article was about the ridiculously ginormous wasps that had infested the art building, but that opening got a lot more attention than “The administration would like all students to steer clear of the east wing.”

(No, I didn’t write the article. In high school I mostly interviewed my friends and made up crossword puzzles. There’s a reason I didn’t go into journalism).

B) It can immediately address your audience’s pain points. “Are you tired of your monkey crapping in your favorite shoes?” or “No one wants to find monkey droppings in the dishwasher.”  Quick, direct, and attention-grabbing all the same.

The way you close the post is also important. You’ve relayed your information. Now what do you want them to do about it?

Sometimes you’re going to have a specific page you want them to visit or a contest you want them to enter.

Maybe you’ve got more information on your Google+ profile or you want them to share their tips and tricks or even horror stories on monkey potty-training.

End with something that encourages engagement of some kind, something that prompts a response.

3. Style does matter.
I’m not going to overdo it on the formatting rules, but here’s the down and dirty:

  • digestible chunks: no huge block paragraphs,
  • interesting, informative, and frequent headings,
  • if you can manage it, break it up your sections with some relevant graphics, and
  • smooth transitions from one point to the next.

4. Try not to be boring.
I tried to think of a nicer way to say that, but…then I didn’t.

Oh well.

The point stands.

The truth is that sometimes, depending on your industry, you’re going to be writing about some fairly technical or serious things. You don’t want those posts to be overly goofy or even chatty. You can’t always use a charming or informal voice. (Although, if and when you can, do).

What you can do, is read what you’ve written out loud before you post it. Are there sentences that you fall asleep or lose your way in? Does it sound like something someone would actually say or does it sound like jargon or promotional mumbo jumbo?

It is absolutely possible to write like an actual person without losing your professionalism or your credibility. Hold onto that belief, set it as a standard, and you’re going to do just fine.

5. Avoid those things up with which we shall not put.
Which is my somewhat perverse way of saying: mind your grammar, kids.

This is another one of those things that should go without saying and yet…no one ever seems to go without saying it. So here’s me, saying it: check your grammar, check your spelling, check your punctuation. You’ll find that reading your post out loud is going to help you with that too.

And that’s all, folks.
Seriously, that’s pretty much it. There’s a lot of rules about writing and web writing. There are probably classes you can take and lots more tips and tricks out there. Most of them are good and useful and excellent. Guidebooks, right?

This is just the stuff we thought you should know. To keep your dog from getting eaten by an alligator, y’know?

Are there things you struggle with that we didn’t cover? What is your pet web writing peeve? Let us know and we’ll see what we can do.

 


 

2012 In All Its Glory (Mack Web’s year in review)

By | Social Media, Uncategorized, Web Marketing | No Comments

A good news/bad news situation.
Here’s the good news, friends: The world didn’t end in 2012.

Image Credit: Radio Shack

You’ve probably noticed that by now yourselves. If not, take a look out the window. No meteors. No zombie pandemic. No alien invasion. No cataclysmic crash into a previously parallel dimension.

(If that has changed between the time we posted this and the time you’re reading it, we are so, so sorry. Best of luck to you and your kith and kin).

Here’s the bad news: The world didn’t end in 2012.

Since the Mayans got it wrong (or just found themselves in need of a new calendar. Not that I’m criticizing. I mean, hey! my Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog calendar only lasted 12 months. Theirs was far more impressive than that), that means there’s still a future that must be planned for, bills that must be paid, holiday pounds that must be shed.

Sigh.

To avoid that terrible fate for just a little bit longer, let’s take a moment to review the splendor of the year that’s just passed.

And what better place to look for splendor than right here at Mack Web Solutions?

Our year has been a delightful, caffeine-fueled roller-coaster of change, growth, and what my mother would call “character-building experiences.” The one thing we’ve tried to keep consistent is our determination to be open with our friends and clients, to share our knowledge freely, to maintain an indomitable sense of humor, and to be ever better than the day before.

And if that’s not some kind of splendid, I don’t know what it is.

That being the case, we felt that an appropriate way to honor this fading year (and distract ourselves from the terror, er, anticipation of the year to come) was to remember some of our favorite blog posts and also bask in the glory of our year.

(Since the blog is the showcase for the openness, knowledge, humor, better-ness, etc. Get it?)

So without further ado, I present: Mack Web Solution’s Lucky Seven Top Blog Posts of 2012.

1. We’re Celebrating Something BIG

To start with, a bit of ancient history. Technically, this post is from way back in 2011, but we’re including it here anyway. Deal with it.

No, actually, we think it still counts as a promo for this year for a couple of reasons.

First, it’s the kick-off of a blog series that extended into the early months of 2012.

Second, said series was all a teaser for an event that occurred in 2012.

And finally, that event was Mack Web Solutions’ first (official) step into the brave new world we’ve been exploring this year. We re-branded the company, revamped our approach, and re-packaged our services. If we’re truly dedicating this particular post to the benchmarks of the year, the infamous Iceberg post of 2011 counts.

There isn’t too much else to say about the Something Big series. In a way, they seem to contradict our company policy of value, value, value, everything must have value. But what these seven posts really exemplify is how effective a blog can be in your outreach. We got an overwhelming response from this series and people were avidly watching to see just what was going to change.

Mission accomplished.

2. SEO 101: Some Tools & Tips for Web Marketing Newbies (Now with Monkeys!)

Fast forward a few months. Things are going well with our new corporate identity and philosophies. We’re building relationships and filling information gaps and doing all the things that we always tell other people to do.

Which brings us to this post. We got a request from a friend of ours that we put together a super basic SEO resource for inquisitives who really want to understand more about SEO, but may be more a part of that do-it-your-self-er group.

Certainly it’s not an original request but, as our approach is rather unique, we decided it was worth doing. This particular post hits all of our marks for value: it’s informative and interesting, it has a good voice, and it fulfills a need in our community.

Also, it introduces Marshall the Monkey Man. (Who is fictional, by the way. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is yada yada yada).

All kinds of win.

3. The Comprehensive(ish) Guide to Google+ Hangouts

This is another one that received a lot of positive feedback. Like the SEO 101 post, it’s a fantastic example of straightforward value. We took a relatively new tool and broke it down into digestible chunks for our audience. Peers and clients alike could benefit from it.

And, in end, we got to be pirates.

This one belongs in the roster for the year because it shows our growth as a company. This post went live in August, just six months after our dramatic re-branding. By the time we posted it, we felt like we were hitting our stride, confident in our shiny new social media offerings and our fairly prolific posting schedule. We were trying new things, letting our horizons expand, and secure enough to teach a little of what we were learning.

It was kind of like that glorious moment when you start your senior year of high school. You realize that you’ve got the whole “being a teenager” thing down. You’re sure you’ve mastered all that awkward puberty stuff and are ready for the future to bring it.

Ha, how little we knew then.

4. Highways, Backroads, and the Occasional Tire-squealing U-Turn: Mack’s Journey as an Entrepreneur

Of course, we exaggerate. Even in Mack Web’s late adolescent cockiness, the information we provided was good and valid. There were no actual catastrophes looming.

That said…well years of growth and change make the road a little rocky. (Mmmm…now we want ice cream).

Which is why we’ve included this post by our very own eponymous Mack.

In the fall of 2012, Mack was given the chance to speak at an event of female entrepreneurs. It was a pretty awesome experience and she completely nailed it (of course).

But in preparation for that, she put together this incredibly honest and open reflection on the ups and downs of life as the owner and founder of a small business.

As the man says, it’s lonely at the top.

5. Rules & Reasons for Strategic Partnerships

One of the hallmarks for 2012 was our sincere (and successful) attempts at making friends. We’ve really tried to practice what we preach and so we’ve done a lot of outreach and community building among our peers and thought leaders alike.

(Also, we figured…should the world end not with a bang but a long, drawn-out whimper, it would be a good thing to have allies in various places. Just in case we needed a refuge from the descending hordes of locusts or whatnot).

The result of those alliances was this post. Not only does it deal with the topic of forging successful business relationships within your industry, we also consulted some of those friends to help us put it together.

So. Very. Much. Win.

6. Making stuff part of your routine (for better local rankings)

After spending a few months posting on high-faluting, meta topics like entrepreneurial struggles and strategic partnerships, we went back to our roots for this one.

Mack put together a solid post full of practical tips that our clients can use, that our peers can recommend, that everyone can understand.

Plus, it displays our truly excellent (and not at all inebriated) foray into the world of fine art.

7. A tiny task for clients: how you can help with personal outreach

We rounded out the year with this little bid toward business-related New Years’ resolutions. (After all, just in case the world didn’t end, we needed to have something ready for moving forward).

Again, it’s one of our signature posts full of actionable, field-tested information that appeals to just about anybody who wants their business to succeed online. Since that includes both our clients and our industry, we covered our bases pretty well.

Not to mention Superkitty.

Check ’em out
Of course, this business of choosing the best posts of the year is a tricky and entirely subjective endeavor. We chose them based on a combination of value, entertainment, and their symbolism within our journey this year. We’d love to know if we missed one (or two or twelve) that you particularly liked.

And, we encourage you to read (or re-read) them all anyway. Not only is there a lot of good stuff in there, it’s also an excellent delaying tactic before facing up to the reality that 2013 is  here and the world will keep spinning on indefinitely.

Hooray. Sigh.

 

 

Be Inspired! Creative Facebook Covers

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Fall is full of creative happenings of every shape, size, and flavor.

There’s fall Fashion week in Paris, New York, London & Milan.

Vogue Magazine (to the mail woes of many) produces its September Issue, ushering in the new fashions for the year and trying to outdo the previous September issue (in page quantity, and indirectly, in weight).

In a more accessible forum, this time of year also ushers in autumnal pies. Beautiful, (fashionable?), and tasty autumnal pies

See? September = creative inspiration.

So, jump on the bandwagon.

Why not use the creativity of this season to get inspired and re-vamp your social media platforms? An easy place to start is with your company’s Facebook cover art. This is free real estate you should take advantage of. Highlight your personality, products, events, contests or company culture in this space. The key here, is to be creative while maintaining your company’s current branding.

So, in the spirit of fashion forward September, tasty pies and what have you, I’d like to share some of my favorite Facebook covers in the hopes that you too, will find some inspiration this fall season.

Here’s a handful of creative covers to get you started:

Paul Mitchell

https://www.facebook.com/PaulMitchellHairCare?ref=ts

Their cover art is a good lesson on how to blend images and illustrative text (without overdoing it). I also like the styled call to action (complete with arrow) pointing to the link below.

Arizona Ice Tea:

https://www.facebook.com/AriZonaIcedTea

This image grabs visitors eyes immediately with its bright color. Rather than slapping up a random photo of sorts, Arizona uses this space to garner interest in their promotions and contests.

Ben & Jerry’s

http://www.facebook.com/benjerry

Ben & Jerry’s does an excellent job of creating a cover that matches the company’s branding. Who doesn’t recognize the Ben & Jerry’s cows that grace the covers of their delicious delectables?

Izze

http://www.facebook.com/IZZE

Izze maintains consistent branding on their Facebook page by using a product photo. They highlight their flavors and the refreshing nature of their product, using a brightly colored image with a crisp, high quality resolution (they even picked up the dew drops on the bottles to emphasize just  how refreshing these drinks are). Well done. Also, I’m kind of thirsty now…


Celestial Seasonings

http://www.facebook.com/CelestialSeasonings

Lovely illustration, lovely quote, and a lovely way of highlighting their favorite teas for the fall season.

The Welsh Rabbit

http://www.facebook.com/TheWelshRabbit

These guys are just down the street from us. The way they use their cover space to explain who they are and what they do is creative and clever. The chalkboard you see in the image is a shot pulled directly from their storefront. A great way of tying their page directly back to their store space.

Sarah Blake

http://www.facebook.com/HelloZSO

Sarah Blake uses this space to highlight her amazing illustration skills. Visitors to her page immediately see what she does (and how well she does it).

Adobe

http://www.facebook.com/Adobe

Adobe takes advantage of this space to highlight how their tools help well known brands.


Adobe Indesign

http://www.facebook.com/indesign

I included one more Adobe example, just to show you how well they brand each of their products. Their cover art for Indesign has a very different feel and look to it than the previous Adobe platform I listed.

Fonts.com

http://www.facebook.com/fonts

‘Cause who doesn’t enjoy a Facebook cover with a nice BIG typeface on it?

The Lorax

http://www.facebook.com/theloraxmovie

He’s in your face, but in a non-creepy way.

Caribou Coffee

http://www.facebook.com/cariboucoffee

Caribou’s cover art does well to capture the company’s personality and culture.

Zappos

http://www.facebook.com/zapposwomen
http://www.facebook.com/zapposmen?ref=ts

We like the consistency for the men’s and women’s pages. The soft, ethereal style of the cover art is warm and inviting to visitors.


Color Me Rad 5k

http://www.facebook.com/colormerad5k

This one might just be my favorite, because it’s an explosion (literally) of color! Creative, fun and intentional, this image promotes the event by showing visitors just how rad this race is. This image alone makes our team want to go run a 5k (and Courtney HATES running).

Think there’s a creative Facebook cover that needs to get on our list? Let us know, and if it fits the bill, you might see it up here.

 

 

Google’s take on what makes a website great

By | Social Media, Uncategorized, Web Marketing | No Comments

If there is one household name in the SEO industry, it’s Matt Cutts.

This is Matt Cutts. He hates spam just like us.

Matt is the head of the Webspam team at Google. Matt’s tried to be as transparent as corporate confidentiality will allow him to be when communicating with SEOs about what Google has in the works (as far as algorithmic changes go), and what SEOs should be concerned with as they keep up with this ever changing industry.

This year has been a tremendous one for search and SEO. With Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithmic updates, ranking desirably in the engines today is night and day compared to even just a year ago. Google has changed their algorithms so that websites actually deserving of high rankings–the ones that actually provide value–can rank above those who are just spamming to get a number one spot.

For many SEO companies, the changes in Google’s algorithms have been the first sign of victory.  There are those among us who have, for years, preached the importance of an approach that is rooted in quality, value, relationships, and a whole lot of hard work. And at long last, Google has verified that this path is true.

Just recently, Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting interviewed Matt Cutts to discuss what really makes a quality website in Google’s eyes. The following is a breakdown of the key takeaways:

  1. Your content must be unique and valuable in order to rank
  2. Content has always been important to Google. This is nothing new. What’s different now is the value that the content brings to the user. Is your content different from other content in Google’s index about the same subject? Is it making a contribution? Does it add to the store of knowledge that already exists, rather than simply repeat it? Does it offer a new and unique point of view? How is it valuable to searchers (funny, clever, actionable)?

    A general rule of thumb for determining quality content is whether it’s share-worthy. When someone reads your content, are they going to want to vouch for its quality by sharing it with their friends and colleagues on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+?

    Of course, if your website is entering a pretty competitive space where many vital, active companies already dominate the rankings, it’s going to take more than just generally good content to come out on top.Think about the diversity and creativity of your content, the user experience that your website provides, and possibly focusing on a smaller, related niche. This will allow you to build your brand, reputation, and authority without going up against all of the big dogs. Then, you can make your way into that space once you’ve established some street cred (i.e. domain authority).

  3. Building a quality brand is important
  4. Although brand is a small indicator of whether a site is going to potentially rank well, it is in fact still important simply for the trust factor. People trust brands. They talk about them, they share them, they buy their products.

    So how do you build a quality brand online? You’ve got to build a community. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that it all comes back to your content (blog posts, videos, photos, infographics, etc) and the user experience that your website provides.What does your content say about your brand? What do you stand for? What’s your personality? What makes your company unique?

    The answers to these key questions need to be integrated into every ounce of your messaging, and the experience that users have when spending time on your website.

    Quick side note: Matt made it very clear that Google does not show favor to big brands with big budgets who spend a ton of money on paid advertisements. Just to clarify, he states that big brands DO have an advantage because the search engines are an attempt to mirror real life. However, he emphasizes that they can’t buy organic rankings with paid ads. So take heart. There’s hope for us small brands after all.

  5. Think building relationships vs. building links
  6. Link building is a really common industry term, but many of our clients still don’t understand what this actually means. The deal on link building is that, though it’s just one of the factors that Google uses to rank websites, it is one of the most significant indicators of your site’s credibility and authority. If other quality websites are linking to the great content on your website, then you must be good enough for Google to return to the top of the results pages in a search.

    Building a quality link profile is no easy task. Certainly that’s why so many companies have tried to spam this part of Google’s algorithm so that they can speed up the process and get a boost in rankings. For years, here were a lot of companies benefiting from shady link building tactics (and many still do). But in the last year, Google has done so much to improve the quality of their results that websites using these tactics will ultimately find themselves slapped with a warning and then resting in the bottomless abyss of your-website-is-nowhere-to-be-found.

    My point here is that if you want your website to rank desirably and you want to be able to sustain those rankings, you have to do the work.

    Building your business online is just like building relationships in person. If someone doesn’t know you, how can you prove to them that you’re a good guy? That you’re worth doing business with? That you know your stuff?

    This is not an easy thing to do online, but again (and you’re probably tired of hearing me say it, but it’s important and bears repeating. Again, it all comes back to your content which is going to directly affect user experience. If your website is chalk full of great blog posts, infographics that illustrate your approach or process, photo albums that tell your story, articles that show your knowledge and personality, then it’s easy to establish some trust. Combine that with a little bit of social media and building your online community, and you’re on your way to becoming a big deal.This takes time and a ton of work. But if you truly want to rank in Google, not to mention improve your human user response, that’s what you’re in for.

  7. Infographics need to be quality, too

  8. There has been a big shift from content as the written word to pictorial content like infographics. And, as you’ve probably guessed (surprise, surprise), companies are spamming that too. Here’s the deal: whether your content is a blog post or an infographic, if it doesn’t add value it does you no good. It’s not helping your customers and it’s certainly not improving your Google rank.

    Just so you know, Google doesn’t have anything against infographics, but it’s a matter of whether they are concerned with determining the quality of the graphic to figure out where it should rank. Matt seems to be hinting toward the fact that, in the end, infographics may not carry any value in Google’s eyes (thanks to all the spamming). Sense a pattern here?

    Regardless of what Google decides to do with infographics, your number one goal is to provide unique, valuable content that benefits your customers. So, if infographics are the best way to deliver your message to your customers, then use them. If you are providing value for your end user, the engines will be satisfied as well.

  9. There are no shortcuts, tricks, or secrets to good rankings

  10. Yup, you gotta do the work. As Matt explains:

    The main thing is that people should avoid looking for shortcuts. In competitive market areas there has always been a need to figure out how to differentiate yourself, and nothing has changed today. Think about how you can create compelling content or a compelling experience for users.

    Google employs some of the smartest people in the world. They are committed to providing quality results so that people can actually find what they are looking for when they use their search engine. Google will continue to get smarter and smarter. The more quickly you can build a reputable brand online, the better.

    There’s no better time than now because of everything that Google is doing to shake up websites who got comfortable doing crap work and ranking well for it. Get out there and create some great content and make some friends. This won’t happen over night, but you’ll change your company and experience some pretty exciting victories in the process.

Don’t give up


For more than six months, Mack Web has been working on our online visibility as if we were one of our own clients. We did some research, we developed a strategy, we delegated some tasks. Every day, we dedicate the time to reading blogs, engaging on social, and generating valuable content that helps people (ok, we’re not saving lives or rescuing puppies, but hey, this SEO stuff is important).

In our experience in the trenches, we’ve learned a few things we’d like you to know:

  • SEO isn’t just about rankings
    It’s about building value in your company, developing relationships with real people, and making a name for yourself that you can be proud of.
  • This approach will change your business
    We have seen amazing results from our efforts, and they have nothing to do with our keyword rankings. We have opened up new markets, made a TON of new friends, and, wait for it, we’re enjoying ourselves! We are extremely proud of what we have accomplished in such a short time.
  • This stuff is hard work and victories start small
    We read it time and time again from the thought leaders in the SEO industry. A majority of companies give up on this approach before they experience success. If you’re putting in the effort, don’t give up. Keep going!If you’re frustrated and can’t do the work on your own, work with a professional company who you can trust and serve as your guide in taking your company and your online visibility to the next level.


Simple in concept, if difficult in execution

So, as it turns out, the trick to making Google believe you have a great website is…(drum roll please)…to have a great website.

Shocking, we know, but there it is. Ultimately, no matter what the disruptions in the world of the Google algorithm, this is what you have to remember: they’re trying to return the best, most helpful, most trustworthy websites they can find. As long as you can meet those standards, you’ll be able to weather all the panda-penguin-parakeet-pterodactyl storms.