Author Archive

Not a Graphic Designer nor a Web Developer? No Problem! DIY with TWO Easy Tools

March 29th, 2019

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure page for more information.

Understandably everyone wants to be able to whip up attractive graphics for social media without having to hire someone like me or learn Adobe Photoshop. Not to mention, many of us are making images on our smartphones and tablets.

And despite WordPress having unlimited themes to choose from, it still can take alot of work to build and manage a WP website. Plus what happens when you get hacked or can’t keep up with all the updates?

Even someone like me who is a graphic designer and web developer LOVES these tools that are available out there today. Like everyone else, I value my time and having peace of mind. I have two tools that help me achieve that.

Here are my recommendations for those who want to DIY:

Get a 7-day Free Trial of PicMonkey

Whether you are on your smartphone or tablet or at your desktop or laptop computer, PicMonkey is my tool of choice. You can edit images or photos, or choose from the 3000+ image library that comes part of your account.

Believe it or not, this tool can create ads, invitations, business cards, postcards, flyers, and of course social media images at the size and specs you need. It comes with over 200 fonts and over 2000 templates.

This tool saves me ALOT of time. Not to mention, if there’s an urgent need and I am not in my office or with my laptop, I don’t sweat it like the old days! PicMonkey can handle it.

And if you just need to clean up photos, or do some serious photo editing like changing eye colors, removing blemishes or masking out parts of images, it’s really easy!

Probably my favorite thing that I can do on PicMonkey is collages. There is no easy way to do so in Photoshop. But using this app, it’s a piece of cake!

I suggest trying out for yourself. You can click this link to sign up for a free trial. I’d love to hear what you think!

Great looking pics in two clicks, thanks to PicMonkey's photo editing tools

Weebly - Websites, eCommerce & Marketing in one place.

Need to build a website but you don’t have the money to hire someone or the time to learn? Here’s a solution.

Weebly will make this easy for you! You don’t even have to pay right away. In fact, you don’t have to pay at all if you don’t mind have a URL with the Weebly name in it, like “yourwebsite.weebly.com”.

Because Weebly is your your all-in-one website and content management system (CMS), which I refer to as a self-hosted website, you don’t have to spend any time shopping for and signing up for a separate webhost service. And you can get your domain through Weebly too.

You also save so much time not having to do any of that dreary file installation work. And you’ll only have to worry about managing one account for your website.

Other concerns that normally come with maintaining a website are keeping your CMS and plugins up to date with the latest versions. Not to mention, deciding WHICH plugins you will need? One to back up your website, one to provide security, another to add SEO, etc… Well, a Weebly website comes with a backup service and security. If your Weebly website ever does get hacked, it is Weebly‘s headache – not yours! We all know that WordPress websites are being hacked thousands of times a day with thousands of hack attempts every hour. Weebly takes care of the security. That is the “peace of mind” that I referred to earlier. The drawbacks to a self-hosted website like Weebly are:

There aren’t thousands of plugins created for Weebly at your disposal on the web. However, the problem with having all those plugins to choose from, like what is true for WordPress, is there is no quality control. So many plugins have been abandoned, are outdated, or they have viruses and malware. And it’s your responsibility as well as your choice when you add plugins to your website and to your server. I had one nightmare situation where 4 of my websites were infected with malware because they were all on the same webhosting account. (You can read my crazy story here.)

You can’t edit the code, ever. Since this article really is for those who aren’t web developers, perhaps you won’t ever have this problem. As a web developer, there are always changes that I want to do myself, or that the web building tools just aren’t doing things the way I want them to do. I get frustrated, of course! But then I remember that the limited access is also what gives me peace of mind. The security locked in place on a self-hosted website.

Weebly - Websites, eCommerce & Marketing in one place.

Do These Three FREE Actions To Keep Your WordPress Website Safe – And Save Yourself Time and Money If Your Website is Hacked.

March 7th, 2019

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure page for more information.

I learned my lesson the hard way. Read my nightmare story about the time FOUR of my WordPress websites got hacked at the same time.

You can’t prevent evil hackers from attempting to infect your WordPress website. But there are THREE actions you can do to save yourself the headache, time and money of recovering your hacked website and cleaning your files of the malware. Today, I always do these three actions regularly to every website that I manage. So, I emphasize to you: DO THESE THREE ACTIONS REGULARLY. The good news is two of the three actions are automated and it does not cost you anything. You have no excuse!

IMPORTANT ACTION #1: Install Wordfence

Wordfence is a FREE WordPress security plugin software that protects your website from hacks and malware. You can upgrade to the premium account for only $99 a year, but the free version of Wordfence will protest your website 100%. Visit Wordfence’s website to read the details and download the plugin.

Why do you need Wordfence? Install the free version and you will see why you need the security. You will receive email notifications to let you know when someone has logged in to your WordPress website, PLUS you’ll get notified when someone attempts to log in to your WP website – it even tells you what username they tried, the country where the hackers are located, and how many times they tried to login in. The regular summary report will show you what files have been modified and what malware hackers attempted to upload.

IMPORTANT ACTION #2: Install UpDraft Plus

UpDraft Plus is a FREE WordPress plugin for scheduling regular automatic backups of your website files. It will also restore your website to one of your backups. Your backups are saved into the cloud of your choice. DropBox, Google Drive, Amazon S3 to name a few. There are more options in the paid version.

WHY DO YOU NEED UPDRAFT PLUS? Having a full backup of your website is how you will save time and money. When you don’t have a backup of your website prior to being hacked, you have no choice but to recover your broken website and if you are fortunate to recover it, you will need to clean your website by finding all the files infected with malware.

IMPORTANT ACTION #3: ALWAYS update files to the latest version of WordPress and all themes and plugins – especially Wordfence and Updraft Plus.

Don’t wait to update outdated versions of WordPress and your themes and plugins. Hackers know when new versions become available. You will leave your website vulnerable if you wait. You can have WordPress, Wordfence and Updraft Plus automatically update when there are new versions.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR WEBSITE IS HACKED:

Can you log in to your WordPress website’s admin account? If yes, go to your UpDraft plugin settings and restore your website to an older version that you are confident is clean and was saved prior to the hacking incident. Once you have restored your website to a previously backed up version, UPDATE WORDPRESS AND ALL THEMES AND PLUGINS. Then go to Wordfence and Run A Scan to make sure your files are clean.

If you installed Wordfence but you don’t have a full backup of your website (using Updraft Plus or any backup plugin software): Go to your Wordfence settings and Run a Scan. Have Wordfence fix repairable files and throw away infected files. Run a Scan again until it shows your files are clean. Now, UPDATE WORDPRESS AND ALL THEMES AND PLUGINS and INSTALL UPDRAFT PLUS.
If Wordfence can’t completely repair your website files and it detects that infected files exist on your website, read my story: “How I Recovered Within 24 Hours When FOUR of my WordPress Websites Got Hacked”. I share my miracle solution that can clean and restore your hacked website within hours.

If you can’t load or log in to your WordPress website and you are pretty sure your website has been hacked, read my story: “How I Recovered Within 24 Hours When FOUR of my WordPress Websites Got Hacked”. I share my miracle solution that can clean and restore your hacked website within hours.

How I Recovered Within 24 Hours When FOUR of my WordPress Websites Got Hacked

March 7th, 2019

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure page for more information.

I am sharing my story in hopes of helping you avoid my nightmare. But in the event that your WordPress website does get hacked, I have your solution! I am here to tell you no matter how bad your “hacked website” story is, it can be fixed without breaking your bank.

So how did I get FOUR websites hacked at the same time?

I create WordPress websites for clients, and I own many websites too. I have a webhosting account that can host unlimited domains on a single account. On this account, I have four WordPress websites hosted. That means all the website files are in the same shared server space. I can’t explain HOW they accessed all the websites, but since all the files are in the same large directory for my account, it seems plausible that a hacker can infect all the files in the same account.

How Bad Was The Damage?

Two of the websites were not loading. If a visitor went to the website, only a blank page would appear. I also could not log in to the WordPress admin accounts. The other two websites were loading BUT had long strings of characters appearing above the header. I had seen something like this before, so I knew it was hacked. But how bad was the damage? I thought (hoped) it was easy for someone like me – a mid-novice front-end developer – to find the bad code and delete it. I accomplished once before on another WordPress website.

The FIRST Thing I Decided To Do…

was probably the same first thing most people who manage their own websites do: SEARCH FOR A SOLUTION ON GOOGLE. There’s always someone else who already solved this same problem and posted about their solution, right? Plus… the solution is FREE. Indeed, I found many published solutions, so I was feeling that things were going to be OK.

But Things Were Not OK

None of the solutions I found worked. I spent 5 hours googling and implementing whatever solutions I found, and nothing was working. While I was googling for answers, I also was seeing cleanup services for hacked websites. After SEVEN HOURS that included the wee hours of the night, I decided to look at several services. Almost all of them were apps or businesses with fancy websites and lots of promises. The prices seemed reasonable but I had FOUR websites that were hacked. They all wanted me to hit a BUY button. But I wanted to talk to someone first.

The SECOND Thing I Decided To Do…

was search for testimonials from people who had hired a service to fix their hacked WordPress websites. It did not take long to narrow down the choices. One service stood out from the others. There were THREE reasons: (1) This one service had many reviews. (2) The service’s website was a straightforward, no B.S. page showing the face, the name, and the phone number of the very guy who would be coming to your rescue. His webpage says “I love fixing hacked websites!” and he says “If you Google me, you’ll find pages of links where I help people whose websites have been hacked.” And the best reason of all… (3) He offered a money back guarantee.

I Found My Savior!

My solution was to hire Jim Walker, a.k.a. The Hack Repair Guy.

It was now the morning of the next day. I was desperate and felt I had already wasted too much time trying to fix it myself. I called the published phone number AND I emailed him.

I got a call back from Jim himself within 5 minutes. And just as his webpage states, “I will start immediately in fixing your website—no waiting.” He gave me his price to fix ALL FOUR WEBSITES. His price was a flat rate. No sticker shock! I was grateful. This unexpected expense was not going to break my bank.

What Happens Now?

Is it like when your friend goes into surgery and you have to sit and wait for the surgeon to come out of ICU? Not at all.

Jim sent me progress notes for every milestone. The process was very transparent. He would let me know if there was something he needed me to do or if there was information that could help. I also could tell him when I would be unavailable – for meetings, a class, or for any reason.

He was also very honest. There was one website that was the most damaged and seemed hopeless (to me). I told him I would be OK if I had to lose it. He would not give up! He charges a flat rate, so he doesn’t gain anything to put in more hours. This is when Jim really proved that he LOVES to fix hacked websites.

By the end of the day, 90% was fixed. It was a 12 hour day.

By the morning, all four websites were clean and running again. Less than 24 hours from the time I called, all four websites were now FIXED.

Jim wrapped up his service by implementing three actions and giving me very important and sound advice. It was nothing new. But now, I realize how important these THREE actions are to keep your WordPress website safe.

You don’t have to go through my nightmare to recover and clean your hacked website if you do these THREE actions.

Read “Do These Three FREE Actions To Keep Your WordPress Website Safe – And Save Yourself Time and Money If Your Website is Hacked.

Adobe Slate features Muttville as its Nonprofit Cause Spotlight

April 19th, 2015

Gracie

Adobe has been really good to me through the years as their Photoshop User Group Manager, but I was pleasantly surprised when Adobe chose to spotlight Switchblade’s Marketing work for Muttville Senior Dog Rescue.

Watch the video commercial for Slate starring Muttville!

 

A truly easy tool for social media marketers who need to share great content on the go, Adobe Slate was launched early this month. In preparation for this launch, Adobe produced several videos showcasing the tool in action. They thought Muttville was a perfect example! And I couldn’t agree more (of course!) We shared how we could use Adobe Slate to create a professional, visually appealing webpage as an invitation to our weekly adoption events.

The Adobe team and video crew were true animal lovers. Before the day of filming was wrapped, they knew every dog who spent the day with them and even picked up on a few dogs’ quirky characters. They even got used to cleaning up a few pee puddles here and there!

Marie Macaspac, Marketing Director, Muttville Senior Dog Rescue

Disclosure About Affiliate Links

March 29th, 2015

In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission released their new rules for Disclosure Compliance. These rules are set in place to ensure that readers or viewers of web media (blogs, Youtube videos, etc.) know if the blogger/presenter is sponsored, endorsed, or partnered with a different company. In blog terms, the readers need to know if the blogger is making money by sharing a link or product.

In compliance with the FTC guidelines, please assume the following about links and posts on this site: Any/all of the links matchagreentea.siterubix.com are affiliate links of which I receive a small compensation from sales of certain items.

What are affiliate links?

Purchases are made on external affiliate company websites: When a reader clicks on an affiliate link located on matchagreentea.siterubix.com to purchase an item, the reader buys the item from the seller directly (not from matchagreentea.siterubix.com). Amazon and/or other companies pay matchagreentea.siterubix.com a small commission or other compensation for promoting their website or products through their affiliate program.

Prices are exactly the same for you if your purchase is through an affiliate link or a non-affiliate link. You will not pay more by clicking through to the link.

I use two main types of affiliate programs:

1. Amazon affiliate links.


switchblade-studios.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to, amazon.com. Amazon offers a small commission on products sold through their affiliate links. Each of your purchases via our Amazon affiliation links supports our cause at no additional cost to you.

If a blogger links to an Amazon product (with a special code for affiliates embedded in the link), and a reader places an item in their “shopping cart” through that link within 24 hours of clicking the link, the blogger gets a small percentage of the sale. Amazon links are not “pay per click.” If you click on the product link and stay around Amazon and purchase something else, however, I will get commission on that sale.

Anytime you see a link that looks like astore.com/… or amazon.com… it can be assumed that it is an Amazon affiliate link.


2. Product affiliate links.

These affiliate links work the same way: if you click the link and buy the product, then the blogger gets a percentage of the sale or some other type of compensation. Things like e-book bundles, e-courses, and online packages are usually affiliate links, as well. Again, prices are not different if you use these affiliate links. You will not pay more by clicking through to the link. These links are not “pay per click”, unless otherwise denoted.

What about sponsored content?


I do not write sponsored posts. I want to bring you real, unbiased information. However, if a post is sponsored by a company and it is a paid sponsorship, I will disclose this clearly in the beginning of the post.


What is SEO in 2014?

March 4th, 2014

SEO has changed so much in the last year, as a result of  Google’s release of its latest algorithm,Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 5.53.51 PM Hummingbird.

Thanks to HubSpot for this excellent, simple explanation of what SEO means today in the year 2014.

Originally published Feb. 27th here

 

 

 

SEO seems pretty straightforward. You pick a few keywords, and voilà! Your page is optimized for SEO. Right?

Wrong.

Many people understand the basic principles of SEO, but a lot has changed in the last decade. The SEO that we know and love in 2014 is not the same SEO that we knew and loved (or hated) 10 years ago. And that’s why the basic question of “What is SEO?” is actually a really important question to continue to ask, and answer.

So … what is SEO?

(In 2014, anyway.)

SEO stands for search engine optimization. That much has stayed the same. It refers to techniques that help your website rank higher in organic search results, making your website more visible to people who are looking for your brand, product, or service via search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

There are a ton of components to improving the SEO of your site pages. Search engines look for elements including title tags, keywords, image tags, internal link structure, and inbound links — and that’s just to name a few. (HubSpot customers, you can check out the SEO panel in your HubSpot account to see how well you’re optimized for those things.) But search engines also look at site structure and design, visitor behavior, and other external, off-site factors to determine how highly ranked your site should be in the search engine results pages.

I guess we could end the explanation there …

… But it doesn’t feel sufficient. Even for a quick FAQ. I think to explain what SEO is today, we need to examine it through the lens of how it has changed. And perhaps outline exactly what SEO is not.

How has SEO changed?

SEO isn’t about including as many keywords as possible.

Optimizing for keywords doesn’t mean including your keyword as much as you can in your content. In fact, that will actually hurt your SEO because search engines will recognize that as keyword stuffing — meaning that you include your keywords too many times simply to attempt to rank for a particular keyword.

Nowadays, you should use your keywords in your content in a way that doesn’t feel unnatural or forced. I’m not going to give you a particular number, but if you feel like you’re forcing it, a good rule of thumb is to just leave it out.

SEO is more focused around content topics.

Before you create a new site page or blog post, you will probably be thinking about how to incorporate your keywords into your post. That’s alright, but it shouldn’t be your only focus — maybe not even your primary focus. Whenever you create content, your focus should be on what matters to your audience, not how many times you can include a keyword or keyword phrase in that content.

If you do that, you’ll usually find you naturally optimize for important keywords, anyway. Understanding your target audience (aka buyer personas) and what interests them is key to attracting relevant visitors to your website through search engines.

Social search is an important factor.

One of the biggest changes in the last decade is the way social media plays into SEO. Even just a few years ago, it didn’t make a difference who was finding your content through social search. But now SEO takes into account tweets, retweets, Google+ authorship, and other social signals.

Social search also prioritizes content and people that are connected to you. That could mean through a Facebook friend, Twitter follower, or connection through another social network. Sometimes social search will even prioritize content that has been shared by an influencer. Social search understands that you may be interested in content that your network feels is important to share, and therefore it’ll often get surfaced to you.

This all means when you’re thinking about your SEO strategy, you need to think about how your social strategy fits into the puzzle, too.

Your website visitors’ user experience is an important element of SEO.

Think of search engine optimization as “search experience optimization.” It isn’t just important for your users to find your website, it’s important for them to stay on your website and interact with your content.

SEO actually takes into account whether or not your visitors are staying on your website and engaging with other content. If you rank well for a keyword and attract a visitor who isn’t relevant, that won’t actually help your website. Think about your visitors and the content they are looking for more than how many people you can attract to your website.

First page ranking doesn’t mean guaranteed success.

In the past, SEO success was measured by whether or not you were ranked high on the first page of Google. But even if you ranked well for a term, does that actually mean you’re going to see results?

Not always. You may rank REALLY well for a term that isn’t ideal for your business. So you appear high on search engines, get a ton of traffic, but then your website visitors realize your company is not what they’re looking for. You don’t make any money off of this traffic, and ranking high for this particular keyword is essentially fruitless.

Also, you don’t necessarily need to be in the top three slots to be successful. In fact, if you rank well on subsequent pages, you may still have a high clickthrough rate, albeit less traffic. That’s great news for marketers who can’t seem to bring pages into those top slots or off the second page. We said it before and we’ll say it again: The amount of traffic to your page matters less than how qualified that traffic is.

So, having said all that … what is SEO?

It’s still the same thing it was ten years ago — a bunch of tactics that, if you employ them, will help you rank better in search engines. It’s just that the tactics you should use have changed, because what search engines value has changed.

It’s up to us to stay on top of the rapidly changing trends, and remember that ultimately, the goal of search engines is to deliver the best experience possible to their end-user — searchers. If you keep that goal in mind with your SEO strategy, you’ll probably make good choices, even if you’re not totally up to date on every single nuance of search engine algorithms.

“How to Think Up a Year’s Worth of Blog Post Topics in an Hour” by Hubspot

February 19th, 2014

Ocean bloggingI admit, I REALLY NEEDED THIS ADVICE! Thanks Ginny Soskey for this very helpful article.

If you have not faced this dilemma, I applaud you! The rest of us can enjoy this very helpful advice. Thanks Hubspot!

Originally published at http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/blog-post-topic-brainstorm-ht

Last November, I got my team in a room and asked them to do something that sounded nearly impossible: brainstorm a year’s worth of blog topics in under an hour. That’s an aggressive target — I know — but we needed enough titles to support the Blog Topic Generator‘s algorithm.

So we all sat around the conference room table, writing blog ideas in a Google spreadsheet. The first five minutes, we were stumped. The eight of us tentatively put in a few ideas … and then all of a sudden ideas were flowing. One idea would suddenly morph into 10, and before we knew it, we had almost 300 titles … and we still had 15 minutes to spare.

Sounds like a fairytale, right? Who has their next year of blog post ideas at their fingertips, never mind thought of them all within an hour?

Well, it’s certainly not a myth. It’s not even a luxury reserved for only well-established companies that are rolling in dough. All you need is a Google spreadsheet/Word doc/Evernote note/pen and paper, and the right blog topic brainstorming process.

You’ve already got the first part covered, so keep on reading to get the process we used to come up with those few hundred titles in under an hour. Remember: The key to this whole process is to not start from scratch each time you need a topic — just iterate off old topics to come up with unique and compelling new topics. So let’s get to it!

1) Come up with your first topic.

This step is probably the hardest of the bunch: coming up with your very first topic. If you’re struggling to get down even one idea, there are a few go-to places you can always turn.

First are your customers. What kinds of questions do they have, and how could you answer them in a blog post? If you don’t know what their struggles are, send them (or someone internally who deals closely with them) an email. You could also try sitting in on a few sales calls to see what your company’s prospects are asking — not only will you suddenly have way more to blog about, but you can also help your sales reps close more deals.

There are lots of ways you can get blog ideas, but these are two of the most efficient and effective ways to get them.

2) Change the topic scope.

Okay, so now you have one idea. Great! Now it’s time to iterate.

The first way you iterate is by changing the topic from something broad to something narrow. Let’s say your first idea is “15 Social Media Tips and Tricks for Beginners” — you can change that topic to more niche ones like “15 Pinterest Tips and Tricks for Beginners” or “15 Facebook Tips and Tricks for Beginners”. You can also go from narrow to broad in the same manner (“15 Marketing Tips and Tricks for Beginners”), or go from one narrow topic to another (“15 Twitter Tips and Tricks for Beginners”), or even go from narrow to narrower (“15 Facebook Company Page Tips and Tricks for Beginners”).

Then boom: you have a bunch of ideas from one, all because you changed the scope of the topic.

3) Change up the timeframe.

Even though these post ideas are evergreen, you can use specific timeframes to iterate on a blog topic.

Let’s take a very broad topic like “The History of SEO.” This is a field that has been around for years, so if you were to write about the entire history, it’d be a long, comprehensive post … but if you wanted to squeeze more juice out of that topic, you could restrict the topic to a certain timeframe like the past month. The new tittle would then be “What You Missed This Month in the SEO Industry”. Or you could restrict it to a year: “The Biggest Changes in SEO in 2013”.

4) Choose a new audience.

Often, you’ll have multiple audiences you’re writing for — and they probably aren’t interested in reading the same exact post, even if they’re interested in similar topics. For example, a post for a CMO and a post for an entry-level person might both be about Facebook, but one will be more strategic and one will be more tactical.

It’s easier than you’d think to frame the post for that person — one way to do it is to just add their name in the title. For example, “What Every Entry-Level Marketer Should Know About Facebook” could also be “What Every CMO Should Know About Facebook”.

Obviously those will be two very different posts when you get down to it, but the initial concept is one and the same: Facebook tips.

5) Go negative or positive. 

When most people think of blog post ideas, they think in the positive mindset: “20 Social Media Rules You Should Always Follow.” It makes sense — we’re trying to be helpful with our content, so it’s natural to try to be upbeat and positive. But you can actually come up with way more topic ideas if you embrace your negative side.

So let’s take that initial post idea and turn it negative: “20 Social Media Rules You Should Never Follow”. Simple, right? This little trick can help you think of more creative and attention-grabbing blog topics — that are often more fun to write, too.

6) Introduce new formats. 

When all else fails, try plugging recurring themes into new formats. So a title like “The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing” could easily become “The Ultimate Email Marketing Checklist” or “The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing [Infographic]”.

The angle of your post will likely have to change to correspond with the format (not everything should be an infographic, or a video, or a cartoon), but thinking through new format types alongside your regular topics will help you identify new ways of thinking about something you’ve blogged about over and over.

7) Remove titles that don’t solve for your customers or audience. 

At the very end of all this, you’re going to have a huge list, but not every topic is going to be a great choice for your blog. Some may not align with your brand’s positioning or some may feel played out and stale. Be ruthless and cut out any topics that don’t fit the bill. You’ll be left with some great ideas that you can use as you like through the rest of the year.

But remember, the goal of this brainstorming process is to set a good foundation for your content backlog — not dictate what you must blog about over the next year. It’s likely that your editorial or marketing strategy will change, or you hear about some breaking news that you need to blog about ASAP. So use this brainstorming session as the foundation of your editorial calendar, not the entirety of it.

On Pinterest, if a photo says it all, make yours say it well

June 27th, 2013

For this article, I am keeping the words to a minimum to prove this point. On Pinterest, its all  pictures – And you need to stand out. Check out this  infographic we got from Hubspot. If you want to get shared (i.e. re-pinned) try these tips. Article originally published on Hubspot 6/27/2013

Get These Phrases Out of Your LinkedIn Headline!!

April 10th, 2013

We got a great laugh with this article, originally published on Executive Resume Expert. We hope you get a good laugh – plus lots of great tips – from this article.
Originally published here: http://executiveresumeexpert.com/2013/03/06/worthless-phrases-in-linkedin-headline/

The 5 Most Worthless Phrases in Your LinkedIn Headline

LinkedIn HeadlineYour LinkedIn Headline is arguably the most important piece of real estate within your Profile.

Yet, most users remain confused about its true function, and what to use (in place of the default, which is your current job title).

Within LinkedIn’s search algorithm, your Headline ranks #1, meaning that out of all the other information you’ll add to your Profile, the words here are weighted more heavily as search terms.

In addition, your Headline is the first (and possibly the ONLY) piece of information other users will see. It’s displayed in a search list, under your name in an Invitation, and in numerous other prominent places on the site.

Here’s my list of the most meaningless words you can use in your Headline (all found in actual Profiles!) – plus some suggestions for stronger alternatives:

1 – “Top 1% (5%, etc.) Viewed Profile.”

Sure, this is an accomplishment… but not of any magnitude worth touting to employers.

Here’s why: if you’re an Operations Director, and put only these 2 words in  your Headline, plus the same title for your past 4 jobs and NO other information anywhere in your Profile, you’ll probably rank in the Top 1% for “Operations Director.”

In other words, reaching 1% this way would require hardly any effort.

However, if you’ve inserted 2,000 to 3,000 other words that describe your career level, achievements, and scope of authority, your Profile View ranking will take a dive due to reduced keyword density.

Still, you’ll be more findable on skills and other keywords (because recruiters often specify a mix of search terms when sourcing candidates)… and you’ll make a better impression on employers.

Therefore, an impressive Top Viewed ranking is just that – impressive, but not helpful in your search and not worth using precious, keyword-heavy real estate (even if you want a job writing LinkedIn Profiles!).

Disclaimer: I’m ranked among the Top 1% as well (but you won’t find it in my Headline).

2 – “Results-Driven.”

Just like on your resume, it’s important to use terms that distinguish you from the competition. This phrase and others like it (“dynamic” or “visionary,” anyone?) have become so embedded in boilerplate resume-speak, they’re essentially meaningless.

Plus, can you picture a recruiter using “Results-driven” as a search term? I didn’t think so.

Instead, consider adding a short phrase to your Headline that actually describes results, slipping in a keyword or two (“Marketing VP Improving Social Media Engagement”).

Even a short, powerful note on the ROI from your skills (“Sales Manager | #1 Revenue Record Across Americas”) can make a better impression.

3 – “Experienced.”

Unless you’re a student, this word doesn’t count for much in describing your career. Most professionals, by way of their job titles and career history, ARE “experienced” in their chosen fields, so you’re not laying claim to a unique skill.

Make your Headline more search-friendly by using a mixture of current and target job titles (“Senior Director, VP Sales”) to show your career goals, or a short description of your achievements (“12%+ Annual Sales Growth”).

Either way, showing your career aspirations or accomplishments will actually prove that you’re experienced and worthy of employer attention.

4 – “Father,” “Husband,” “Wife,” etc.

I’ll say it again – LinkedIn isn’t Facebook, and it certainly isn’t Twitter (where these types of mini-bios are common).

On LinkedIn, other users are most interested in your career level and ability to produce results in a professional environment. Leave the family references for a more personal venue.

5 – “Unemployed.”

If you’re not using your Headline to strengthen your brand message with keywords and job titles, you’re missing out on potential traffic and employer interest. “Unemployed” is hardly a search term, and it certainly doesn’t speak to your expertise.

(It might, however, convey desperation.)

Instead of wasting Headline space with it, try sending the same message while specifying what you offer employers (“IT Director Seeking Infrastructure, Operations, & Development Leadership Role”), while injecting strong keyword content.

As you can see, there’s many ways to capture and express value to an employer with your Headline.

Take a few minutes to add some creative phrasing and keyword content for better ROI from your Profile.

Know When It’s Time to Quit Using a Social Network

February 27th, 2013

There are DOZENS of social networking sites out there, and a new one popping up everyday. Not all will work for your marketing initiatives or your business needs. But it never hurts to try and experiment. When do you know it’s time to give up on a social network?

Hubspot’s article gives the right advice on reading the signs.

So, you want to stop wasting so much time, money, and resources on your social media marketing efforts. But, undoubtedly, you’ve heard numerous social media “experts” say, “You need to be on every single social network!” Well, that’s terrible social media advice, and you should simply ignore it.

While it’s a good idea to experiment with various social networks, you also need to make sure you’re following your analytics closely to assess if your efforts are aligning with your company’s goals, reaching your intended target audience, and actually moving the needle.

So whether you’re simply questioning if one of your social networks is really worth your time or are seriously considering pulling the plug on a seemingly under-performing one, here’s what you need to know first to decide if the time really is right to cut it out of your social media marketing mix.

Set Your Social Media Marketing Goals & Metrics

First things first. You’ll never know if your participation in a given social network is worth your time if you never set any goals for what you want to accomplish with it. What do you want to get out of your business’ social media participation? Determine which of the following metrics will help you align with your company’s goals and prove the success of your social media efforts:

Traffic

If you’re a small business just getting started with inbound marketing, a good goal to start with would be to simply drive traffic to your site from the social networks you participate in. After all, you won’t be successful with generating any leads or customers if nobody is even visiting your site from social media to begin with. Additionally, if you’re an ad-supported website, you’ll want to focus on growing your traffic numbers because more visitors means more advertising dollars.

Leads & Customers

You want to prove that your social media efforts are worth the return on your investment, right? Surely, you also want all those visitors from social media to provide you with their contact information so you can nurture them further down the funnel? Sharing links to your marketing offers and educational content with your audience on social media is a great way to generate leads that you can convert into customers, and establishing lead and customer goals will help you prove the ROI of your social efforts as they contribute to the bottom line.

Reach

If you want to continue growing and scaling your social media marketing efforts, increasing your social reach is an important goal to focus on. Think about it: If you’re constantly sending your messages to the same folks over and over again and failing to attract new fans and followers that you can convert, over time, your success in generating new leads and customers from your social media marketing efforts will decline. The greater your social media reach, the easier it is to influence other metrics like traffic or leads. If you’re looking to grow your overall reach, you’ll want to focus your efforts on attracting more fans and followers for your company pages. You’ll also find some great tips to help you increase your social reach in this post.

Buzz/Engagement

If you’re looking to increase brand awareness, buzz is something you should pay close attention to. Are people talking about your brand on social? Are your average number of mentions growing and scaling? Is that hashtag you’re using gaining some traction? If you want people referring your brand to their friends on social media, measuring buzz through metrics like mentions, comments, shares, and Likes will be a great focal points for you.

Sentiment/Customer Happiness

Is the buzz you’re creating of a positive or negative sentiment? Do people love your marketing, or are they unimpressed? How about your company as a whole? If you’re focused on improving customer happiness, take a look at your negative feedback over time in Facebook Insights, for example, and make it a priority to decrease this number.

Keep in mind that, based on your company’s overall goals and the performance of each social network as individual assets, you can certainly set more than one goal for your social media efforts.

Experiment With Your Social Media Marketing

So you claim your social media marketing efforts aren’t worth the time and energy you put into them. That’s a fair concern if you’re currently seeing little to no results, but that also doesn’t mean you should necessarily cut the cord on a social network if you haven’t given it the old college try. By that, I mean you should experiment!

Try out a variety of different forms of content and positioning on your individual social channels to test what works, and what doesn’t. Keep in mind that every social network is different — something that works well on one social network might not necessarily do well on another. It’s your job to figure out what those nuances are and cater your social media marketing approaches accordingly. Furthermore, don’t simply stick to what worked once and do it over and over again, because you’ll run the risk of completely boring and wearing out your audience. In social media as a channel in particular, you have to always be innovating, changing, and experimenting.

Try hosting a brainstorming session with some colleagues, creating some fun new images for Facebook, trying out some different tones or positioning in your tweets, or relating to your audience in different ways on Pinterest. Discover what your audience responds well to through gauges such as comments, Likes, shares, retweets, number of visits, lead volume, etc., and take note of any trends you see … but don’t only stick to those trends. Keep innovating based on what your audience responds well to. Does your audience tend to prefer pictures of people around the office, or do folks prefer funny memes? Do you get more retweets from your audience when you share blog articles or fun quotes? You can find details about post engagement through Facebook Insights, HubSpot’s Social Media tool, or Twitter’s analytics. If your engagement is completely dismal, it’s possible that you simply haven’t grown your reach enough and have too limited of an audience to entertain and target specific messages to. In this case, it might be time to take a step back and reevaluate your goals.

It’s good to get a grasp on what your audience enjoys, but it’s also important that your efforts are driving real results. Which leads us to our next step …

Measure Everything to Diagnose & Fix Inefficiencies

Now that you have a general understanding of which particular posts your audience “Likes,” let’s move on to how you can align these types of content with your company’s goals — and measure their success. If your primary goal for social media is to generate leads, you’ll want to look beyond what’s flat-out entertaining and start looking at what drives real results for your business.

Remember to create and include tracking and campaign tokens for every one of the links you post on your social channels. By including your medium (social), your source (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), and your campaign (this differentiates between individual initiatives within a channel, such as LinkedIn Announcements vs. Company Pages vs. Groups), you will have much greater insight into what parts of each channel are performing well, and which are simply not worth your time. Here’s an example of a tracking token you might tack on to the end of a link might look like:

/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter &utm_campaign=inboundchat

Once you start using your tracking tokens on a regular basis, you’ll begin to build a database of clicks, leads, and customers over time. Then, you can dig a little deeper and get down to the bare bones of where your issues (or successes) lie. Out of everything you’ve posted on social media in the past month, how many visits and contacts/leads are you generating? If you use HubSpot software, for example, you can find this information through HubSpot’s Sources tool:

HubSpot's Social Media Tool

In the example above, we’ve selected three different social networks to focus on. You can see that Facebook and Twitter are helping to generate a huge number of website visits, and a substantial amount of contacts as well. That’s great, but you can’t forget about your conversion rates. And you’ll notice LinkedIn has a much higher conversion rate than Facebook and Twitter. And while Facebook and Twitter may be the more impactful drivers of visits and contacts in terms of volume, you should also be considering the quality of those visitors and leads. And because a high conversion rate is a clear indication that your messages are aligned better with that particular audience, you definitely don’t want to ignore that.

So what can we fix here? Let’s work on growing reach, which will help generate more traffic, which will also help to increase lead generation — which aligns with your company’s overall goals. But before we jump in, let’s take a deeper look at our campaign tokens to understand exactly which initiatives within LinkedIn are performing well, and how you can leverage that to improve for the future.

HubSpot's Social Media Tools

Well — would you look at that! Not only do LinkedIn Announcements generate the most visits and leads, but they also have a high conversion rate, too! And to think … you were considering cutting that social network solely on accounts of its low lead volume! Nonsense! Hogwash! Poppycock!

If there’s a will, there’s a way. Your next step here would be to optimize and experiment with your LinkedIn Announcements to learn what works best with your audience so you can get more bang for your buck. And although this is the biggest opportunity for your brand, you shouldn’t ignore those other parts of LinkedIn as lead generation tools. In this example, LinkedIn Company Pages are performing with the second highest number of visits, and the second highest number of leads, but that conversion rate isn’t great compared to the conversion rate of announcements. Do you think there’s an opportunity to improve that visit to lead rate of your Company Page? I’d say so. So don’t knock it ’til you try it.

Set Benchmarks … and Compare Them

Now that you have an idea of how well your channels performed last month, you can get a much better idea of what to tweak for the future. Keep track of your visitors, leads, and visitor-to-lead conversion rate each month to see how you’re progressing:

Social Media Metrics

You’ll want to keep track of your progress for each social network over a few months’ time so you can get a sense of what’s truly working as compared to your target goals and metrics … and what is not.

You should also be careful you’re not basing your decision to nix a social network solely on the success of generating leads and customers. Keep in mind that attracting social media fans and followers who won’t ever buy for you definitely has its perks. You also have to remember that social channels can work in tandem with your other marketing channels to help make a greater overall impact. So if one of your social channels helps drive a great deal of traffic to your blog, but isn’t the greatest for converting leads into customers, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Think about how you can leverage your social media channels to achieve the greatest overall impact.

Let me explain through an example. To promote one of our recent blog posts, we created the hashtag #SocialMediaMyth as a way to track the social promotion of our “30 Terrible Pieces of Social Media Advice You Should Ignore” blog post.

#socialmediamyth

 

Now, take a look at the impact those social media promotion had on the blog …

 

30 Terrible Pieces of Social Media Advice You Should Ignore

 

If this is the case for you and your company, try adjusting your goals. For example, you might aim for more leads and conversions on your blog, and more visits from your social channels. Chances are, all that traffic you’re generating from social media is helping more visitors to learn more about your company, and getting them in front of the calls-to-action (CTAs) on your blog that will convert them and move them further down your funnel. Maybe your social media accounts are the most effective as traffic drivers, not lead generators. As long as they help you meet your end goal, there’s no shame in that.

Make Data-Driven Decisions Based on Your Results

So let’s say you’ve set (and maybe modified) your goals based on what your company needs and based on each social network’s true super power. You’ve also successfully experimented with your social media marketing, month over month, to determine what works and what doesn’t with your audience, so you can tailor your messaging from there. Furthermore, you’ve tried scaling your reach, and you’ve diligently measured your efforts from all angles, every step of the way to track key engagement metrics, leads, visits, and more. You know exactly what each social network does well, and why. Yet somehow, your results still aren’t proving the ROI of your efforts on a particular social network.

If you’ve done everything you can to try and improve the effectiveness of that social network, it might be time to cut the cord — or at least spend less of your precious time dedicated to it. It’s okay. You two have had a good run, but now it’s time to move on. Put more time into creating an incredible social machine on your better performing networks, rather than trying to squeeze even the slightest bit of performance out of a network that’s falling behind.

Originally published by Hubspot on Feb. 2th, 2013. Read the original article.