3 Things to Know About How SEO is Changing

Search engine optimization – or, SEO – is changing dramatically and in a number of ways. Some are always asking if SEO is dead. Others have long said declaratively that indeed, SEO is dead.

SEO and the search results haystack.

Help readers find that needle in the search engine results haystack.

In reality, SEO does still exist as a way of making web sites accessible and more friendly to readers and search engines. There are certainly things you can do to help your idea or business be more visible via search engines. It just isn’t as expensive as it used to be.

And, that’s a good thing.

1. Search Engine Algorithms Are Smarter. Much Smarter.

In the past, SEO was about tricking search engines by including lots of keywords used in ways that were only search engine friendly and not reader friendly. That resulted in less than engaging content. But, people got found, and it worked for a time.

Now we know that Google’s search engine algorithms utilize artificial intelligence in ways that help search engine results closely mimic how a human brain would search and process the information. That means your content can again be geared toward the reader. As it should be. So, from now on, one of the best SEO practices you can use is to first determine what is important to your audience.

2. Multimedia and Images Are Increasingly Important.

Why? If for no other reason, they are more engaging. Some time ago, Facebook saw engagement increase by 65% once they made their Timeline feature more image-oriented. That’s a pretty telling phenomenon.

The results of more engaging content means more quality traffic and greater potential for sharing and links. And, that will help boost your search engine ranking.

But, the key to images being search engine friendly is to include alt texts – what does the image depict? How does it help tell your story? And, don’t forget those filenames. There are things you can do to help with file organization just as much as SEO.

3.  Fresh, Indexable Content.

In addition to the applicability of content to a specific topic, search engines are now looking for a broader scope of relevance – and content that is fresh is considered more relevant than older, stale content. So, keep those web sites and virtual tours up-to-date.

And, if that content is fresh, then you need to be letting search engines know that its been updated. Sitemaps are the key to seeing that content gets indexed and that search results keep up with your fresh content.

How All of This SEO Stuff Applies to Whitepoint Smart Tours

Because Whitepoint smart tours are available to include in web sites and specifically in WordPress sites, we’ve worked to make sure that Whitepoint helps make scape content search engine friendly.

For example, all scapes are indexable by search engines with a sitemap generated on our servers. By its very nature, Whitepoint helps content creators mix text with engaging, interactive images – while keeping it all up-to-date as easily as possible.

And, in the end, creating content that is engaging and delivers what your audience wants is the best SEO strategy.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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Is Virtual Tour Marketing a Tool For Your Business?

Virtual tour marketing is an obvious tool for the residential real estate industry. However, there are other areas where virtual tour marketing can help catch new eyeballs and new revenue.

Virtual Tour Marketing: What Is It?

First, let’s define virtual tour marketing as using images and technology to capture the interest of potential customers for a place, event, or product.

For years, putting linear style photo tours online so the tours were viewable on desktop computers was enough. Now, more and more, mobile devices are responsible for a large portion of total web traffic. Imagine how much of it is on demand traffic while in a retail store or in front of a travel destination. Therefore, we now have to make sure that mobile devices – phones and tablets – are included in the technology part of our definition.

Virtual tour marketing can help market products as different as messenger bags and laptops.

This messenger bag and Chromebook both have a lot of features. Despite the dramatic differences between these types of products, virtual tour marketing can help engage customers with both.

Again, virtual tour marketing always comes to mind in the real estate market. In fact, virtual tour marketing is now an expectation of customers in that industry. And, along those lines, anyone in the hospitality industry has come to realize the value of customers “seeing” properties online or on mobile devices.

Therefore, hotels, resorts, casinos, and restaurants are all great candidates for also putting virtual tour marketing to to work.

Virtual Tour Marketing for Products: It Helps Capture Customers

Consumers are educating themselves and purchasing more and more online. If you sell something, it’s important to find new ways to get the information to customers that they need. As a result, tours of products are playing more critical roles in winning customers.

For some time, pictures online were enough to differentiate a product offering. Now, there is more competition in winning customer attention. Bicycles, electronics, medical devices, and cars are just as deserving of a “tour” as any place or property.

In addition, products like these often require that consumers educate and familiarize themselves after the purchase as well. Virtual tour marketing can also be a tool used to educate existing customers and keep them coming back – product orientation and tech support are both areas where virtual tour marketing can play an ongoing role in customer engagement.

This is why we do what we do at Whitepoint – we can help make virtual tour marketing not only smarter, but more effective.

Do you have ideas on how virtual tour marketing might impact your business? Let’s discuss . . . 

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Photo Tours as Part of A Content Marketing Strategy (Part 2)

Part One of “Photo Tours as Part of A Content Marketing Strategy” focused on the rise of content marketing, content quality, and the evolving value of photos. Now we’re going to dig more into photo tours and how they can be rich, compelling content for your audience.

What Does Your Audience Want to See?

A recent article on content marketing success by David Murdico made some great points that should serve as the first step in developing what your audience will consider compelling content.

Murdico suggests that you “decide what content is most important to your target buyer.” Think about it. The audience doesn’t always want to see what you want to see. They have specific needs, and they need details.

Recently viewing an office and conference space, it was clear that the web site focused on all of the cool furnishings and cutting edge decor in a line of static images.

This material was all of secondary importance, however. They did not detail what their high tech business customers probably most wanted to see: What connectivity is available? Where? What are the conferencing capabilities? How many HDMI ports does that monitor have?

The real material that your audience wants may not be what you think.

Detail in Interactive Photo Tours

Web designers, marketers, nonprofits, and small business people can now share much more detail about aspects of an image or scene. This is what the Whitepoint framework is for.

Greater detail in photos is possible - photo tours of this vintage Corvette would tell the story..

This vintage Corvette’s dashboard is sweet. But only a hardcore Corvette fan would know that this early model includes air conditioning, fiber optics, and headlight washers. And, that’s a Black Keys CD by the way.

The smartphone photo you see here is of a vintage Corvette’s dashboard. For many, it’s a cool dashboard, and that’s enough.

But, what if you’re wanting to sell this Corvette? You have a different challenge.

You need to highlight – in an interactive fashion – the details about all the options that this Corvette includes: Air conditioning, fiber optics, a five port washer pump (not just the three port). And, someone installed a newer stereo in it. But, what kind is it? And, what kind of speakers are attached to it?

These are the details that a buyer craves. And, you can set your self apart from the competition by providing them in an interactive photo tour. Imagine documenting the entire car. The Whitepoint framework is perfect for this.

Just look how buried the details are in the paragraph above. Web users are looking for more compelling content that’s fun (and that means interactive). Photo tours can take care of both of these needs.

Telling The Story

Jessica Ann, in an article for SteamFeed on telling your story with impact, says the focus is on content creation – not just buying more technology for your marketing. This is true.

Sure, you’re going to need the tools to deliver that message, and there are associated costs. But, photo tours are opportunities to stuff a lot of valuable content into small packages. And, those small packages can generate online conversations as well as attract new customers.

With Whitepoint, for example, there are SEO (search engine optimization) benefits to the content you create. Building photo tours, online galleries, or slideshows with Whitepoint results in content that is searchable and indexable by search engines. That helps attract those new customers. And, you can do it for free.

Engage

Some would even argue that SEO is the core purpose for a strong content marketing strategy. Regardless, the key is providing quality, engaging content.

Interactive photo tours are perfect for schools, museums, universities, public parks, real estate, medical offices, and retail spaces. Imagine all of the details to be shared with visitors and potential customers. What do they want to see? What interesting facts or history will make the subject more intimate for your audience?

Answer those questions. Soon, you won’t just be throwing content at your audience. You will engage your audience.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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Photo Tours as Part of a Content Marketing Strategy (Part 1)

Content marketing is rapidly taking the place of traditional strategies for marketing and PR.

Frank Gehry's New York is not only a compelling sight, it makes for a compelling image.

Made you look. This photo of Frank Gehry’s New York is a compelling image. But, it was merely taken on a trip to New York with an old Canon digital camera.

And, content doesn’t just mean text.

Every blogger – including this one – would like to think that web audiences are hanging on every word. In reality, they’re paying less and less attention to the words.

Marketing now hinges on the content being generated – including images, videos, and microblogging.

Altogether, it becomes difficult to discern product marketing from content marketing.

Compelling Content Marketing

Read any of David Meerman Scott‘s books, and you’ll be reminded that images are just as, if not more, important than text. In fact, an article  – Photographs as Compelling Content Marketing – from a few years ago on his blog drives the point home well.

Content marketing is changing the rules of marketing and PR.

A real life David Meerman Scott book really sitting on this blogger’s desk. Photo taken with a smartphone.

Interestingly, since that blog article, the quality of the photos looks to matter less and less. Instagram and Pinterest  bathe the user in streams of pictures. Users scan them for stuff that they care about – not to check white balance.

Still, everyone wants their product or place to be presented in the best possible fashion, and it should be. It is important to remember though that users are increasingly suspicious of stock photography.

And, even contracted photography that looks a little too polished can yield the same user response.

“Authentic” Versus “Professional”

Where’s the happy medium? In content marketing, it’s probably best to consider how authentic the photo is rather than how professional.

Think about the way that you as a consumer discern between photos taken for an eBay listing, for example. Wouldn’t you rather see the item itself rather than an image taken from another web site? What about when you’re looking for a place to stay on vacation? Somehow, you will likely trust an image taken by a fellow traveler than one that has carefully caught birds flying over the resort’s beach and into the sunset.

That doesn’t mean an authentic photo has to look crappy. It just means that you should focus on authentic photos taken competently. You don’t have to hire an Ansel Adams clone.

What You Do With the Images

The image lists of old no longer do the trick. Way back in the day, if an image list included thumbnails, it was really considered cutting edge.

Surprisingly, many marketers and small business owners are today still taking a similar approach. But, with the rise of content marketing, this does not meet user expectations. In reality, you’ve now got seconds to capture that user’s attention. If that much. A list of links that might include a thumbnail just won’t cut it.

And, we’re already seeing that just having photos isn’t enough. They of course have to be relevant, but we’re seeing that users want to interact with them somehow. Think tagging. Photos, more and more, have to do something. And, they’re going to need to do that thing they do on a mobile device.

In Part 2 of “Photo Tours and Content Marketing,” we’ll look at how photo tours, online galleries, and slideshows can be more compelling as part of a content marketing effort.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

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