Increase your Blog traffic with Images

You want to create content that gets shared and builds an audience, right?

Of course you do. But (if you’re like us) – you don’t have a lot of time, so you need to make sure your content has impact.  The latest data tells us that picture list posts are right in the middle of the sweet spot and a content marketer’s secret weapon.

What Analyzing 100 Million Facebook Posts Told Us About the Power of Images

Do images help create impact and result in more social sharing? Well, you’ve been hearing that a picture is worth a thousand words since you were in school. But school’s out, and as grown ups we like a little proof before we pour our budgets into something.

So we looked at 100 million Facebook posts over the last three months.  We found those without an image had 164 interactions on average (shares, likes, comments) whilst those with an image had an average of 372 interactions.Your teacher was right. Images work.

We’re wired to respond to visual cues. What had the most the impact, the numbers you read above or the image?

Picture List Posts – What Are They?

So we like images. But what is a picture list post? In simple terms a picture list post is a series of curated images that delivers value through the combination of images. We like images but we equally like narrative and context. Picture list posts have a clear purpose for example:

Telling a story. We are hardwired to tell and remember stories. Picture List posts combine those two natural impulses into one format. A picture list post can create a narrative through a series of images. I can tell a story about technology simply by posting pictures of my old phones and my chargers over the last 10 years!

Making comparisons. Picture list posts make it easy to draw comparisons through a series of related images. These might be ‘before and after’ or a series of pictures over time.

Demonstrating how to do a task. Picture list posts can make it easy to follow a process or complete a task. These range from how to bake a cake through to using the new features in Google analytics.

Curating ideas. One of my favorite forms of picture list posts are those that help me brainstorm ideas quickly and provide me with inspiration. These might be 10 great landing page designs or 10 UX design ideas.

Do Picture List Posts Have Measurable Impact?

Do they work? Right now, the top ‘picture list posts’ on BuzzFeed and Playbuzz get over 1 million shares. Picture list posts consistently perform well relative to other content and publishers are well aware of this. Two of the Guardian’s top 6 most shared articles last year were picture list posts.

The most shared picture list post last year was one by BuzzFeed which received over 2.5m shares. This post revealed the huge size of the universe through a series of images, working away from the earth. The image showing the size of a large comet on the top of L.A. was also quite striking.

Photos: Matt Wang / Via mentalfloss.com and @lucybrockle
Photos: Matt Wang / Via mentalfloss.com and @lucybrockle

BuzzFeed is well known for its list posts but there is a growing trend for other publishers to also tap into the power of ‘picture list posts’. The Guardian is producing picture list posts more frequently such as this one Overpopulation, overconsumption – in pictures (which had over 300,000 shares).

Photos by Zak Noyle and Daniel Dancer
Photos by Zak Noyle and Daniel Dancer

The New York Times has run similar picture posts including its very popular the Year in Pictures.

Below is a selection of picture list posts that got over 250,000 social shares.

You may not achieve a quarter of a million shares but the evidence shows that a well designed picture list post will outperform other content formats.

The Perfect Content Formula: A combination of images, lists and curated content

One of the reasons picture list posts work so well is that they combine the power of images, lists and curation into a single post. It is like rolling three of your favorite superheros into one.

Let’s look briefly at the these three content formats.

The power of images

There is a mass of research and data about the power of images to back up our 100 million Facebook article analysis.  Research by Socialbakers found that images on Facebook constituted 93% of the most engaging posts on the network, compared with status updates, links and even video. On Instagram pictures can accumulate over 500,000 likes in a single week. People love to share images. So if you want your content to be shared, you simply have to include images.

The power of curation

Curated content works really well as there is simply too much content to consume. How many of the 250m images posted yesterday on the internet did you view? (Probably more than you should have). Good curators help us by selecting relevant content and add value through commentary and context.

Curation is generally undertaken by experts or those with a passion for the subject. They find, curate and contextualize content. This saves the user time significant time in undertaking their own research and content discovery. Good curators can also provide context to a story and add their own viewpoints to provide a more comprehensive overview of a subject. Curated content is increasingly popular in a busy world, where we are overloaded with content.

Pinterest boards can work really well as collections of curated images. You can also search for a collection of tagged images. For example, when I was after inspiration for my very small London walled garden I pulled up these images below of French Courtyard Gardens.

So How Can You Get in the Picture?

Sold on the benefits of picture list posts? Great. So how can you make them work for your industry or topic? Ask yourself some questions to get started:

  • What types of images work best in your industry or topic? Have a look at examples on Pinterest or Google images.
  • What images can you use to tell a story? For example, the growth of a company can be told very effectively through pictures of offices and staff over time.
  • What type of stories work in your area? How does one of your successful projects or case studies look as a series of images?

Do you really need a web design agency?

Thinking about hiring a web design agency?  Think again. Is that really all you need, an agency that designs websites? Even if ‘design’ also encompasses building your site, I am not sure that is enough for most organizations.

Do you really need a web design agency?
It’s not enough to launch a website anymore, you also have to think about its long term running. There are so many questions to answer. Questions like:
• Is your website recovering its costs?
• How are you measuring its success?
• Who is responsible for ensuring content is accurate and up to date?
• What happens if a user complains about accessibility?
• Who decides if there are disagreements about what should be on the site?
The list could go on.

More than just building sites, organizations need help, setting policies and procedures, outlining a roadmap for future development, carrying out ongoing testing, establishing responsibilities and roles. Organizations need a partner that can help with building a web team, setting policies and procedures, outlining a roadmap for future development, carrying out ongoing testing, establishing responsibilities and roles. They don’t just need somebody who is going to point out the problems, but an agency that will get involved in finding solutions.
Sure, there are smaller organizations that don’t need all of this. However, these are the kind of organizations that are probably better off working with a freelancer. Yes, there are some organizations that have already done all of this thinking and have their internal processes in place, but I suspect these are thin on the ground.

A web agency rather than a web design agency

My point is that most organizations need more than a web design agency that builds their site. They need a partner who can get really stuck into the organization and help to answer these questions. Here at aab design inc. we are not just a web design agency, our mission is to help established companies to become more successful 
in the digital world. We do that by taking the time to understand your goals and your business objectives, and by working with you to design & deliver bespoke WordPress solutions that gain you significant business advantage.

You may have noticed that on our website aabdesigninc.com we don’t call ourselves a web design agency anymore; we refer to ourselves as a digital marketing agency. That is because we believe our clients need a lot more than pretty pictures and development. Increasingly the work we do is as much about strategy, governance and measurement, as it is about building sites.
Our focus is on creating websites our clients are proud of, and websites we are proud to put our name to. We don’t just build websites, we build brands, and we know how important it is for a business to have a brand which represents its personality, goals and objectives.
So next time you go to hire a web design agency, ask yourself whether you actually need something more, at aab design inc. we offer the services that you need. We are designing Responsive and Mobile websites for the 21st Century.

What is UX?

The UX Umbrella

What is the value of UX ?

Let’s try to answer two main questions:

  1. What is the value of UX research?
  2. How does it fit into the product development process?

I want to refer to the basic understanding of user experience. I would like to quote Jacob Nielsen and Don Norman, people who can rightfully be named the “founding fathers” of user experience discipline. According to their definition:

“User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.”

So when we talk about a user’s experience with a product, we mean the quality of user interaction not only with the product itself, but everything, including the design and copy of your ad, the look and feel of your website UI, the main features and functionality of your product, its usability, post purchase experiences and even the button label in your newsletter!

Obviously, creating a satisfying user experience is not that easy, but it is certainly possible when you know what your users need and you have the skills to build it.

To cut a long story short, with user experience research you get the knowledge and with design skills you build the product.

Let’s have a look at this illustration by Dan Willis that brilliantly highlights how exactly UX solves user problems.

UX Umbrella

According to Willis, UX includes visual design, information architecture, interaction design, usability, user research and content strategy.

It once again emphasizes the idea that user experience is a combination of multiple components and if you want to create a truly amazing product, those components need to work together in perfect harmony.

With this in mind, let’s now try to answer the first question:

What Is the Value of UX Research?

 

UX research tries to put people in the center of product development process.

UX Users

If we try to give it a definition, it would sound something like this:

User experience research is the process of understanding user behaviors, needs and attitudes using different observation and feedback collection methods.

So the true value of UX research is that it’s based on unbiased user feedback.

It’s not influenced by someone’s own opinion or authority. It simply speaks user’s thoughts.

This should be your number one argument when trying to communicate the importance of user research.

How Does It Fit into Product Development Processes?

 

There is no obvious answer to this question. It depends on the product type and its life cycle. But if we look at the product development as a dynamic process that is ongoing and doesn’t stop with the product launch, then we can identify two main roles of UX research:

  • Initial user research
  • Ongoing goal-based user research.

Initial UX research is conducted in early stages of product development. It helps inform the team and the stakeholders or entrepreneurs about the target user of the product, how and when he or she is going to use the product and what main problems the product will solve.

Usually the output of initial user research are user personas, user journey maps and product use scenarios.

Inital and Goal Based

Ongoing goal-based UX research can be done at any stage of product development, whenever there is a distinct question or problem that needs to be solved.

It helps make important decisions based on actual user feedback. Especially, when you are in the middle of product development process and have multiple design solutions to choose from, user research can be really helpful.

User experience works best when it is incorporated into every stage of product development. This way we can test, validate and iterate essential product hypothesis based on real user feedback.

Conclusion

Although interface and interaction design play a great role in creating remarkable experiences, they cannot work without real user data. User experience research solves this problem and bridges the gap between visually attractive design and usable products. If you know when and how to use each of UX research methods you will be able to make informed, and data-backed, design decisions.

SEO today – new methods in optimizing content

As Google has cracked down on these practices and as consumers have moved to other avenues of finding content (social media sites, blogs, aggregators, etc.), SEO has been swallowed whole by a much broader set of necessary considerations.

local_serp_anatomy

Jackson readily admits that many legitimate SEO best practices are still not only relevant but are highly effective with the rising importance of all forms of content.

Instead of simply declaring SEO dead, Jackson argues that it should be incorporated into a new, more comprehensive framework for outlining the necessary approach content marketers should take to promoting and building content effectively — a framework he dubs OC/DC, or optimizing content for discovery and conversion.

OC/DC is a more holistic and goal-driven approach to content marketing. SEO’s narrow focus not only does not address all the avenues through which consumers now discover content, but its tight constraints also can negatively influence the content creation itself.

The rest of this article will highlight various strategies and guidelines, showing you how to optimize website content for SEO, discovery and conversion in the coming year.

Readers First, Algorithms Second

Google has made it crystal clear that it will always favor content that is valuable to people over content that is written primarily to rank for Google. Not only have they emphasized this over and over on their blog, they’ve made dozens of changes to their search algorithm that reflect this decision.

There are certain SEOs (the ones who don’t seem to heed Google’s warnings) that live in constant fear of the next Google algorithm change. The reason for their concern is that the content they produce and the SEO tactics they use, in large part, pander to Google’s algorithm changes instead of actually suiting and serving real readers.

Creating quality content is hard, and these workarounds and hacks can seem like tempting avenues to high search engine rankings. However, constantly having to pick up the pieces when Google penalizes your efforts is probably more costly in the long run.

That’s because creating quality content from the outset might require more initial effort, but will all but guarantee that you will be immune from Google’s constant updates and very well might be helped by them. That’s because your content will be the material that Google hopes to promote instead of the keyword-stuffed spam their engineers look to punish.

As we will discuss later, many SEO best practices are still very much necessary in ensuring your quality content gets discovered, but these optimization considerations are much better reserved for after you focus on creating high-quality, targeted content created to serve your audience.

What Is Quality Content?

Before you even begin strategizing on how to make quality content, you need to pin down exactly what constitutes high-quality content in the first place. This is a daunting task, but luckily Google provided a wonderful outline of what they see as indicators of quality content.

Google Quality Content Outline

The format of the linked blog post is a series of questions, as seen above. The one question of particular relevance to this discussion is:

“Are the topics [on your site] driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?”

This question is so important because any rubric for judging quality content will be intimately linked to the readers and audience you are attempting to reach and appeal to. The first stage of content planning and strategy should be to seriously consider your audience and their genuine interests.

Know Thy Niche

Every business or product has something unique about it. Even if you are competing in a crowded space, if your business has enjoyed any kind of success it’s because you’ve offered something that no one else has. Whether it’s a focus on cost-savings, or a quirky sense of humor, or an emphasis on professionalism. Any one of a variety of factors can be identified as part of your brand’s true story.

As a content marketer, your goal is to create content that appeals to your audience in a way that mirrors the appeal of the product this content marketing is calling attention to. In fact, a smart content strategy can naturally lead to conversions if it is appropriate to your product.

The more you can narrow down the unique appeal of your product or service, the more likely your content is to appeal to the “genuine interest of your readers.” Considering these are the very words that Google used, any content marketing that makes good on this goal will likely be favored by Google’s current and future algorithms.

The Quicksprout blog has put together a wonderful step-by-step guide to developing a content strategy based on a unique set of customer interests. This guide is quite in-depth but the main ideas are fundamentally simple.

  • Find a niche that is narrow enough to be unique, but broad enough to meet your business objectives.
  • Locate your ideal customer within this niche and discover what blogs they read, what social sites they use, what kind of events they attend, etc.
  • Create a persona reflecting this average customer and try to gain an understanding of their demographic makeup as well as their psychology, beliefs, etc.
  • Use this persona as a guideline for focusing your content marketing efforts.

What makes this approach so powerful is that it makes discovering and appealing to you customer’s genuine interests a central focus. This aligns your content with the goals of Google and other search providers.

So even though this is not “SEO” in the sense that the term has come to be understood, creating content from a plan that looks like this will certainly go a long way towards optimizing your content for discovery by search engines.

In his book “Google Semantic Search,” David Amerland argues that the “four Vs” that govern big data processes can also be used to inform SEO and content marketing decisions (if you think about it, understanding Google’s search engine is nothing but a big data problem).

The four Vs are:

  • Volume. This is the simplest of the four, but the amount of material you put out about your topic of choice will be a big indication to Google of your authority on the subject.
  • Velocity. The overall frequency of your content will also give Google a hint as to your expertise. Posting once a week for a year, likely looks better than posting once a month over the course of four years.
  • Variety. While you don’t want to venture too far with your content’s subject, covering a variety of areas within your niche of choice will signal to Google that you have authority on the topic.
  • Veracity. Having content that is received well by readers (that is shared, talked about, etc.) is perhaps the strongest indication to Google that they should serve content from your site to readers interested in the concept you chose to focus on.

Focusing on making sure your broader content strategy satisfies the conditions of these four ideas will ensure that your individual quality pieces of content end up constituting search benefits that are greater than the sum of their parts.

“Traditional” SEO as the Final Step

Once you have ensured that you have identified your audience, understand what interests them, are producing quality content for your niche, and are doing so in a way that is establishing your site’s authority, then you can start thinking about “traditional” SEO considerations.

Traditional SEO is kind of like rainbow sprinkles. On a vanilla ice cream cone, sprinkles can improve the whole experience and can actually offer people additional value. But if you give someone just a pile of rainbow sprinkles, you won’t be giving them anything they really want and will likely just leave a bad taste in their mouth.

Content Marketing-1

In much the same way, legitimate SEO best practices such as linking to other relevant posts within your blog, providing accurate keywords within headlines and anchor text, and properly tagging and categorizing your content can really offer a lot of additional value to readers.

If these best practices are followed in addition to providing quality content that people want to read, then they will not only enhance the user experience, they will make this great content easier to find. However, if best practices are not incorporated into a broader content strategy they will likely do more harm than good.

In fact, this is exactly what Sean Jackson was saying when he claimed “SEO is dead.” It doesn’t mean that these practices are dead, but if you’re notcreating awesome content, they’re essentially useless.

How do you incorporate key SEO tactics when creating content for your business? Share your experience in the comments below.

Website Checklist

Ensure you’ve got the basics covered. Here’s what you need:

aabdesigninc

website check list from aab design inc.

What makes a great link?

The more links you have pointing to your website the better, right? There is a big misconception that more is better.

No matter how many links your competitors have, you shouldn’t focus on quantity. You should focus on quality. A link from a site like CNN, assuming it is coming from a relevant section and article, will carry much more weight than 10 links from mom and pop sites.

In essence, I’m telling you that you should try to build as many high quality links as possible—ideally to internal pages versus your homepage.

Why internal pages? Well, it’s easier to build them to deep pages than to your homepage. Just think about it… would you rather link to an educational content piece published on an internal page or to a homepage that is selling a product or service? An internal page, right?

As for quantity, you won’t beat out sites that have 10,000 links using this tactic, but you will have many more authoritative links, which will help you outrank your competition.

And here is how you will build these links: through outreach, press, andconnecting with writers.