Posts Tagged "communication"


How to Become a Knowledge Source and Win the SEO Game

Win the SEO Game

If you can’t figure out how your competitors manage to get to the top of the Google rankings while your brand lurks on page 3, or how to attract more visitors to your blog or website, or even what content to create, don’t worry you’re not alone.

The constant tweaks by search engines in the last 3 years have left many marketers wondering if their next SEO tactic will get them traffic or a penalty from Google. The search engines have always wrestled with how to present consumers with results that actually meet their needs.

But it’s been a game of cat and mouse as marketers create cleverly optimized sales pages and users never know if they are going to land on real, valuable content or a pitch. Over time the game got very complicated and Google’s algorithm evolved to the point where it evaluated over 200 factors about each webpage in order to decide whether that page actually met a searchers’ needs.

The Turning Point

In the last three years, however, there’s been a turning point. With Google’s Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates there has been a new focus on the quality of content versus the quantity. Instead of relying merely on the attributes of the content on the page, or using links from webpages to judge the quality of a webpage’s content, the search engines are now finally able to incorporate social media signals.

Using social media likes and shares, Google finally developed a way for people to in essence vote on which pages had the best quality information. Today search engine rankings are essentially being heavily influenced by the actual preferences of real people.

Unfortunately this makes your job as a marketer more difficult, because these search engine changes require you to really get into the customer’s head and create content that genuinely meets their needs. This has caused some old hands to throw their hands in the air and declare SEO to be dead. But the reality is that the game is just more demanding.

High-Quality Content

It would, therefore, appear that now the only reliable way to increase search rankings is with high-quality content that people will like and share with others. Creating a continuous stream of relevant and useful content that meets customer needs is the most effective way to dramatically grow your traffic from both social sharing and from search engines.

Value First

Looking back on my experience with online content building, I’ve seen many cases where this approach to quality content has paid off dramatically. For example a financial services client focused on creating articles, blog content and videos that answered actual user questions and met customer needs for financial education. This value first approach built trust and triggered social sharing. As a result search optimization started to increase web traffic dramatically within the first three months of the content building process.

The Right Content at the Right Time

Guiding this process is our understanding of the Consumer Decision Journey, which helps brands map what content they will need at various points on the path to purchase and beyond. This approach allows brands to prepare exactly the right content for each step along the way, and is equally important in search and social visibility when the consumer is searching for answers.

For example a company in the housing vertical combined social media sharing and search optimization to promote content on their website that was useful to apartment seekers. Research revealed that the two main target segments had different needs. The Young Singles were concerned with sports and activities near their potential apartment location. The Young Family group on the other hand, was more concerned with nearby schools and the neighborhood quality for their children.

Surprisingly, further research uncovered that the Young Singles group, frequently owned pets and that they would actually change their choice of apartments if offered nearby pet parks. With these insights in hand, the content team set about building hundreds of pages of neighborhood-specific content, covering schools, sports, activities and, yes, pet parks. The payoff for meeting consumer needs was dramatic. The peak search and social traffic grew from 1.1 million visits per month to 2.1 million visits per month.

Finding Out What Content to Make

It starts with listening to target consumers. Find the forums, social media networks and blogs where your potential customers are asking questions and talking about their problems. There are lots of ways to do this, but at IQ we find the fastest way is to use a social listening platform.

For many, just making a list of customer questions about problems and challenges that customers care about can be a powerful starting point. If you can generate a list of 50 to 100 questions that consumers routinely ask, you can start to hone in on a content strategy.

When consumers begin to look for a product that meets their needs or that solves a problem they usually start with very little information. So the opportunity is to intersect that process and become a knowledge source for their journey.

How do you create this type of content?

  1. Find the relevant forums, social networks and blogs where customers complain about their problems and ask each other for advice.
  2. Catalog all the consumer questions that your brand can solve.
  3. Identify solutions to common questions that you uncovered in your list of the most common 50 to 100 questions.
  4. Create useful content that answers questions in multiple ways, such as infographics, presentation slides, articles, blog posts, videos and images.
  5. Make sure the content is useful and actionable so that it helps users to understand the most important parts of solving their problem.
  6. Distribute your content to your owned media and get it shared using social media to expand your reach.
  7. Build links from social sites and forum sites that are authoritative sources on this topic.
  8. As you answer these questions, target long-tail phrases rather than single keywords in your SEO.
  9. Structure your website content to clearly and concisely answer all the key questions that you uncovered in the earlier steps.

Search engines reward content that answers customer questions and meets customer needs with a higher search engine rank. The key is content that is relevant to the searcher at that particular moment in their journey.

If a brand maps the journey correctly, makes engaging, valuable content for every key step on the way, and makes it easy to find, it will become the trusted knowledge source for the entire journey and for consumers throughout the category.

Want to know more about IQ? Contact Us


Have You Been Scraped Lately?

Has Your Site Been Scraped Lately?

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, scraping has to be right up there.

Last week, we discovered a website hosted in the Bahamas called Some delightful individual, who was clearly not raised right, decided to scrape (or steal in the old vernacular) our website for some nefarious purpose. They changed the contact info to the address of an internet café in Toronto and replaced our telephone number with theirs. Worse, they seem to have persuaded my entire team of executives to go and work for them…traitors.

I can’t help but wonder what they think they can achieve. Opinions in the office range from they are trying to get a loan and needed a cool site to show their banker to they are trying to sell themselves as us to get business. Clearly they have never been in any competitive pitches. Most clients today not only want to meet and grill the entire team before they hire you, but many actually want the agency to do the work in advance to see how good you are.  Good luck with that.

We sent off the necessary communications to the hosting provider and requested that the site be be removed from Google which should put them in hot water, but part of me thinks that maybe we can do an outsourcing deal where IQ can handle any business they bring in.

*Note: after sending their hosting provider a formal DMCA take down request, it seems the site is now “under construction”.


UX Design: My Favorite Features Aren’t Features

User Experience blog

“The design of your product is only as good as its smallest part.” –Dan Saffer, Microinteractions: Designing with Details

The other night I was browsing the Zappos iPhone app for a new pair of boots. I found a pair I liked and added it to my favorites…and that’s when a kitty cat surrounded by hearts flew across my screen.


Zappos "favorites" kitty.

Yes, that’s a kitty dropping a pair of boots into my favorites list, slowing her descent with a heart-be-speckled umbrella. (Don’t you want to download the Zappos app and try it now?)

What’s the connection between a cat and boots? Maybe Puss in Boots, maybe not.

But really, who cares? The interaction clearly told me the item had been added to my favorites, and it made me laugh. Now that’s delighting your users!


In his book Microinteractions, Saffer provides the example that if a feature is a video player, a microinteraction is the volume control. These interactions are often a single task: a setting, an on/off switch, or similar. They’re tiny and often go unnoticed…until they fail or delight.

Zappos’ cat is fairly whimsical, but consider the slightly more serious profile editor for Myspace. After you’ve set up your account the first time and you return to your profile, only the content you filled in displays. When you hover over this content, the borders of a field show up so you know you can edit it.

myspace - 1 myspace - 2

In-line editing is not that new of an idea, but Myspace takes it a step further. When you click to edit the content, the rest of the profile fields (the ones you didn’t complete last time) display so you can see the entire form. Clever!

myspace - 3

Several microinteractions work together to make up this feature (the editor). The user’s content is given highest priority, while the other potential content (i.e. the blank fields) is only provided when the user requests to change their profile content.

The design doesn’t outshine the content. It enhances the experience of filling in that content. It’s only a profile editor, and a standard form design would work just as well. But would it seem as cool or fun?

Don’t forget the details

Microinteractions are tiny, but they can create a big impact on the overall user experience. So don’t forget to spend time on them even if they aren’t the shiny feature every digital agency or UX’er wants to work on.

You may also like:

Strategic Marketing: We’re All Data Points

The Big Data Bamboozle

7 Steps for a Better Voice & Tone

  • 06.05.13

How to Make Great Brand Videos

Consistently making great content is a tall order for many brands.  Get some insight and tips from the presentation below:

How to Make Great Brand Videos from IQ Agency

You may also like:

Responsive Design POV 2013

Content Overload


Jung at Heart

Carl Jung - father of archetypes

Everyone knows that digital channels and devices have changed how consumers connect to brands. So today we are focused on enabling the consumer’s journey rather than just talking at them, as in days past. But it’s a trap to believe that people are enamored with process and mechanics. Even with the never-ending stream of technologically driven consumer empowerment, the dynamics of connecting to human beings are the same as they were a million years ago. Stories that speak to our archetypal drives are the most powerful buttons we can press. Stories that touch on family, love, loss, death and safety cut across culture and geography. They can be expressed in many ways, and offer endless opportunity for creativity and originality, but in the end the archetypal story is what resonates. Our challenge is to integrate today’s growing number of consumer touch points into, not only a connected process, but into an archetypal story. It’s easy to think in terms of content, functionality, usability etc. but the need for a resonant story is as important as ever. The difference is that the narrative now happens over many connections and many channels. So keeping the essence of an archetypal brand story at the center as we create and connect tactics is the new challenge for brand’s and their agencies.


How to get work to work better

Jason Fried, the founder and head of product development at 37signals (they make perfectly under-featured office collaboration and productivity software) has noticed something that we’ve noticed at IQ: That meetings really sap the creative juices. Without uninterrupted time to think and work either independently or as a project team, the quantity and quality of our output suffers. Sometimes in order to really jam on a problem, we need to come in early, stay late (and get dinner) or get out of the office to create multiple hours of work-time.

Instead, can’t we make the workday work better? Yes we can.

We are experimenting with some ways for us to control meetings so that they don’t control us. It’s not fully baked yet, but we’re experimenting with “Meetingless Wednesdays,” a full day for creative and strategy folks to be able to focus more deeply. We’ll post more to the blog when we have some results to share.


Creative Remote Collaboration

Remote collaboration is important for any line of work where people are divided by time and space, but the need is expanded in a creative industry where there is an increased requirement of collaboration, communication, and execution of ideas. When you work for a creative agency with colleagues and clients around the country (and developers around the world), how can you improve and streamline the creative collaboration process?

Well… I just so happened to put together a presentation for you on such a topic? Inside of IQ we do weekly internal get-togethers called ‘Lunch & Learns’ and have different people from our team or special presenters discuss about a wide range of topics from tech events, the latest in mobile technology, to viralness of viral videos! Since I’ve recently moved to our New York office, I’ve particularly found remote collaboration tools and communication an important part of my everyday work process. I’ve included my presentation with the audio from our Lunch & Learn. Enjoy!


Remote Partying

Who says computer supported cooperative work is only for business purposes? Here at IQ we party in costume and remotely! Check out Experience Architect Patrick Aguilar aka Old Man, Account Supervisor John Nugent, and I (Princess Leia) bridging the time and space gap for our Halloween celebration.

when iq parties, it parties remotely

With offices in Atlanta and New York, feeling like a part of the family is just a video chat button away. We use remote collaboration on a daily basis to conduct our work, but it’s also used to strengthen our friendships and personal ties. Ain’t no party like an IQ party!

  • 09.21.10

TEDx Boston: Seth Priebatsch: The Game Layer on Top of the World

Here’s a great clip from TEDx Boston 2010. Seth Priebatsch of scvngr discusses how the last decade was all about the Social Layer (building connections) whereas this decade is all about the Game Layer (influencing behavior), and describes four of the game dynamics already used in society to influence behavior:

  1. The appointment dynamic
  2. Influence and status
  3. The progression dynamic
  4. Communal discovery

Seth’s presentation shows how the behavioral influences we take for granted have shaped our lives and influenced our society, from elementary school report cards to Farmville.


Steve Jobs on the eve of introducing Apple’s famous “Think Different” campaign

Steve Jobs is not just a great business man and a very talented technologist. He has a very clear sense of what great companies need to do to cut through the noise of the marketplace. And that thing is to have a perspective, a point of view. Here he is talking about the “Think Different” campaign in 1997 (by Chait/Day). Here’s an article from LowEnd Mac on the history of the campaign which notes that the entire campaign and assets were completed in less than a month, assisted by the fact that Mr. Jobs was close personal friends of some of the people who appeared in the ads and posters.

Hat tip to Jason Kottke also points to the clear difference between 1997 and 2010 Apple advertising. Back then, their computers were not all that special (with MS Windows 95 catching up to the Apple Macintosh in a lot of ways), so they didn’t show the products. Today, Apple’s products are leading the pack, and so the television advertising they do can be summed up as “Nifty song. Here’s the product. Here’s a disembodied hand using it. It’s awesome. Buy one.” The recent ads for iPods, iPhones and now iPad are not nearly as focused on the soul of the company, and, in my view, not as compelling.

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