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Terrostar Interactive Media
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Doing Digital Right Since 1999
Doing Digital Right Since 1999

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Keep your eyes peeled for this flightless but deadly bird wearing only black and white with a specific waddle! http://ow.ly/AHYhf

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Is Pigeon Helping or Hurting Your Local Business?

It is our belief that major algorithm updates from Google are generally meant to help, not hurt, the businesses that are following the rules, and prior to now, there seemed to be a big push to come to the aid of SEO-law-abiding businesses. Our stance on white hat vs. black hat has not and will never change (100% white hat), but there are occasions where Google, king of search, leapfrogs over these certainties, leaving us puzzled (a fun game they like to play to keep us on our toes, perhaps?). This latest update targeted at local search, deemed Pigeon (sometimes spelled Pidgeon) for now, could possibly be hurting the small, local companies and also making things more confusing for nationals and globals that have multi-location situations.

Enhancing the confusion, we don’t have access to Matt Cutts to confirm or deny the rumors (though we fully support his time-out!). Thanks to Search Engine Land, one of Google’s primary reporters, we have access to what is considered credible insight into the situation. The following statement from a recent report helps define Pigeon, “Google told us that the new local search algorithm ties deeper into their web search capabilities, including the hundreds of ranking signals they use in web search along with search features such as Knowledge Graph, spelling correction, synonyms and more”, though further detail has not yet been released by the man behind the curtain (a.k.a. Google).

Quality vs. Quantity

You might recall the weirdness that surrounded the Hummingbird update and how maybe not everyone felt there was an improvement in the resulting results. This, according to David Mihm, Director of Local Search Strategy at Moz, is a similar thing. In a Search Engine Land article, he says, “Just like last time, I would argue that the quality of the SERPs has been downgraded, with ‘search results within search results’ (i.e. directories) getting rewarded relative to their pre-Pigeon position.” Yelp has been cited as the red-headed, whiny stepchild that is the primary beneficiary of this update; could this be a signal that Google is eating humble pie after allegedly hindering Yelp results back in 2011? We can only speculate but this directory site and others appear to have vastly improved search results (and not necessarily improved user results), according to Mihm.

Leader of the map packs.

What is a map pack? To many of you, it may sound like something your purchase for popular gaming sites. For our purposes, a map pack refers to the local results that show up as a cluster (two-pack, three-pack, and seven-pack) within the organic search results.

Your phone and your desktop do not typically display the same search results; could Pigeon be an attempt to close that gap? Mike Blumenthal, Search Expert and blog author, speculates that “there seem to be fewer seven-pack results than before although the drop is not as big as first reported as Google seems to have changed the impact of some local query modifiers.” From his perspective, this update cuts down on duplicate organic and local results and the differences between your desktop and phone queries. From our assessment, if you are a local company that was seeing good results in the local pack listings and, therefore, decided to avoid SEO, you may want to reconsider that decision.

Why is this potentially harmful?

If directories are showing up more often and we are seeing map packs more often, then the organic real estate on page one of Google becomes extremely limited. Worse yet, this update makes it tougher for the smaller, local business to compete in the map packs, especially if they are not directory-based. According to Chris Smith, President and Strategist at Argent Media, “If these ranking changes for local-intent queries were intentional upon Google’s part, it seems clear that they feel that there are many cases where searchers desire to perform comparative research to decide upon businesses prior to selecting listings. Businesses will have to adjust their strategic approaches accordingly.” (Source)

While strategy adjustments are the name of the SEO game, not all small locals can afford to dedicate these extra resources to forge ahead. Nor can they spend more, if any, on paid ads in order to capture a piece of that prime real estate. Nicole Hess, Senior SEO Strategist at Delphic Digital, states, “Being out of the local pack correlates with a loss of organic traffic for a few locations. A loss of organic traffic is also occurring where listings are competing against paid ads that have star ratings.” (Source) We urge you to continue your white hat SEO efforts (or start an SEO campaign ASAP if you haven’t already) while keeping these local updates top of mind. Be sure your site is registered with Google My Business (formerly Google Places) and Google+.

In (potentially) related news, algoroo.com reports over a week of hyperactivity from Google starting on August 7th and ending on August 15th. While this activity came in post-Pigeon, the two could be related. Perhaps by this time next week, we’ll be able to tell you what that was all about. Our guess? Penguin 3.0!

A few disclaimers: 

Pigeon is not a name confirmed by Google (yet).

All websites are subject to penalty, even Google! 

We may or may not favor penguins, pandas and hummingbirds to pigeons. =]

Beyond the Engagement Funnel: How to Target Your Potential Customers

We are excited to share a guest blog from Diane W. Pease, Inbound Marketing Manager at Cisco, on the topic of buying behavior. We have discussed the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) before and this ties right in with that concept of utilizing your content marketing strategy to first gain your buyers' trust and, eventually, increase sales. But, if you take the approach of a hungry salesperson, buyers will sense that and feed your competition instead! The tide has changed which means we have to change with the tide!

Anyone who is involved in digital marketing today knows about the conversion funnel – it comes in various versions and formats. Go to Google Images and type in “conversion funnel” – you will see dozens of images, with no two being the same! Regardless, the funnel represents the buying cycle that a consumer follows when making a purchase or decision. But the main consideration is the same – no matter at what point a customer comes into the funnel, you have to reach them with the right messaging, at the right place, at the right time. And nurture them through the funnel with targeted content.

The days of push marketing are over. It’s all about pull – driving customers by providing them with what they are looking for. Having the right digital marketing strategy for every phase in the funnel is critical to your online success. For example, messaging at the top of the funnel is very different than what you provide to customers who are at the purchase or decision making part of the funnel.

Below are some best practices for targeting your future customers:

Understand who your potential customers are.

Sounds simple, but oftentimes when we are creating campaigns, we get focused on finding the right keywords and messaging. And in doing so, we don’t always realize how our customers might be searching. If you are targeting high-level executives, for example, your keywords and messaging should “speak their language”, and target their pain points. What keeps them up at night?

Know where your customers are.

It’s no longer about pushing marketing collateral out and hoping someone will download it. Especially if they are in the awareness stage of the funnel. Potential customers need to be targeted where they are – such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media outlets. Your message needs to be where they are, and when they are searching. Providing “snackable” content – short and concise – helps draw them in. By piquing their interesting, you can then nurture them through the funnel journey by later providing more detailed and in-depth information.

Target your customers with the right messaging.

A potential customer who is in the awareness stage of the funnel is probably not at the buying point. Therefore, the messaging needs to provide information to them, not trying to sell them something right out of the gate. They are in research mode, and the more information that you can provide them, the better they are able to continue going down the conversion funnel path.

No matter where you customers are in their buying journey, ensure you provide them with the right messaging and content!

About the author

Diane W. Pease is an Inbound Marketing Manager for Cisco, and has been in online and traditional marketing for over twenty-five years. She has expertise in SEO, social and traditional marketing, but her primary specialty and passion is paid search and analytics.

Diane has worked with a large number of big national and international clients including Lowes Home Improvement, Sirius Satellite Radio, ULTA Cosmetics, Glaxo Smith-Kline and Accenture, among others. She focuses on providing clients with solid paid search strategies and seamless campaign execution.

Diane is a monthly contributor to Search Engine Watch and SEMRush. She is also speaker at the SES conference series, ClickZLive, SMX and Internet Summit.

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Beyond the Engagement Funnel: How to Target Your Potential Customers

We are excited to share a guest blog from Diane W. Pease, Inbound Marketing Manager at Cisco, on the topic of buying behavior. We have discussed the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) before and this ties right in with that concept of utilizing your content marketing strategy to first gain your buyers' trust and, eventually, increase sales. But, if you take the approach of a hungry salesperson, buyers will sense that and feed your competition instead! The tide has changed which means we have to change with the tide!

Anyone who is involved in digital marketing today knows about the conversion funnel – it comes in various versions and formats. Go to Google Images and type in “conversion funnel” – you will see dozens of images, with no two being the same! Regardless, the funnel represents the buying cycle that a consumer follows when making a purchase or decision. But the main consideration is the same – no matter at what point a customer comes into the funnel, you have to reach them with the right messaging, at the right place, at the right time. And nurture them through the funnel with targeted content.

The days of push marketing are over. It’s all about pull – driving customers by providing them with what they are looking for. Having the right digital marketing strategy for every phase in the funnel is critical to your online success. For example, messaging at the top of the funnel is very different than what you provide to customers who are at the purchase or decision making part of the funnel.

Below are some best practices for targeting your future customers:

Understand who your potential customers are.

Sounds simple, but oftentimes when we are creating campaigns, we get focused on finding the right keywords and messaging. And in doing so, we don’t always realize how our customers might be searching. If you are targeting high-level executives, for example, your keywords and messaging should “speak their language”, and target their pain points. What keeps them up at night?

Know where your customers are.

It’s no longer about pushing marketing collateral out and hoping someone will download it. Especially if they are in the awareness stage of the funnel. Potential customers need to be targeted where they are – such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media outlets. Your message needs to be where they are, and when they are searching. Providing “snackable” content – short and concise – helps draw them in. By piquing their interesting, you can then nurture them through the funnel journey by later providing more detailed and in-depth information.

Target your customers with the right messaging.

A potential customer who is in the awareness stage of the funnel is probably not at the buying point. Therefore, the messaging needs to provide information to them, not trying to sell them something right out of the gate. They are in research mode, and the more information that you can provide them, the better they are able to continue going down the conversion funnel path.

No matter where you customers are in their buying journey, ensure you provide them with the right messaging and content!

About the author

Diane W. Pease is an Inbound Marketing Manager for Cisco, and has been in online and traditional marketing for over twenty-five years. She has expertise in SEO, social and traditional marketing, but her primary specialty and passion is paid search and analytics.

Diane has worked with a large number of big national and international clients including Lowes Home Improvement, Sirius Satellite Radio, ULTA Cosmetics, Glaxo Smith-Kline and Accenture, among others. She focuses on providing clients with solid paid search strategies and seamless campaign execution.

Diane is a monthly contributor to Search Engine Watch and SEMRush. She is also speaker at the SES conference series, ClickZLive, SMX and Internet Summit.

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What Being a Terrostarian Taught Me

You know that feeling you get when you know you’re part of something awesome? I just had that feeling for over a year during my time at Terrostar. Being a part of the Terrostar team has been equal parts a blast and an honor. Our tiny office contains the perfect storm of weirdness and talent that has allowed me to see some of the greatest projects and biggest laughs I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with. As even the biggest man-children do, I’m jumping on a new opportunity and starting a new job in a new city. As I pack up the posters and action figures (they’re not toys) that adorn my office (and that have earned me some choice nicknames), I’ve taken the opportunity to reflect and look back at some of the lessons and realizations that I’m going to take with me from my very first bonafide big-boy job.

Teamwork Works

They say that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, but I don’t think that makes any sense. Breaking a weak link only creates two smaller but super strong chains. In this sense, it’s important to realize that you’re not going to be the strongest link in every situation, but being the weakest in a certain situation isn’t the worst thing in the world. Keep learning, keep working, and become the beefiest link you can be.

Be Stupid

But not that kind of stupid, stupid. What I mean is speak up and blurt out ideas even when they sound dumb as heck. Best case scenario, you can call a stellar new idea your very own brainchild. Worst case scenario, you’ll be the butt of office-wide jokes until the end of the day. But hey, either way, you earned it you big idiot.

It’s Okay to Wing It

As anyone in the office will tell you, I’m a fan of winging it. But not just any kind of winging. It’s what I call “educated winging.” There’s only so much that four short and structured college years can teach you about working in the real world. Often times it’s all about facing a situation, realizing that you’re not 100% sure how to proceed, and then winging the crap out of it. If you’re confident in your plan of attack and can back up your thought process, you’re more than ready to jump in and spread your wings.

Accept New Challenges

I still remember eons ago (A.K.A. summer 2013) when I, a lowly and confused intern, was asked to write an entire client proposal by myself. “A pr-pr-pr-proposal??” I’m sure I chomped my fingernails and said. However, taking on this challenge lead to me refining my writing skills, taking on more writing projects, and really feeling like I found a niche and found a way to complete the almighty Voltron that Terrostar employees create.

Love the Ones You’re With

Not sure if it’s the Stockholm Syndrome talking or if I just got #blessed with the best group of coworkers in the western hemisphere, but getting along and hearing each other’s ideas has made working here (and churning out some amazing work) incredibly easy and satisfying.

Be On Time

9:05, 9:15, 9:30. They’re all times. So technically, I was on one of them every morning.

http://terrostar.com/blog/what-terrostar-taught-me

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How to Become a Pinterest Warrior

First thing’s first, women warriors are fierce and Pinterest is definitely a woman’s world. If you read last week’s blog on Pinterest for Business, you’ll already know that women dominate the booming internet pinboard, making up anywhere from 72% to 97% of total usership. This is astronomical for any social media service and, with the right tools, can make Pinterest a powerful platform. But there is much more that makes this tool worth exploring; take a look at the infographic below to explore it's many unique features. And a special thanks to Pinterest warrior princess Megan Ritter for sharing! We’ll let Megan take the reigns and explain to you why Pinterest packs a punch.

"Building a presence and a following on social media can be a difficult task, and you could be making it even more difficult by focusing too many of your efforts on social networks that aren’t working for you. Facebook and Twitter are two of the most popular social sites in the world but this does not mean they are necessarily the right medium to send your message. If you’re trying to reach a specific audience, it is important to find out who visits which social websites and why they are using social networks in the first place. After all, the more on point your message is, the more likely you are to see positive results.

While networks like Twitter might be better for short text messages, visual content is probably not its strong suit. If you’re offering something visually appealing that people need to see in order to believe, you’ll want to focus your attention on a social network like Pinterest (Instagram is another good one but that is for another blog!). As an image sharing website, Pinterest attracts a very unique audience that can be incredibly profitable. Considering images are the most shared content across all social media platforms, it’s not hard to see what makes Pinterest so valuable for social marketing.

Whether you’ve got an aesthetically pleasing product or a beautiful service that people can easily visualize, this platform is one of the greatest ways to build a brand. With the help of this handy guide, provided by eMerchantBroker.com, you can become a Pinterest Warrior and learn how to make your images stand out from the crowd. Discover how a pin can help you win more followers by using this infographic to find out what types of audiences use the service and what they use it for. Don’t wait another minute to capitalize on this incredibly profitable market. Make Pinterest a part of your social media marketing strategy today!"

Some interesting facts pulled from the infographic are:

Content has a longer lifespan on Pinterest than the other social media service
Pinterest generates more referral traffic than YouTube, Google Plus, and LinkedIn combined
Personalize less – pins without faces get 23% more repins
Business-to-business companies are encouraged to keep an open mind as Pinterest can be responsible for an increase in client acquisition and increased sales when used properly. The key is to find and/or create killer visual content. This can be from your professional photography collection, business charts, or blog art, but these are just a few examples. And, just as any social media service, you must be constantly engaging your users. Post regularly, pin and repin, and create new boards. This is something that you can have fun with while earning an ROI. So go out and conquer Pinterest, warriors, and let us know about your fierce success!

Click below to check out the infographic!

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Get Pinspired to Use Pinterest for Business

Pinterest for business; have you considered it? Upon visiting Pinterest’s website for business owners, you find these words, “Get discovered by millions of people looking for things to plan, buy and do”. In essence, this is yet another targeted audience searching for you.

I wouldn’t say Pinterest is for every business but it's probably applicable in more areas than you think. There a few caveats to making a business page successful. Plus, the audience is very gender dominant (anywhere from 72-97% female).

With those things being said, let’s discuss the basics of Pinterest so that you are better able to determine whether it fits into your social media and content marketing arsenals.

Are you in it to pin it?

Winning with Pinterest is easy. Getting started is even easier. There is a handy starter guide, free pro advice, and a quick website verification process. Once you have determined that Pinterest is right for your business, you’ll need to add the ‘Pin It’ button throughout your website so that your images and videos can be easily added to your audience’s boards. The cool thing? All Pins and Repins link back to their original sources which means you get the referral traffic.

Is Pinterest worthy of your social media time?

Pinterest is for companies...

with visually stimulating photography
open to improving site and imagery quality
that have more to share than straight business posts (trends, news, etc.)
that are willing to leave out the heavy marketing mumbo jumbo (this is not an ad, per se)
that target mature, female consumers
that aren’t already burned out on social media
Also, products are a bit easier to showcase than services, unless you have a kick-a graphic designer and/or photographer at your disposal. The most popular industries on Pinterest are fashion, food, crafts and the wedding industry. If you do not fall into one of those, do not instantly rule it out. Remember, the goal is to be discovered by people looking to plan, buy, and do. Not in one of the obvious industries? No problem, think of a different strategy, such as a ‘before and after’ angle. At Terrostar, we are working on a board which will showcase our favorite "before and after" web designs. 

Pins & Boards

You do not have to be on pins and needles as you embark on this new social adventure. Creatively and clearly name your boards and keep it to 20 characters or less so as to avoid the cut off limit. You’ll also want to create a variety of boards to attract a variety of people. Utilize your creative writing skills to describe each board and pin (200-300 words is a good starting place) and make sure all of your pins are beautiful, actionable and interesting . For those who have ever had to say a lot with a little, this will be a breeze compared to digital ads and billboards! Choose your words carefully and always write for your audience first.

Pinalyze, not to be Confused with penalize

Once your site is verified you have access to Pinterest analytics. Since analytics are built right in, use them! Make a big deal out of your most popular pins, especially if you are a merchandiser, restaurant, or designer. If you have a brick and mortar, all the more opportunity to get social and show off your Pinterest popularity. If the summer wedding fascinator you designed has the most pins so far this season, create a visual in your store with that fascinator and a cute Pinterest board (a physical version) to catch the attention of your shoppers. Place a QR code on your board so they can directly link up to all of your boards and pins.

More Pinteresting Facts

Similar to other social media giants like Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest will soon be launching Promoted Pins. The arrangement of Promoted Pins will be very similar to the ads before it’s time; target your audience, get visitors back to your website, pay for the click-through (CPC/PPC), track and refine your campaign.

If you have the help of a developer (or a handy CMS), you can explore Rich Pins for even more usability and detail. This strategy will also equate to better search results, along with fine tuned Pin descriptions, as mentioned earlier.

You already know from earlier to splash your website with the ‘Pin It’ buttons, but don’t forget to include them in your email marketing campaigns. Promote it on your fleet vehicles, packaging and anywhere that makes sense too. Make it discoverable. 

People are visual. People love to plan, buy, and do. For these reasons, Pinterest is not only a popular social platform, but, for many, it’s an addiction. Even if you don’t get it, 70 million people do and many of those are other businesses in need of your products (and services). Stay tuned for a more in depth look at Pinterest by the numbers as we welcome our first guest post next week!

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You’ve heard of SEO and you’ve heard of digital marketing but what are the differences between the two? More importantly, how can they be tied together to create a powerhouse marketing strategy?

Over the years, I’ve observed similar misnomers and often wondered how or why. For example, some think of sales and marketing, link building and content marketing , or marketing and advertising as one in the same. Yes, they are related, but why aren’t they thought of as the unique individuals they are? There are clear distinctions that give each of these things their own clout, yet instead they get stuck on a cruise with the wrong group. I must be feeling protective this week because I don’t want this same thing to happen to SEO and digital marketing! They each deserve their due justice before ending up with a lifetime of inaccurate labels. Besides, nobody likes to be misunderstood.

Like misnomers before their time, SEO and digital marketing (DM) are closely related but they are not identical twins, or, as Jon Ball of SearchEnginge Journal says, they are two different peas in a pod. While SEO is a form of digital marketing, it does stand on it’s own three letters. An SEO company is hired to ethically manipulate a website’s search engine rankings and an SEO expert is trained to execute said optimization, thus increasing both traffic and revenue. A digital marketer may use SEO as one of its many tools.

Where their two cross paths most often is in areas such as content, email, social media and mobile marketing. In the past, SEO was as simple as keywords, backlinks and directories but that just isn’t the case today and "old SEO" might actually do more harm than good. In today's digital landscape, an arsenal of varied content is essential for securing SEO success. These days, what search engines want out of your website is much more closely aligned with what consumers want out of your website. And it has to be ongoing output that people actually see which then leads to sharing and conversation. It's not just a one and done type of deal - that would be too easy. We like to think of it as digital conversation which leads to conversion. 

Digital media encompasses more than just what is mentioned above, though. Its reach extends to billboards, TV, PR, video, radio to name a few. In fact, its goal is reach. The target is not solely web visitors but an increased online presence leading to increased overall visibility. Its power comes from combining the right media at the right time.

As we transition into the combination of SEO and DM, a fairly recent trend, we also get a new term – Search Marketing Integration (SMI), which some refer to as the "new SEO". It’s all fun and games until new acronyms are thrown into the alphabet soup! Digital Marketing expert Brad Miller of Fathom states,

Over the next couple of years SMI will become a pre-requisite for a first-page listing on Google. SMI will revolutionize the entire organization’s approach to sales, marketing, PR, branding and everything in between. For an SMI practitioner, success will be tied to the ability to integrate SEO tactics across an organization’s marketing department. Politics, leverage, and action will be equally as important as title tags, link building, and keyword themes.

You always knew that combining marketing efforts had the potential to produce higher results but now you know of at least two that go really well together. DM + SEO = SMI for life.

http://terrostar.com/blog/search-marketing-integration-a-cross-between-digital-marketing-and-seo

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Word to the wise: social media advertising is an accessible and effective supplement to your digital marketing plan!
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