A story about story-telling

17 October, 2016

Clients new and old regularly ask us how we can increase their organic exposure, and keep users engaged in their site longer. What keywords can we add, what SEO tricks do we know, how can we get them the greatest return for the time we invest?

Again and again I find myself explaining that there are no shortcuts; No keywords we can add, no 'hacks' we can do, that will get them their desired result.

I think that most are approaching the problem the wrong way; Your user's are not a robot searching for a specific input, and these days the search engine's aren't either. We believe attracting, keeping (and if needed, converting to customers), users starts with creating content they would be invested in, something they can really sink their teeth into; a narrative - with details.

Simplicity is key: While you may find everything about your product or service obvious or self-explanatory, many users do not. One of the easiest things to do to gain organic traffic is simply explain your differentiating factor in text on your website. Yes - pictures and hero text sell; but search engines can't detect that information when crawling through your site for SEO data. Put a few short paragraphs on your about page or blog explaining just how amazing your product or service is; linking to sites that verify that claim will only help your site rank better, and your users feel like you a more legitimate source.

Original content works: Most new website owners find themselves using stock photography, or rewriting their competitor's website copy in a 'new and better way', as this is both very inexpensive and easy to do. While it may fool some, or even most of your customers, if you are trying to gain new followers via search engine optimization or social interaction, these shortcuts will hurt you. Search engines can detect the similar content and reused images, and will prefer sites that are updated more often with original content, in their results list. Users also will not interact with your site's content the same - original content is shared more often than other forms of content (40x more often in fact - https://blog.bufferapp.com/infographics-visual-content-marketing)

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Example of an infographic from blog.bufferapp.com
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Example of Jet.com Clearly Explaining their benefits

If selling a product: Explain why they (the user) should be purchasing from you (and no - I don't mean by putting 'Free Shipping' into the header). Give some background on your company; what sets you apart from the others? Customers are not only attracted to your impeccable product, they are attracted to the idea of you as a company, what you stand for. They fall in love with your story, your brand, and share it with others.

Give people opportunities: We always recommend giving your customers a place to submit feedback (that may or may not been seen by the public) or let you know how their experience was. Furthermore, allow them to socially share your product/image/services as easily as possible. According to Pew Research, "1/3 of millennials say social media is one of their preferred channels for communicating with businesses" - which is a win-win for most online business; you can meet your customer at their preferred point-of-contact, and obtain free advertising on their friends social feeds at the same time.

 All in all - we like to relate the struggle of driving traffic and keeping your site relevant to telling a good story, or writing a good book. Your customer should want to know more about you based off of your image, your cover, your brand. Once they open a few pages, they should have something good to read, that makes them want to read, or buy, more; and like every good book, if your product or service is great to the last page, your customers will tell their friends to read - or buy.

Hackers love Slackers

02 October, 2016

One of the most commonly used security vulnerabilities on the web today is outdated software - be that the Adobe flash player you keep ignoring every time you start your browser, or the version of WordPress your personal blog is running on.

Most websites today run on some type of open-source, or openly-available platform - WordPress, Joomla, Magento, any online shopping cart, etc. And these software platforms typically have plugins or modules created by other 3rd-Party developers that you or your web developers may have used. Keeping all of these various platforms and plugins and modules up to date can be time consuming or costly, and those dedicated to breaking into others systems use this to their advantage.

Keeping any online software you use up to date should be just as important as locking your house when you leave for the weekend. If you haven't already, enable automatic updates if your platform allows it (or ask your developer), and update any plugin, modules, etc as soon as possible. We recommend hiring someone, or utilizing a paid-for service to maintain updates as well - if your developer offers this service, take them up on it - plus if anything ever does happen, they will be there to help get you back up and running as soon as possible.

If it's too late and you believe your site is compromised; feel free to reach out to us - we deal in number of content management and e-commerce platforms; and if we can't help you, we'll point you in the right direction.

In today's web-based world, it is pertinent you keep all of your software as up to date as possible. For further reading, and some info on the most-hacked plugins and platforms, we recommend reading Scuri's 2016 Q1 Report.

 

Abstractions Pittsburgh

30 August, 2016

The O2DCA Development team was lucky enough to score some tickets to the first-ever Abstractions conference in downtown Pittsburgh earlier this month. It was the first event of it's kind here in Pittsburgh; bringing together designers, developers, project managers, security analysts, infrastructure specialists, and more into one 3-day event. At any one time there were 3-5 talks going on simultaneously, and our team split up to soak in as much as possible.

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Rooftop Outdoor Lounge at Abstractions
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A Talk at Abstractions 2016

We saw talks from Mark Sherman, Bradley Holt, Phil Dougherty, Richard Stallman, Brad Frost, and more that covered issues ranging from "Risks in the Software Supply Chain" to "Creating Conversational Interfaces" - as well getting to play with some real-life demonstrations. All-in-all it was a great three days where we were able to increase our breadth of knowledge, socialize with industry leaders, and sharpen our skills.

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Another Speaker at Abstractions 2016
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The mezzanine in between talks

I personally want to thank the event coordinators and Pittsburgh's Code & Supply Co for organizing such an impactful event here in our local tech community. The team and myself look forward to integrating what we've learned into upcoming projects, and creating even better, more efficient solutions.

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