15 Art Professionals Discuss Covid-19 Art Trends & Adaptations

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Every industry has felt the jolt of Covid-19, but the art industry is especially vulnerable. Art commerce happens mostly in the public space of art galleries, art shows, social gatherings, and other events. Now, with those traditional venues closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, artists and those who facilitate sales are having to rethink how art is made, appreciated, and bought and sold. Strategies to adapt include going digital and creating products that are more appealing to consumers during the days of Covid-19.

 

  1. Joe Flanagan, Founder of 90sFashion World, a blog about fashion, entertainment and culture of the last great decade, says, “There is a huge phenomen right now that being relatable sells. I have seen artists with great products fall behind because they can’t really connect with their audience for different reasons. The ones that are really selling, even with the shortage of cash many people have right now, are the ones that provide emotional relief, amenable distractions or that empathize with their audience. This is to say they have taken a very active and present role on their varied media presences and their work has become part of their quarantine daily life and they are showcasing it to others. A great example is a photographer that has taken to do still life photos every day and forgoes shipping the day that it comes online for sale on her webpage. This dynamic has allowed her to sell lots of posters of her work even while in quarantine.”
  2. Olga Horvat, artist/illustrator says”Coloring books for adults are a hot trend now. I believe they will continue to be the post covid art trend. Adult coloring books are dominating best-seller lists. They’re touted as a therapeutic activity. Coloring increases the release of dopamine, a “feel-good” hormone and removes your stress. ( Olga wrote and illustrated the book When Dogs Fly: Adult Coloring Book for Relaxation & Meditation)
  3.  Ken Beberman, artist, says, “Selling art online is daunting: without a personal connection it’s easy to get lost in the millions. Having a presence on Facebook has had some success for me and I’m going to be in Redwoods media platform in the coming days as they just launched and they produce major art shows such as Red Dot, Spectrum and Artexpo New York…it’s exclusive-only to show to participants and thus easier to stand out on a more exclusive site.”
  4. Jane Zamost, artist, says, “I am more involved with social media, my email list and have been instructing more online art classes by Zoom.”
  5. Nicole Capozzi, Owner & Director at BoxHeart Gallery, notes how important social media is for artists right now, “Artist, Sherry Rusinack continues to create and sell her “CAT” paintings after her small acrylic on wood paintings “Poop” and “Pee” were shared and liked over 100K times on the popular Tumblr, MostlyCatsMostly. People from all over the world (the UK, Spain, Canada, and of-course the United States) have purchased these fabulous CATS. Post Covid, she began a new series titled “Stay Home CAT”.” 
  6. Ana Cottle, Communications Director at The Muckenthaler Cultural Center, a nonprofit art gallery in Orange County, California says, “We typically have a free, indoor art gallery, but obviously have not been able to invite the public in for some time now. To continue our mission of bringing art to the community and serving the community, we’ve adapted in a number of ways: Sculpture Garden: We are putting together an outdoor sculpture garden on our 8.5 acre grounds, so the public can still safely see art while taking appropriate social distancing measures. Making Face Shields in the Gallery: We have started using our indoor gallery as a place where volunteers can make Face Shields to donate to local hospitals, by partnering with several other local organizations. Drive-Thru Art Kit Pickup for Kids: We are inviting parents in the community to pick up free art project kits every week, in a contactless drive-thru.  The projects are designed by our own master artists. Curbside Pickup for Senior Art Kits: We have partnered with the city of Anaheim, to provide free art kits for seniors to pick up from a library and community center, as a way for seniors to have access to new artistic activities while staying home. Virtual Classes with Artist in Residence: We are providing free, online poetry workshops with our 2020 Artist in Residence, Katharine Zaun.
  7. Lisa Cooper says, “As the gallery owner of Elisa Contemporary Art, the COVID-19 pandemic has closed both my NY Gallery, CT Art Salon and cancelled the Spring Affordable Art Fair in NYC where I was scheduled to have a boothin March 2020.  I am continuing to sell online on both 1stdibs and Chairish.  I currently find myself posting daily on Instagram and starting a series of short videos of artwork as well. I try to focus many of these posts on artwork that can take the viewer to another space and create a positive impact. In addition, I am creating a series of online exhibits aimed at creating a sense of Calm and Optimism.  One of the online exhibits is “Calm and Cool” focused on blue colored artwork as that has a very physically and emotionally calming effort.  I’ve also created “Diving into Summer” with pool, swimmer and surfer artwork and a look outdoors and into the future. I have sold several artworks during this time to Interior Designers, however, I am finding more people online “saving” artwork for potential future sales (especially on the 1stdibs site) than being willing to spend the money now.” 
  8. Ellen Stone, founder and CEO of Public Offerings Ltd., a photography art agency, says, “In regards to art purchasing there tends to be two classes of collector. There is the established class who are still purchasing and at a consistent quantity through blue chip galleries. The works doing best with them during the downturn have been with established artists with a focus on secondary market sales as these works have a clear and proven sales track-record. The focus we have seen from them is a severe drop in experimentation with the works they buy, rather looking for “safe stocks”. With no fear of buying these works online, sight unseen, due to the safety of brand recognition. What I find more interesting is the second class, those normally seen as part of the aspirational collector class. It is these people who will visit more shows and engage more vocally with the social elements of the art world. For us this has meant to keep this engagement the move online has had to take a very social tone. Rather than just viewing rooms (which all galleries and agencies now have – including ourselves) this level of collector wants talks, information and conversation around the art world. Now is the time to capture and build relationships with collectors of the future. With the aspirational class we have seen their interest in emerging artists expanding during the covid-19 pandemic as they look to support artist communities and have a social understanding of how hard the closing of galleries has affected new and lower-income artists. We’re predicting this excitement to flow up to established collectors. When art fairs reopen at the end of 2020 through 2021 galleries who have had a hard financial time will be looking to promote unseen artists and artworks due to the lower production cost along with their increased commissions from new to market artists. This will mean collectors will be more inclined to take a risk with a new generation of artists making socially relevant and often political works sparked by this period of global turmoil. These emerging artists are looking at issues from mental health and isolation through to personal introspective looks at family and place. This personal inclination forming a social relationship through artwork that a pre-covid art world was not so focused on.”
  9. Cameron Patterson of MisterArt says, “With Art festivals closed and artists unable to make the connections they need to sell their artwork right now, a solution is necessary. We at MisterArt have the supplies these artists need to keep creating, keep developing, and keep inspiring the world around them. We have Charcoal and Graphite Sets for paper mediums. There are SketchBooks and Writing Lined Pads for all the sketching needs and drafting that has to be done. MisterArt. com has seen a 300% increase in sales during the time of COVID-19. Now, more than ever, artists are looking online for their resources, sales, and connections. And we’re very happy to support them. 
  10. Aurélia Islimye, Founder of online art gallery Bleur Art says, “At Bleur Art, a new unique online art gallery designed to enable emerging artists to sell their art to a new generation of art buyers, COVID-19 has forced us to pause our popular art workshops and exhibitions programme and we have definitely seen a change in our customers’ buying habits. Price sensitivity and size are becoming even more important factors in decision-making and we have also noticed a shift in people buying with a space in mind rather than making the space fit the artwork as people spend time adding beauty to their homes. We have also seen a positive trend in buyers wanting to support artists through these challenging times. We have been overwhelmed by the uptake to our Mini Originals range specifically designed to encourage artists to continue creating and provide financial support during the crisis which is a testimony to the wave of kindness and compassion being experienced. With the marked increase in online activity by competitors in the art market, it is paramount for us to continue to provide a strong connection between our artists and buyers which has always been a fundamental principle of our brand. Fostering a strong community between our artists is at the heart of what we do and like many others we have turned to platforms such as Zoom as a way of keeping our artists’ community active and Instagram has played a vital part in reaching our audience. Through our daily interactions with our artists, we have noticed an interesting shift happening in the art being produced under the lockdown as sources of inspiration are confined to inside the artist’s home.” 
  11. Adele Gilani, artist and gallery owner at Adele Gilani Art Gallery says, “artists are switching up mediums from paint to digital art, from canvas to cardboard. Artists are teaching others to create via virtual classes and blogs. Artists are creating smaller more affordable works to sell to strong and weak ties via email rather than counting on social media for sales.  Artists are diversifying their offerings.  Painters are building websites, sculptors are creating logos – skills artists have acquired to promote their own work are now very useful to the general public who are now looking online to build new revenue streams after massive job loss.  Personally, I’m doing graphic design at a special rate, taking on more painting commissions,  building up a new body of work, beefing up my content marketing and planning my eventual gallery re-opening. Post-covid I bet indoor art will become even more sculptural, decorative and kinetic.  Indoor art will add to the texture of a room. The great art will be experience-based.  
  12. Jess Crow, Owner Crow Creek, woodworker and epoxy artist says, “I can attest to the shift. I have gone from discussing client wants and needs with full-scale drawings, product samples, and a very tactile approach to ZOOM meetings and emails only. Art is rarely the same on a computer unless it is digital. My work is done in wood and epoxy, so having to pivot and rely on describing my work to potential clients is much akin to a chef wishing the TV had “smell-o-vision.” 
  13. Brigette Young who represents RAW Artists, Inc. (“the world’s largest independent arts organization”) says, “While events, pop-up market places, tours and live display opportunities have been paused for the foreseeable future, RAW Artists is spearheading a national movement of 100,000+ artists to raise both awareness and funding for the creative community. The National Arts Drive is an online & offline fundraiser and community experience taking place on Saturday, June 6th, 2020. During this 10-city, 3-hour long event, local artists will showcase their art, fashion, music and performances – from windows, balconies, driveways, yards and sidewalks in front of their homes, workspaces, or even a borrowed commercial space. Community supporters are invited to drive or ride down their city blocks and suburban streets to see and hear the artists, performers, musicians and designers living in their community from a safe and healthy distance. The driving experience will be paired with a mobile website that hosts an interactive map which marks the art installation and/or performance location, and allows drivers to donate directly to the artist (touch-free) from a distance. The National Arts Drive will take place in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Los Angeles, New York (Brooklyn), San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C.”
  14. Kevin Caron says, “as an artist who went full-time January 1, 2006 – just as the Great Recession was getting under way – I was prepared and planning for some downtime when COVID-19 hit. To my great surprise and delight, I have been pleasantly surprised at the ongoing if not slightly increased interest in commission and sales.Financially, my March blew past my budget projections, and I sent out an agreement and a proposal for commissions last week. I sold a sculpture to a museum as the pandemic ramped up, and have another patron interested in a sculpture I am just finishing.Perhaps people are looking for comfort, and my sculpture is about beauty, which fits the bill. Or perhaps they are finally getting to projects on their list they finally have time for now. Regardless, even though my galleries are still closed, I am selling and making work because, when the Recession ended, I was very glad I had continued creating sculpture – I had a terrific year when it did.
  15. Artist Dalhai Vela of Sentimental Value says, “I’m an artist, I started selling online in my own website a year ago. But because I was busy attending events and painting I didn’t get to promote my online store. Since all my events got cancelled this summer, I’ve been busy promoting my online store. I’ve contacted old clients to let them know about my online store, I’ve been involved in Facebook groups, And I’m happy to find it’s working because May might be my best month so far. One trend that I’ve noticed is that the clients are very interested in commissioning art, as they are not able to see something in a show or gallery they are still purchasing but by commissioning art they make sure the art will fit their space even without seeing it beforehand. As I mostly make watercolor portraits, that works perfectly. 

 

If you are an artist and see trends in the art world that aren’t noted above, feel free to comment!

17 Experts Share What’s Working For Ecommerce Marketing During Covid-19 

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Ecommerce is experiencing a surge during Covid-19, especially for products like home entertainment (VR, gaming systems, TVs, movie streaming, books, puzzles), musical instruments, specialty foods, etc.. 17 ecommerce experts share what they think is working here in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic: 

 

  1. Chris Kaiser, CEO & Founder of Click A Tree says, “a clear trend is optimizing for voice orders. Allow people to order via Alexa and they’ll happily buy your products while watching TV.When ordering yourself, the trends of visualization and simplicity continue. Offer people product videos, including other humans using the product, and ensure to have as few steps between the product video and the Shopping confirmation page. The simpler, the better – both for consumers and for your conversions.” 
  2. Vinay Amin, Health Expert & CEO at Eu Natural says, “We’re having huge success with videos on our Facebook and Instagram accounts. We use explainer/informational content, testimonial content, and even some just silly, goofball, engagement content. We’re seeing: *engagement in the 2 to 3K region [&] *10+% increase in CTR. It has really boosted our social media following, our conversions, and overall, our bottom line.”
  3. Polly Kay, Senior Marketing Manager at English Blinds says, “Perhaps the hottest current trend in eCommerce marketing is building on customer insights and demographic information and personalization, and using this data and information to enable interactivity and boost engagement.How this looks for any eCommerce store will be very different from case to case, depending on what you sell and who you sell it to. As an example, we’re a manufacturer and D2C retailer of bespoke made luxury window blinds and shades, and to make a sale, we have to be able to give our prospects enough information to be able to imagine the goods they’re buying in use in their home; without being able to show them physically. To enable this, we use a multifaceted approach. We invite prospects to request unlimited numbers of fabric and materials samples all shipped free so that we can get our materials into the prospect’s hands and homes; enabling them not only to see them, but touch them and engage with them and partake in a full sensory experience. We also integrate online design tools that allow shoppers to try out styles and fabrics in their home by uploading images of their windows and using our simple edit tools; this keeps prospects on our site longer and really invests them in their purchase because they’ve put the work in. Once we can get a shopper to the stage of the sales funnel that sees them using our design tool, our drop-out rate falls dramatically; even if shoppers don’t complete their checkout within the same visit, they are significantly more likely to return to do so later on.”
  4. Keeon Yazdani, Chief Marketing Officer at WE R CBD says: “In the wake of coronavirus, many brands are using influencer marketing as a way of delivering relevant messages and creating connections. Brands are collaborating with influencers to market how their brand can provide value right now, and who can benefit from what the brand offers consumers. Brands successfully converting from influencer marketing are those that are able to deliver the right message, and market a product/service that can help people during the Coronavirus pandemic.” 
  5. Slisha Kankariya, CMO at With Clarity, says: “For ecommerce companies, the biggest hurdle is getting customers to interact with your website and generate leads. Otherwise it leads to a lot of browsing and quickly moving on, leading to wasted ad dollars. Treat your B2C customers like B2B leads that have to be nurtured. Make education and establishing trustworthiness a key consideration. Ensure that all doubts about shopping online are addressed and resolved upfront. This ensures that people will follow through and go through the entire sales funnel. In this process, nurture leads with both automated messaging and active features like phone, email and chat follow-ups. Make your presence felt no matter where the customer is at in the sales funnel. Use personalized drip email campaigns, landing pages and chat messaging to ensure that you’re getting the most juice out of every site visit.”
  6. Casey Schow at Nu Skin says, “We believe social selling is hugely important for customer acquisition and will continue to be a valuable part of social e-commerce, so focusing on and improving your company’s social selling strategy is something that is more than worth the investment.” 
  7. Ahmed Mir, Founder of Nature and Bloom says, “SEO is our primary traffic driver. When it comes to SEO conversion tactics, there isn’t anything that beats optimizing for long-tail keywords that have a lower search volume individually but indicate much stronger purchase intent. Targeting these queries is also less competitive, as most people have their blinkers on set to trying to rank for huge queries instead, which require massive domain authority. Overall, while you might get a lower number of clicks with a single long-tail keyword, it is cumulative and compounded effect of targeting 100s if not 1000s of these words. Given they are much easier to crack and rank on page one for, you can track and rank them relatively quickly. Lastly, long-tail keywords are often precise, and people are looking for something specific. As a result, these queries are associated with a much higher conversion rate in general, as people are further down the funnel ready to buy.”
  8. Brett Friedman, Director of Marketing at Marpipe says, “Discounts (x$ off, x value for $y, free shipping, etc.) [are] working even better than usual; In-Image pricing (even non-discounted) is working better than usual too. Videos with actual people, smiling and interacting with the product are working across industries. Showing the product outside its packaging does great, esp. for food and beverage (e.g. granola bars on plate next to opened wrapper or pouring drink into a glass). Pathos (emotional) copy w/ Videos; Ethos (testimonial) copy w/ images. The color black is working especially well right now.”
  9. Denis O’Flynn O’Brien,  Co-founder of LivePitch says, “The biggest new trend that is coming to the US is shopping through live-videos. “Live-commerce” has become a significant channel in the Chinese market with over $4.4B GMV in 2018 and continuing to grow rapidly every year. China has leads mobile ecommerce trends as the entire ecommerce market started on mobile first in China.”
  10. Ewan McCowen, CEO at Kip & Twiggy’s Ltd says, “I believe that the most important e-commerce marketing trend right now is audience building. For years now it has been cheap to rent audiences from the likes of Google and Facebook. But it’s getting more and more expensive. And so e-commerce companies are faced with a choice: seek out and learn to advertise on new (cheaper) platforms or own and grow their own audience. Expect to see more and more ecommerce marketing teams hiring journalists and editors as they start to publish increasingly professional content in order to grow and nurture communities they have more control over.” 
  11. Morgan Taylor, CMO for LetMeBank says, “What works well is having original pictures of the items you are selling, and original descriptions. The viewer has likely seen several sites, so when they see more detail on your site they assume you are a source/authority. Retargeting through Facebook ads can add an easy 20%-50% to your bottom-line. Unlike regular ads, with retargeting you know everyone viewing the ad is 100% interested in the item.”
  12. Caroline Podgurski, one of the owners of BirdRock Baby says, “Our most successful marketing channel right now is e-mail. With so many Americans working from home, customers have never been more accessible by e-mail. Our open rates and click rates are higher than they’ve ever been, and customers seem genuinely happy to hear from us and break the “Groundhog Day” feeling that many of us are experiencing while quarantining.”
  13. Dale Janée, CEO of Savvy Sleepers says, “we’ve adjusted our eCommerce marketing during COVID. We are doing more targeted FB ads, creating discount codes to compete with other brands and we created a ‘Non-Medical’ mask to help clients who may be looking for one and pivot to create more products people are really needing right now. We’ve also specifically collaborated in the past couple weeks with local brands and influencers who we would have never been in contact promoting each other if this hadn’t happened.” 
  14. Chris Chalk, Co-founder of the sustainable products company Jungle Straws says, “we find that Pinterest is the best traffic source for the highest conversions at our e-commerce store, Jungle Straws. We’ve really noticed that great visual content follows through with clicks to our site. We put just as much effort into creating high-quality pins and infographics that offer genuine value to customers as we do at creating attractive products. Once we can capture the essence of our products with visually appealing pins, then, for us, there really is no better source of converting traffic. As Pinterest posts never lose their impressions over time, it almost works as a continuous source of evergreen content. We have found that conversion rates with Pinterest can be as high as 13-15% when a pin is clicked on. By comparison, Instagram content is only shared with a small percentage of your followers.”
  15. Will Craig, Managing Director of LeaseFetcher says, “We have been running Facebook Ads for approximately a year now, but are now in a position where we know what works for our business and what doesn’t. One of the biggest ecommerce marketing trends we have seen within this field relates to the use of engagement custom audiences on video advertisements.A great example of this can be found within our own marketing campaigns, whereby we serve our initial ad to our large target audience, in order to identify engaged individuals who watch more than 75% of the ad. From there, we then retarget these individuals with adverts explaining more about our service in detail, which greatly reduces our wasted ad spend and enhances the likelihood of conversion across the board. With a relatively small budget, this has allowed us to increase conversions by up to 20% and in turn, returning a strong ROI on our overall investment in Facebook Ads as a whole.”
  16. Maddi Salmon, Director of SEO at ReviewHomeWarranties says, “here are few trends in conversion optimization: First-Person Language: In “buy” or “sign up” calls-to-action, we’ve seen ~20% lift in conversion when testing options with first person language, such as “Get My Offer” or “Start My Trial”, as opposed to “Get Your Offer” or “Start Your Trial”. More and more we’ve seen this across the industry as well. Urgency Banners: Especially for products or services that price-conscious consumers are considering, urgency banners can have a strong impact on encouraging users to convert. You’ll see this in the form of a floating banner that tells you how much time is remaining on a certain offer or promotion. Sometimes it’s simply the count of days/hours until the month ends. “Quiz” style forms: This is especially relevant for conversions defined as a quote request or other signup. More and more we’re seeing publishers use forms that initially show just 1 question, then show another, then another, then another, once you submit the last. This is different from the past, when all form questions were shown together on one screen to be submitted together. Having the step-by-step form makes the process seem less daunting (it’s only 1 piece of info to add… then another… then another..), and consequently tends to increase conversion.”
  17. Rizwan Girach, Owner of Chessgammon says, “Certainly at this moment in time with the market we are in, we feel it has never been so important to spend funds on tools to drive your SEO optimally. Certainly with paid said and social media, they all require funds and will only last so long as you keep funding the traffic. However, with SEO it works completely differently. The investment would be going into tools such as Ahrefs, SEM Rush, Surfer SEO, to teach you how to improve the ranking of your website to allow you gain those top spots in search engines to drive traffic to your ecommerce store.” 

 

Thank you to ReviewHomeWarranties, MyTruGreenLawn, House MethodKip & Twiggy’s, and Red Stag Fulfillment for sponsoring the research and production of this article.

25 Professionals From The Field Share Their SEO Tips

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Everyone may remember 2020 as the year when, well you know, but while everything was shut down, many savvy marketers were cranking hard on SEO, because search engine optimization is still a long game, and one that cannot be paused without risk to what you’ve gained. As Google gets smarter and searches shift to voice, SEOs too must adapt. 

 

Below are SEO tips from twenty five savvy business people who are finding success on Google: 

 

  1. Aaron Luther, senior growth manager at AlltimePower® says, “I’ve used many different SEO tactics to increase traffic. The most common strategy is to continually and consistently create good content for your website.” 
  2. Sam White, marketing manager for TruckDriver Academy, aFontana, CA-based truck driving school focuses on site speed, link building, and content creation when it comes to SEO. He says, “content creation is the foundation because your website needs content filled with keywords that are relevant to your business and what your prospective customers are searching.This is a combination of service and product pages as well as blog creation. Blog creation has been a massive part of our improved traffic metrics. Link building and site speed are techniques to separate yourself from competitors.” 
  3. Sam Carr, a marketing manager from PPC Protect, “a SaaS tool that helps clients protect their Google Ads from competitors and fraudulent clicks”, says: “we currently use SEO as our primary marketing strategy to gain visitors and have done since we launched. We now get around 40,000 organic visitors to our website every day mostly from Google search. From my experience of growing our website, long-form content and resources always work well. Any article that is super detailed in the topicand provides lots of actionable tips and resources is sure to rank well on Google.” 
  4. Bryan Clayton CEO of GreenPal, a lawn mowing app says, “ investing in SEO has proven to be an effective channel for our startup to acquire a steady stream of customers to use our product without having to burn capital on paid channels.  Ultimately, a marketplace model like our requires a lot of liquidity to work, and SEO serves as a good user acquisition channel to compliment that.”
  5. Bryn Donovan, a self described “obscure author with a blog says she’s used SEO to achieve 6k daily blog pageviews. What has worked for her is, “big, content-heavy posts. I don’t mind putting hours and hours into one post if I feel like it’s going to be useful for others. Creating more labor-intensive, comprehensive posts has helped my content stand out. 90% of my posts are evergreen content.” 
  6. Sam Williamson, owner of CBDiablo says, “because we’re in a competitive industry, we’ve placed a big focus on longtail keywords – those keywords that have less search volume, but are much easier to rank for. We had to produce a lot more content to gain traction for these keywords, but because our larger competitors had overlooked them we managed to rank for the terms really quickly. I don’t see voice search SEO becoming the norm, because I don’t see voice search catching on. Most people don’t want to say what they’re searching out loud, let’s be honest!”
  7. Paul Vignes, a communication / marketing professional with Trendhim, an e-commerce business in over 28 countries says, “All our websites are localized, and therefore translated, for example: trendhim.es, trendhim.de, trendhim.fr etc. As we sell accessories for men, we target bloggers and newspapers specialized in this domain in the respective countries. Depending on the ranking, we will target specific keywords or just the general homepage. We have different employees speaking natively different languages, which makes it easier to communicate with external people, such as journalists.” Paul also discusses a link bomb attack and how to deal with it: “The site experienced a link bomb attack in 2017 that targeted their Danish site Trendhim.dk. “A picture showing that the word “p–n” was the target anchor for the attack.  Our profile had been massively attacked by more than 8500 links, which made Google believe that our page was p–n. Our solution was: 1) Add all the unwanted links to a reject list: Then send the list to Google through Google Search Console. 2) Ask for a manual review: Write to Google through a contact form and demand a manual review. 3) Contact websites: Contact those responsible for the websites and ask them to remove the links. 4) Reinforce your profile: Boost our positive links by encouraging beneficial links from others. 
  8. Trinity Owen of The Pay At Home Parent, says: “Most importantly, make sure any keyword addition answers the user’s intent for the query. In other words, if a user searches a keyword in Google, research what exactly that user intends to learn. If you don’t meet that specific intent, then the reader will leave the page quickly and Google will let your content fall off of page one of the search results.”
  9. Garrett Ramela, President of Common Sense Coffee Company, LLC says, “Moz is our go-to SEO tool to help make improvements quick and easy. Moz continually analyzes our website and makes recommendations for improvements. They also have tons of learning content which helps us tremendously.” As far as where SEO will go in the future, Ramela says, “We’re making a huge bet on voice. We’re working on adopting voice checkout capabilities right now with Amazon Alexa. There is an increasingly larger trend towards using voice and it’s only a matter of time until users widely adopt voice search. I personally believe voice will be the future for companies, small and large.”
  10. Raphael Munir, co-founder of Grooming HUT, says, “Our keywords are not too competitive in the SEO world, therefore, it is to our advantage. From on-page to off-page SEO and creating quality content. What didn’t work was pushing content solely for the purpose of keywords and ranking purposes. We saw a dip in traffic after doing so and instead focused our attention on putting our quality content. SEO is definitely headed towards voice search and machine learning. It is becoming more question based on search engines focusing on giving users the right information and penalizing those that are putting out spammy information that is misleading.”
  11. Ben McLaughlan of Horizon Unknown says, “understanding searcher intent has never been more important and will continue to shape search engine results. Using SEO to improve website traffic is a long-term strategy, but one that is important to maximize your online reach. As users search for specific questions, structuring header tags and other signals into the form of an answer can increase your chances of a rich snippet selection.”
  12. Melanie DiSalvo, I am the founder of virtue + vice says, “the only thing that has really worked for me is time and patience. It was frustrating for me at first spending days writing blog articles, and not seeing any increased traffic. But, I stuck with it, dedicated myself to writing one article per week, and my rankings slowly started to rise. Now I am on the first page for search terms like deadstock fabric, fabric supplier, and what are textiles.”
  13. Rizwan Girach of Chessgammon, an online traditional board games store, says “we primarily use 3 main tools. Our on page SEO is completed using Surfer SEO to make sure all the meta titles and description are competitive. The next tool we use is indeed Ahrefs to ensure we are climbing the ranking, this allows us to check how much off page SEO is actually required to compete with the top 10 ranking websites. The last tool we use to search for any errors is Sem Rush and a combination of Google Console to clear up any deep or surface level errors.” 
  14. Erin Busbee of Busbee Style says, “I have built a high, multi-six-figure business online and SEO is a key component of that success. SEO fuels the growth of my website,. My website accounts for 70% of my overall revenue. You might say that without SEO, I would not have a business. We use the wonderful plugin called Yoast to help with every aspect of SEO. I also find CoSchedule’s “Headline Analyzer” to be quite helpful when generating post titles.” 
  15. Amber of Faust Island says, “Pitch Contents: I have been experimenting with the skyscraper method by Brian Dean. He explains it dramatically better than I will. But basically you figure out what google queries you would like to rank with, then download the Moz toolbar for Google chrome and analyze the top posts. What is their domain authority, how many links do they have, how many words do the top posts have, etc? Then you make that post so much better with more details, updated information, better photographs, etc.”
  16. Alyssa Min, CEO, co-founder of Seknd says, “We’ve had success targeting long-tail keywords and creating content around them. We use Moz and Google Keyword Planner to understand search volume and ranking difficulty for a keyword or phrase, and then plan our content out accordingly. Ideally, you want to be targeting keywords with adequate search volume and low ranking difficulty.” 
  17. Jennifer Walden, Director of Operations, WikiLawn, an online marketplace that connects people with the best local residential and commercial lawn care companies in 4,000 cities across the U.S. says, “our SEO is primarily through keywords. We do regular keyword research, both long and short tail, and build useful content around those keywords. I stress useful because Google especially will penalize you for keyword stuffing, and it doesn’t achieve results anyway. It’s not possible to get to the top of search results just by cramming in as many keywords as possible.” 
  18. Chad Reid of JotForm says, “we have a great use case in using SEO to increase traffic.  For us, we wanted to delve into content marketing, which is centered entirely around SEO. At the beginning of 2018, our blog was receiving about 10,000 page views a month from organic search. We’d written posts in the past, but the ones that did well organically we really just by accident. Later that year we made a real investment in content. We hired writers, editors, SEO strategists, and an army of freelancers in order to produce more, better content. And today, we’re receiving about 300,000 organic page views per month.” 
  19. Peter Koch, founder of DollarSanity says, “updating and refreshing old content have done wonders for me. I’ve managed to revive several old (dead) posts just by refreshing and republishing them. Apparently, Google is aware that the old content may not be relevant anymore so it pushes that content further down in SERPs.”
  20. Michael Anderson, a marketing specialist for an ecommerce company called GeoJango Maps says, “By optimizing our pages for relevant keywords and receiving back links from authoritative sources, we have been able to increase our organic search rankings, which has led to a substantial increase in overall traffic to our website.”
  21. Kevin Miller, founder and CEO of The Word Counter, a dynamic online tool used for counting words, characters, sentences, paragraphs and pages in real-time, along with spelling and grammar checking says, “At the moment, I am increasing content spend because many others are slowing down. Also, writers have a greater capacity to get new topics completed. It helps me plan out the entire years’ worth of content and get it at a cheaper rate. Additionally, It feels great to give work to people who are really in need right now and allows me to feed money back into the freelance writing economy that can use it. My typical monthly content budget for The Word Counter is $2,000/month and I am doubling it to $4,000/month during this time. We are publishing one new post per day and will continue to do so in perpetuity! This will help to grow our business and then we will layer on affiliate marketing, email marketing and potentially paid Facebook ads and Google Adwords on top of our SEO strategy.”
  22. Hassan Alnassir, founder & owner of Premium Joy, a toy company selling educational foam playthings for children says, “I managed to boost the organic traffic for my articles by simply including a unique infographic (or summary table) at the end of each post. Having just one distinct and beautiful Infographic in your blog post can go a long way in naturally attracting backlinks which helps to improve your SEO rankings and get more traffic from the search engines. To increase the chances that other websites will actually be using your infographic and linking back to your site, it’s a good idea to add an embed code that they can just copy and paste to their page without much effort.”
  23. As far as what’s worked for Kenneth Burke, director of marketing at Text Request he says, “Following the Basics: Structuring website headers, titles, and meta descriptions with target keywords used conversationally. Having copy throughout main pages that uses keywords conversationally (300 words per page, min.). Organizing website navigation clearly. Constant blogging: We follow the Rand Fishkin 10X approach – if you’re going to create content, make sure it’s better than anything else out there on the same topic. We’ve posted great content on average 2x per week.  Industry specific landing pages: We’re a SaaS platform, so instead of local landing pages we go with industry pages. Text messaging for XIndustry, essentially. We also have blog posts on particular industries. Together (along with case studies and other content we create), these show Google that we’re an expert on business texting in these industries, and we often get 2 of the top 3 search listings.
  24. Carol Archebelle, digital media manager at Foundations Wellness Center says, “voice search is a big factor in the future. As of 2017, Apple uses Google to return results for Siri-driven searches. So, it will be important to rank in the three pack locally, because that is what most likely will be served when someone asks for local business that does X, Y and/or Z. Also, with voice search, the big thing is questions. Siri searches are more likely to be phrased as a question. Therefore, you’ll be looking to focus on questions as keywords – as well as providing the best, most complete answers to those questions on your site, all so that you rank highly for the answers to those questions.”
  25. Mason Stout, an SEO specialist for KSL Homes in Salt Lake City says “Our site has hundreds of thousands of pages but we have struggled to get all of our pages indexed by Google and other search engines. Different features of our site are executed by Javascript which makes it extra challenging for search bots to crawl. To help combat this issue we used a pre rendering service to allow search bots to crawl an HTML version of our site. In addition, we created several sitemaps with our most important and useful pages for searchers. These stories, along with others helped improve our year over year organic traffic by over 100% last fall, or an extra 10,000 organic sessions each month for the pages we worked on.”

 

As a disclaimer, the above is what others say works for them, but no one really knows what Google will reward and punish, from moment to moment, so it is best to double check what you learn via various sources, like Search Engine Journal, etc. Feel free to comment to weigh in with your own tips or ask questions.

 

Thank you to PPC Protect and The Word Counter for sponsoring the research and production of this article.

Advertising Consideration During The COVID-19 Pandemic

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Online Advertising Considerations During The COVID-19 Pandemic

While many companies may reflexively shy away from advertising, there are a number of them that looked the pandemic in the eyes and saw an opportunity to adapt and thrive. Granted it takes a certain type of business to pivot in while others are peeling out, and ultimately there are those who see it as a risky move, and some who find alternatives while they wait for the budget to return.

“In a time of change where we are all attempting to adapt to the “new normal,” advertising can be an important way to make sure that a business stays popular, relevant and, above all, still in the forefront,” said Blake Sutton Senior Electrical & Software Engineer at Electrical Knowledge.

Gaming, AI & Other Coronavirus Resistant Industries Are Still Advertising

Gaming is doing better than ever with everyone stuck at home.

Colin Ma, a marketing manager at PC Game Haven said, “I have multiple companies that are still advertising online. For example, with PC Game Haven I am running paid Facebook campaigns on affiliate offers. The gaming industry is doing better than ever with so many people at home. ROAS went from 1.6 to 1.9 in the past month, mostly because of higher conversions and more interest in gaming.

Damien Martin, Marketing executive of Shufti Pro, an AI-based identity verification company, said, “As for the spending on the ads, we’re still doing that as the need for contactless-verifications has risen even higher, but we haven’t increased the budget yet.We experienced a 25% increase in new customers in the past two months, due to online marketing.”

Cater Content To COVID

Ethan King from stuff4GREEKS, a company making custom apparel for college fraternities and sororities, is also still advertising online, saying, “There was an initial drop in sales when U.S. colleges first started closing due to covid-19, but it seems that once people got settled in lockdown, our customers are back shopping online more frequently. ROAS increased slightly, from 4,453% in March, to 4,591% in April. We advertise via Facebook, Instagram, Google, and email. We have not replaced our forms of advertising, but we have altered our content. Our messages are more of a sympathetic, encouraging, motivational tone. We also make a point to let people know that we are still fulfilling orders.

Local Essential Businesses Keep Advertising

Toby Schulz, CEO of Maid2Match, a national cleaning business in Australia, says, “we are still actively advertising and are seeing strong returns. The best example I can give is that we were the largest employer of cleaners in March 2020. This was a result of our advertising efforts. We are still advertising for bond (move out) cleans as these are still taking place in Australia and with a large number of providers no longer able to remain open due to drop off in private house cleans, we have been able to pick up the slack. We are doing this primarily through Google Ads, Facebook Ads.- We have increased our spend on retargeting ads. This is always a must stay for us, however now more so than ever before businesses with websites should be investing in retargeting ads.

100% Ecommerce Companies Keep Advertising, But Look To SEO To Help

Ryan Roller, the Founder of Bead the Change says, “We are an online e-commerce company that is still advertising. So because we’re 100% online, we haven’t been affected like most other companies.Our ROAS for the previous 30 days was around 2x which is down a bit. I know of some other online companies who are currently having their best months during these times. It really just depends on what kind of industry you are in and what’ you’re selling. But because are ROAS are a bit down, we have been focusing our efforts for the next few months on SEO.

Getting An Edge On Competitors That Have Quit Advertising

Jessica Rose, CEO at Copper H2O also runs an e-commerce company which is still advertising online during COVID-19, “While we may be an outlier, we have in fact increased our ad spend and experienced an increased return on investment. We suspect this is a result of a few factors. First, conventional wisdom appears to be that consumers are currently much less inclined to make non-essential purchases. While that may be true to a certain extent, we believe that advertisers who have pulled or greatly reduced their ads have done so excessively. The result is that those who continue to advertise online may well be able to enjoy greater returns given the absence of competitors in the same marketing space. While such a strategy might well not work if all companies continued their marketing efforts (given the drop in consumer demand), there appears to be a window of opportunity for those that are still able and willing.”

Raj Dosanjh, Founder of RentRound . com, a property manager comparison site said, “We are actually increasing our spend on marketing during this turbulent period and it’s proving an amazing return. We have found that a lot of our competitors have cut their spending completely. In addition, property managers & real estate agents have a lot of time on their hands now. As a result they are spending their time on research and how to be better after the pandemic. Our spend is up by 25% and customer conversion has improved by 35%.”

Ad Spend Turned Back On When Supply Lines Restored

Junaid Hassan, owner of Luvo Store specializes in selling beauty products, said that “when news of the virus first hit, we immediately reduced our marketing budget as we did not know when our factories would re-open again and we wanted to make the most out of the stock we had remaining. However, by the start of April we received confirmation that all our factories are operating as normal. Therefore, we started scaling up our advertising again and we are receiving great results. Our CPM is lower than the previous 2 months (likely due to less competition) and our ROAS has increased compared to the previous 2 months as well. ROAS for 2020: January: 5.07 ROASFebruary: 7.01 ROAS March: 7.34 ROAS April (To date): 7.94 ROAS CPM for 2020: January: $6.22February: $7.07March: $7.49April (To Date): $6.32 In April, we have effectively doubled our ad spend whilst achieving a lower CPM and higher ROAS compared to previous months. I believe our results have improved for the following reasons: 1. A lot of companies have reduced their marketing budgets due to COVID-19. This has freed up a lot of ad inventory and thus, reduced ad costs. 2. Our target market (Female, 18-35] are at home and spending significantly more time on social media. 3. Due to government restrictions, our target market has more disposable income to spend online as their other entertainment expenses have been forcibly reduced.”

Tripling Ad Spend During a Slowdown

Some have tripled-down on advertising during COVID. For instance, Derick Mains, President of Phat Scooters has tripled spend on Facebook, SEO, TikTok, Linkedin, online magazines, etc..

“A slowdown is always the time for advertising. Ad prices are down, companies are willing to negotiate and trade and there are more eyeballs now than ever. Particularly in this crisis where people are spending far more time online and looking for ways to amuse and entertain themselves and their family. Our organic and paid traffic are up nearly 400% and we are seeing sales growth during this crisis in certain segments. This is the best time in the last 10 years to get brand visibility and increase brand value. Yes, not all those eyes will convert today as people have a lot on their mind – but staying top of mind and exposing new audiences to our products is planting seeds for the future.”

Less Spend Per Click

Jeff Neal, a Project Manager with Capital Coating Inc. said, “After the state of Pennsylvania shut down non-essential businesses, we ramped up our advertising spend with Google Ads, email marketing, and print media. Our reasoning was now was a great time to push ourselves ahead of the pack, because our competitors were most likely reducing their advertising and marketing spend. As a result, we are spending less per click for our Google Ads campaign, and getting more leads from our email marketing, due to less contractors being top of mind. We are going to come out of this pandemic stronger than when we went into it.”

Calculated Risks

Calloway Cook, President of Illuminate Labs discusses his insights from the paid ad campaigns his company is running in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic:

“As a small business, we have to keep advertising and driving sales to cover our overhead. We’ve seen a decreased ROAS since COVID-19, presumably because we’re priced at the high end of the market.

There is definitely a risk in running PPC campaigns given the economic and social climate. Potential consumers are liable to be turned off by aggressive salesmanship during a global health crisis. For this reason, the messaging and tone is especially important. We’ve been trying to feature engaging content that’s less on-the-nose in our paid ads, like our animated explainer video, as opposed to just a product image with a price tag.”

Alternatives To Paid Advertising In A Pandemic – Youtube, Running Sales & Product Pivots

Matthew Ross, Co-founder and COO of The Slumber Yard, a 12 person company with $5 million in revenue, said, “we’ve completely stopped advertising online.” As an alternative, they “started creating video in-house in order to drive traffic to our website organically”, with an organic Google / Youtube SEO ranking strategy, which has already paid off at 1.6 million views.

Brandon Chopp, Digital Manager for iHeartRaves a festival fashion company. grossing around $30M annually coordinated quotes from his CEO, Brian Lim that illustrates a need to pivot to other products and run sales to adapt to COVID:

“We are in a very challenging position because we sell fashion items to attendees of music festivals. These events are being canceled or postponed all around the country and even throughout the world as the Coronavirus spreads.” Even though they expected a recession, the severity of COVID related economic damage could not have been foreseen.

Product Adaptations & Advertising Considerations

Angela Hope, a Content & Digital PR Specialist at UpFlip, notes that “in these times of uncertainty, it’s difficult to look at our marketing and advertising budgets with this new normal in mind. However, almost everyone has found it imperative to pivot to one degree or another.”

To adapt, Chopp says, “We are shifting our marketing from mostly festival clothing to focus now on other uses of our clothing such as lingerie or loungewear. Right now, we are running aggressive sales and free shipping promotions to encourage purchasing in an effort to recoup some of the lost revenue. There is no possible way to not lose revenue but we are trying to maximize sales given the underlying conditions. We are being more conservative in every area of our business. For example, we are not taking risks on new products and we are ordering a bit less than usual. Also, we have scaled back our ads budget in order to reach a higher ROI. Before the virus, we were very aggressive with paid ads because we could rely on our lifetime value numbers. For example, we had increased our budgets by 50% for new customer ads and got an ROI of 2:1.. Now we have cut back by 50% and are going for an ROI of 3:1.”

Marching Into A New COVID-19 Normal

In summary, it pays to adapt to the new COVID-19 normal, which could be with us for a long time, whether that is adjusting ad spend, mixing it with more email or stronger SEO strategies, or switching up products altogether.

 

Thank you to Bead the Change, Capital CoatingMaid2Match, and  CopperH2O.com for sponsoring the research and production of this article.

Voice Search Optimization – 2020 Fortune 500 Trend

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It takes a few years after everyone says something is coming, before it really comes. 2020 is the year when voice search optimization is finally more than a trending concept. For example, digital marketing leaders like Jonathan Poston are implementing voice search optimization campaigns for large clients, as you can note in his LinkedIn post on voice seo here.

 

In that post, a few voice search stats were noted from a backlinko research piece: Nearly 50% of U.S. adults use voice search, more than that for teens. 20% of Google mobile queries are voice search. 25% of all Windows 10 desktop searches are done via voice. 

 

In 2020, corporations are acting on what Niraj Dawar noted in his article, Marketing In the Age of Alexa that was published back in 2018 in the Harvard Business Review. That article noted that, “AI assistants will transform how companies connect with their customers. They’ll become the primary channel through which people get information, goods, and services, and marketing will turn into a battle for their attention.”

 

This shift in people finding what they need by voice search has created massive innovations in software development, NLP, etc. , but because voice search requires queries, search optimization comes heavily into play in terms of what exact phrases are used. In some ways voice search optimization is driving what the voice query phrase database is going to be, and over time, voice seo research continues adding in new keyword queries as awareness builds and the queries become more nuanced and long tail. 

 

For example, a familiar keyword command for local voice search might be, “what is the best place for a burrito near me.” Then next command may be a “take me there” instruction to a maps app. 

 

While early adopters that can move fast, like start-ups, have already began implementing best practices for voice search, large corporations are just now getting around to really optimizing their websites for voice search. Here is a link to voice search optimization best practices for Fortune 500 companies to keep in mind. 

 

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