01. February 2017 · Comments Off on White Hats, Pink Hats, Black Hats… and the White House · Categories: Blogging, Digital Marketing, Mountain Woods Media, SEO, Social Media Consulting · Tags: , , , , , ,

White Hats, Pink Hats, Black Hats and the White House

Many of us in tech tend to be introverts.  We are passionately engaged with our clients. We feel  and experience deeply but you would never know it as we are reticent to speak up, or cause controversy in order to avoid a drop in web traffic, fewer consulting gigs, or trolls from high school taking issue with a mildly progressive meme involving the color pink.  When Googlers this week finally started “marching” in support of immigrant colleagues, this made me smile and also remembering fondly an SEO conference from several years ago.  The SES event we attended involved a meet and greet icebreaker  which involved identifying your firm as to whether it was “white hat” or “black hat”.   “White hat” meant you used technical skills that were above board, slightly less aggressive in order to earn higher rankings but none which would trouble the search giants such as Google, Bing, Duck Duck Go or Facebook.  “Black hat” meant you were not above being scrappy and slightly nefarious by using keywords hidden in white fonts, misdirected pages, buying followers, or other questionable tech tactics.  We were provided real cowboy hats during the event and instructed to both wear them and mingle.  Surprisingly, it was a 50/50 color spectrum.

But when you have always leaned “white hat” and have turned down more gigs than you have accepted due to questionable client ethics, there comes a point when you need to actually wear your sheriff’s badge and come clean.

In the early 90’s I both interviewed and processed grants for disaster victims, for women at risk who had been violated and burned with cigarettes in the trafficking industry, human rights activists in foreign jails housed in horrendous conditions,  and health professionals who had their hospitals and lifesaving equipment bombed by political factions.  Later, as a case manager and small business developer, I went on to help refugees impacted by similar events try to build small family microbusinesses in order to escape tough working conditions from jobs they had to accept once they had been admitted to the US.  Many of these tiny businesses made it.  Some did not.  I was new to understanding the impact of PTSD on many of my clients and looking back wondered if stronger mental health support would have allowed more of these families to thrive.   One client had been chased by gangs with knives through the jungles of Togo.  He was heartbroken to be separated from his wife.  A large man with a broad smile, he came to my office and cried when he was placed in a job with a meat packing plant.  Idealistic, but inexperienced, it took me several years to understand that the knives in the meat packing plant were probably not helping him recover from his experience of being hunted in the jungles of Togo.

So…as I saw people unjustly detained and then finally “making it” through the gauntlet at so many airports in these United States this weekend to cheering crowds, I was haunted by the man with the broad smile.  He never had a crowd to greet him, just me.  And this is how we continue to work.  If we can cheer for your success (and the standards are high) then you qualify for a sheriff’s badge with our “white hat” team.

For someone who has yet to make our “white hat” list, it was indeed surprising that instead of doing a breaking news event on regular television networks, 45 opted last night to switch to Facebook Live.  Maybe he was hoping for a sea of pink hearts rather than angry smiley faces in order to give him his needed mandate.  We are hoping that he received what he needed.   So many do not.

Mountain Woods Media, LLC is both a white hat and progressive firm and will forever remain so.  Pick your hat, giddy up, get out there, design a cool sign, and in the face of injustice, do say something.

~  Leigh M. Drake, President, Mountain Woods Media, LLC

29. September 2016 · Comments Off on Getting Your E-Commerce Road to Riches in Order for Q4 · Categories: E-Commerce, SEO, Social Media Consulting · Tags: , , , , ,

Plan For Q4 Now!Road-to-Riches-4th-QT-ECommerce

It’s hard to believe how fast the 2016 has flown by. Now, in just a few days, we’ll be heading into the fourth quarter which is, by far, the busiest time of the year for e-commerce and online retailers.

Are you Q4 ready?

Here are some tips to help you plan and prepare for what could be your business’ best fourth quarter yet.

  • Today (as in right now) – Set your sales goals and work backwards on how you’ll reach them. This includes timely inventory purchases; packing and shipping supplies; marketing budget and strategy; hiring part-time help, etc. Don’t delay on getting started.
  • Every day – Continue to stay active within your social media networks including Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Even if you’re busy filling and shipping orders, your customers (and potential customers) want to see continued updates and product photos. If you’re offering gift wrapping services this year, offer photos, tips and ideas.
  • Monday, October 31 – Halloween is the second largest holiday in retail and e-commerce sales. This is a great holiday to kick-start your Q4 sales. Don’t wait too late into the month to jump in on the action.
  • Wednesday, November 23 – The day before “Blue Thursday” and two days before “Black Friday.” Get ready!
  • Thursday, November 24 – Thanksgiving, also known as “Blue Thursday” as many retail stores are open for business. If you’re getting together with family and friends today, make sure you keep an eye on your e-commerce sites and answer customer e-mails ASAP. If you’re serious about your business, this is truly not a day to overeat and watch football.
  • Friday, November 25 – Black Friday. You should be filling orders and getting them shipped to customers that day. Do not rest on our laurels. Don’t procrastinate to Monday. You should be open for business!
  • You should also be aware that post offices and other federal, state and local offices are closed on Monday, October 10 (Columbus Day) and Friday, November 11 (Veterans Day). Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Plan accordingly for possible shipping and delivery interruptions.
  • Keep tabs on upcoming important cut-off shipping dates when announced by the United States Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, etc. Be aware of any extra shipping charges you may have to incur if you plan to ship to customers wanting an item at the last minute (and in time for Christmas).
  • Oh, by the way, Christmas Eve is Saturday, December 24 and Christmas Day is Sunday, December 25.

Don’t delay. Get ready and make your Fourth Quarter plans today!

 

08. June 2015 · Comments Off on SEO Strategies Need To Be In Place Before An Online Reputation Crisis Strikes · Categories: ORM, SEO · Tags: , , , ,
online reputation

In this file photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, fire boat response crews spray water on the burning BP Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig. A 2010 explosion at the platform killed 11 men, and the subsequent leak released an estimated 172 million gallons of petroleum into the gulf. (U.S. Coast Guard via AP, File) The deadline for filing “E&PD” claims in this settlement is today, June 8, 2015.

Most of us are aware the importance of SEO for companies trying to manage online discussions during a crisis.

However, marketers often take the wrong approach by waiting until after the crisis to manage their SEO and online reputation. Take British Petroleum (BP), for example. By the time they implemented a strategy, they had lost control of the conversations and the image of their brand online.

Steve Marino, the man who first took on the task of running BP’s social-media efforts during the BP oil spill says the key is for companies to be prepared and have a strong SEO effort already in progress.

Marino says with a good strategy in place, you’ll already have good results coming up when a crisis hits. Although BP’s efforts played out fairly well, they could have been better had they been prepared with keywords like “oil-spill.”

How do you put an online reputation campaign in place before a crisis?

Marketers need to anticipate potential crises and have some negative keywords in mind to buy against. With negative keywords in place, you can insure positive results come up when those keywords are searched. If you already have an SEO plan in place, you can continue to publish positive content.

Just like there is no magic recipe for instantly obtaining a website the No. 1 position in Google, there is no recipe for instantly getting rid of negative search results.

Despite what some SEO firms may claim, they have no way of “guaranteeing” your negative results will be diminished in a mere month.

The best thing to do it have a strong SEO strategy already in place, one that constantly generates positive content on a few keywords. One of the most important factors is that you are consistent with this strategy, or it will do little good when a crisis occurs.

Although having an SEO strategy in place is important, marketers also need to be actively generating content in order to be successful. For the content to be beneficial, it should cover three to four specific areas of your company. That way, if a crisis occurs, you can disperse the content and drive people to the messages that will calm their concerns. Then you can launch an SEO campaign around the key terms of the crisis.

SEO needs to be at the top of the list for marketers when assessing a crisis situation, however, it’s important not to be overly aggressive. Marketers must appropriately calibrate their SEO response, so that the SEO campaign doesn’t become the story.