Posted on July 17, 2019 by
Whether you’re a digital native or internet-illiterate, there are social media tools you can use to help you promote your business online and engage with your audience.
The truth is social media isn’t going anywhere. While social media use in the States may not be growing at the same rates as in the past, social media continues to play an important (and time-consuming) role in most adults’ daily lives. A 2019 study by Pew Research showed 69% of adults in the US used Facebook. Nearly three-fourths of Facebook users said they visit the site every day and half said they check the site multiple times a day. Meanwhile, Instagram use is up 2% from last year.
People are spending more and more time online: A 2017 Global Web Index study showed people spend 2 hours and 15 minutes a day online, and 33% of their daily time online on social media. There’s simply no question about it: if you want to reach people, your business needs an engaging social media presence.
Here are some of the best social media apps we use at Roaring Pajamas:
We use the free portion on the When to Post app to find the three best times of a given day to post for an account. You can add several Instagram accounts to the free portion of the app and easily switch back and forth between them. When to Post offers a paid version with other metrics, but we don’t recommend it because you can get what they provide for free in Instagram’s native Insights.
Other “best time to post” (BTTP) programs and apps (like Later or Grum) are tailored to your page in other paid tools, but we find this one works the best!
Instagram is a visual social media platform. Accordingly, your posts must be visually compelling. While some choose to keep it simple and post photos with no edits or with edits using the native in-app editing options, we like to use third-party social media tools for photo editing to make our posts even better.
VSCO in particular is a favorite to help us maintain a natural “unfiltered” look for our clients’ photos.
You can edit everything from exposure to saturation to white balance from within the app. They also offer hundreds of presets – some free and some for purchase – you can use for a subtle effect.
Either way, we recommend editing all your photos in a similar style to match your brand and keep your Instagram feed consistent.
The app is free with in-app purchases.
Of all the social media tools, Hootsuite is one of the most comprehensive. Hootsuite is an all-in-one social media scheduling tool we’ve been using for ages. You can plan and schedule posts to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. You can schedule posts for when your audience is online, even if it’s not the same time you’re online.
There’s also reporting/analysis built in so you can see what content is resonating with your audience and helping you reach your digital marketing goals.
Hootsuite offers a 30-day free trial and plans from $19 and up thereafter.
Dropbox is a secure data storage tool that’s great for sharing and editing large files amongst teams. Your files are kept in the cloud so instead of emailing different versions of documents or projects, everyone on your team always has access to the most recent version.
Dropbox is great for storing large files like images for social media use.
Plans start at $8.25/month for 1TB. They offer plans for individuals and plans for teams. You can try some plans for free.
Tailwind is a tool for scheduling Pinterest pins. This app provides a lot of features including scheduling other accounts’ pins, looping your own pins, and checking analytics to see what’s working and what’s not. Tailwind also offers Instagram scheduling. They own the When To Post app mentioned above. Since we use Hootsuite, we haven’t found a need for another app for Pinterest scheduling. However, some prefer Tailwind over Hootsuite for this task.
They offer a free trial and paid plans after the trial expires.
Canva offers graphic design for people who don’t want to use expensive graphic design software. Here at Roaring Pajamas, we own PhotoShop, but it’s a lot of work and we can quickly create a social media graphic in Canva instead.
You can create anything from Pinterest pins to infographics. Canva offers tons of different images, fonts, colors, icons, shapes and more for you to use. They even have slick design templates made by real graphic artists you can use for your projects.
All your projects are stored inside Canva so anyone with access to the account can view and edit them.
Canva offers a free version with paid upgrades.
These tools are what we consider some of the best social media tools and apps around for making sure you create and post excellent and engaging content. For more about social media, learn how to use a social media editorial calendar to organize your posts across platforms in our post here.
Need help? Contact us if you’re looking for help strategizing and managing your business’s social media presence.
Posted on March 10, 2019 by
For all its power, Google is still a machine and doesn’t know what it’s reading unless you properly identify your content. The Hreflang tag tells Google the language of a page on your site and the country the page serves. This tag ensures different pages on your site end up in front of the right people.
Pronounced “h-ref-lang”, hreflang is an HTML tag used in the backend HTML of your website that tells Google all of the language and/or country variants of a given url on the site. You may translate the same set of pages into different languages for different audiences and you want to identify the language for each version of a webpage.
Perhaps you ship products to many parts of the world – someone in Sweden doesn’t want to see information about costs and shipping to the United States. With this tag, you can tell Google which url contains Swedish content and provides information and costs for shipping to Sweden.
The hreflang tag also prevents Google from assuming you’re making duplicate content; pages for the UK and US are similar content-wise since they are both in English, but they serve different countries. This tag helps Google know you aren’t duplicating content but in fact making slightly different content for each place.
Like other HTML tags, hreflang can be easy to get wrong if you flub the syntax. Luckily, there are tools online to help you.
The first thing to know is there are three places you can put the code, and where you choose to put it determines how you write the code. The three locations are in the:
If you choose to add this to the HTML code in the <head> you will want to add all of the language variants including itself in the tags. (see Google article)
The first part of the code specifies the url and the second part specifies the language and/or country. For example, the code might look like this:
<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.example.com” hreflang=”en-us”/>
Here you are specifying the url https://www.example.com is in American English (en-us).
You can differentiate between the same language spoken in a different country, e.g. Spanish from Spain and Spanish from Mexico. In hreflang, this might look like
<link rel=”alternate” href=”https:/www./example.com/es” hreflang=”es-es”/>
<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.example.com/mx” hreflang=”es-mx”/>
The first url is in Spanish from Spain and the second is in Spanish from Mexico.
A user’s current location and language settings determine what they see when they search in Google. If someone’s IP address gives the impression they are in a country in which a certain language is spoken, they are more likely to get results in that language.
If all this sounds a bit too technical, fear not: there are tools you can use to generate hreflang code. There are also great companies out there like Webcertain who are experts at international SEO and can help you if it’s all a little too much.
Let’s take a look at a site using hreflang effectively. When I query ‘Zara’, Google brings up the US English version of their site because my default Google search settings are for American English:
If I change my Google search settings to the country of France and language to ‘French’, I get the following result for the same query (‘Zara’):
Using hreflang doesn’t necessarily help with ranking, but it ensures the right page gets served to the right people. This reduces your bounce rate because people are finding the page they want (and can read!) and aren’t clicking away quickly. A lower bounce rate is better for your site’s SEO.
At the end of the day, both you and Google have the same goal: you both want people to find the best possible landing page for a given keyword search (your page of course!). Knowing how to use hreflang in your HTML markup is an excellent step to get you there.
Posted on February 27, 2019 by
As an SEO agency, we are often asked about the use of meta keywords. Search engines and their algorithms change on a continual basis. Since our clients understand that search engine algorithms and search engine optimization rules change over time, they often pose the question, “Should I use meta keywords?”
This blog is here to answer that often-argued question. To begin, let’s confirm exactly what the term means. Meta keywords are the strategically chosen phrases that are placed into the HTML of a web page and are used to help inform a search engine of the given topic of a web page.
The meta keywords are not visible in the text on a web page but reside in the HTML code. These keywords are placed behind the scenes, such as through a WordPress plugin, like Yoast.. Well, it used to be available in Yoast. You’ll learn momentarily if that’s still true today.
The history of meta keywords helps reveal how you should address your own SEO and digital marketing now.
Early on, search engines did not restrict the number of keywords allowed in the meta keywords tag. However, at some point, Google and other search engines noticed users were “keyword stuffing” into this meta tag. In other words, some marketers were cramming a high volume of meta keywords into the back end of their web pages. This action was seen as “spammy.” Google took action and created a limit that has been reduced over time. Today, Google suggests allowing only a maximum of 2 – 3 meta keywords for each web page.
Around 2011, Google made an announcement via a Youtube Video that Google was not using meta keywords as a ranking factor. This change kicked off other platforms’ changes. There was a popular WordPress plugin by Yoast for example that, mentioned before, infused the meta keywords into that given page or post. Recently, the Yoast plugin on WordPress eliminated the field for adding keywords to the meta keywords tag. These actions have led many marketers and companies to ask if meta keywords, in turn, have any benefits.¹
We still recommend using meta keywords because although they are not acknowledged by Google or Bing, remember there are other search engines. While Google may make up a majority of the market, other search engines, especially internationally, still exist and they should be considered if the target audience for a website requires these other search engines. Examples of these other search engines include Baidu (a China-based search engine), Yandex and Naver.
Each of these search engines uses meta keywords differently.
When asking yourself, “Should I use meta keywords?”, consider that these other search engines could be using them and, if you opt out of implementing the meta keywords, you could be missing important opportunities to rank, increase organic traffic and convert visitors to customers.
For example, a project manager at Bing, Duane Forrester, shared that “meta keywords is a signal. One of roughly a thousand we analyze. Getting the use of meta keywords right is a nice perk for us, but won’t rock your world. Abusing meta keywords can hurt you.”
In other words, meta keywords, when used properly and in a safe proportion, can help your ranking.
To be safe rather than sorry, we recommend to all our clients that they use meta keywords. There is no need to be worried about your Google ranking, either. In a Search Engine Round Table with Gary Illyes of Google, he shared that Google does not see the use of meta keywords as spam so it will not penalize a site for using this tag.