Author Archives: Scott Carter

The Press Release Is Dead

Funny press release

A generic, fake press release.

Good riddance.

Nothing is more tedious than reading about a company via their own public relations department. Not only does it lack objectivity but it usually lacks spunk. The most difficult content I write is for my own company because self-promotion is not my thing, so I tend to stick to the details and try to keep things light.

Still, we have to tell people about our companies, don’t we? As much as we’d like to think that our super fantastic product or service will go viral and the calls with come flying in, that rarely happens. Companies need to take a three pronged approach to the problem:

1) Write informative, engaging blog posts telling people about your news or products. 

Highlight what makes your company different. Keep in mind that almost no one has a product that someone else isn’t selling, so highlight what makes yours better and avoid using jargon that people outside of your industry won’t understand. Know your audience; do market research, don’t assume anything, and then write smarter content.

2) Properly share the news with your audience.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen a blog post that has never been shared with a company’s social media audience. It’s baffling, but people just forget to post their content. Not only should you always post your articles directly to all of your social media properties, but be sure to take advantage of features like featured images, page descriptions, and hashtags. Every platform handles them a little differently so spend some time familiarizing yourself before posting anything important.

3) Post on a regular basis, and at the right times.

That’s not to say that you should post just for the sake of posting, but companies who engage with their audiences frequently have better results. While it’s difficult to say how often you should post, it is easier to determine what is the right time to post for your company. Look at your analytics to see when users are most engaged with your website and social media profiles, and plan around those times. Be sure to know the best and worst times to post to social media in general, as well.

What a man - Press releaseIf you write engaging content and share it you’ll eventually get results, but don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen right away. Remember, social media sites only show your posts to a small percentage of your followers. Don’t waste your time using PR distribution services that no one visits and whose claims of SEO benefits are hopeful at best. Just keep writing, posting, and encouraging engagement. Don’t be afraid to re-post your content in relevant groups or pages if they allow that sort of thing. If your content is good, people will overlook your shameless self-promotion and eventually your audience will promote your content for you!

Is Your Site Ready For Google’s Mobile-friendly Labels?

Google's mobile-friendly tagEarlier this week Google announced the launch of mobile-friendly labels in their search results. The new label will give users a quick visual indication of whether or not a website has an optimized mobile experience.

Perhaps just as important as the label itself is what Google briefly mentioned in their official blog post:

We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience. We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.

This “first step” is an important one as mobile web usage continues to climb. Depending on how much weight Google gives to websites that are optimized for mobile we could soon see big changes in ranking for those websites that are. A responsive website design is a great way to make sure that you’re ready for the new label and gain an edge on your competition in the mobile search results. Back in June 2013 Google let us know that they were penalizing sites with bad mobile design, but the mobile-friendly labels are the first clear indicator that they are rewarding the good ones. Here are the criteria Google specified for the mobile-friendly designation:

  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

Our website is already labeled mobile-friendly. Is yours? Let us help.

Be More Mobile Friendly With a ShiftNav Pro Menu

After a few years of developing responsive websites one thing we’ve come to realize is that most mobile menus are terrible. They are clunky, slow to respond and require pinpoint precision to activate. Aesthetically they leave a lot to be desired and often times mobile menus are exactly the same as their desktop brethren, which is rarely ideal.

We wanted a better solution for our clients. A mobile menu should be quick, clean and make great use of the limited screen real estate allotted to phones. They should stay out of the way so the content remains the focus, yet be easy to access when needed.

ShiftNav ProAfter quite a bit of searching and testing we settled on ShiftNav; a WordPress plugin that adds an off-canvas menu which met all of our requirements. It’s sleek, lightweight and because it’s off-canvas it stays out of the way until needed. Developed by Sevenspark, the same company that makes the excellent UberMenu plugin, the plugin comes in free and Pro versions. We use the latter version for all of our clients because it offers advanced content like logos, icons and better sub-menu handling.

Off-canvas means that the menu is loaded each time the page loads but it isn’t displayed until it’s toggled. The menu sits off to the left or right of the screen and slides in when activated. Users can swipe to remove it or simply touch the menu or content area. It’s the same sort of technology that major websites like NPR and Mashable use, but we think ShiftNav may even have them beat.

With the advanced settings that ShiftNav Pro offers you can tailor the menu to the needs of your audience. It’s a great fit for anyone looking to improve the mobile experience on their WordPress powered website. Want to see it in action? We’re running it on our website right now – just pull us up on your phone.

Need some help implementing ShiftNav? Reach out and let’s get started!

In SEO, the Name of The Game is Content Marketing

In the search engine optimization (SEO) game, content is king.

Google's indexing algorithms regularly rank content rich sites and pages higher than those with greater traffic scores.  Social network sharing statistics prove that a well written, unique article will gain more traction among consumers and be shared more often. Content marketing is the use of high quality, targeted content to reach your audience in a way the engages them and encourages them to complete a call to action.

When thinking about your own website or blog, consider this; would you read it if you were the audience? If the answer is anything but "of course I would", then you're probably not reaching your customers. Your content should be well researched, well written and targeted. Making generic statements or re-using the same keyword phrases that your competition does isn't going to cut it anymore. Think about writing a series of articles to keep visitors coming back for more and give them something to look forward to at the end of each article. In order to stand out you have to, well, stand out.

Read more ...

Going Google

The future of technology lies in the cloud. There is no doubt about that, so we’re a little stunned when clients ask us to price expensive new servers for them. You can have a lot more functionality at a fraction of the cost by adopting Google Apps for Business to host your E-mail, calendars, videos, documents and files.

Let United Networks help you migrate your existing systems to Google. We can make the transitition easy, and even move over your existing E-Mail, calendars and more from Outlook and other programs. We’ll minimize downtime and handle everything for you, so all you have to do is learn the new products – which are amazingly easy to use – and adopt the new functionality that will save you time and money.

Contact us today to learn more about migrating to Google Apps for Business.

Some of Our Clients

App-a-Cab
Forbidden Island
Rush Passport Center

Testimonials

  • We are extremely pleased with the work United Networks did designing our new App-a-Cab website. They were easy to work with and understood what we wanted, worked quickly, and also recommended many elements of design we would have never thought of. United Networks understands digital platforms and was able to create a modern, sleek new website for our constantly changing market. I would recommend United Networks to any company looking to enhance their digital footprint and showcase their brand. Frank Azzalina - Director Business Development, Hampton Roads Transportation, Inc.

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