Local eateries need SEO to stay prime

After recently moving to a rural area with a limited amount of restaurant and takeout options, I found it disconcerting that local eateries were all but invisible on the web. Appreciating the opportunity to check out restaurants before driving 20 minutes to get to one, and also wanting the option to pickup takeout on my way home, living just outside a town of 2,048 people has its drawbacks in this regard. Having tried most of the restaurants within a 30 mile radius, I have been pleasantly surprised by most; however, with apps like Urban Spoon and Yelp reinventing the restaurant web search, I often wonder how local will keep up.

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As restaurants are some of the most-searched types of businesses in local, where menus are almost always a major piece of content, which consumers are expecting to find, search engines treat them specially for purposes of rankings. Chris Silver Smith writes about the advantages of SEO for local and states that “for the few restaurant sites out there, which do not have menus available, they are missing what may be the most basic table-stakes (so to speak) necessary for ranking well in local search.”

Silver Smith gives some advice to local businesses that will help them compete with chain restaurants with reviewer ratings going back several years; making sure people ocntinue to drive “out of the way” for a great meal that can’t be found in a city center or a franchise with these simple tips:

  • Link to the menu from the homepage
  • Avoid Flash-only menus
  • Display prices
  • Avoid scanned-image menus
  • List daily specials on your menu
    BONUS tip: Distribute your via services such as Dotmenu

    Developing a web presence that focuses less on visual appeal and more on being certaing to be “spidered by search engines”, and this limits their effectiveness will give local restaurants renewed opportunity, while expanding their visibility, for the foodies who are trying to find them.

Dancy Pony Dance, the viral video commercial for mobile provider ThreeUK has been called a “perfect example of how to run a viral marketing campaign.” Developed by Wieden + Kennedy (the same agency that has developed creative campaigns for Old Spice, Nike, and Oreo, among others), Dance Pony Dance received over two million hits in its first week on YouTube and currently sits just under nine million views. Through viral marketing and buzz building, this campaign’s first success was in developing a video that was interesting and funny. Image

As a side note, I have watched this commercial many times over the past few months and still can’t help smiling. While left field and not directly to relating to technology, the agency effectively used a play on emotions with “Socks,” the little moonwalking pony while hitting on Internet memes and popular culture for members of one subculture and tactfully incorporating a hit Fleetwood Mac song to resonate with members of another subculture.

To promote on social networks and via online word of mouth, Wieden + Kennedy used a consistent hash-tag #DancePonyDance to create international buzz about a small UK-based mobile provider. By embedding the video directly into their tweets, W + K also made the video much easier to share. The agency also worked with a division of Salesforce Marketing to purchase paid social ads that boosted engagement to over 31 million impressions on Facebook and 4.3 million impressions on Twitter, as of March 2013.

Image

By increasing the likelihood (and ease) of sharing capabilities, W + K’s tactics developed into full blown organic virility as word-of-mouth spread among friends across social networks. To keep the buzz growing, ThreeUK and W + K worked together in developing customizable Dance Pony Dance videos, e-cards, and a special holiday edition of the video. However, even before all of the buzz building and social tactics that boosted ThreeUK’s commercial to enviable viral status, the content had to resonate with consumers. And the oddball video seems to have done just that by showing that the “network understand the ‘silly stuff that matters‘ its customers like” as it is the silly stuff that connects us together.

#DancePonyDance – effective buzz building and viral marketing

Improving website usability – part duex (navigation)

The other day, I summarized a nice article from Website Magazine offering tips for developing clear content and improving readability on your website. Today we will review a second tactic to make your website more user-friendly: improving navigation.

A key point to remember when designing a beautifully detailed, colorful, and image heavy website that requires Adobe Flash to load is that it is not going to work. Effective navigation means simplified navigation. Adding drop shadows in Fireworks or Photoshop is fun (and look it’s 3D!) but users will thank you more for 2D when they reach your website with clear components and clutter-free navigation. Confusing layouts are one of the primary reasons why a website loses customers.

Clutter2-1024x632
<—-BAD

 

 

 

 

 

 

Try to also limit the number of menu items as much as possible. When you’re exploring and segmenting your content, keep in mind that less is more. As an example, the next time you want to try a new salad dressing and make your way to that aisle in the grocery store, notice the number of options you have. Wouldn’t you just prefer four or five — a half dozen at most — organized by overarching flavor or recipe? Does anyone really need Hawaian basil pecan red wine vinaigrette?   My point is, try not to over complicate things and configure navigation equally on each page. This will greatly facilitate browsing the site and enable your visitors to easily spot their options. The best place to locate your navigation is at the top or left-hand side of your website.

 

4-long-side-navigation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use of a site map is a great asset not only in terms of search engines but also for helping users find specific pages. Similarly, adding a search bar for internal searching will assist visitors looking for something specific and help you cope with all of your content. Giving them a better orientation in the content, makes your website friendlier in the eyes of prospects.

These are our friends:

index
sitemap-creately

 

 

 

 

 

One more tip before you go: Avoid odd acronyms, industry jargon, and navigation titles in the menu unless their meaning is obvious.

 

2653689390_79c1e1ec9e_o

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your website should appeal to the well-versed in your industry as well as the newbies. Otherwise you risk confusing customers and spoiling their experience on your website. Applying the common words like “home, about, contact us, offers, blog, support”, helps users effortlessly dip into the content of each page.

 

Improving website usability – part one

As website visitors often form first impressions of web pages in less than a second (PI Reed, 2014) and online e-commerce sales are expected to grow from 7% to  9% of all retail sales by 2016, according to Forrester,  improving the usability of your website is now more important than ever. Below are a few simple tips to make your website content more user-friendly and readable to those who matter – your visitors.

Make content easy to scan –The average Internet user simply skims through the content instead of reading it all. Keep paragraphs to a minimum in length. Formatting text in columns similarly to the newspaper style is a good way to make the text easier to scan. Like The New Yorker’s website:

Image

Correctly using headings, sub-headings, paragraphs, bullets or lists help to break up text, making it easy for readers to go through the key parts of the page and quickly discover what they need, is another important component. Here is an example of what not to do:

Image

Breaking content with images also helps visitors digest it faster. Long passages of unbroken text are less likely to be read than small chunks of text.

Contrasting color scheme – Finding the right contrast between the background of your website and the content is one of the basic, yet most important tasks to do. Lack of contrast, makes content complicate to read. Make sure that you pick up the best color scheme so content stays highly visible. Pay special attention to colors on black backgrounds since they can complicate text readability as well.

Image

White space is always a good idea – White space is helpful for highlighting elements and making them more prominent. Giving content some room to breathe out of the crowded visual design, white spacing also keeps users’ minds focused on the essentials. According to the latest Web design trends, leaving plenty of white spots is not extravagant but vital to make design clean and less cluttered.
Image

Readable font – Although elaborate styles may appear more enticing, using more recognizable and easy-to-read fonts is a better decision. Keep in mind that San serif fonts are most widely accepted to work best for online design while serif fonts are most appropriate for print design.

 Serif font
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Sans Serif font
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Sans Serif fonts do not have the small projecting features called “serifs” at the end of strokes. Serif fonts do.

Also using too many different fonts in the same design, makes the content less scannable. Highlight or bold keywords or links to make them stand out.

Information courtesy of Website Magazine

 

With emerging media, every day is Christmas morning.

Emerging media has given us all a gift. With the web and social networks providing connections to nearly every corner of the planet — yet still only covering 34 percent of the world’s population — we have more opportunities for educating ourselves and connecting with others, and those opportunities are continuing to grow.

Image

Marhsall McLuhan coined the term global village where you “push a button and the world’s yours” appropriately describes our lives today where future spouses can meet in a Facebook group, budding comedians and singers can be scouted on Twitter and YouTube, and where an impoverished, yet bright student living in Asia can find an amazing work opportunity in the U.S. on LinkedIn.

Product and service choices are now also greater than ever before, allowing consumers more options, more convenience, and endless opportunities for comparison shopping and experience rating. Marketing to consumers has thus had to evolve in the seemingly infinite marketplace that offers more options than anyone really needs. However, while daunting, emerging media gives marketers an advantage of leveraging their brands and reaching the right consumers depending on what they are searching for, where and how they are living, and according to what they need to know. Traditional marketing gave marketers an essentially one-off chance to reach and influence consumers, whereas SEO, targeted geographic, demographic, psychographic advertisements, and educational content marketing, to name a few, help the consumer find the product just at the right time and place. There is even research helping marketers to learn just how a consumer is feeling… The potential for the future and a completely connected world is great and the gift we have been given is still waiting to be unwrapped.

Tagged , , ,

Week 7: Paper edit

3-minute video with 30-45 second vignettes focused on the content points in the order below. Between vignettes, chorus of U2’s song “One” will play with brief 3-4 second fade out to black screen. Fade back in when CPT Y and CPT Z begin speaking on next topic with only instrumental of song playing softly in background.

Content points:

  1. An Army unit is a very special thing. It’s like a family.
  2. Families are a soldier’s best support. But when there’s a problem in the family, the soldier’s work is going to suffer, and the unit may suffer as a result.
  3. Soldiers often pride themselves on their ability to take care of problems on their own. But it doesn’t always work.
  4. That’s when the leader needs to step in. Being a leader means caring for other soldiers, being aware of the stresses they’re under, and doing something about it.

Vignette 1)

Scene fades-in from black and opens with words from U2’s “One” chorus:

“One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
”

::instrumental music continues softly::

CPT Y: The Army is a culture. The culture is one that spreads. You’ll never read about it. There’s no science to it. Once you put this uniform on you’re part of a family.

CPT Z: We make sure everybody is taken care of.

CPT Y: Soldiers are the heartbeat; they’re the pulse and they’re the tempo of that unit. We’re there for them; it’s an underlying trust that you build with your soldiers.

CPT Z: It doesn’t matter what other organization you’re in; if you’re working at WalMart, if you’re at Microsoft or Pepsi, they’re not going to support you like the Army does. If your family gets sick, if you get sick, the Army is still going to pay you.

CPT Y: You have so different — many different conglomerates of what we call family. And — and just being able to support that is — is great for us.

CPT Z: A good amount of my time is spent dealing with family members. You have the support of that. That’s the great thing about being in the Army.

Screen fades to black and chorus from “One” continues:

“One life
With each other
Sisters
Brothers”

Vignette 2)

::instrumental music continues softly::

CPT Y: We as Commanders, live for our soldiers as — as we do our own families.

CPT Z: We have the support of our family at home, but our unit is a family. And we will drop training at the drop of a hat to help soldiers out and their families.

CPT Z: A solider is no good without his family. When a soldier has a strong family, he’s going to come to work and he’s going to be willing to put in those extra hours because he knows his family is taken care of. He’s going to be motivated to do – to do what he’s supposed to do.

CPT Y: It takes support.

Screen fades to black and chorus from “One” continues:

“One life
But we’re not the same”

Vignette 3)

::instrumental music continues softly::

CPT Z: There’s a stereotype that if you’re in the Army, you’ve got to me a man. You don’t ask for help.

CPT Y: The competitive nature of just the Army in general, every soldier wants to make his mark to lead the team, be a part of the team. They want to contribute.

CPT Z: They don’t want to ask for help, that’s part of the Army mentality.

CPT Y: Soldiers aren’t looking for a handout. They’re looking for ways that they can help themselves to be self-sufficient.

CPT Z: If a soldier takes that step to come ask for help through AER or any other services that the Army can provide, you know it’s legitimate.

CPT Y: Not everybody has a problem, but everybody can always use some help, whether it’s personal, professional. It’s only going to make you that much better as a leader.

Screen fades to black and chorus from “One” continues:

“We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other”

Vignette 4)

::instrumental music continues softly::

CPT Y: Motivation is — it’s probably stronger than money when it comes to our unit and the success of our unit. And that motivation is also key to — to the spirit of the unit. There’s also an essence of vulnerability. Soldiers need to see that you’re human also; that you’re always up to exceed the standard.

CPT Z: As Commander, we break that barrier. You don’t always have to talk to them from a Commander to a subordinate standpoint. You just talk to them man-to-man. You learn a lot from your soldiers when you do that.

CPT Y: I may be a Commander, but I’m a man, I’m a husband, I’m a father, and I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and had shortcomings. At the same time, somebody was always there to help me.

CPT Z: It’s a great motivator to know that you’re helping one of your soldiers.

CPT Y: We’re servants. We’re servants to our nation. We’re servants to our soldiers, and we’re servants to our unit.

CPT Z: We make sure everybody is taken care of.

Screen fades to black and instrumental from “One” continues for three seconds.

/end

 

References

Lyricstime. (n.d.). U2 lyrics: One. Retrieved October 7, 2012 from http://www.lyricstime.com/u2-one-lyrics.html

PI Reed School of Journalism. (2012). Captains Y and Z guidelines and content points. Retrieved October 7, 2012 from ecampus.wvu.edu

PI Reed School of Journalism. (2012). Transcript: Interview/nat sound/recorded track with Captain Y and Captain Z (US Army). Retrieved October 7, 2012 from ecampus.wvu.edu

Week 6: Shooting Script 2

Quit Nits: Better than Elephants

 

Video

Audio

1.

Medium shot (MS) of unnamed man emerging from front door of house carrying a bag of sandwich buns. Unnamed man stops in his tracks and looks wide-eyed at something the audience doesn’t yet see. Unnamed man: “Yo, Tim! I’ve got those buns.”

2.

Wide shot (WS) reveals unnamed man, Tim, and a large elephant standing in the back yard of a house. Elephant is heard snorting and huffing.

 

 

.

3

Close up (CS) of unnamed man who is pointing at the elephant. Unnamed man: “What’s up with the elephant?”

 

4.

MS of Tim who turns to look at a young girl, his daughter, sitting in a chair with an elephant trunk rubbing her head. Tim: “Oh, Emma’s got lice, elephant’s gonna clean her up.”

5.

MS back to unnamed man with shocked facial expression, MS back to Tim, then CS of daughter with elephant trunk spraying water on her head. Sound of water splashing from elephant’s trunk.

6.

WS of elephant spraying daughter and surrounding area, daughter sitting in a chair, Tim and unnamed man. Sound of elephant spraying water.

 

 

7.

MS of unnamed man Unnamed man: “You should try Quit Nits, it kills lice and their eggs.”

8.

MS of Tim from right with daughter and elephant behind to his left and “dirty” shot of unnamed man’s left shoulder. Tim turns to point at daughter with BBQ grill spatula. Tim: “Yeah, I know, e-e-e-elephants are natural.”

 

Elephant sound heard in background through next 9.

9.

CS of daughter looking resigned with elephant trunk searching around her head.  

10.

CS of unnamed man and quickly back to CS of Tim. Unnamed man: “Quit Nits is natural too, and it kills lice and their eggs.”

11.

 

 

CS of Tim with elephant in background.

 

Quickly back to CS of unnamed man.

 

 

Elephant sounds heard in background.

 

Tim: “Really?

12.

Unnamed man continues shocked look. Unnamed man: “Yeah.”

13.

Switch to green colored screen with the word LICE written across the screen. Quit Nits product package drops down from above and LICE disappears. Rushing, dropping noise heard to accompany product dropping.

14.

Quit Nits product package conveys to left side of screen. To the right of package, descriptions appear:

 

“Naturally Kills”

 

VO: “Quit Nits naturally kills lice and their eggs…”

15.

“Lice and their Eggs” drops beneath text above.

 

Small print at bottom left:

“Homepathic

Read and follow all label directions”

 

Across bottom right

“QUITNITS.US”

 

 

Screen text conveys to left.

VO: “…available at your local supercenter, pharmacy, grocery and natural food store.”

16.

CS of elephant’s face moving trunk and touches camera. VO: “Quit Nits, better than elephants.”

Week 6: Shooting Script 1

Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Video

Audio

1.

WS of Isaiah Mustafa standing in bathroom in front of a running shower wearing a towel and looking at camera seductively. WS zooms to MS as Isaiah begins speaking. Mustafa: “Hello, ladies. Look at your man, now back to me. Now back at your man. Now back to me…”

2.

CS of Mustafa as his left hand holds up a bottle of Old Spice body wash to the camera. Mustafa begins to look down towards the ground. Mustafa: “…sadly, he isn’t me, but if he stopped using lady-scented body wash and switched to Old Spice, he could smell like me.”

.

3

MS of Mustafa looking down as shower and bathroom backdrop fade upward to reveal Mustafa on a boat on the ocean. A blue and white striped shirt drops over Mustafa’s shoulders, draping them perfectly. Mustafa: “Look down…”

4.

MS of Mustafa looking up. Mustafa: “…now back up. Where are you?”

5.

WS of Mustafa walking seductively towards right side of the boat as wind blows towel away to the left. Mustafa is revealed wearing white pants as camera goes in for CS. Wind and ocean noises heard through end.

Mustafa: “You’re on a boat with the man your man could smell like

6.

CS of Mustafa with ocean and sky behind. Mustafa: “What’s in your hand?”

7.

CS of Mustafa as he raises a closed oyster shell. Mustafa: “Back at me.”

8.

CS of Mustafa as oyster shell opens on its own revealing two paper tickets. Mustafa: “It’s an oyster, with two tickets to that thing you love.”

9.

CS of Mustafa as oyster shell materializes into a handful of falling diamonds. CS zooms out to MS . Mustafa: “Look again. The tickets are now DIAMONDS. Anything is possible when your man smells like Old Spice and not a lady.”

10.

During MS zoom out, Old Spice body wash emerges upwards from diamonds as the diamonds continue to fall through his hands.

11.

MS of Mustafa standing on a sandy beach with the ocean behind. He places his right hand on his hip as camera zooms out to WS showing Mustafa on a horse.

12.

WS of Mustafa sitting on a white stallion with ocean and sky still in background. Mustafa: “I’m on a horse.”

13.

The phrase, “SMELL LIKE A MAN, MAN” and Old Spice logo fade in from white to read on right next to Mustafa’s head. Old Spice trademark whistle is heard.

14.

The horse whinnies and the screen fades to black.

Week 5: Concept paper write-up

Cross Keys Winery

Focus
Commercial. 30-second mashup: video, still photography and music for use on Winery website and television spot during evening news in Virginia.

Brand
Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains and home to beautiful scenery, award winning vintners, and a spirited atmosphere. Interested in establishing trust and friendship with its neighbors.

Audience
Shenandoah Valley residents and visitors interested in wine-making or drinking wine. Novices to sophisticated connoisseurs.

Content points
Cross Keys takes their art seriously but enjoys celebrating the process, too. Wishing to pass on knowledge to an audience new to wine, but interested in learning with wine-tasting sessions, cooking classes, and regular special events. Sharing stories.

 

Sylvia’s Pets

Focus
Commercial. 30-second update to current commercial with new product photography and employees discussing products and interacting with patrons and their pets.

Brand
Locally owned pet store focused on healthy products and sharing a love of pets. Although sometimes hidden in the shadow of larger stores, Sylvia’s is a long-standing company that pet parents can trust.

Audience
New pet owners with questions/concerns.

Content points
Proud of stocking top-quality products and treating your pets as members of family. Smaller than other companies, but Sylvia’s know your pets and will make trustworthy recommendations for them. Being a devoted pet parent.

 

 

American Beauty

(1999, Sam Mendes)

Brief synopsis

Lester Burnham is a middle-aged advertising executive and father with a strained marriage to an overbearing wife. At his daughter’s high school basketball game Lester meets cheerleader Angela for whom he falls quickly in lust with and begins to frequently fantasizes about. Meanwhile, new neighbors Col. Frank Fitts (a severe homophobe) and his wife and son Ricky  move in next door. Lester’s new temptation spurs a mid-life crisis in which he quits his job, buys a classic Firebird, starts working out and purchases marijuana from his neighbor’s teenage son, Ricky, with whom he becomes quick friends. Ricky’s father, however, believes the two are having a homosexual relationship.

Upon finding a video of Lester working out, which was actually footage of Lester’s daughter, Col. Fitts fights with his son who leaves their home to be with Angela. Lester finds a broken and crying Col. Fitts and attempts to console him but Col. Fitts gets the wrong idea and kisses him, presenting his closeted homosexuality. In a following scene Lester has the opportunity to accept Angela’s advances but does not and clears the air. Meanwhile Col. Fitts and Lester’s wife are both shown wielding guns. In the final scenes, Lester is looking at a family photo and finally feels content with his life. Knowing he is about to die he recounts his happiness for all the beauty he has experienced in his life. Moments later, Lester is shot dead by a bullet to the back of his head.

What is at stake?

In American Beauty Lester Burnham realizes he is unhappy with his life and experiences a mid-life crisis – his quality of life is at stake. While Lester wins a new zest for life, his former self is lost which effects his family and personal relationships.

Who is the central character? Why? Describe this character’s personal journey.

Lester Burnham is a middle-aged advertising executive who has lost connection with his wife, is disliked by his daughter and whose boss requests he justify his ability to work at his job, a position that he despises. Lester himself believes he is boring and “faceless.”

Lester meets his daughter’s cheerleader friend, Angela, and develops a sexual obsession for her. Lester finally feels “something” for the first time in a long time and is propelled into a full-blown mid-life crisis. Lester starts working out, changes his daily routines, quits his job, and takes up smoking marijuana as a way to rebel and prove his is in charge of his own life. While Lester grows continually more selfish and detached from his family, his wife has an affair and his daughter must deal with self-esteem issues on her own. Lester has gone from being predictable and ordinary to finally living his life by his terms, despite the consequences.

Lester’s journey ultimately ends with his death and only then does he see the beauty that has been in his life all along.

How is the character transformed?

When we see Lester’s journey begin, he is quite unhappy with his run of the mill life. As the film progresses we see Lester become revitalized about life but selfishly so. Even though Lester is doing as he pleases, he is still not satisfied. We see elements of the former Lester when he finally has the chance to be with Angela but does not because she is a virgin. Lester sees the error of his ways. By the end of the film Lester knows his life was always meaningful and full of “beauty,” even with the boring stability. Lester experienced peace for a few precious moments before his murder, but knowing he could find satisfaction in a life he once hated was enough for him to die happily.

What good reason does the character have not to act?

If Lester had followed through with his urges to reciprocate Angela’s advances, he could have faced criminal charges and jail, not to mention further alienating his family members. Lester’s choice not to act showed him the true meaning of his life.

References
Cohen, B., Jinks, D. (Producers). Mendes, S. (Director). (1999). American Beauty. [Motion picture]. US: Dreamworks Pictures.

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