WordCamp Pittsburgh 2017

It has been 9 years since I stepped off the Pittsburgh Technical College campus (then known as Pittsburgh Technical Institute), but I had the opportunity to return on Saturday for WordCamp Pittsburgh 2017. This is the second year for WordCamp Pittsburgh. Below are just some of the takeaways from my first ever WordCamp:

 

Session 1 – Designing for Accessibility and Illiteracy by Kimberly Norris

Kim is the web developer for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History so their website has to be accessible to a wide range of users. You should try to have no more than 80 characters on a line and keep your text below a 5th grade level. Something I didn’t think about that was interesting to hear was to remove image carousels. While they may look great, users probably won’t wait to look through the carousel and it can be distracting to someone with a disability.

 

Session 2 – Systems and Processes for Creatives by Lauren Pittenger

This session seemed to be the one everyone wanted to attend. It was standing room only as we got started. We learned how important processes are especially when leading client isn’t a strength. Using client questionnaires and tech briefs to gather requirements helps provide your customers with the best solution. Don’t get locked into one process. One process doesn’t fit all clients and industries. Slickplan is a piece of software Lauren mentioned that looks like a great tool we need to start using here at Heartbeat Interactive.

 

Sessions 3 – Brand Positioning: Growing Your Business by Finding Your Niche by John Centofanti

In my opinion, this was the most informative session at WordCamp Pittsburgh. Every brand has a position in the market. Your goal is to establish your brand in the market. Think of Google and Yahoo as search engine providers. Which one do you use and why? Who has established themselves as the go-to search engine in the market. Think about Mercedes vs. Chevrolet or Starbucks vs. Dunkin’ Donuts. Every industry is going to have someone who will do it cheaper and quicker, but is it a better product?

 

Session 4 – Local SEO: A Breakdown by Alex Riddle

Alex provided some valuable steps that every business should take. Start by signing up for Google My Business and filling out your company information. Use tools such as Axiom and InfoGroup to submit your company to other listing sites. You have to make sure your information is the same on all sites though. 123 Heartbeat Drive isn’t the same as 123 Heartbeat Dr. Be consistent in how you present your company information.

 

Session 5 – WordPress core tables and MySQL by Rene Morozowich

The final session I attended was where the inner geek was able to come out. Rene discussed the core tables of WordPress and explained in detail which each table did from wp_options to wp_users and how they are tied into MySQL. If you have no clue what wp_options, wp_users or MySQL is, don’t worry you will never have to get involved in those backend functions. Heartbeat Interactive handles all of that behind the scenes to keep your website up and running all the time!

 

It was a great way to spend a Saturday with a few friends, Ryan Shaffer and Matt Houk. If you are attending next year with us reach out to me!

 

Blog Headlines Grab Attention, Increase Click-Rate and SEO

Over the years, I’ve found that there are two types of companies that write blog posts: Ones that focus on quality, and ones that aim for quantity. Posting for the sake of posting without adding value will not drive traffic to your website. In fact, it may do the exact opposite. It’d be easy to write a 10,000-word article about the dos and don’ts of blogging, but, for everyone’s sake, I will keep this one simple and segment, beginning with a solid blog headline.

Let’s say that you’ve done your homework, and you’re ready to post the best, most informative post you’ve ever written. Before you hit submit, look at the headline – the part that will either instantly grab someone’s attention, or divert it elsewhere. If it’s not captivating, then no one will ever see your hard work, and you’ve wasted your time and efforts. A few minor adjustments will ensure that your blog puts the right message in front of the right people.

 

Keyword Researching

The key to getting people to your article is being desirable. That desirability starts with the valuable keywords that are relevant to your topic. For many, the issue with knowing which keyword to use is finding it in the first place. There are a few free online resources – some of which you probably use daily, so I will focus on those two.

The first resource you can use is Google. Boasting over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion worldwide annually, the internet’s most powerful and popular search engine allows you to access popular search terms by typing in a few characters. In fact, Google sells advertising based on those results in the form of Google AdWords.  Let’s say that you’re writing an article about choosing the top fantasy football players for the upcoming NFL season. According to Google, you may want to include “Fantasy Football Rankings” in your header (and probably add it as your keyword), because it’s the first predicted search that comes up while typing the term “Fantasy Football.” People want to know ranking because, let’s face it, they want the edge in their leagues. Does that mean yours will be the first article to show up when someone searches the term? Not likely, but you’ll stand a fighting chance. However, if you have the right social media following, your headline will be irresistible if you share the article in a timely fashion. Again, just make sure that you’re using keywords that are relevant to your topic.

The second resource is social media trends. In 2017, 81 percent of the US population has at least one social media profile.  What’s more is that the average person spends nearly 35 minutes on Facebook each day. Not only are the social media “trending” sections good for keywords and headers, they’re also exceptional tools to use when looking for blog topics. If you can tie a trend into a blog, you’re more likely to get reads and shares. Sticking with the Fantasy Football theme, Facebook, in particular, allows you to choose sports as a trending topic. That might be an excellent place to start when creating a headline. Perhaps a few of the top players are trending near the top of the list, thus there is your opportunity to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak.

Use the tools you already have, and you’ll put yourself in the best position to succeed with the right keywords.

 

REMINDER: Don’t resort to clickbait, or you will lose all credibility, and no number of keywords will bring you back from that. Also, Google doesn’t like that too much, as it considers headers that don’t coincide with the content as SPAM, and it may keep your articles off of searches altogether.

 

The Need to Read

Just because you want to read it, doesn’t mean that others will, which is why you need to instill the “need to read.” We’re all guilty of clicking an article that we know might be a waste of time simply because we feel compelled to read it. Most of the time our instincts are correct, but we still fall victim to that urge to “click here for more.” While I don’t condone writing mindless blog articles, I do subscribe to the theory that the right headline can make a great deal of people have an overwhelming desire to click.

Once you have the right keywords in place, you’ll need to structure them in a desirable way.

Questions make for great headlines because people want answers. For example, “Devonta Freeman is the best fantasy football running back in 2017” might not be as compelling as “Devonta Freeman Tops Fantasy Football Rankings, But Have You Considered These Sleeper Picks?” The reader may think, “everyone knows about Freeman, which means he’s not likely to be available when it’s my pick. I need to see my other options that people may not know about.”

The use of Cliffhangers is another way that you can make people NEED TO READ. Television series season finales, movie trailers, and sneak previews all keep people hanging on and wanting more. So, why not use that technique with your headlines? An example of a good cliffhanger might be: “Devonta Freeman Tops Fantasy Football Rankings, But Three Other Players May Be Even Better.”

Give your readers a desire … a need to read your articles with structured headers.

 

Bringing it All Together

Top keywords inserted into strong headers will get you the clicks you need to drive your website’s SEO. By staying ahead of trends, you’ll become a reliable, trusted source for information specific to your target industry. In any case, when it comes to your website’s content, quality always beats quantity. Give people something truly valuable and worthwhile, and you’ll build an audience; post seven articles a week with bad headlines and no relevancy, and you’ll alienate one.

Keep watching for more tips at HeartbeatInteractive.net!