Email Marketing and SEO – How Thoughtful Design Can Boost Traffic

July 3rd, 2013

Email design from the Placemaking Group's newsletter

The Placemaking Group’s June
email newsletter

Great design and thoughtful preparation of your email campaigns can really give your web traffic a boost. Though it may not seem like a logical pairing, email marketing and SEO (search engine optimization) can and do indeed work together. Here are a few tips on how to create a successful email design that will be more likely to be opened and inspire click-throughs to your site.

Thoughtful Email Design and Content

Email services like Optify, MailChimp, and Campaign Monitor, to name just a few, make it easy to choose a great looking, responsive template. Here at Placemaking Group, we create uniquely branded designs for our clients, too, but they all have a few things in common.

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Google Knowledge Graph SEO for the Local Carousel

June 24th, 2013

Google officially launched the Knowledge Graph Carousel for local search this week for English searches in the US (Forbes). The carousel concept has been around for a while but it is now being used for local results. Here is a sample of a search for restaurants in Oakland.




The question is what can be done to make the most of this new feature?

When you click on the carousel image the Google+ Places information shows on the right side.  But how did Ichiro Sushi get the first place spot with only 6 reviews and no rating.  Zachary’s Pizza has a 26 Zagat rating and 448 reviews. That makes sense that they would be second.

However, when you scroll through using the carousel you’ll see Yoshi’s, which is a world class restaurant, but not on the first screen. Yoshi’s may want to work on its photo. The photo for the restaurant in the first place spot appears to be from its Google + page. We think the best way to capture searchers is to make sure your photo is really sharp and represents your brand well.

The social aspect is definitely more prominent in this search, with consumer driven reviews in the results and event listings. What isn’t clear is if the reviews and ratings are from your network and how much weight they receive.

We’ll keep you posted as we figure out the best way to get optimal results from Google knowledge graph SEO.

Posted by Barbara Irias, Vice President Placemaking Group

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Giving a Speech Can Be Good for SEO

June 18th, 2013

Do you take the opportunity to speak at industry events, conferences and meetings?  

You can get double the value from a good speaking engagement. Not only can you share your expertise, but when promoting your speech, there are Search Engine Optimization (SEO) benefits.

Woman Smiling Behind PodiumMost people tend to shy away from public speaking, which provides more opportunity for you. The key to public speaking in many ways is the same as any other communication — make sure you know who you’re talking to and what you are going to tell them. This is the key to marketing in general. If you’re talking to a group that could potentially help your business, then that’s good. Next, think about what you’re going to say.  It’s a good idea to make sure that the subject matter you are talking about is what you want people to know about you and your business.

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Gated Content for Professional Services Firms

June 11th, 2013

content  marketing for professional services firms

Many professional services firms (lawyers, management consultants, accountants, IT consultants and architects) we work with are developing content for their customers and using website content to educate and demonstrate knowledge to potential clients. According to a benchmark survey by the Content Marketing Institute, 33% of marketing budgets for professional services firms are spent on content marketing.

The question often comes up during meetings with our clients:  ”What content is valuable enough to be gated?”

First, what is Gated Content?

Gated content is when a website requires visitors to fill out a form before they can get the content, whether it is a PDF that gets emailed to the person, or a webpage, or MP3, that is delivered via the web.

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Five Steps to Maximize Your LinkedIn Profile

May 24th, 2013

linkedin-logo-1LinkedIn currently reports that it has 200 million members worldwide. Most have probably created a LinkedIn page to connect with colleagues and clients and have high hopes of connecting to prospects. However, many will probably never be found, because they have not maximized their profiles. Here are five LinkedIn profile strengthening tips to boost your profile and create a network of professionals that has the potential to increase your business.

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Reacting Negatively on Social Media Doesn’t Help

May 22nd, 2013



Here’s a great example of why you should be careful about what you post on the web, especially social media. A restaurant owner in Arizona has been getting bad reviews for a while now and was recently on Fox reality TV show “Kitchen Nightmares” starring Chef Gordon Ramsey.

That show didn’t go well for him either, so he ranted on Twitter…  “I AM NOT STUPID ALL OF YOU ARE, YOU JUST DO NOT KNOW GOOD FOOD.”

There’s a great article in the San Jose Mercury about this. “You need thick skin in this business,” Chef Ramsay said before walking out. It was the first time he wasn’t able to reform a business, according to the show. But the owner continued his rant on Twitter, Facebook and anything else he could find. That led to closing the restaurant for a week or two to let things simmer.

We all have an occasional bad review or negative comment in social media. The right way to deal with it is to apologize, if there was something wrong and perhaps give a discount for the next visit. But the idea is not to increase the negativity. That just doesn’t work. Here’s the article… Arizona restaurant featured on Fox show learns online reviews can make or break

Pinterest for Travel and Tourism Promotion

April 30th, 2013

GUAM-pinterest-homePinterest can be a powerful and fun addition to your travel and tourism PR social networking program. For those of you not already on the bandwagon, Pinterest is a social networking platform that allows users to create virtual bulletin boards on which they can “pin” inspiring images or videos.

Followers can like your pins, effectively bookmarking them, or repin them to their own boards to share them with their own followers. Gorgeous travel shots are particularly suited to the Pinterest audience; the combination of images, video and descriptions can bring a place to life for its followers. It’s a visually rich way to create a buzz around any travel destination.

Create boards to highlight different areas of interest for vacationers: for example, Placemaking Group client, the Guam Visitors Bureau shares images about local culture, Guam’s stunning beaches, wedding ideas, sightseeing activities, and sports and golf, among other attractions specific to Guam.

Likewise, the Micronesian island of Kosrae (also a Placemaking Group client) posts about diving and snorkeling, the island’s natural beauty, its people, and getaways, including links to reviews for Kosrae hotels.

Both islands use a mixture of original content from the Visitors Bureau uploaded to Pinterest, and repinned content posted by other Pinterest fans of Guam and Kosrae. Being engaged by sharing images is part of what it’s all about. With that in mind, Pinterest posts can easily be shared across platforms, cross-promoting your posts via Facebook and Twitter.

Contact us if you’d like to talk about having The Placemaking Group spearhead your travel destination’s social networking strategy.

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by Deirdre Spencer, Senior Designer The Placemaking Group


SEO and Article Marketing

April 29th, 2013

Do you want better SEO? Do you know why you want better SEO?  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is becoming one of the most effective tools in the world of marketing–but only when it is used correctly. In the world of PR, we’ve been using it for years. Our goal is to get journalists to find the information for their story ideas at our clients’ websites, or by contacting them directly. We do keyword tweets on Twitter. We make sure that the keywords are clear on press releases and on our clients’ websites.

One of the ways to get better Search Engine Optimization is a process called Article Marketing. Here are two excellent resources for Article Marketing. You can start at Wikipedia and get the basics. There you learn that Article Marketing has been around as long as there have been newspapers and magazines. To use Article Marketing effectively, you must be an expert at something. You write an article about that subject, and you try to get it placed in a newspaper or magazine. The article has your name on it, and you are on your way to becoming well-known in your industry. That’s how Public Relations really started in the early 1900s. When the early PR professionals realized that if they helped make the journalist’s job easier by providing the right information for a story, they could get their clients’ stories placed in print publications.

When you add the Internet with Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., Article Marketing became, for some companies, a way of tricking the search engines to get your company higher up on the search engine listings. There were sites on the web that charged you for a link. Google and their colleagues eventually figured out what was happening and then made it very difficult for them to succeed.

But the actual concept of Article Marketing really can work for you. Your story has to be well written and informative. It can be a blog post, a press release that you have on your site, an article that you got placed in some other journalist website, or a case study that you have on your site. You want people to read it, and then go to your website and contact you. Phil Stone has written a really instructive piece called “What Is Article Marketing?” He gives you a good idea of the process, and what is possible.

The important thing to remember is to make sure your keywords are embedded in your story. But more importantly, make sure your story is worth reading–or it is a waste of your time and money.

The Advantages of Screencasting

April 17th, 2013

Do you often find yourself sitting at your computer noodling through a solution to a challenging technical problem only to find that the next time you need to perform the same task, or even worse, the next time you need to show someone how to perform it, you have totally forgotten the steps to success you had painstakingly sleuthed out? Well say hello to your new best friend, screen capture or casting. By simply capturing the activity on your screen and a voice over as you work through a solution, you can now walk the viewer through complex concepts more efficiently, helping you explain any subject with more depth and understanding.

Here at Placemaking Group we often use screen casting to record walk-throughs on the back end of our custom CMS system, “elfCP”.  We are able to perform specific tasks in the admin panel for a client’s website and record the process with voice over tips and direction.  This streamlines and simplifies the training process by showing the client exactly what to do step by step onscreen. The best thing is that the videos are then available for them to reference whenever they need a refresher course on completing a certain task or a when a new employee takes over the responsibility of completing it.

Here is an example of a walkthrough we created for one of our clients using the built in QuickTime Player screen recording feature.


Think about how you could utilize screen casting to your advantage in the business you are in; maybe it is demoing a new piece of software you have created, or maybe it is simply showing your employees how to fill out their electronic timesheet correctly, speeding up productivity and clearing up confusion … the possibilities are endless and exciting!

Looking for a screencasting application? For the little video above, we used the built in screen recording function in QuickTime Player, which works great, and if you have a Mac running 10.7 or above you most probably have it right there in your Applications folder for free!

Here are a couple more options to check out  if you want to start your screencasting adventure and dont have Quicktime already installed:

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Like the look of our  ELF content management system, contact us for a more thorough walk-through and see how it could work for your site.

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Post by Jannah Lyon, Creative Director, Placemaking Group.


Do You Understand the Key to Social Media?

March 30th, 2013

Do you understand the basic advantage of using social media? Or, should I say, do you understand the key to social media?

I’ve given you the answer before, the key is achieving a heartfelt response. If the social media message is something that really connects with you, you respond. If it barely connects with you, you just keep reading past it.

In the last few days, two bloggers for MediaPost Publications came up with two different bits of news. In “The Disturbing Dogma of Social Media Marketing,” Kaila Colbin discovers a statistic. As she says, “In the provocatively titled ‘Can We Please Stop Hyping Social As The Marketing Messiah?’ Nathan Safran replaces assumptions with data. During the 2012 holiday season, for example, 34% of retail website visits came from search; 40% were direct; 2% — yes, a mere two percent — were from social.”

That should not be a surprise. For the times when we react to social media, there must be some very personal connection. Unfortunately for most marketers, they just haven’t been able to put a heartfelt personal connection into their ads and posts.

But Erik Sass finds out something about an industry that has a higher percentage of social media uses, Half Of Financial Advisors Use Social Media To Communicate With Client.

No one needs to tell you that communicating with your financial advisor can be VERY personal. So, as I’ve said before, social media is a set of tools. But they aren’t the answer for every situation. Remember, if you intend to use social media, make sure you can get a heartfelt, personal connection into it!


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