YouTube Jumps on the Stories Bandwagon

Not long after Snapchat launched Stories and changed the way users share content, many other social media giants began to mimic its innovative format. First, we were introduced to Instagram Stories, then WhatsApp and Facebook followed in its footsteps, and now YouTube is jumping on the bandwagon with their own version of Stories.

Currently only available for creators with a following of 10,000 or more, YouTube is changing up the Stories format that we are familiar with by allowing content to be seen for up to seven days instead of the 24-hour period that we are used to on other platforms. Creators can add filters, stickers, and text to their Stories, and subscribers can interact with them by liking, disliking, or commenting on the posts just as they would be able to on a regular video.

Although YouTube Stories were launched with creators in mind, marketers are also given yet another channel to reach consumers. If a brand has 10,000 or more subscribers, using YouTube Stories to feature day-to-day activities, generate excitement in product launches or events, show behind-the-scenes content, and more can allow the brand to capture the attention of consumers who might not have time to watch a full video. Also, since Stories stay at the top of users’ news feeds for up to seven days, brands that have relationships with YouTube influencers can promote products on their Stories in addition to long-form videos at a more frequent rate.

YouTube creators often spend hours upon hours filming and editing videos, but with YouTube Stories, creators as well as brands can connect with subscribers on a more casual basis. Benefiting both creators and marketers, this content format is likely to continue to develop and spread across other social media platforms.

Web Design Trends That Will Dominate 2019

As an ever-changing industry, there is always something new on the horizon when it comes to web design and development. Each year we see a new set of trends that make businesses stand out from their competitors in the digital space, so as we inch closer to the end of the year, here are a few web design trends that will likely dominate 2019.

Mobile-First Design

Building a mobile-friendly website has been stressed for years, however with mobile searches surpassing desktop searches and with that gap widening, it is more crucial now than ever to build for mobile first. Building a simple navigation, clean layout, clear calls to action, etc. as well as creating fast-loading pages will not only put you on the right track towards a mobile-friendly website but will also result in higher ranking now that Google is putting an emphasis on mobile first indexing.

Bold Typography

With the sharpening of device resolutions and access to more typefaces, bold typography has become a trend that is just as important as hero images and other design elements. In the past few years, designers have focused on using fonts that are legible and appealing, but in the new year, we will see more personalized fonts that really establish the personality of a company and generate interest in the website. Handmade typefaces, large block lettering, and sans serif fonts paired with serif fonts are just a few of the typography trends that we will be seeing more of in 2019.

Micro-Interactions

Micro-interactions are single-task interactions that create engaging moments for a user through the use of subtle animation and motion throughout a website. Micro-interactions include short sounds that let you know when an action is complete, changes of color when you roll your mouse over or click on something, swiping effects, and other entertaining forms of animation. These micro-interactions help guide a user through your website, give them instant feedback from an action, and overall make the site more interesting and engaging.

Organic Shapes

Sharp lines and straight layouts are on their way out while organic shapes and asymmetrical design are taking over websites in 2019. Designers are beginning to toss out the traditional triangles and rectangles and are replacing them with free-flowing shapes that elicit more emotion and give a website more character. Adding in hand-drawn, organic shapes are also a way for designers to create an original website that has not been seen before. The bends in the shapes create a sense of movement throughout the page, engaging users to explore the pages further.

It’s (Finally) the End of the Road for Google Plus

Google announced earlier this week that it will be shutting down its social network, Google Plus (Google+). According to Google, Google+ for consumers will be sunsetting over the next 10 months, and will officially close in August 2019, meeting the same fate as other abandoned Google platforms such as Google Reader, Wave, and Buzz. The demise of Google+ is no shock, but what finally made it official was none other than a privacy breach.

What started as a way for Google to compete with Facebook, Google+ is now facing a similar situation to Facebook’s biggest issue to date, the Cambridge Analytica Scandal. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report on Google+’s data breach, saying that a bug exposed the personal information of up to 500,000 users to 438 third-party apps. This bug was active from 2015 up until March 2018 when Google discovered the problem and solved it.

Google’s decision to stay quiet about this privacy issue for over six months was likely due to the fact that Facebook was experiencing catastrophic backlash during the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, and Google did not want to join Facebook in the spotlight. Their silence is now raising eyebrows from its consumers who use other Google products such as Gmail, Google Chrome, and YouTube.

Although the privacy breach made for its official demise, Google+ had been facing a long, slow death for years after never really taking off when it launched in June 2011. The idea of Google+ was to create a new way of sharing information by organizing friends into groups and choosing who gets to see what, instead of blasting people with every piece of information someone shares. When it was first launched, Google+ had over 10 million users in just two weeks, but now, according to Google, 90% of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds long.

Some people believe Google+ failed because it was too late to the social platform market, while others believe its way of sharing information was just not up to par with consumers wanted, but no matter what the case, it is still shocking to see yet another platform born from such a powerful company fail in such a huge way. Although Google+ did not get as much engagement from consumers as expected, Google will be reinventing the platform for businesses to use for internal communication between coworkers.

Tips for Optimizing Your Business’s Website for “Near Me” Searches

The “near me” search phenomenon has significantly increased over the past few years due to the rise of mobile and voice search. This explosive change in search behavior stems from users expecting instant and accurate results on the fly, whether they are looking for restaurants, doctors, shopping, or more in their area. In order to catch these users in a short window of time, here are some tips for optimizing your website for “near me” searches.

  1. Mobile Optimization

Mobile optimization has been a necessity for years now, but with the majority of “near me” searches coming from mobile devices, it is even more crucial to have a responsive website. Users who are making “near me” searches are often looking for quick results, so if your website is hard to navigate on a mobile device, users are more likely to leave the site and find a different business in the area with more readily available information. Optimizing your website for mobile users will give your business more opportunity to be recognized by consumers.

  1. Content

As for content, there are a couple of steps you can take to increase the chance of your business showing up in “near me” searches. The simplest step is to make sure your business’s address is located throughout your website, preferably at the bottom of each page. Some business website owners have also added the keyword “near me” in title tags and throughout their pages, while others focus mainly on creating localized content or blogs (“Best Restaurants in (City Name)”, “Top Doctors near (Street Name)”, etc.) or incorporating geo-targeted keywords (boutiques in (Neighborhood Name), law school (City Name)”, etc.) which gives Google a better idea of your business’s exact location.

  1. Business Listings & Reviews

Updating your business listings on Google My Business, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and more provides users with your most accurate information. Having your business’s current information on listing sites will not only allow for more opportunities to be found by users but will also give Google more opportunity to verify your information and location. Reviews also help enhance the credibility of your business to Google, so having more positive reviews on your listing sites, as well as responses to reviews, will help increase your visibility for “near me” searches.

Whitfield Signs Website Launch

Our team at RobMark has been busy, and we are excited to announce the launch of Whitfield Signs’ new and improved website, whitfieldsigns.com. Based in Statesboro, Georgia, Whitfield Signs is a company that not only designs, repairs, and installs signs, but also creates other customized branding pieces for businesses, schools, and facilities. Whitfield Signs needed a website that would increase their online presence and match the quality of their remarkable work— some of this work being RobMark’s very own indoor and outdoor office signage.

RobMark’s team of creative minds went to work and designed a website that is organized and functional yet modern and eye-catching. Whitfield Signs’ new website features a simple navigation, so users can easily explore the company’s various services, its team of creative experts, and more. To showcase Whitfield Signs’ latest work, RobMark added a creative, online portfolio to the website and also incorporated the company’s Instagram feed into the homepage. With the website’s responsive design, users will enjoy the same stunning and operative website across any mobile, tablet, or desktop device.

Go ahead and see the new website for yourself at whitfieldsigns.com.

How To Keep Steady Traffic After A Website Redesign

Nowadays, your website is often your audience’s first impression of your business, and an outdated website can reflect an outdated business. Whether you are looking to improve usability, better communicate your brand, or just give your site a fresh look, a website redesign has the power to take your business to the next level. If not done right, however, you may create your shiny new website, log in to Google Analytics, and see that traffic has actually dropped in comparison to the old website. To help avoid this issue, here are some tips on how to keep steady traffic after a website redesign.

Redirects

One of the most common causes of traffic loss is improperly setting up redirects to your new website. If your URLs have changed at all, you need to make sure that each one is set up with a 301 redirect. This will tell search engines and browsers that the page has been permanently moved and to pass the rankings from the old page to the new page, helping drastically with SEO for the new site. Without these redirects, search engines and browsers will think the page is completely gone, often resulting in a substantial drop in traffic.

Content

In many cases, redesigning a website includes rewriting the copy to align with the new look and feel of the site. However, copy changes cause Google to reconsider the relevancy of the page for the certain topic, since its algorithm is focused on making sure users are getting the most accurate results during their searches. If keywords are removed from titles, header tags, body copy, and so on, relevancy will drop which, in turn, results in a drop in traffic. It is best to work with an experienced SEO specialist to ensure either your old keywords or new, updated keywords are added back into the copy.

Structure

The structure of your website has a bigger impact on your website’s success than many other factors. When you have a confusing or poorly laid out site, it is hard for Google to index and understand your website, resulting in less value and traffic drops. This issue also negatively impacts user experience. If you are considering completely changing up your website’s structure, then you will need to create a new sitemap and submit it to Search Console in order to speed up the re-indexing rate of the new site. You should also pay attention to your internal links and make sure that none of them are broken or outdated, which can also cause value and ranking issues for your site.

By keeping redirects, content, and structure in mind, you can lessen your chance of having substantial traffic loss after a website redesign. Although a long and time-consuming process, redesigning your website can propel your business forward and show your audience that you are up-to-date and ready to take on more business.

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