Stephanie Chang's Posts

Why You Should Map Out Your Site’s Information Architecture

Over the past year, I’ve realized the value of investing a significant amount of time at the beginning of a project to thoroughly understand a client’s site and business. An example of this type of investment is that I’ve started systematically mapping out the information architecture of my client’s sites visually (this was recommended to me via an internal Distilled discussion). Although, this process is time-consuming and often times rigorous and intense, it has easily returned its value multiple times over.  Below is detailed information on how to map out the information architecture of a site, as well as different tactics on why mapping is useful from an SEO perspective.

How to Map Out the Information Architecture of a Site

Initially, I started mapping out the information architecture of a site using Microsoft Word or Balsamiq. Recently, I’ve started using the free version of Lucidchart (see diagram below).

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Why SEOs Should Work with Sales to Obtain/Retain Clients

When I first started at Distilled in June 2011, I was intrigued to learn from the Sales team on what worked, what was effective, and how to apply it to my consulting in order to boost client relationships, maintain momentum on projects, and always be forward thinking. Currently, Distilled integrates SEO with Consulting and Account Management and consequently, we have our work cut out for us when setting and maintaining projects for success. Having worked at other agencies in the past, I understood the importance of building a solid relationship with a client from the first touch point (which in my experience is sales) all the way through to signing and kicking off the project. I also quickly figured out how vital it is to make sure we sell them the right project and manage their expectations from the get go. It is so much easier to set expectations right the first time than it is to go back to the drawing board 4 months later to try and correct it. These were just a reasons why I felt compelled to integrate myself into the Sales process as much as possible. Below are some ways that the integration of SEOs with Sales has improved Distilled’s ability to win the type of projects/clients that we want, while also preventing the “Cycle of Sadness” that many SEOs feel a part of.

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Testing Content Via Different Marketing Channels

As SEOs, we’re often told the value of having unique, quality content on a site. However, it can be difficult to quantify what that means - is it just ensuring that the content itself isn’t duplicate on your own and other sites? Is it a preventative measure against Panda or future search engine algorithmic changes? Or is it based on how well the content ranks in search engines and / or converts visitors?

Given the amount of time, effort, and resources it takes to write non-duplicate content, it’s worth the additional investment to test and quantify if the content actually converts. Below are some examples of when content could be tested before it is implemented.

Paid Search Channels - Guides / White Papers / eBooks

Compiling guides / white papers / eBooks often require a significant amount of resources. A successful campaign has the ability to drive engagement, establish trust, build leads, and generate brand recognition.

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People First, Processes Last

I’ve been a part of the Distilled NYC team since the beginning. I distinctly remember my first day (just over 14 months ago), showing up to the office, saying hi to Tom Critchlow, configuring my new laptop, and thinking “what’s next?” Conversely, the subsequent next few months passed by in a blur - the office struggled, we didn’t have our own clients, and had prospects that just wouldn’t close. On top of it all, over half of the office had moved to NYC from out of the state / country to be a part of this team. Here we were, a team deep in the red in an unfamiliar city. And so, we painfully struggled (personally and professionally) for the next 6 months.

It’s not a rare story to hear about a business struggle. In fact, I’d vouch that’s the norm. What did surprise all of us was the team spirit and how we built a cultural framework around it. Each individual member of the team has different strengths, whether it be building relationships, establishing project frameworks, or even the intangibles, like loving a challenge.

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How the Winners Do Mobile SEO [Guest Post]

**Note from Stephanie: This is a guest blog post by Bryson Meunier, a Chicago-based SEO and Director of Content Solutions at Resolution Media, an Omnicom Media Group Company. His career at Resolution Media has given him the opportunity to help some of the world’s top brands achieve success in mobile and SEO including: Lowe’s, LeapFrog, Apple, Groupon, FedEx, and others. 

There are a lot of opinions on how to do mobile SEO right these days. Do you need to build a separate mobile site, or is it enough to make your website responsive, so that it reformats for the device that’s accessing the content? Or can you skip all of these entirely and simply make your web site accessible to and readable on devices of all kinds, like has? I’ve been researching mobile SEO best practices since that meant making your site accessible to PDAs, and I’ll be giving my own professional opinions on the subject at SMX Advanced in Seattle this year during the iSEO: Mobile Search Engine Optimization Done Right panel with Cindy Krum and Google’s Pierre Far.

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