Posts about: search engine marketing

Do’s and don’ts for link building in 2014

16 July 2014
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The following article was written by Tom Shurville of Distinctly, a search marketing agency in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire.

There is a wide range of activities you can participate in to improve your brand’s online visibility including social media, pay per click, content marketing, email marketing and blogging. Of course one of the best ways to increase online visibility is through improving your site’s search engine optimisation (SEO). Despite claims that link building ‘is dead’, it is still very much an integral part of SEO and can generate fantastic results, providing you go about it the right way.

Seo

Why is link building so important?

If you want to improve your website’s search visibility and increase brand exposure, link building is arguably one of the best ways to do it. Links are still incredibly valuable and serve the purpose of sending positive signals to Google, informing them of great sites with authority. Link building is also great for developing relationships between businesses within the same industry and can boost other online marketing activities carried out by brands.

Building links in 2014: What to do

There are many ways you can go about building links back to your company website, but some methods are considered better than others in the eyes of Google and other search engines. Ensure that your link building practices are both ethical and beneficial and prevent search engines penalising your website by following our tips below.

Create high quality and relevant links

When searching for websites that you would like to include in your link building strategy, it is important to ensure that the sites are high quality and relevant to the products you sell or services you offer. Broadly, you need to either cater for the same audience or operate within the same industry. It is also essential that you have read through their content to check that it is of a high standard. Poorly produced content (e.g. spun articles) can look like spam to both search engines and users and will not provide any value. Only links from high quality, relevant websites will assist in improving your search rankings.

Produce excellent content

You cannot expect other websites to link to your website if you do not provide them with anything of value. Writing excellent content that serves the purpose of educating or informing the audience will make your link building proposition much more appealing to webmasters.

It is also important to remember that relationships take time to develop. You will need to put time and effort into nurturing relationships with high authority websites in order to stand a chance at gaining a link from them.

Acquire links to more than just your homepage

Many businesses make the mistake of only building links back to their website’s homepage. It is much more beneficial to build links that land on different pages of your website, for example, a product page or even a blog post. It is important to make sure that the anchor text is relevant to the landing page, to give readers (and search engines) an idea of what they should expect from clicking on the link. Remember not to over optimise anchor text in your link building efforts, as this can lead to you being penalised by Google (e.g. only ever linking to the same term, e.g. “web development”).

Review your website’s backlink profile

Before attempting to build high quality and relevant links to your website, it is essential that you review your website’s existing backlink profile. If you have had your website for a while and have worked with multiple SEO companies over the years, it is likely that you will have built up some potentially damaging links. The problem is that Google’s algorithm updates will still penalise you for these links whether you acquired them last week or three years ago. Work with a trusted SEO company to get any paid or unnatural links removed or if necessary, disavowed.

Building links in 2014: What not to do

You may have heard that in recent months Google has been working on improving its algorithms in order to make it easier to identify the difference between quality, organic links and spam links. Although building links is a great way to improve your website’s search rankings, if you do not go about it the right way, you risk being penalised by Google and other search engines. Below we have outlined what is not considered best practice for link building in 2014.

Paid or irrelevant links

It’s simple really – don’t buy links and you won’t have Google telling you off and plunging you deep down to the bottom of the search rankings! Since releasing the Penguin update in 2012, Google has been keeping on top of penalising those with paid links and you do not want to end up with a target on your back.

It is also important to avoid exchanging links with companies that are irrelevant to your industry. As we mentioned earlier, you should only be looking to build links with websites that produce high quality content and are relevant to your industry. The way to judge it is by thinking whether or not the users of that website will get any value from clicking on the backlink and being taken to your website. If the answer is no, then that link building opportunity is not the one for you.

Automated link building tools

Automated link building tools are a big no-no. When it comes to building links, quality is so much more important than quantity. Automated link building tools tend to build a lotof links and whilst you may see an initial spike in your website traffic, Google and other search engines will see that they are spam links and penalise you accordingly.

Spam comment on other blogs

Another thing that you must refrain from doing is leaving your website link on every blog comment that you leave. Take your website’s SEO seriously and avoid this bad practice. Whilst leaving meaningful comments on blogs is absolutely fine, only leave your link if it will provide value to other readers or the blog owner.

Conclusion

Despite various sources claiming that ‘link building is dead’, the practice is still very much an important part of improving websites’ online visibility. Even Google’s Matt Cutts confirmed that link building is important when he said that they were ‘still the best way that we’ve found to discover how relevant or important somebody is.’ Whilst the use of social media and content marketing does impact search engine rankings (and is likely to have more weight behind it in the future), do not underestimate the power of ethical link building strategies.

As long as you focus on creating high quality, relevant links and avoid black hat SEO practices like spamming, there really is no need to fear being penalised by Google. Whilst white hat link building takes a considerable amount of time and effort, it can be extremely beneficial for your business in terms of improving your search rankings and driving valuable traffic through to your website.

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How to Plan for a New Online Business Startup

17 May 2014
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Got a great idea for an internet business? Plan for the year and not just the build.

Many clients contact Libero Net with a ‘great idea’ for an internet business, however few of these clients have thought about what it takes to develop this idea into an online success. Having an idea for a business is great; however it is only the start of a very long business venture.
Do you plan on hiring staff? What is your yearly budget? How will you monitor your businesses progress? How will you drive traffic to your online business? Have you thought about online techniques such as social media, guest blogging and link building? Or what about offline techniques likes door-to-door knocking and telesales? How will people find out about your great business idea?

The Business Plan

These are questions we often find ourselves asking these clients. Every business, big or small, profits greatly from having a well thought-out and structured business plan. If you haven’t thought about any of the above your business may find it difficult to succeed, or even worse fail.
Owning an online business is hard and success doesn’t come easy. Sacrifices will have to be made and you will be more stressed than ever. The harsh reality of starting a business is often something entrepreneurs don’t want to admit too, but if you believe in your business and take all avenues into consideration your business venture can succeed the competition and become a fighting success.

The Financial Plan

The starting point for your business plan is the financials. Something which we see regular is businesses blowing their entire budget on a new website design and expecting for customers to find their business website themselves. Unfortunately, the competition is tough and you need to budget advertising/ marketing for the year. You can always get that top notch website when your business when profits are up!

The Marketing & Advertising Plan

Businesses use advertising and marketing techniques to reach a wider audience and inevitably drive more sales to their website. Each company needs a different strategy from the next and pursuing the appropriate advertising tactfully is a huge part of what makes an internet business successful. If you’re not sure what your marketing strategy should be, it is recommended to speak to a design agency.

The Google Plan

Every business dreams of being on Google’s first page ranking as it is good for your brand and ultimately sends customers in your direction. Generating traffic to your website comes from a consistent effort over a long period of time with the basic understanding of marketing techniques.
Once you have a beautiful website, interesting content and active social media channels, it will be worth investing time or money into SEO (search engine optimisation) techniques such as accumulating backlinks, blogging, relevant keywords, guest content and more.

Plan Plan Plan

Make sure you spend your time and investment wisely. Plan payment throughout the year and do not blow it all at once with the website build, otherwise one day you will be high up on Google rankings and undetectable the next. Although it is not an easy road to travel but if you plan your trip, you will reap the rewards later.

This is one of the best pieces of advice we can offer when you’re starting on this exciting journey, ensure you have budgeted for the long term and have the plan in place for the marketing and driving of traffic to your fantastic new website.

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Brand Pages And Why They Don’t Rank In SERPS

16 May 2014
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We’ve had this problem for quite some time and many different experts on SEO don’t cover it.

If you were to search for one of our big brands in Google, let’s say Falke, what you’d get is our 3rd and 4th biggest competitors.

Our Falke page for example, is in position 104. we hold 9th position for the term “Falke Tights” with that same section, which is not bad, but the puzzling part is that we have a “Falke” section and a “Falke Tights” sections. You’d think the latter is going rank for that search term, but it doesn’t at all.

All of our competitors use links in the header and breadcrumbs, just like we do. Opensite Exporler shows just 2 or 3 internal links for these competitors, and more than 1600 from us.

Many of our brand sections rank worse than they should, such as Pretty Polly and Charnos, both brand that we sell, rank page 2 or 3 for their search terms.

Another example is Kunert from Germany, a brand with nobody else in the UK selling these items. Our section has been live for 8 years, but we can only reach 71st on Google, 1st on Bing.

We’re working on building some quality links, but competitors have very few low quality external links, only slightly better domain authority than us but they seem to rank 100 or more positions better than us on many of our brands, including our Wolford section, one of our most authoritative pages.

This might suggest there is something on our pages or something internal we’re currently doing wrong, but all our tools tell us that we are doing everything fine.

Keyword density is close to our competitors and we’ve reduced the number of products on the page. All pages ranked well before the Penguin update, and Bing still seems to like them.

The main consensus is that we have penalties form Google, but looking at our competitors link profiles we are only slightly worse, this to me means Google has penalties on some brand pages, but why as they have few or no external links.

Is it our internal linking and if so how do I sort it out?

This is really quite puzzling, and if any one has any ideas please drop me an email jonathan@uktights.com

Thanks

Jonathan
www.uktights.com

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The dark art of SEO and Social Media Marketing

13 May 2014
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I run, Umega Lettings, a residential letting agency in Edinburgh. We understand that a critical source of new business is found online and that in order to secure this business we need to be found at the top of the online search rankings. Furthermore, as a business keen to push our personality to set ourselves apart from our, very-traditional, competitors, we see an opportunity to share our personality, and engage with customers, via social media.

We previously employed an SEO specialist to help us to climb the search rankings which was directly related to an increase in online new business leads. However, following google’s recent Panda and Penguin updates our google ranking fell off a cliff and consequently, our online leads dried up. Furthermore, earlier this year we launched our new website, following which our google rankings fell further which was extremely worrying (I have since learnt that it is common for rankings to drop 10-15% following website redesign).

From some online searching I found that the main message was that in order to climb back up the online search rankings, online activity must be ‘honest’ and must be written for humans. No more tricking google with irrelevant back links to get to the top of the search rankings. It became apparent that instead of hiding behind the business I would now need to act as an industry expert, sharing our expertise online, becoming involved in relevant online discussions and providing ‘value’ to users. With regards to social media, we have always struggled to engage ‘properly’ with social media. We have tried and failed to gain momentum in relation to our facebook and twitter profiles. So….in order to climb the google rankings ‘honestly’ and to learn how to engage properly with social media I enrolled in Salford University’s 10 week Search and Social Media Marketing Course, via distance learning.

The Search and social media marketing course has had a phenomenal impact on Umega Lettings. We are now confidently pushing forward with a wide number of online initiatives and, although I understand that many of these will take time to ‘bed in’ we are already seeing the benefits of these. The course is extremely practical and so learnings can be applied right away. From going through the 10 week course I am now confident I am not missing anything and I can push forward, with confidence, knowing that the hard work we’re putting in will get us where we want to be, at the top of the online search rankings and that our brand and reputation will continue to grow via social media.

It’s hard to cover all of the learnings in a short blog however a couple of key tips include;

Onsite SEO – it’s important for the content, titling and descriptions on our website to be well planned. WordPress enables us to revise all content and titling easily in order that it can be constantly reviewed to be relevant and easy for google to find.

Keywords – We’re now targeting a number of short-tail and long-tail keywords. Not only is it important to target the obvious short-tail keywords (in our case ‘letting agent edinburgh’ and ‘letting agents edinburgh’) but we should think about what people will type into search engines to ‘catch’ these users online. Phrases including ‘how to change letting agent in edinburgh’ and ‘how do I get a free rental valuation’ are the types of things that potential clients may search for.

Blogging – Blogging is a great way to provide fresh content for the website and to target these long-tail keywords. We now try to blog once a week to keep the content on our site fresh and relevant.

PPC – Facebook advertising and Google Pay per click are excellent ways to generate online leads, provided they are used correctly. As our google ranking has taken a dip over the last year, PPC is a great way to generate leads while we work hard, in the background, to push our website up the organic search rankings.

Strategy – It’s essential to have a strategy when it comes to online activity, otherwise the return on investment (financial and time investment) can be low. Furthermore, search and social media marketing does not end online. An online strategy must be incorporated with offline activities and more traditional business networking should be included in a strategy to promote link building and social media engagement with relevant businesses.

Monitoring – Every week I look forward to checking www.smallseotools.com to check our position in the google rankings. Only 3 weeks ago we were sitting 18th and 19th for our two target short tail keywords. We’re now bouncing around 9th-11th which is having a direct impact on new business leads. Looking forward to when we settle into the top 3 with a bit more work! I’m also never off google analytics as we closely monitor the impact of our PPC campaign and our organic search keyword targeting.

Online tools – there are powerful tools available to analyse the domain authority of your site and of your competitors and to investigate links that competitors are benefiting from. There are also small tools such as word clouds which can have a big impact on your business.

These are just a couple of examples of what is covered on the search and social media course and there are too many elements to cover in one short blog.

We’ve got a lot of exciting work to do. We need to keep working on pushing up the google rankings via the techniques we have already implemented and I am excited about including new aspects into our search and social media strategy including YouTube integration. We also need to work hard on building a strong community on social media and it will be interesting to run competitions during the summer, (making the most of the football World Cup and the commonwealth games) in order for people to engage with Umega lettings.

To summarise; search and social media marketing is not a dark art! It is all about honest, hard work. Business owners must now illustrate their expertise online and content must be relevant and interest. Gone are the days of taking short cuts and you now have to walk the walk if you want to beat the competition online! There is no better way of learning how to achieve this, and to give you the confidence that you are doing the right things, than participating in Salford University’s Search and Social Media Marketing course. At Umega Lettings, we know our stuff and and we do a great job for our clients. We need to continue to share what we know online in order to continue to climb the online search rankings and for our business to continue to grow.

Andrew whitmey

Umega Lettings

Www.umega.co.uk

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A New Beginning

8 May 2014
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To be honest I was not the biggest fan of social media, I really only used it when I had to at work, but being made redundant after more than 20 years with the same company made me really consider what I wanted to do and how I was going to do it. After going through all the emotions that come with being made redundant – shock, hurt, anger and tears – I really thought about things during the Christmas holidays and realised that actually I was quite please to not have to work for them any more, this was going to be the kick up the back side that i needed to do something different.

One thing that I was certain of was that I didn’t want to work for anyone else on a permanent basis, no more bosses for me for a while, I had decided to set up my own business.

From the beginning of 2014 I have been on so many courses, marketing, PR, procurement and business training and I have learnt so much but there was still a gap in my knowledge that I needed to fill. So while I was still employed I asked if as part of my redundancy package they would pay for me to go on the CPD Search and Social Media Course at Salford University. Luckily they agreed and feeling quite nervous, as I thought I might be out of my depth, I joined the other students to learn more about this fascinating subject.

From signing up to LinkedIn and Google+, to website optimisation, advanced keyword research and link juice, the course is very focussed on how your business can benefit from excellent search and social media marketing. It shows us how to improve our websites to try to reach the top of Google rankings and how Google analytics or moz.com can help to analyse how your website is performing against your competitors or how your media campaigns are affecting your business.

Far from being overly academic the course engages with the real world, inviting speakers from some of the top search and social media companies in the area to talk about best practice and give insights into how SSMM works for their clients. The speakers are often inspirational, are willing to answer questions and give freely of their time to help those of us who need to know more and who want to learn.

Well after ten weeks, and having just decided what to call my company, I have now signed up to LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest (love this!), I feel confident that when my new website is developed and online I will know what I am talking about with the web designer and that I will be able to maintain the site and check the analytics myself. I also know that help is available from the SSMM team at Salford University and I would recommend the course to anyone who is interested in this field.

I suppose it’s sour grapes really, but my previous employers would really have benefited if I have signed up to do this course a couple of years ago. But now I am going it alone it will be my future clients, and me of course, who will hopefully benefit from my new confidence with search and social media marketing.

Jacqueline Whitaker
May 2014

 

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Social Media – it’s great to be sociable !

8 May 2014
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Where do you turn when your business slows down or reaches a point where it stops growing? Well that is the question I asked myself, working on an organic vineyard in the beautiful south west of France and a in a wine shop in Hale, a few months ago. Well grab a glass of wine, sit back and look no further guys, organic marketing and social media are the answer.

Nowadays, most social businesses don’t use their capacity to their advantage. It’s easy to employ a marketing company, spend a lot of money, and not see any results. A friend of mine has a successful optical instruments online business and decided to outsource his Google ads campaign to a marketing company. After 6 months of paying high management fees he decided to end it and he saw no difference in his sales or website visits. This is why I went out there and studied SEO at the University of Salford as you are never better served then by yourself.

Maybe now is the time to mention that this blog is written by a glamorous blonde, and so will not be full of complicated words and non-understandable long statements about how you can go in the back end of your website and change every small details and correct mistakes. Time to employ a descent IT professional. However, there are still many things you can do by yourself.

cork social-media

So, to get back to how you can make a massive difference in your business, social media is a great opportunity. You’re probably thinking that I’ve lost the plot, that everyone uses Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other social websites; but do you use them the appropriate way? Probably not or you wouldn’t be reading this post.

For a start, pay attention to what happens on the social media. Listen for what social media users are saying about your company, your competitors, and your products, why they love them, why they don’t. Don’t start guessing or thinking you know what people want, because honestly you never know what’s in anyone’s head. You can also find future trending topics, and maybe even spot new markets and products opportunities. Isn’t this great?

Now that you’ve done this, you can start populating your social media content. The great thing is by listening to others, you will now have a better idea of what to post, what will be shared, talked about and even referred to. Be the first to post an interesting and relevant news and gain more customers awareness.

To make your customers connected with your brand you need to engage with them, make them feel they matter to you. The hardest thing is that you might sometimes get negative feedback as you can’t always have happy customers, but the way you deal with them will be crucial for the rest of your social network. Breathe in, stay calm and never step out of place. The customer is –unfortunately- always king.

As you don’t get anything for free these days, social ads is a great way to spend your money. Social ads are those ads that are displayed to users who have friends that are fans of the advertised business; they aren’t excessively expensive and can draw more attention to your business and target a specific part of the population.

After you’ve made so much effort in putting yourself out there don’t forget to measure your success. By doing this every so often, you will be able to see what works and what doesn’t and with time it will become easier to use social media and you will always be the one knowing all the gossip – and hopefully spreading a few- in your industry.

wine social media

I guess you are at least half way into your bottle of wine by now, so as a last note here are a few tips. Have a strategy, plan what you want to post every week or month so you don’t forget to do it. Social content needs to provide value and encourage action, your post isn’t just here to look good but also to be shared. By using social media wisely, your customers will sell your brand for you, and the best is that social media will help your business dominate the first page of Google.

 

 

If you ran out of wine by now, don’t hesitate to have a browse on here http://tour-de-belfort.com (free delivery all over the uk).

Melanie

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Social Media and SMEs – It’s not so scary!

7 May 2014
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Working on a business assistance project for small and medium enterprises we hear time and time again from businesses that they know they need to be using social media but “I’m too old for all that”, “there are so many different sites I don’t know which ones are right for me” or “I’ve given it a go but I can’t see any obvious gains”. As someone who before my current role, has only used social media in a personal capacity, studying on the Search and Social Media Marketing course has made me realise that getting social media right will take some effort but there are definite benefits.

Strategy! Strategy! Strategy! Social Media

You wouldn’t embark on an advertising campaign without having first developed a strategy, the same applies to social media. Ask yourself some key questions. What do you want from it? Who are you trying to target? If you sell plumbing parts then taking hundreds of beautiful pictures of your products and putting them on Pinterest may not be the best use of your time…please feel free to prove me wrong though! CMO.com have published a guide to some of the main social media options. What resources do you have? If you only have limited resources then don’t overstretch yourself. Don’t forget to think long term, just as in traditional business, building up customer relationships is key and social media is a great tool for this. Keeping your followers engaged is essential which is when you need to think about…

Content! Content! Content!

Good quality content is just as important on social media as it is on your website. If you are putting out the same (dull) message over and over again your followers are going to lose interest pretty fast. Rebecca Rae, Head of Social Media at Photolink Creative Group, recommends focusing on three key points when planning your content 1. What they want. 2. What you want. 3. Something new. When all three overlap you will have the perfect piece of content! Creating a bank of content and using social media scheduling tools will definitely help you manage the time you dedicate to social media but don’t forget to be reactive too, use trends and news stories to your advantage but don’t miss the boat (Google Trends is just one of tools that can help you out with this). On the theme of being reactive your customers may use social media to contact you with queries or complaints so don’t lose sight of…

Customer Service! Customer Service! Customer Service!

Social media is in many cases a public forum and any negativity can spread fast! This course has taught me that it is vital to develop a response strategy and ensure that all employees that have access to social media channels are aware of it. Don’t be tempted to just delete negative posts, by responding effectively and in good time you have the opportunity to turn things around.


These are just a few of the things to consider when entering the world of social media marketing and for SMEs it can definitely seem like a daunting prospect but help is out there! Unite with Business is an European Regional Development Fund Project which offers free business support for Small to Medium sized companies within the North West of England. The University of Salford is one of a partnership of six universities who can provide funding for student and graduate internships in SMEs. The project has provided support in a wide range of areas, SEO, social media strategy and content production are particularly popular. For more information go to www.salford.ac.uk/business-school/business-services/unite-with-business. We are also always looking for students and graduates interested in participating, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @SalfordUniUnite.

 

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Using social media to advertise boring products.

7 May 2014
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Cones as you may have realised aren’t interesting, they’re not funny, sexy, or appealing in any way, how then do you market one to the general public?

Cones

As a manufacturer of traffic management products we’re not exactly on trend, or in high demand. Basically cones are boring, and as a business to business company we didn’t think social media would benefit us in any way. After starting the Search and Social Media Marketing course though I thought why not try setting up a twitter and see where it gets us.

Before I set up the account I looked into other social media campaigns for boring products. The most successful one I could think of was Will It Blend?If you haven’t seen the videos, they’re advertising blenders but instead of just blending food or showing you a picture of a blender, they blend tablets, phones, toys, marbles, and a big mac, almost anything you can think of to show the power of the blender.  The campaign really took off and the guy behind it all became somewhat of a minor celebrity in America. There’s also the Got Milk? campaign, Milk has got to be the most boring product imaginable but the campaign was so successful that it has been running for over 20 years, there’s been celebrity endorsements and even merchandise, who knew an advert for milk could be so successful!

Another really good social media campaign is that of Vitamin Water, they asked people to tweet them with what’s currently boring them, then Vitamin Water would come back with a response to make it brilliant. They even went to a town In Oregon called Boring and put on loads of events and gigs, the whole thing went viral and there followers on twitter went up 100%.

There was more of online presence in our field that originally thought, so we set up our twitter account, @MelbaSwintex, designed the page around our theme from the website, followed the relevant people and waited for a miracle, but as we quickly realised, planning needed to go into running a social media platform.

We currently have three people with access to our twitter, a designer, a sales rep and me, so a wide variety of people, luckily we all have our own personal twitter accounts, so we knew the basics, we just didn’t know what to tweet about! Firstly we laid down the rules of what can and can’t be tweeted, we decided to discuss tweets before we posted them so we didn’t get any repeat tweets and so that non of the tweets were offensive, spelt wrong, or incorrect.  For us humour seemed to be the best way to go with, nobody wants to follow someone on twitter who blurts out facts about the first road cone or how to properly lay your road cone on the road. After only a couple of tweets we had a council ring us up and want to start a 2 year contract with us, just because I’d followed them on twitter, which is very encouraging.

Currently we’re tweeting about new products that we have coming soon, innovative design ideas that we are pursuing, particular tools that people can use on our website, and re-tweeting local news. We’ve currently got 31 followers, which doesn’t seem like many but to be fair it is a twitter account about cones.  According to our Google analytic’s profile, the twitter account is already generating more views to our website. Hopefully this will generate more interest in us as a company!

Thanks for reading and if you need any cones Melba Swintex is the place you need to call!

 

Melba Swintex

 

 

 

 

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Getting found locally – ‘SEO’ or ‘PPC’?

7 May 2014
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TECHNIQUES ON GETTING FOUND LOCALLY FOR VARIOUS GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATIONS

We’ve all heard the line ‘To Be or Not To Be’ from Shakespeare’s famous play, Hamlet.To Be Or Not To Be Text Box

The line outline’s the dilemma of Hamlet, as to whether to commit suicide or not. He had to decide whether to continue to live in a world that gave him pain and suffering or whether to end it all!!

I am facing a similar dilemma, all be it nowhere near as serious as Hamlet’s!

My dilemma is whether to continue to try and get my site found locally for various geographical locations throughout the UK & Scotland via organic SEO methods, or whether to go the dreaded PPC way.  Dreaded for me that is, as it costs money!!

I joined the Search & Social Media Marketing Course, as I was interested in learning how to write content which would help me get my individual geographical based pages found higher up on search engines, as well as any other techniques that would help, as I used to have brilliant rankings but then they all vanished!!

Through various discussions with Alex, fellow students and guest speakers, I have compiled the following list of things (in no particular order) that will help with getting found locally, and interestingly, it isn’t just about content:

  1. It’s good to have a physical address in the various locations that you are trying to target or at least some of them (if possible), as this will help get you on to Google Maps, which is basically the easiest way to get found locally. Don’t make an address up if you don’t have one.
  2. Once set up on Google Maps, it’s imperative to link to your website.  Google maps is also great way of giving potential clients a quick overview of your company, if you complete your profile 100%.  Telephone numbers, opening times, review, logos, images, etc.
  3. It’s good to get yourself listed on local directories that appear on the 1st page of Google, as a lot of the time you will find these mayLocal SEO Image be higher in the rankings than actual company websites.
  4. Make sure your keyword research is spot on and try to target long tail keywords as opposed to just accountants in Manchester or accountants in Preston. For example, Chartered Accountants in Manchester or Tax Accountants in Manchester.
  5. The content needs to be unique and different on each page, which seems very hard to begin with, but I will share some ideas on how this can be achieved later on.
  6. It’s good to write compelling content that entices others to share what you have written in order to help you get some more natural back links.
  7. Write for humans first and search engines second.
  8. It’s good to have a presence on the main Social Media platforms, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., and is also good to get involved in discussions about the local areas that you are trying to target.  Social Media is about engaging in conversation and ‘chatting’ as opposed to just selling.
  9. Have a blog, hosted on your site, and update it on a regular basis in order to keep the content fresh, once again, helping with content being shared by others and creating natural back links.
  10. Join forums for the local areas you are trying to target and get involved in discussions, to try and show you know about the local area.
  11. Try and get as many unique back links as possible, in a natural format. Make sure the links are ‘follow’ links (knows as ‘Dofollow’ links) instead of ‘Nofollow’ links, as ‘Dofollow’ links are the best to help with Search Engine Rankings.
  12. Try and offer something unique on your site, e.g. some sort of calculator, app, widget, newsletter, voucher, etc., which will attrGoogle Adwords Logoact visitors to your site from all over the country and once there, they can make an enquiry, so although you haven’t been found locally, people from all over the country are still finding your site and making an enquiry.
  13. If you can’t achieve better results by trying the above, then you may have to eventually give PPC a try.

Here are some ideas on how to make the content unique to help you in getting found locally, which is the hardest part for me and probably most of you:

  1. Add images of the local area to the relevant page, giving them the correct ‘Alt Attribute’.
  2. Try and get testimonials (both written & video) from people living in different geographical locations, who have used your service, and add them to the relevant page.
  3. Talk about the different geographical locations, i.e. history, industry, famous people, how your service could help certain niche businesses within that area if possible.

I hope the above helps you to decide on whether to go the SEO route or PPC, and please do add your comments and suggestions.

Thanks for reading; and if you ever need to find an accountant, or need any type of service provider, please fill out this simple form to receive upto 5, FREE, NON-OBLIGATORY quotes from accountants or service providers in your desired geographical location, for you to consider.

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Penguin 2.1, bad links and the importance of staggering your SEO/Social Media strategies

28 November 2013
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In August 2013 I took over the SEO and Social Media Marketing for a letting agency which specialised in student accommodation in Liverpool – Liverpool Student Lets. They were somewhat unhappy with the company that had been providing their SEO.

The first thing to do was to perform a full audit of the on-site and off-site optimisation. What I found was not an entirely pretty picture. The website was visually engaging and very professional, although with a few tweaks needed to optimise it for Google, such as adding H1 and H2 tags.

The website was performing moderately for its targeted keywords. It had a domain authority of 21, which was perhaps a bit low, but the website had only been live for a year.

Things got interesting when I started to look at the link profile of the website. Unfortunately I found it to have a lot of very spammy links. For instance, links from blog comments on irrelevant blogs in the USA, and numerous links from low quality bookmarking sites. However, as the website’s rankings did not seem to be suffering I decided to prioritise other aspects of the site such as optimising the keyword usage across the site’s pages. My intention was to come back later and analyse each link individually, before deciding what to do about them.

Another surprise came when I examined the on-site blog. Approximately 50 posts had been made over the course of a year, however I was quite shocked to find that the blog was not indexed in Google. This meant that all the hard work that had gone into the blog had been for nothing. Looking further into the blog, I found that many posts were less than 300 words, and some were quite repetitive and badly written. Any images were not optimised. I wanted to index the blog, but first I had to remove some posts and optimise others. I used knowledge that I picked up on the SSMM course to optimise these posts, and on October 4th 2013 at approx 5pm, I submitted the blog page to Google for indexing.

I was quite horrified to find that a few days later the site had dropped in the rankings, moving from page 1 to page 2 for the most important keywords! I decided that I had not optimised the blog posts well enough and started trying to improve them further. This had no effect on the rankings.

When Penguins attack…..

I later realised that at almost the exact same time that I indexed the blog, Google announced and rolled out the latest update to their Penguin algorithm – Penguin 2.1. For those who don’t know, Penguin is the part of Google’s algorithm that deals specifically with links – periodically Google roll out an update which is meant to spot bad linking practises and penalise sites accordingly.

The realisation that 2 things had happened at the same time (indexing of blog + rollout of Penguin 2.1) created a problem. Which was to blame for the reduction in rankings? There was no message about bad links in Webmaster Tools, although Google does not always advise penalised sites in this way.

Having looked at the blog I decided that the more likely culprit was Penguin 2.1. Therefore the bad links became the priority. I compiled a list of the links in Excel, recording the url, the domain authority, TrustFlow and CitationFlow (MajesticSEO’s own measurement systems of link value). I also made a note of how to contact the webmasters, where possible. It is important to keep good records of efforts made to remove links, because if you later wish to use Google’s disavow tool, then you must follow Google’s advice ie. that you must provide evidence of all efforts undertaken to remove links. So I began contacting the webmasters, of which only one has replied to me and removed the link. Many of the links had no contact details available. Once I have attempted contact three times to each webmaster, I can add them to my disavow list, either as a url or an entire domain. The use of the disavow tool itself is somewhat risky; Google clearly advises that using it could result in worse rankings for your site. I intend to use it soon, though, in the hope that it will put the site back on page one where it belongs.

Although we will hopefully see some improvement after this process is completed, there has still not been any confirmation regarding which of the 2 events on Oct 4th caused the drop in rankings.

There are a few lessons to take away from all of this :-

1. Beware SEO practitioners who use bad linking practises! There are still plenty of them around it seems….

2. Stagger your SEO strategies. If you implement 2 changes at the same time, then you cannot easily separate the effects from each of them. It is worth keeping a note of when you implement strategies, so that you can see the effect on traffic they have on traffic.

3. Once Penguin hits your site, it is not simple to recover. Indeed some SEO practitioners state that any penalties will not be repealed until the next Penguin update (which is usually every 6 months), whilst others think that a proper link removal campaign, followed by use of Google’s disavow tool, and finally submitting reconsideration requests, can result in the removal of penalties sooner.

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