Posts about: seo

Copywriting for Search – Get Your Copy Right, You Must

28 November 2013
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SEO Copywriting – Why Content is King (and what you can do about it)



A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Devious Webmasters, would-be marketers and sloppy content writers are blighting the World Wide Web with spammy content, underhand tactics and dubious links…

There was a time when the world of website content was a wild frontier, plagued with mean tricks that would get your site up the rankings quickly and easily, and while it might seem that online copy is leading a clean-cut existence nowadays, the dreaded Black Hatters and lazy content writers (think Darth Vader and Boba Fett) are still at it. So just how do you stay clear of the penalties handed out by the likes of algorithm update, Google Panda, and keep your site ranking well?

The web is made up of content – that’s what it is; a behemoth Smörgåsbord of files and folders full of documents, images, videos and so much more. So it stands to reason that in order to have a well-ranking website your content should be wholesome, good and honest (think Princess Leia and R2D2).

Google (and those other search engines we occasionally hear about) is becoming increasingly more attuned to the way in which content is written and, more importantly, how it is understood by the most technically advanced element of the internet, the humans. Content is still very much king (or, er, emperor?) and with the recent release of Google’s Hummingbird update ushering in the dawn of semantic search, that mantra isn’t looking like it will go away anytime soon. In fact it’s going to get increasingly harder for the bad guys to ‘outsmart’ the search engines as they dynamically learn the values and trademarks of well-written content.

Darth Vader's helmet

Definitely Black Hat

Princess Leia

A clean-living White Hatter

Images courtesy of LucasFilm and The Walt Disney Company

The Top 10 Steps to Better Content

Making significant gains in Google’s organic search listings needn’t be cloak and light-sabre (‘black hat’).  Follow these 10 steps to becoming a Content Jedi:

  1. Write for people first and worry about ‘bots’ later.
  2. Choose your keywords carefully and use them wisely.
  3. Don’t get SPAM-tastic – No-one likes a thorough keyword stuffing and Google seriously hates it!
  4. Mark up your page with a relevant structure (headings, sub-headings, bold text etc.)
  5. Better Meta – Help search engines to understand what’s going on with good meta data.
  6. Keep it interesting – Include some dynamic content such as images, videos, polls etc.
  7. Keep it relevant – Writing about red widgets? Then don’t try and sell me casinos and ladies of the night.
  8. Build some trust – Create links to and from relevantgenuine, trustworthy sites.
  9. Share it – Don’t wait around for people to accidentally trip over your shiny new content, tell the world.
  10. Tell Google – That’s right, you can let the boffins know too! Google Webmaster Tools is a great place to start.

For more tips or help with content writing, web design and online marketing please visit Outsrc Web Design and drop me a line.

Remember, the force is with you, mostly.

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Why Digital Marketers Need A Personal Blog Site

28 November 2013
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When you’re responsible for digital marketing for a large company, it can be hard to try out new ideas, which is why you should have a personal blog site to use as a tester.

That way, you can use it to experiment without needing to get things signed-off by senior managers or provide definite ROI, and without waiting for internal IT or external agencies to implement your suggestions.

New Adventures In Hi-Fi

Having your own personal blog site gives you the change to be at the cutting edge of digital marketing, even if it’s harder to get there in your day job.

This is even more important if you are looking for work and don’t have a company site to work on.

You need to prove your skills are up to date and providing results, so where else but on a site of your own?

So , while I’ve been on the Search And Social Media Marketing course, instead of trying out the new things I’ve learned on my company’s website (which is in the process of being redeveloped anyway), I’ve been testing them on my own blog site.

If you don’t already have your own site, here’s some top tips:

  1. Think carefully about what you want to write about
    If you are genuinely passionate about something, it’s a lot easier to motivate yourself to keep the blog updated and the content you write will be more engaging. If you’re writing content that people want to read and you have the enthusiasm about it to work hard promoting it, you’re more likely to succeed. If you can find a niche area, even better.
  2. Get it set up properly
    If you’re serious about running the blog as a tester site, you need to set it up as a hosted site, rather than going for the free option. So if you’re using WordPress, it’s from WordPress.org, not WordPress.com. You should aim to use a hosting company based in the UK rather than the US, to help boost your site’s speed, but obviously check reviews to find out about reliability. If you’re using WordPress, installing plugins like Yoast’s WordPress SEO is basically essential, as is getting Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools set up.
  3. Halloween movie features

  4. Write good, engaging, original content
    Before starting to write, it’s best to try and do some keyword research – using Google Keyword Planner, for example – beforehand to work out who your audience might be, what they might want to get from the article and what keywords and phrases you should include. Before Halloween, I wrote content aimed at people who were trying to decide what horror movies to watch, so I published reviews and features around that theme, fitting in phrases that people would search for, while obviously keeping the content fun and informative to read.
  5. Promote it (with money)!
    There’s two routes to go down.  One is to pay for advertising via Facebook or Google, etc, but given that this is a personal blog, you’ll be spending your own money and aren’t likely to make it back. But it’s still worth having a play with it. You’ll need to set up an AdWords account to use Keyword Planner anyway, and for about £30 you can run a campaign that will bring people to your site and give you an idea of best practice for if you run ‘real’ campaigns at work. I did this on Google Ads and Facebook Ads for my Halloween content, with ads based around helping people decide what to watch, and saw a big upturn in traffic.
  6. Promote it (for free)!
    Social media is your friend here. It’s easy to find your audience on Facebook or Twitter or Google+ or Pinterest with just a bit of research, and then you can use those platforms to build up traffic to your site. Google+ might not seem an obvious one to go for, but it’s becoming increasingly important in SEO terms (setting up Authorship is a must) and there may well be a Community on there that would welcome your content with open arms and clicking fingers.
  7. Link build
    This used to mean lots of grey hat activities, like buying links or signing up to link farms and directories, but these are potentially disastrous nowadays. You need to earn good, authoritative links through promoting your site in the ways mentioned above. Tactics like guest posts can still work, though you might well end up with a ‘no follow’ link, thus denying you link juice, you’ll still get traffic through it. I’ve done contributions to sites like the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed and have had decent levels of traffic coming through both. Using tools like Moz’s OpenSite Explorer will let you know what kind of quality links you’ve got coming through, while Webmaster Tools can help you identify any problems.

Most of all, if you’re doing this for yourself, you need to have fun and not be afraid to experiment. If you learn from your mistakes, it’ll stand you in good stead to get things right the first time when it really counts.

ABOUT JAMES ELLABY

James is Digital Marketing Manager for Manchester Solutions, having previously worked as an online football journalist and charity Communications Officer. He also runs film, TV and music blog New Adventures In Hi-Fi. You can get in touch with him through Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+

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SEO & Social Media Marketing Essentials

26 June 2013
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SEO & Social Media Marketing Essentials

Wednesday 24th July – Book Now

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Social Media Optimisation (SMO) are no longer an optional choice for many organisations competing for the increasingly internet savvy consumers. Do you have a digital strategy and a social media policy? Do you know that if you don’t manage your social media presence chances are your customers will manage it for you and not always in a most favourable way.

As part of the University of Salford’s commitment to delivering the best digital training available, Salford Professional Development have developed a one day ‘SEO & Social Media Marketing Essentials‘ course. This course is aimed at busy executives who want to have theoretic understanding as well as some basic hands on practical exercises which will highlight the essentials in SEO and Social Media Marketing. This knowledge will enable you to develop a better understanding of your customers behaviour online and help you to develop long term plan and implement basic techniques for management of day to day social media engagement. Working from your business objectives you will be able to draft some key performance indicators for your online presence, identify key social networks for your organisational use as well as conduct some basic Social Media Optimisation. The main focus on this course is to offer you a broad overview of search and social media marketing and help you to start working on your long term digital marketing strategy as well as plan for use of techniques.

Tutor:

Aleksej Heinze - http://businessculture.org

The course will be taught by Dr Aleksej Heinze, Aleksej is a co-director for the Centre for Digital Business which is part of The University of Salford’s Business School. He currently works on an international projects Passport to Trade 2.0 which helps businesses to understand International Business Culture and develop new business opportunities in Europe using social media networks.

Guest Speaker:

The course will also feature Martin Cozens who is the Managing Director for Banc Media. Based in Old Trafford, Manchester, Banc Media are a Search Engine Marketing company providing Pay Per Click & Search Engine Optimisation. They specialise in a measured & transparent approach, focussing on ROI for our clients through researched search engine marketing.

Martin Cozens: “We develop close relationships with our clients, proving to become an integral part of their business, smashing targets set by them and showing real return on investment in the products we supply and the search results they gain. Developing these relationships is what makes our business stronger and helps our team grow further to providing the very best service.”

Their clients include:

  • Lufthansa’s business rewards air miles scheme SACP
  • Cruise1st – a leading cruise holiday provider operating in the UK, Ireland & Australia
  • FADS.co.uk – the nationally known online furniture retailer that was on the high street in over 800 stores
  • Breens Solicitors – a renowned law firm operating out of Merseyside for both private and business clients.

Venue

SEO & Social Media Marketing Essentials is based and delivered at the state of the art teaching and training facilities in the heart of the UK’s Media hub at MediaCityUK, University of Salford. This cutting edge facility is on close proximity of the BBC, ITV and many other top digital and media agencies.

Price

This course costs £299 + VAT.

Want to know more?

If you wish to enquire about this course, simply get in touch with Robert Goodison at Salford Professional Development on 0161 295 5407 or email R.Goodison@salford.ac.uk.

This course is aimed at busy executives who want to have theoretic understanding as well as some basic hands on practical exercises which will highlight the essentials in SEO and Social Media Marketing. This knowledge will enable you to develop a better understanding of your customers behaviour online and help you to develop long term plan and implement basic techniques for management of day to day social media engagement. Working from your business objectives you will be able to draft some key performance indicators for your online presence, identify key social networks for your organisational use as well as conduct some basic Social Media Optimisation. The main focus on this course is to offer you a broad overview of search and social media marketing and help you to start working on your long term digital marketing strategy as well as plan for use of techniques.
This course draws on the content used as part of the ten week evening course in Search and Social Media Marketing but does not include the level of detail necessary for senior individuals who are responsible for managing strategic plans
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How to make a video viral? Jonathan Berger’s STEPS in “I feel Good” campaign

7 May 2013
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Have you ever wondered why certain online digital marketing campaigns go viral? As part of our MSc Marketing course at Salford Business School we created a video and tested how Jonathan Berger’s STEPS concept works in real life projects.

We were introduced to Jonathan Berger’s idea of STEPS during our Search and Social Media Marketing module guest speaker’s Denise Brooks presentation.  Berger suggested that going viral is not just luck, its science based on psychology of talk.

Jonathan Berger’s STEPS concept

The key 6 STEPS in creating a viral video using Jonathan Berger’s idea of STEPS are:

  1. Social currency
  2. Trigger
  3. Emotion
  4. Public
  5. Practical value
  6. Story

Here is bit more background on the concept from Jonathan Berger himself:

I feel Good – viral video campaign concept

Our task was to create a viral campaign to promote Salford Business School to future applicants. The question we faced was – “How to make a video viral?”. We decided to take an interactive and lively approach to the campaign and link it to the online community of those following the ‘I feel good’ song by James Brown as a base for the viral video. Using keyword research we identified that “I feel good” is a popular search term, which taps into an existing community of interest online.

Through this song we emphasised that Salford Business School has great facilities and it is an enjoyable place where students feel good when they are better placed. People from different backgrounds have sung the verse showing the cultural variety that could be found in Salford Business School. This video linked to current campaign of the University of Salford – ‘Be better Placed’ and anyone interested to study business management courses at Salford Business School. At the end of the video we used a call to action message: You feel good when you’re better placed. Salford Business School… Be better placed. What makes you #IFeelGood? The idea here was to get people to share their own stories and get the video “viral” so that students would create their own footage and post it using this already existing hash tag on twitter  – #IFeelGood.

Jonathan Berger’s STEPS Framework application and results

The video contains 4 key Jonathan Berger ideas: It has social currency as the video uses humour which makes people feel good and encourages people to share. This is because of well-known trigger, the song, which becomes associated with the positive emotions that could be achieved studying at Salford Business School. It kindles the fire to share as ‘feel good’ emotions are embedded in the song. The video has a public message as it shows how Salford Business School community is beneficial for studying business in an interactive environment.

“I feel Good” campaign results

The “I feel good” campaign ran for one week during which time we were competing with five other student teams. By integrating this video with social networks sharing and organic search optimisation we achieved over 500 views in just over a week! This was associated with an incredible number of re-tweets, shares on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+, comments and various social media platforms.

Our campaign integrated Social Media Optimisation (SMO) with YouTube video optimisation. YouTube optimisation was done using a keyword rich video title, video description and keywords in video tags so that we have had a good stream of organic traffic coming from different searches.

This practical project as part of our Search and Social Media Marketing module proved that a viral campaign could be easily managed through a controlled message and a plan without a budget!

What do you think about Berger’s STEPS framework? Is it a science that makes it contagious or just luck? Please share and comment below.

Diana is on LinkedIn: Diana

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SEO – It’s football crazy

11 April 2013
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I’ve seen the practise of SEO described as both an art and as a science, and indeed one of my primary considerations when enrolling on the SSMM course at the University of Salford was to ensure I received an authoritative, impartial, and academically applied grounding in the subject rather than a purely commercial one.

Tackling a new art or science project can seem very daunting though, and as the weeks rolled by and multiple layers of influence in the online marketing sphere were revealed, it dawned on me how search engine marketing has many parallels with the world of sport – the concepts of which I can understand much more easily. My sport is football (soccer, if you must), but I think the principles can be extended to virtually any sport you follow – let me know if I’m wrong!

So how can a football team’s success on the pitch mirror a website’s performance on the Google playing field?

League Tables

The Search Engine Results Page (SERP) can be viewed in much the same way as a football league table – the most successful at the top, and with each page back, we can think of lower and lower divisions in the football pyramid. Just as smaller clubs still have their own supporters, so less well-optimised websites will still possess devotees, but the “big boys” at the top will continue to attract the majority of attention and new fans. It is thus the ultimate goal of each club to move up the rankings and become number one.

The Tactical Battle

Christmas trees, diamond midfields, flat back-fours, 4-4-2 or 4-3-3? If these don’t sound familiar to you then they are a selection of tactical formations football manager’s choose to line up their teams, in the hope they will best perform in that way.

A website owner needs to employ tactics in the same way, from how their site is structured (about Sitemaps) to the keyword strategy they employ. Keywords are like the best players on your team, and you want them to control the action on your website, so it is important you select the most “talented” ones you can – and play them in their strongest positions!

A number of tools are available for keyword research, and just as football clubs scout for new players – website owners need to search for terms which will strengthen their “keyword squad”.

Football managers will often check out their opposition to gain a measure of their relative strengths and weaknesses, and via tools such as Open Site Explorer, online marketing managers can do the same to gain a competitive edge.

Style of Play

In order to engage fans and keep them paying at the turnstiles, it is important to offer them a good experience. A fluid style of play with dashes of flair and inspiration, allied to displays of commitment and honesty will satisfy most football fans – and so too, quality content must be the basis of any website aiming to attract supporters and to keep them. Provide a dull, dreary slog and don’t expect to sell many season tickets.

Optimisation of imagery, copy and load speeds are fundamental to an online operation, and a grasp of the basics with a clear vision of how a site “should” work are required before any grand notions of growth and progress are considered.

Giant Killing

Unless your team is blessed with the backing of a billionaire benefactor, getting to the top and staying there is perhaps unrealistic, as the resources available to you cannot compete. Every season though, we hear of David versus Goliath clashes where the little guy wins.

Aristotle spoke of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, and this in football relates to teamwork – everyone pulling in the same direction, with no prima donnas or shirkers in the team.

In the field of marketing, if all aspects of the business are “on message” then success is more achievable. In the online competition for Page ranking, niche or well reasoned keywords can bring success to smaller enterprises who cannot compete head on with large multinationals.

Resting on Laurels

Once a level of success has been achieved, it must be tempting to soak up the glory of a job well done. Be warned though, the competition does not sit still. After a long journey to the top, and will more resources to call upon than most, Manchester City were satisfied with their squad and playing style and changed very little form the formula which brought them success. Their rivals though, Manchester United, invested and adapted resulting in a reversal of fortunes for the neighbouring clubs in the following campaign.

Liverpool F.C., for so long the dominant force in English football, failed to move on from their last championship-winning team and allowed it to become old and stale – they have never fully recovered since, as rivals became more successful and generated more revenue.

Huge high street stores such as Comet and HMV have both failed to move on with the development of online business to disastrous effect.

It is strategically vital to nurture a website in line with developments in the industry and market place, because being left behind can have dire consequences to the visibility and hence profitability of internet traders.

Rules of the Game

Football has a host of governing bodies from FIFA on the world stage, to UEFA in Europe and the FA in England. All have regulations, but the game has generally consistent rules of play which all must obey.

Search Engine Optimisation has no official rule book, but, in the Western world at least, Google can realistically be viewed as the governing body. Such is Google’s dominance as the search engine of choice, that satisfying the demands of its “algorithm” (a tool employed to measure the authority and worth of websites) can be likened to playing by the rules.

Infringements to the laws of the game in football can result in penalties and suspensions, as can infringements to Google dictates when optimising websites. There are many cautionary tales on the web relating to Google’s “Panda” and “Penguin” penalties.

Just like the offside rule in football, Google’s considerations for it’s algorithm are widely confused – but if everything were clear cut and predictable, the beautiful game would not be so exciting, would it?!

This Manager’s Future

My client, Idyll Home, are a relatively young company, and I suppose could be considered a lower division team at present. There is plenty of talent and ambition there though, and I hope to utilise the skills and knowledge acquired on the #SSMMUOS course to push for year on year promotions to the Premier League!

One thing’s for certain about SEO though…it’s a funny old game!

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How Search and Social Media Course at Salford University helped our web site!

18 December 2012
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Dayinsure - Temporary Car Insurance

Hit by Google Panda? Problems with SEO? Poor ranking web site?

These were some of the issues my company Dayinsure had. Dayinsure usually ranked well for most search terms but in particular Temporary Car Insurance and Short Term Car Insurance, were always listed in the top 3 of SERPs.

Thanks Google Panda!! At the end of February 2012, our visitor numbers suddenly dropped by around 60%. Some of our more long tail keywords hadn’t changed but our main search terms had plummeted down the rankings. Our current SEO company, although helping with good rankings for our long tail keywords, couldn’t seem to repair our Google Panda hit!

SEO for most businesses is quite a scary subject, or dark art as some call it but as an I.T. company, we wanted to try and understand it. We looked for courses that may help us and found that the University of Salford run a Search and Social Media Marketing course, so I booked onto it.

The training takes place at Media City in Manchester and is a fantastic place to learn. And right from the start, you realise that SEO is not as scary as first thought. If there is one thing to take from the course, it’s the words, “Content is King”. Content is so important. Reading it, sharing it, liking it, tweeting it or blogging about it. How ever your content is used, it’s important when your write it that it is relevant to the subject and is written in a natural matter so no keyword stuffing etc.

The course has helped us to understand the correct way to implement SEO. I’m not an SEO expert yet but having a basic understanding of the rules and the things that you should be doing really help. Attending this course will help you communicate with your SEO agency in better ways or allow you to bring SEO in-house, just be aware that SEO is not something you should do if you have a spare couple of hours here and there. You need to spend a lot of time on SEO in keyword research, writing content, internal and external link building, social media and others.

I would recommend this course to anybody who has been hit by Panda or Penguin, or anyone who just wants to understand SEO. One other great thing about the course is the industry experts each week. These experts spend over an hour each week explaining their industry expertise and how you can apply the same techniques. You can even ask them advice about your own web site and they are more than happy to help.

Have you been hit by a Google Algorithm update or have a similar story? Ask me a question or just get yourself on the next course!

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SEO Experiences: A Freshman’s Perspective

29 March 2012
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Journey Into The Unknown Or Silent Assassin?

When signing up for the Search and Social Media Marketing Course at the Manchester Salford Business School, I had precious little knowledge of how SEO worked – this, despite working as a freelance journalist and therefore attuned to promoting ‘brand awareness’ over the last four years for an industry-leading motorsport website. Journalists and writers tend to chase the next story and are much less concerned with keywords and search rank – rather leaving it to the organisations they are loosely connected with, or represent, to get on with task of improving results within SERPs.

improving results within SERP

Therein lay the problem – I didn’t understand SEO and how to maximise the opportunities that being creative presents. I enjoy my part-time writing work much more than my regular job, working within the warehousing and logistics sector as a forklift truck driver. At the start of this year my personal life reached a crossroads and this was the perfect time to do something about it. Learning SEO and Social Media marketing seemed a logical step forward and armed with a healthy Twitter following and enthusiasm to learn another skill, I signed up.

Information Superhighway

My eyes would be opened over the next six weeks much more than I could imagine. What became clear very quickly is that with any good business, success begins with planning, research and building the foundations to work from. Studying the competition, keyword research through Google and Google AdWords is a great place to start and can give you so much information in just a few minutes. Without a clear structure and plan of how you want to go about improving search rankings, failure to achieve the maximum is likely. In my case, I had just lost a deal to supply detailed written Formula 1 motor racing weather forecasts to the site I was affiliated with. The choice was either to stop completely and give up what I love doing – or to find another outlet to share my views and knowledge with others.

The #SSMM course – run by Aleksej Heinze – is the perfect educational tool to take your website on the road to major SEO improvements and a better search rank. Citing previous creative examples, students are guided through the do’s and dont’s of planning, keyword research, creating widgets, social media engagement and social media asset management to name but a few topics – all with you in mind. Prominent industry speakers are backing this course and give talks, adding further insight and giving information openly on how you can change things on your own site to help improve visibility and search ranking potential.

The road to success

Many people like myself, prior to enrolling on this course would be entitled to think that 99% of companies and website owners have their systems already optimised to the maximum, and therefore it would impossible to go and work as an SEO, or to create your own site as an independant. After all, SEO has been around for several years. When you actually conduct the research and examine the competition of your chosen field, you may be surprised. I certainly was. The best endorsement that I could give this course, is to demonstrate that in just 15 days from starting my own blog, I took http://f1weather.com to second in Google’s worldwide search for the short-tail keyword ‘F1 Weather’.

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SEO companies that have your pants down!

13 March 2012
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SEO Companies - burglar

The SEO companies that wear striped tops and balaclavas!

Working as a Graphic / Web Designer for the past 4 years, has been a very interesting ride. I have learned a lot to do with online marketing and I thought, to develop my skills further I would need to delve into the world of SEO, and become a jack of all trades.

The company that I currently work for, own a number of websites that SEO companies have torn to pieces, tried to glue back together with the wrong glue and left us with a shambling mess!

Within the first 2 weeks of being on the Search and Social Media Marketing course, I knew exactly where our sites were lacking optimisation and had produced a strategic plan of how to save our sites from the plummets of low Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Questioning certain “SEO services”

Here are some things which I noticed on our sites after attending the Foundation SSMM course:

I noticed that the Meta Title tags were duplicated throughout. This is obviously a big NO NO, as every page with-in your site needs to have a unique title.  Also, they were averaging at around 150 characters, which I know I could keep down to, at most 80 characters that include my primary keywords and secondary.

So once I was done with the unique titles throughout the whole of the site, it was time to start working on the descriptions for each of the pages. This I found was the most time consuming of all the on page stuff that I was doing, I remembered what Simon Wharton had told us about ” writing for the user, and NOT the search engine ” and made sure all my descriptions included my keywords for that page and read fluently.

Me Vs. SEO Company, the battle continues…

The next step that I was going to look at was the page structure and content. Now the previous bunch of “apes”, who carried out the SEO services for our sites, must have had literally NO IDEA what they were doing!

All our pages contained no <h1> tags and basically had copied all the content from other sites! Tools like Copyscape had helped me find the original source of all our content! So my mission was to create the <h> tags using the relevant keywords, come to the table with fresh new content that included the keywords for the relevant pages. Again remembering what Simon had said, we made sure the new content for our pages read very fluently, and delivered the message they intended too, without spamming it with random keywords.

Lets wrap this up…

The outcome of the work I have been putting into our sites is really starting to show through now. There are points which I haven’t even covered and I am already starting to see great results! In the next couple of weeks I will be looking more into the internal and external links for our sites and also be pushing towards some Social Media tools.

So unfortunately due to the nature of our business, I am not able to link to any of the sites that I am currently working on, so you can all have my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts instead! :)

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Did the Queen of Shops Get it Wrong?

27 February 2012
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In December 2011 Mary Portas published her report into the on-going decline of the British High Street. In her report she clearly identifies the upward trend in eCommerce as one of the main reasons why sales and footfall on the nation’s high streets are in free-fall.  Mary makes 28 recommendations all of which are valid but I am left wondering why she doesn’t encourage the small trader to believe that they have as much right to profit from the opportunities of eCommerce, Social Media and Search Engine Marketing as the big boy multiples with their enormous digital marketing budgets?

Who am I to have an opinion?

I am essentially Mary’s cause – Queen of my own shop and the proud owner of Venus Flowers.

Florist in Manchester

A Manchester City Centre florist – a somewhat unusual sight in Manchester City Centre these days – a small independent retailer who engages in a daily battle to survive if not thrive in the brave new world of post credit crunch depression.

Like most small businesses I recognised years ago that I needed an on-line presence and have since lost count of the amount of time and money I have spent engaging with ‘experts’ in the field of web-design.

I am now onto the third developer and the third version of my site the previous two being utter disasters the details of which I don’t have the time or energy to go into.

I have literally lost thousands of pounds and at times my faith in humanity.

Sadly, I know from talking to other small business owners that I am not alone.

Taking Back Search Marketing and Social Media Control

At the end of 2011 I discovered by accident a huge mistake in the development of my current website (quickly acknowledged and rectified by my current developers) which was the final straw – I had an epiphany…

I realised that without knowledge I would never have control, I understood something of every other area of my business why not this one?  So after some research (web based of course), here I am attending Salford Business School’s Search and Social Media Marketing Course, a slightly nervous florist/business owner/complete novice.

My eCommerce Journey So Far

Blogging

Here I am four weeks in writing my first blog-post, but more than that, understanding why blogging is important and how I can respond to some of my potential customers long-tail searches and build links to my website by writing interesting and authoritative blogs on subjects I understand and enjoy (GET ME!).  For example this beautiful picture of a brides bouquet we made a couple of weeks ago which is lingering on my iPhone:

Spring Brides Bouquet image from Venus Flowers Manchester

now gets a title of “Spring Brides Bouquet” (in response to a small but significant number of long tail searches I found when I was developing my keyword plan), and becomes a part of venus flowers blog I am writing on the subject, this will include a video of us making a Spring Brides Bouquet as well as links back to my wedding page where brides to be can click on a link to request a no obligation consultation – impressive hey? In the meantime I have been able to share this image with our Twitter Followers.

eCommerce – importance of Keyword Research

Using Goolge Adwords to research how people are searching for your products and services has to be the simplest but the most revealing part of the course for me. Why is it when I have paid thousands to have an eCommerce site developed I have been asked to write my own content “so it will be more authentic” without so much as a reference to the importance of keyword research?

I am ranking third for “florist Manchester”:

Florist Manchester search result with Venus Flowers

This ranking is more by luck than judgement, but I rank nowhere for “flower delivery Manchester” which has far higher search numbers – time to write some content!

I have also learned that my industry language isn’t necessarily the language of the searcher, when writing I would always use the term Sympathy Flowers believing this to be more grammatically acceptable, however my Google Adword research revealed only 480 monthly searches for this term and over 12,000 for “Funeral Flowers” – time to get back to plain English and write even more content!

Suffice it to say that encouraged by my tutor and our guest speakers industry experts like the mind-blowingly brilliant Mark Johnson from Latitude and Dan Taylor from Seowned both of whom have restored some of my faith in the integrity of the industry, I now have a fully researched keyword plan. This along with a carefully considered Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign for the areas I don’t yet rank organically for means that hopefully I should get a return on my course investment in the near future.

eCommerce and importance of Links

Having spent ages agonising over why a competitor who (in my humble opinion) has a poor website and isn’t actually anywhere near as good as we are consistently out-ranks us for some key terms. Using tools and techniques I have learned over the last four weeks like using google link query and SEOToolbar, I have been able to compare our sites and it’s clear that the only reason for this is the number of links into their site.  Link-building is somewhat more time consuming and complex than keyword research and content writing, it also involves good old fashioned relationship building and networking. I however understand how vital this is to Google and also how to go after links with authority – quality rather than quantity.

Watch this space competitors I’m on your case!

Manchester Florist Venus

Like Raef and Stuart from Channel 4′s Celebrity Wedding Planner you can follow us on twitter or Facebook where I will be sharing our latest flower pictures, stories and offers from Venus Flowers:

So…eCommerce and the High Street – Crisis or Opportunity?

Having read my blog tell me what you think, do you think that eCommerce can help small business owners to stay on the High Street or are you with Mary Portas and believe that eCommerce will mean the end of British High Street? Please share your views in the comments section below!

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Manchester SEO and Social Media training that works – says Anthony Mcloughlin

15 January 2012
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Manchester SEO and Social Media training Anthony

Manchester Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Social Media Marketing training provides the key knowledge and skills people need to work in the growing SEO and Social Media marketing industry – says Anthony Mcloughlin.

This course is offered by Salford Business School in partnership with leading digital marketing organisations such as Latitude, Carat, PushON, MoneySupermarket, Pleer, Fast Web Media, MEC: Manchester and Brilliant Media and the internationally-recognised Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organisation (SEMPO).

From 26th January 2012, this course will be offered right at the heart of the region’s digital and media economy at the University of Salford’s new state-of-the-art facility at MediaCityUK:

Manchester SEO and Social Media training at MediaCityUK

10 Steps to start your SEO and Social Media Marketing career

Anthony McLoughlin from Burnley, graduated from the course in November last year and has already found that it has helped him completely change his career path for the better. As part of his studies he wrote and presented the following blog post on “SEO Career – 10 Steps to Help You Get Yours Up and Running”.

Manchester SEO and Social Media training blog post presentation by Anthony McLoughlin

While working as a technical clerk at a conservatory roofing company, he began to take an interest in digital marketing. He explained:

“I didn’t mind my job, but I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. I started to read up about Pay Per Click advertising and then progressed into taking an interest in SEO. I found it so interesting that I decided I wanted to develop a career in the SEO industry.”

Commuting from home once a week and participating in online discussions and self study using the online training material from SEMPO, it was not long until Anthony was able to write a blog post about a career in SEO using his newly gained knowledge and skills.

“The Search & Social Media Marketing course has helped me tremendously,” Anthony continued. “Before the course I barely knew anything about SEO and social media marketing, and now I can talk confidently about the subjects and give advice to people.”

And, it was not long until Anthony was offered a job as a Digital Project Co-ordinator at Burnley-based Tone Digital Marketing Agency.

“Learning from industry speakers from the Manchester SEO community was the main highlight of the course,” he said. “They gave me some fantastic advice and inside knowledge that only people in the industry know, and I’m adopting the advice and ‘secrets’ in my new role right now.”

Follow Anthony on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Places on this course are limited to 12 participants  – contact us for more information or just use the comments section below or book your place using the online booking form.

Carol Prestbury – CPD & Professional Training Associate
Research and Innovation
Faraday House
The University of Salford
Salford
M5 4WT

Email: C.A.Prestbury@salford.ac.uk
Tel: 0161 295 6855
Fax: 0161 295 5494

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