Posts about: seo

Content marketing: Why your content isn’t being shared

29 September 2014
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Content marketing: Why your content isn’t being shared

We’ve all heard the phrase “Content is King,” but what does it actually mean? Most people make the mistake of thinking that content is merely written copy used to acquire backlinks and justify keyword placement, but in reality it’s much more than that. Images, videos, infographics – literally anything that’s published on the Internet – all comes under the content umbrella. We’re all publishers; and as publishers we want our work to be seen by as many people as possible, and that’s where sharing comes in.

Amassing shares on social media – aka “going viral” – can expose your content to a phenomenal amount of people; however, getting others to share your work for free is quite a challenge as you can’t just ask without doing any groundwork. It’s imperative that you understand what makes good content valuable to others and how to effectively make your approach.

As the owner of a premium search marketing agency – Distinctly – I’m constantly asked how to get content shared. The truth is, there is no guaranteed method. You can, however, significantly increase your chances by merely publishing content that’s in demand. Part of my job is to find out what others are looking for, and then devise a plan to maximise exposure; but whether or not people share it is down to two things, quality and luck.

You’re not helping anyone

So you’ve written an excellent informative article or blog post with decent images, a video and possibly even an infographic, but it’s still not getting shared. No doubt you’ve encountered this problem before. The first thing you have to ask yourself is, “Does this content actually help anyone?” If the answer is no, then you’ve already got your reason.

Good content isn’t about flawless grammar and clever wording; it’s about helping others and publishing something that’s unavailable elsewhere. Type in any keyword and you’ll probably find that 80% of the websites you visit are irrelevant, or simply rehashing the same information. If you fall into this category how will you ever expect to gain exposure? To succeed sometimes you have to just forget about promoting your business and develop content with the primary aim of helping people.

You’re failing to do any outreach

Publishing content is merely the first step. If nobody knows about that content how will you ever expect to receive shares and likes on social media? No matter how good your content is you need to tell people about it. It’s important to start the outreach before you publish the content. Contact bloggers and businesses you think it will appeal to and start trying to build relationships with them – comment on their social media pages, compliment their work, send them a friendly message, etc.

When we started working for graphic design agency The Pink Group, we began the outreach process weeks in advance, and by the time we published their content – the Social Media Cheat Sheet – we already had a collection of bloggers and businesses that were willing to share it. The result was over 12,000 social media shares in just a matter of weeks.

You’re not monitoring your activity

Monitoring your traffic and social media activity is crucial. Where is your traffic coming from? What pages of your website are people visiting? The more you know about how people are finding and using your content the better.

At Distinctly we use a tool named Share Tally to get a general overview of how well a piece of content is performing. Share Tally combines every share, tweet and like, etc., from across multiple social media platforms and gives you an overall figure. We’ve found this website to be very helpful when implementing new content marketing strategies as it allows us to measure spikes in sharing.

You’re not communicating with your audience

Interaction accounts for at least a third of the content marketing process. Social media is called “social” media for a reason, and many businesses tend to forget that it’s designed as a communication and networking tool. When somebody leaves a comment on your page, respond to them publicly; if they share your content, thank them for their support. Treat your audience with respect and they will become very loyal followers.

After we publish content our primary focus is on strengthening relationships. We often recommend that our clients spend a few minutes each morning simply taking part in the community that they’ve built. Personal communication will go a long way and people will be more inclined to share content when they know their efforts are appreciated by a person rather than a corporate entity.

Fundamentally, not every piece of content you publish will get shared and liked – it’s just the nature of the beast. But, the more quality content you publish the bigger your community of followers will become. Rinse and repeat the process and there’ll be no reason why you won’t succeed.

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UK Tights, Building A Brand With A People Friendly Site

9 May 2014
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Our Origins

The team at UK Tights has been concentrating on SEO since the first day we launched our site. Since then, we’ve run into obstacles and plenty of road blocks, but we’ve learned how to navigate these and make a success out of our website.

SEO is always going to be a difficult thing to get right. Search engines like Google make sure that not all of the requirements for a strong website are published so that people don’t engineer their sites just to get to the top of certain SERPs.

UK Tights decided that the only way to go about making a healthy website was to make small changes and wait until we saw a change in our SEO profile, measuring this using Google Analytics to see if our visitors increased and one what search terms. That way, we could effectively experiment with changes to our website and see what worked and what didn’t.

The Human Element

But really, the best indicator for finding out how a website might climb the SERPs is to look at how people react to your site when you make a change. Search engines try and make their search results as humanistic as possible, so when you make a change that people respond to positively, Google and other engines love it too. One example is bread crumbs. We added bread crumbs to UK Tights, which is a string of links that run across the top of the page so you can find your way back to larger sections when you need to.

Bread crumbs are a common feature of websites and people use them regularly to get back to where they need to go. As soon as we installed this feature, Google picked up on our change and we saw our rankings increase for those terms that were included in the bread crumbs, such as brand names that we sell.

Thinking How The Search Engine Thinks

Google have stated that they want their search engine to think as close to the way a human brain thinks as possible, so they make sure it values the same things a person would value. Write many of one keyword and Google will think you are generating spam, the same way that a person will think your article is not very enjoyable to read.

We at UK Tights found the best way to do SEO was to look at making changes that benefit our customers, especially when it comes to written content. Creating a page for a brand of items that we sold allowed people to look only at their favourite designer and the few hundred words of text at the top we used to talk about their history was something our customers loved. Search engines did too; they saw the brand page and knew we specialized in that brand and they saw that we had written about the history of the designer, so we must be an authority on the topic. This view point helped us immensely and it continues to guide the way we think. Make it easy for the customer or the reader to find what they need and you’ll be rewarded.

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UK Swimwear, Putting SEO Quality First

9 May 2014
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How We Started Out

UK Swimwear was started just over five years ago as a website for browsing, shopping and choosing all your items of beachwear and swimwear. Founded by the team at UK Tights, UK Swimwear was launched as a supplement to our summer business. UK Tights sees their busiest periods around Christmas, so to help bring in more business, we launched UK Swimwear.

One great part about launching a second site is that most of the lessons we learned around websites and SEO helped us to build a website’s profile immediately. But with UK Swimwear, we ran into more obstacles after our launch.

Where Things Went Wrong

Originally operating under the name UK Beachwear, our site had plenty of links from many different sites, but unfortuantely with Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, these link were deamed junk or spam. Recovering from the Penguin and Panda algorithm changes meant learning a very important lesson about SEO and how to run a business. Quality over quantity.

Many of these links came from sites with very little content and authority and we had to concentrate on dissavowing all of these before rebuilding, but once we removed a lot of this poisonous linking, our goal was to get a handful of links from only the very best sources. We moved towards the biggest fashion blogs and even the online editions of newspapers as well as .edu sites.

How UK Swimwear Recovered

These kinds of sites have immense authority with search engines and as such, they are the place to be when it comes to building your own profile on Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.

After moving to a new site and starting to build from scratch, we eventually learned how to carefully curate links back to our site by offering quality content such as blog posts to our partners and we almost immediately started out with a better position than our previous site had been at in a couple of years.

UK Swimwear is continuing to climb by using this as our key strategy. We develop our site and our content carefully and instead of asking for a whole bunch of cheap links, we carefully court and talk to the big fashion bloggers to get a good and fair exchange by sending them samples or writing articles for them. This is how UK Swimwear first begin to regrow and it’s our continued strategy for the future.

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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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Is your website mobile device friendly?

24 April 2014
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Already being in the digital marketing industry, last year I attended Salford University to study on the SEO & Social Media Marketing course to brush up and improve on my digital marketing skills.

Responsive Websites & SEO

mobile internet growth

The Mobile Web

The online marketing landscape is rapidly changing and moving towards the mobile web, traditional methods of viewing websites on desktop and laptop computers  is on the decline.

In the last couple of years smartphone and tablet pc sales has exploded, people are ditching their desktops and laptops in favor of mobile devices. It`s now the era of smartphones, apps and tablet devices which brings yet another set of challenges to website owners and marketers alike.

Having a mobile device friendly website to meet the demand of this rising trend is now essential rather than a necessity, especially is you still want to remain buoyant and relevant in the search engines.

If you have been considering having a new website layout developed, the wiser choice would be a responsive website which is the industry best practice as delivering the best results for people searching and visiting your website across a wide range of devices. One thing is for sure, we will all be going mobile sometime in the near future! The question is, will your website?

Surprisingly over 70% of websites online still do not have a mobile optimised version. Responsive websites are only going to gain momentum, so why shouldn’t you and your business find out what the fuss is about?

Mobile SEO

Google has stated that websites with responsive designs or  mobile websites optimised for mobile devices may rank better in the organic search listings compared to traditional websites. Google wants to deliver the best results for users searching from smartphones meaning the SEO benefits are clear cut. In another 18 months time if your website is not mobile friendly you can be sure your traffic and rankings will almost certainly be on the decrease.

Good luck, and remember that any successful business must keep up with the times, Remember a mobile website will let your clients know that you’re reaching out to a modern audience.

 

 

 

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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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