Posts about: seo

Finding Student Accommodation in Cape Town

7 May 2015
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The Room Link

Student Accommodation in Cape Town and other South African cities is scarce.  So, how does attending an Search and Social Media Marketing (SSMM) course in Salford lead to starting up a company to find  student accommodation in Cape Town?  And, more importantly, finding a solution to the student accommodation crisis in South Africa?  What is the best way to use search and social media when starting an internet business?

If TheRoomLink was conceived on the SSMM course, it was born on a late winter’s day in a cosy hotel bar in Ilkley.  We’d had a few ideas for internet businesses based around the sharing economy.  The idea we liked best was flexible renting.  The idea was simple.  Some people have spare space; they need income and other people need accommodation.

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Optimisation : using SEO to make an exhibition of yourself

6 May 2015
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I’ve always learnt quicker using analogy, picturing new concepts against familiar ones based on previous experience. So with this in mind, and based on a thirty year career in the events industry this is my attempt to explain Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and website optimisation against the backdrop of organising an exhibition stand at a trade show.

Whilst working at The Brighton Centre, I’ve seen exhibitors turn up at show with fabulous stands which twinkle and shine. Amazing graphics and multi-coloured carpet tiles; sound effects; scantily clan women pacing around clutching brochures; over enthusiastic sales men and women intimidating the casual passer-by.

I’ve also seen stands which look like they were designed on the back of a packet of fags.  Tired graphics; sales staff working hard on reaching the next level of Candy Crush on their phones; chipped and scruffy furniture; last year’s brochures with a sticky label slapped over the date.

So think about your stand (website) from the visitors (users) perspective and you will understand some basic SEO and website optimisation concepts.

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Get a Job in SEO – 4 Tips for Beginners

6 May 2015
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Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is extremely important for any business and their website, yet SEO careers have no easy entry point nor clearly defined route on how to get a job in SEO.  I’m at a point in my SEO time-line where I need to implement some important tasks (my 4 ‘top tips’) in order to maximize my potential for employment within the SEO industry.

Get a Job in SEO Tips for Beginners

Get a Job in SEO Tips for Beginners

My story isn’t your typical one that begins with a foundation in web design. I came from a degree in Audio Technology, to starting a photography business, to now studying SEO, PPC (Pay-Per-Click advertising) and Digital Marketing.

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The Death of SEO

4 December 2014
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That’s it. Shut the doors, disconnect the phone. Prevent the dog from barking with a rubber chicken.*

For SEO is dead and we don’t have jobs any longer. Damn.

At least that’s what some people will tell you, and as others ask whether this is indeed true, search engine optimisers, web developers and business owners must learn to separate the wheat from the chaff; fact from fiction. SEO; the very mention of these three letters is enough to turn some potential customers’ and digital industry sceptics’ stomaches. ‘But isn’t SEO dead and gone?’ you might have heard them ask, quickly qualified with ‘Anyway, it’s all some kind of dark art, isn’t it?’.

Having sat and thought about these two questions a great deal (likely when I should have been doing something more productive and sociable, such as watching Game of Thrones) I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer to both is ‘no’. Easy, right off to the pub.

Oh, you want proof…

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Why I chose the Search & Social Media Marketing Course

27 November 2014
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Hmmm… So, which course?  These were my initial thoughts.  Do I do a long distance course or do I stay close to home and come to the building.  By opting for the SSMM (Search and Social Media Marketing) at Media City, I now know, I made the perfect choice.

salford university media city

University of Salford Campus – Media City

It had all the aspects that I was hoping for and none of the ones I feared.  I didn’t want to just do ‘a course on seo and social media’… I wanted the course that would add value to my skillset.

When you leave University and/or Further/Higher Education, the question usually is… “What experience do you have?”… This is usually followed by an answer consisting of erms, buts and opportunity.  In other words, doing your best to prove you are willing to learn.

For probably only the second time in my life, I found myself on the other side of the argument.  As, somewhat fortuitously and serendipitously I found myself knowing a lot about SEO, social media and digital marketing, but didn’t have the academic or professional qualifications or accreditations to back up my experience or prove what I knew.  So it was important on my part that I showed evidence of Continued Professional Development (CPD).

I work in the charity and voluntary sector, so it is vital to spend the limited resources we have in the most productive, efficient and effective way possible.   This just happened to involve social media, website building, search engine optimisation and other aspects of digital marketing.  This is because, these activities can be done on a very limited budget; the challenge being, knowing what to do and having the time to invest.

So began my journey into the world of social media, website building and SEO.  It started off as a hobby with the website/organisation I founded called, Positive About MS (www.positiveaboutms.com) and it’s social media following which now reaches out to about 10,000 supporters!  Subsequently I developed a website called, The Luggie Scooter (www.theluggie.com), which features on the first page of Google and in some cases features in the coveted Golden Triangle section of Google on page1!

So you can see SSMM was something I fell into and something I just happened to enjoy too, not realising at the time it would become Web 2.0.

However, all this experience didn’t give me what I needed, which was a way to quantify what I know and give me a recognised professional accreditation and/or qualification.

The Search and Social Media Marketing course

Right from the first week of the course I liked what I saw.  From the email communication prior to arrival, to the structure and general feel of the class.  It was just what I hoped it would be.  There was a structure to the whole course and it was clear what the course would give you.  I thought it would be more formal and not as comfortable, but I was pleasantly surprised.   I really liked the layout, atmosphere and the general way of teaching.

One of the reasons I opted for the course, was the opportunity of interaction with the course leader (Alex Fenton @AlexFenton) and the chance to ask questions in person.  This also exceeded my expectations.  You could speak in person, via social media, on private linkedin groups or by email.  It gave you further reassurance that you weren’t just going to be given course notes with a presentation.

Guest speakers

The format of giving you a presentation on the subject matter, followed by a talk and Q&A session from an industry professional worked really well and I got more than I expected from it.  We got the opportunity to hear from the likes of Phil Morgan (@PhilipMorgan) & Tom Mason (@totmac) from Delineo (@Delineo), Aisha Choudhry (@AishaZulu) from Fast Web Media (@FastWebMedia),  and the UK’s Number 1 best selling small biz marketing author; Dee Blick – pictured (@DeeBlick) of www.themarketinggym.org.

 

dee blick pic

Dee Blick – Guest Speaker

I also felt the course was well pitched and did exactly what it said on the tin!  Initially I was apprehensive that parts maybe too basic or complex, however this was not the case and it was helpful that Alex Fenton would sometimes spend more time on certain subject areas than others, based on the group and what we needed.

It was never a case of times up and that’s it, you got a chance to review what we’ve already discussed and check your understanding.

One of the many revelations to me personally was the benefits and features of using Google Drive, something I was neither keen nor found necessary to use before I went on the course.  Google Drive allowed you to revisit slides and talks from previous weeks and made it very easy to review course notes.

I found it very refreshing and useful that information on the course and was freely shared by Alex, and that was what I had hoped for.  If there was something you were not sure on, there was always the opportunity to revisit it out of class time, with informal group sessions.

Overall, this course has filled in those missing gaps from my own learning’s and has also introduced me to industry terms and given me a chance to quantify what I already knew, by putting names and phrases to the processes I was practicing.

Furthermore it has opened up my eyes more to the idea of Web 2.0 and the importance of Digital Marketing.

Hopefully, this has helped you regarding your professional development course choice.  Feel free to share this post or share your views, I am @mrkazlaljee on twitter and you can use the hastag #ssmmUoS

More information & booking details for the Search & Social Media Marketing Course  &  Salford University location at Media City UK – Video

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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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