I have been writing news pages for my company website www.homes4u.co.uk for the last couple of years and dabbling in Social Media with no real firm plan in place. I knew that content was important for improving search engine results and was under the impression the work I had been putting in was good.
My posts read well and doubled up as press releases. It was only recently, when I was looking at our ranking on search engines, that I discovered we were no longer top of the page for what I would expect to be our key search terms.
So, the question was where do I start?
My background is Estate Agency not marketing or web design. I like to think I am quite computer literate and I have a good understanding of social media but where my knowledge had gaps was Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). I didn’t want to be reliant on the advice of website designers so I decided to research a Search and Social Media Marketing course.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 – 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
Comply Direct are a government approved compliance scheme for UK organisations obligated by the Packaging Waste Regulations and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations.
We are a trusted and expert business and compliance partner for over 800 companies in the UK so Comply Direct have made it our aim to develop an online presence to ensure that searchers get exactly what they are looking for when making compliance and guidance queries into search engines and on social media. Read more…..
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.
Definitely Black Hat
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:
Write for people first and worry about ‘bots’ later.
Choose your keywords carefully and use them wisely.
Don’t get SPAM-tastic – No-one likes a thorough keyword stuffing and Google seriously hates it!
Mark up your page with a relevant structure (headings, sub-headings, bold text etc.)
Better Meta – Help search engines to understand what’s going on with good meta data.
Keep it interesting – Include some dynamic content such as images, videos, polls etc.
Keep it relevant – Writing about red widgets? Then don’t try and sell me casinos and ladies of the night.
Build some trust – Create links to and from relevant, genuine, trustworthy sites.
Share it – Don’t wait around for people to accidentally trip over your shiny new content, tell the world.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
“Content is King.” Since Bill Gates coined this term in 1996, it has become the golden rule of SEO (as well as one of its most pervasive clichés).Matt Cutts of Google has repeatedly said that quality content is key to getting to the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS). And the bods at Bing have also said that “all SEO signals revolve around content.” But what do we mean when we talk about ‘content’? How do search engines differentiate between good content and bad content? And, in the land of the SERPS, is content always king?
Before we start looking at the ins and outs of how to produce content, we have to ask ourselves why is good content so important in the first place?
Content is the lifeblood of the internet – it’s the blog posts you read, cat videos you laugh at, maps you consult and images you use. The major search engines main objective is to deliver the most relevant data and provide the best user experience possible. It does this by awarding higher visibility to websites that offer relevant and high quality content to the searcher. But there are a thousand and one websites out there that are talking about your chosen topic – how can you create content that enables your website to get to the top of the results?
Well, there are a number of ways. You could stuff your web pages so full of keywords that it resembles a rhyming dictionary. You could employ one of those shady ‘Black-Hat’ SEO types to buy up lots of paid links to ensure that your website gets a good page ranking. If you’re feeling confrontational (and fancy stirring up a bit of a social media storm), you could ‘linkbait’ – a tactic which sees you producing content which catches people’s attention (for both good and bad reasons – for a perfect example of how Linkbait works, watch how Twitter reacts every time Liz Jones writes a feature for the Daily Mail). Or, you could be really radical and actually produce content that people want to click on.
One of the key recommendations that the Google Webmaster Team advise that you consider when you’re creating content for the web is ‘authority’. Essentially, the more niche you make your content, the more of an expert you’ll become about that topic. People will like what they see on your webpage, won’t ‘bounce’ back to the search results, and will probably visit again – meaning you’ll be rewarded accordingly in the SERPS. Whilst Google’s engineers have said that they don’t favour ‘brands’, the reputation of a brand undoubtedly has an effect on how people search, and the conversions they make once they find what they want. Indeed, research has shown that 50% of consumers are more likely to click on a search result if a brand appears multiple times on a results page.
For an example of a brand who have got it right when it comes to unique content, take a look at Old Spice. Their series of ‘Old Spice Man‘ YouTube videos – custom made pieces of content where their spokesman responded to questions from bloggers, celebrities and fans who posted questions – is one of the most popular viral campaigns in recent history. And with good reason. After all, who wouldn’t want a personalised video from a devastatingly handsome man?
How does Google define ‘good content’? Simply follow the Panda
In early 2011, Google launched its ‘panda’ algorithm. This had one key goal – to “reduce SERP rankings for Low Quality Sites—i.e. sites with low value to users, generally containing unoriginal or shallow content.” This meant that sites which contained unoriginal content which had been scraped off other websites, or were just pages and pages of links would be penalised, whilst websites which contained original, ‘good’ content and encouraged social engagement would shine.
Panda was a game changer in terms of SEO. When it was rolled out by Google, it reportedly affected the rankings of almost 12% of all search results. Websites which was considered to be ‘high-quality’ sites saw their rankings improve, while those of supposed low-quality essentially vanished from top of the rankings.
Would you trust the information presented in this article?
Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
Good spelling and grammar help too. Google evaluates the ‘quality’ of content on websites, and the ability to spell correctly correlates with PageRank. As Matt Cutts explains in the video below;
“We noticed a while ago that, if you look at the PageRank of a page — how reputable we think a particular page or site is — the ability to spell correlates relatively well with that. So, the reputable sites tend to spell better and the sites that are lower PageRank, or very low PageRank, tend not to spell as well. The reputable sites tend to spell better and the sites that are lower PageRank, or very low PageRank, tend not to spell as well.”
Of course, well written words aren’t the only aspect you need to consider when it comes to SEO. Other things you should think about when you’re optimising a site for the web are:
User Experience: The more engaging your website is, the more likely that someone will look at multiple pages.
Avoiding too many ads on your site (pop-ups are a real turn-off!): This one is fairly self explanatory. Having too many adverts makes Google think that the website exists just to serve ads rather than providing authoritative information.
Duplicate content: Don’t repeat yourself! A page should contain its own unique content, title and meta description that tells the search engines exactly what it’s about.
Remembering that less is more: Having a lot of poor quality pages on your site can reduce your page rankings, even if you have plenty of high quality content. If you’re a Web Manager, try and do a regular audit of your website to ensure that it doesn’t contain lots of pages which contain out of date content and broken links.
If Content is King, then Linking is Queen
As we’ve established, good content is vital to getting your website noticed. But it’s nothing if you don’t have a good link building strategy in place. It’s not enough to put words, pictures and videos onto the web and hope that they get linked to by an ‘authority’ website. If your content is good, you need to shout about it!
Think about trading reciprocal links with your peers: (I write a food blog – Little Red Courgette – and I get a number of clicks to that from fellow blogs which have links to that on their pages). Just one link from an ‘authority’ website can have a massive impact on where your website appears on Google.
Leave comments on others blog posts which include a link back to your website: You get to tell someone you like their stuff and you get to promote your own website! Don’t be an idiot though – no one likes an idiot on the internet (well, unless they’re this kind of idiot).
Use good anchor text: If you’ve ever used ‘click here’ for a link, give yourself a slap on the wrist. Now. Then remember to never to do it again.
Alt tags are your friend! This is especially relevant when it comes to any images you’re hosting on your website.Make sure you add a full description of what the picture contains and any important keywords you’re trying to target.
Create ‘internal’ links to various pages on your website: This tells the Google spiders which pages on your website are important and which aren’t.
Add “rel=”nofollow” tags to your links where possible: This is an HTML command which instructs some search engines that a hyperlink should not influence the link target’s ranking in the search engine’s index. It also helps to reduce the effectiveness of certain types of search engine spam, thereby improving the quality of search engine results and preventing spamdexing from occurring.
Make your content easy to share across social networks: The easier it is to share, the more likely people are to share it.
If 23% of conversations on the web include links, then we have to create content which users actively want to share. We also have to make it as easy as possible for people who are coming to our content to share it with others – be it via email, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or any other social network. One way in which we can do this is by transmitting it via our own social networks (at LIPA, where I work, each piece of new content uploaded to the website is promoted via our Facebook and Twitter accounts). You can also add ‘share this’ buttons to your content which allows viewers to share it across a number of social networks with a single click of a button.
Another good rule of thumb when creating content for the web is to think to yourself ‘is this the kind of thing I’d be happy to share with my social media networks?’ Granted, a remarkable amount of (arguably) awful content is passed around social networks on a daily basis, but having a single tweet retweeted by someone with thousands of followers can lead to your content going viral. This means lots of new followers and customers for your website and a higher page ranking on the SERPS.
What can we conclude from this?
Content is undoubtedly the most important consideration to take into account when you are devising a strategy of how to get your website a better ranking on the search engines. And if a blog post, video or picture is engaging enough, then it will always be shared across the internet by people. But as Content Creators, Web Managers and Social Media users, we should always be thinking about how we can engage users and encourage them to share our content with their own networks. The implementation of Google’s Panda algorithm has shown that the emphasis is slowly shifting away from paid links and content farms to content which is truly ‘social’. Yes, good content is important. And when it comes to SEO, it probably always will be. But the impact of sharing links on social media really cannot be underestimated – and it’s an impact which is only going to increase in size over the coming years. Perhaps from now on, SEO specialists mantra should be that if content is king, then social is emperor.