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.
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.
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).
The term ‘User Experience’ was first conceived in the 1990’s by Don Norman, while he was Vice President of the Advanced Technology Group at Apple. User experience as an emerging trend essentially describes how a person interacts with a product, system or service.
The practice of developing and improving the user experience is referred to as User Experience Design, which considers the emotional response and how a user feels about, perceives and interacts with a product, system or service. The decision to become a regular user or visitor will depend on answering key questions such as “does it give me value?” “Is it easy to use?” and “Is it pleasant to use?
“I invented the term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow. I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with the system including industrial design, graphics, the interface, the physical interaction, and the manual. Since then the term has spread widely, so much so that it is starting to lose it’s meaning… user experience, human centred design, usability; all those things, even affordances. They just sort of entered the vocabulary and no longer have any special meaning. People use them often without having any idea why, what the word means, its origin, history, or what it’s about.”
Don Norman, 2008
Who creates the User Experience and how does UX translate to the web?
The User Experience Designer’s role is to impact the overall experience a person has with a particular product, system or service. They are enablers who define and improve existing systems in order to enhance the experience for the user. UX Designers come from a wide range of disciplines, and often have a focus in one particular area of UXD. Usability guru Jakob Nielsen’s focus for example, is almost exclusively on web usability. The User Experience Designer will cross a range of disciplines to develop an optimum experience for the end user. This can incorporate any or all of the following:
Information Architecture (IA)
Search and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
User Interface (UI)
SEO and the User Experience
Having a high ranking site amidst the endless lists of search engine results pages (SERPs), particularly in Google, is of paramount importance to the online User Experience. Your site may be a dream to navigate, well written with lots of useful info and look like it was designed by Apple, but unless it instantly appears when a user searches on one of your keywords, the User Experience can be destroyed.
The Search and Social Media Marketing course here at Salford is a mine of information on all aspects of the SEO journey to help you in your quest for search engine domination and improving the user experience for your customers. Sessions cover:
Understanding how Google and other search engines work
Using Google Analytics to learn from your website visitor’s behavior
Integrating social media into the mix
Speakers from industry attend the sessions every week, to give a commercial perspective on SEO and how it’s being used by business for competitive advantage.
Why does User Experience matter and why should we care?
The way a user feels about, and interacts with a product, system or service is of growing importance to the organisation as well as the end user. The ever-increasing complexity of technology and the role it plays in our lives, coupled with the rapid expansion of the web and the vast number of sites continually being created, simply perpetuates the demands of the highly discerning consumer who is only ever one click away from exiting your site.
The Internet has evolved from the early days of Web 1.0, which provided an extremely linear process where the author published to the web and the reader received the information. Now that we have reached the heady heights of semantic Web 2.0 and beyond, users can read and write to the same space enabling the mass multi-linear sharing of data, and creating an environment where networking online is taking collaboration to an unprecedented level.
The rapid growth of social networks and online communities reflects this huge change in the way the web is evolving, and the canny UX Designer can tap into this wealth of collateral to provide a comprehensive user experience not only through their corporate web channels, but also across a range of online media, networks and applications, in order to:
Increase conversions, turning visits to sales for their customer
Increase the early adoption of new technology by the end user
Enhance customer satisfaction through a sublime user experience
Act as a key differentiator in a crowded market
Illustrating how the web went from the old 1.0 system of one to many, to the more recent 2.0 environment of many to many, exposing the web to unparalleled levels of sharing, interaction, collaboration and community building.
Developing the Online User Experience – what’s involved and where to start?
The UX Designer will find themselves involved in a variety of tasks and processes at the beginning of a UX development project, and may need to wear many different hats when dealing with a diverse range of people and practices. This could include exploring all the areas below, or focusing more in-depth on one aspect such as User Research for example:
Identifying business objectives and the target market are primary steps in the process. It’s also imperative for the UX designer to gather a project team of associated professionals within the organisation, and also to look further afield towards additional staff who although may not be UX or Design professionals themselves can still have a creative and positive input into the process (in 1987 Peter Gorb and Angela Dumas termed this phenomenon ‘Silent Design’). The User Experience Designer always sees the wider picture.
Cartoon by Tom Fishburne, illustrating the ‘Silent Design’ phenomenon found in many organisations. This can be of particular use to the UX Designer in helping to develop the ‘bigger picture’ of the User Experience.
Challenges to the User Experience Designer
Often UX Designers work within organisations as a single practitioner, sometimes with a lone voice, which can present huge challenges in terms of engagement with those who have a non-design or digital background. San-Franciscan Leah Buley presents her experience as a self-styled UX Team of One and all-round UX Superhero, offering tricks and techniques on developing the user experience and overcoming some of the issues facing the UX Designer.
How was your user experience?! I’m really interested to hear your thoughts on my post, and your own personal stories in making the online user experience and ultimately the web a better place to be for all of us.
With the demand for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) skills on the rise and the average UK salary paying £32.5k a year, it’s no wonder more and more people want a career in the SEO industry. The question is however, how do you get a job in SEO?
If you type the phrase “how to start a career in SEO” (and that’s including inverted commas!) in to Google’s web search, you are presented with over 2,500 pages of content in the search engine results page (SERP). With so many websites giving their own advice on which is the best way to begin a career in SEO, it’s hard to focus on what you really should be doing. This post covers the definitive steps you should be taking in order to maximise your employability in the SEO industry.
1. Start reading… Learn the basics
At first glance learning SEO seems like a near impossible task. With so much reading material available through the internet and with certain web sites charging for this privilege, it’s difficult to be sure of which material is worthwhile reading.
One thing is for sure though, you don’t have to pay to learn the basics. There is a wealth of free information out there in the form of e-books, blogs, videos, and web sites that are worth paying attention to. Google’s SEO Beginners Guide is the perfect place to start as it is written by the people who’s search engine you will be mostly optimising for. It’s a no-brainer really. Another great place to start reading up on the basics (and the more advanced) is the highly reputable and popular SEOmoz. With over 18,000 likes on Facebook and over 100,000 followers on Twitter you get the impression that they know what they are talking about. SEOmoz provide a comprehensive Beginners Guide to SEO that is easy to read and digest for people new to SEO. Both guide’s are available for download and best of all they are free!.
2. Get Advanced… Familiarise yourself with HTML code
Arguably this should be an ongoing step, and form part of your basic learnings but with the advent of WordPress and other WYSIWYG editing platforms, knowledge of HTML is no longer a pre-requisite. There will definitely come a time though when you will need to edit HTML code directly so it’s important (and often a required item on a job description) to know your way around.
3. Start Practising
The numerous ebooks, blog posts and learning materials you have accumulated in steps 1 and 2 may leave you a little overwhelmed. They say practice makes perfect, so now would be a great time to piece together your understanding of SEO by getting your hands dirty and putting it into practice. You could either build a site, and experiment with the different SEO tactics you have learned to date, to attempt to get it to the top of the SERPs or create a personal blog in a platform like WordPress and start practising from a content creation angle. If you’ve got friends in business who have a web site, offer them some free SEO advice. Small businesses and charities that are on a tight budget will be more open to listening to some free advice and may even let you have a go at optimising their website… for free of course.
Tip: For some real-world work experience, check out the Analysis Exchange. They offer a great opportunity for people to develop their web analytics skills, a sure-fire way to boost your CV.
4. Keep Listening
Search engine algorithms are constantly evolving and there are always opinions and new techniques worth listening to. If your “beginners handbooks” are gathering dust, swap them with some more advanced reading materials, found on sites such as Search Engine Land and SEOBook to stay abreast of the latest insights and to generally stay sharp. Moreover, it is advisable to visit Google’s Webmaster Guidelines as these are updated quite regularly whenever they make tweaks to their algorithm.
Tip: Keep an eye on Matt Cutts’ Blog – he regularly hosts Q & A sessions on new Google algorithm changes.
5. Just dive in
Get involved with discussions; which include answering questions on Q & A forums and being involved with relevant groups/threads on forums and commenting with your own opinions on other blog posts. Don’t just comment “great post”, elaborate, give your opinions and ask further questions. SEOmoz, SEObook, and Matt Cutts blogs are definitely ones you should consider bookmarking. Quora is a question and answer website, where anyone can ask a question and anyone can answer. Many industry professionals are actively involved so you never know, the likes of Rand Fishkin could be answering your questions! The Warrior Forum is a highly popular marketing forum where you can find people talking about anything from programming to mobile marketing and just about anything in between.
6. Attend a course
So far all of your knowledge has come from the sources available on the internet which is great, I mean it hasn’t cost you a penny. However, you can’t exactly put this down on a CV can you? Although there isn’t actually an official SEO certification available, and probably won’t be for the foreseeable future, there are SEO courses out there. But which one should you choose? Well a lot of these courses are aimed at businesses rather than individuals starting up on their own and the majority of the courses only run for one day.
From personal experience, Salford University’s Search and Social Media Marketing Course is a must for anyone starting out in the SEO world either as an individual or as an established company. Not only do you get free refreshments and sandwiches, you get 1st class lecturing from the head of Salford Business school, guest speakers from the marketing industry, and official US based global leader SEMPO training course material. This course is sure to give you the knowledge to stand out from the crowd.
Tip: For an “at a glance” comparison of the courses available in SEO & Inbound Marketing bookmark this great post from the David Naylor blog.
7. Engage in Social Media
Chances are you are quite active on Facebook already, but for more professional social media activity, recommendations include Twitter, LinkedIn and more recently Google Plus. Google Plus has amassed around 40 million users and the majority of these are “first movers” that are heavily involved in the tech industry. This has led to a very active core of users posting regular digital marketing blogs and updates. All of these social media tools will provide you with great sources of SEO information.
TIP: Many SEO jobs will require social media optimisation (SMO) as part of the job role, so it makes sense to be actively involved and have an understanding of how they work so you can show off your knowledge in an interview.
8. Speak to Industry Professionals
Contact industry professionals and ask them for their advice. Ask them how they started out, they may reveal something that you could use to propel your career.
Mark Johnson, a Digital Insight Consultant at Latitude kindly took the time out to offer some industry advice for this post… “If you plan on building a website, before you do make sure you have a strategy and a clear goal of what you set out to achieve. Don’t rush in and always do your market research”. He also adds a bit of technical advice by saying, “Make sure your website is hosted in the right place (UK clients = UK IP address) and is URL friendly”. A great tip that should be applied to step 3 in this post .
Tip: A great place to meet industry professional in person is via the Manchester SEO (meetup). This meetup provides a fantastic opportunity to talk to like minded people who can offer you advice and point you in the right direction.
9. Apply for jobs
Now with all the SEO knowledge, tools and self generated experience you have developed it’s time start applying for jobs. Finding that perfect first job isn’t that easy. In fact your first job might not specifically be in SEO. For example, the requirements to become a PPC executive aren’t quite as demanding becoming an SEO executive. However, by being a PPC executive you can build up the experience and develop certain skills such as keyword research, analytics, & reporting that are required to be an SEO executive.
Tip: Now for when you get selected for an interview check out this blog post for an idea of what questions to expect.
10. Don’t just stop there….
Always look for ways to continually develop yourself no matter what level of knowledge and skills you have. It’s a competitive field out there so you must continually grow and stay fresh. You can achieve this by constantly engaging in the steps covered in this post, over and over again. You could even concentrate on one area such as the increasingly important link building and become an expert in that area.
In a recent SEOMoz Whiteboard Friday session, the topic was exactly what we’re discussing here – so for a visual representation of some of the topics covered, and to give this post one final element of depth you can view that below!
Each one of these steps could actually warrant their own detailed post but this is a summary of the key steps an SEO newbie should take. Sure, there are more which is the beauty of the SEO industry. The learning possibilities are almost endless. However, by following these 10 steps anyone’s arsenal will be well equipped with vital SEO weapons that employers look for and will ask about in an interview.
It would be interesting to know what you think about the steps covered in this post. If you are already in the SEO field, what first steps did you take and did any of these steps apply to you? Please feel free to comment below.
Internet and website marketing companies from all over the region have turned up en masse at the University of Salford as part of an initiative to combat recent cost cutting announcements.
Under the guise of an intensive training course in SEO and search engine marketing, the University of Salford is selling .ac.uk backlinks to companies for £2000 a pop!
Enduring several 4 hour gruelling sessions, companies specialising in SEO in Manchester and the surrounding areas are holding out until the bitter end to bag one of these highly prized links and, while complaining about the amount of homework, have been happy to part with their hard earned wonga in order to jump on the backlink bandwagon.
One Leeds SEO firm camped outside for three days to make sure of a place on this so called course and told me . . .
“We really need high quality inbound links to complete an internet marketing assignment for a company specialising in van hire Leeds and also a well known mens shoes brand so we’ll do whatever it takes”.
I have to say that I enthusiastically enrolled to ensure that I wasn’t left behind by my colleagues and competitors but very soon began to forget the prize which was waiting and became engrossed with the excellent content of the SEO course itself.
Top SEO training tips and techniques
From the ground rules for keyword research and selection through advanced link building techniques to the latest thinking in social media marketing, both the superb core team and their excellent keynote speakers really managed to get their ideas across and moved my understanding and my ability to apply my learning right across my client base immensely. High end benefits for my clients and a more effective approach by my team will really mean more business and a more enhanced reputation for my company in the dynamic and competitive world of internet and website marketing.
Not sure how ethical this backlink sale is, although I do think the Search and Social Media Marketing Course is actually extremely good and I would definitely recommend you enrol for the next sessions. Hats off though to the guys at the University of Salford, Search and Social Media Course for thinking outside the box with this innovate if somewhat extortionate way to plug the funding gap and keep themselves and their mates in a job.
As a post script I would urge you to register early for this university SEO training course as places are selling like hot cakes and there are only a limited number of .ac.uk backlinks available – Good Luck and Bon Voyage!
Do you know what got me thinking lately? Are women not as interested in search engine optimisation (SEO) as men? Being the only women doing the Search and Social Media Marketing course, I started to wonder why there are few women in SEO despite the fact that it’s not really that technical as women think it is. I mean there has certainly been a rise in women SEOs but women are still taking a back seat.
I find it quite surprising that most of the SEO firms are male dominated furthermore even when I attended the SAScon conference held in Manchester on 29th October 2010 the ratio between men to women was quite significant. While reviewing the SAScon Manchester delegate list I was quite amazed with the difference. Out of approximately 157 people in the conference 125 were male and only 32 females. In addition looking at the 30 most influential people in UK SEO – The Results show only 3 women out of 30 that are most influential, now as a women I feel there need to be more SEO women in that list and more and more women in SEO need to come forward and take a lead!
However, on a positive note, I am proud to say that the most influential and popular SEO business, SEOmoz is owned by a women. Also SEO Chicks play a big role as top Women in SEO. The most popular women in SEO industry that are at the top of the field are Judith Lewis, Dana Lookadoo, Ann Smarty, Donna Fontenot, Lisa Myers and Nichola Stott. I am sure you have heard some of these names before and the list will expand further as more women join SEO like social media or search engine marketing.
Reasons for fewer SEO women
Here are two opinions from Mindy Gofton and Ben McKay about the reason behind fewer women in SEO:
“People either don’t understand what SEO is or feel it’s primarily a technical role – it’s not yet seen as an arm of marketing – and for whatever reason, women don’t tend to gravitate towards technical careers”. Head of SEO at I-COM Mindy Gofton
Ben McKay, Justmeandmy.com “I say sadly, as I think it’s a real shame that it seems like a techy, male-orientated industry…there are too many niches that are male / female orientated. So what can we do to sell the idea to get more women SEOs? Do we need to sell the idea to women some more? After all, SEO does rock! The women that I know in Search tend to be PPC / Display / Business Dev / PR / Social Media…not many in SEO though. From the people that I know, maybe 1 in 10 might describe their responsibilities to include SEO”
How to encourage women to join SEO?
“I think including SEO into marketing curricula and treating it as a marketing discipline while working basic web development into digital marketing courses would probably encourage women. I also think more women being vocal and involved in more high profile positions within the industry and even in local networking groups and events would help too. Or maybe grants/internships directed at women might encourage women who would maybe gravitate towards advertising or more traditional marketing to get into SEO”. Mindy Gofton, I-COM
I certainly hope that more women take the Search and Social Media Marketing course starting again in February 2011; it has allowed me to enhance my SEO knowledge and skills and with SEO you never have enough, there is always something new to learn every day. Furthermore, I believe it is a great field to work in for men or women I would recommend and encourage everyone to take this course if you are interested and enthusiastic about online marketing, it’s an exciting world to be in!
Well, compiling effective link building strategies is just one area of what can only be described as a minefield when it comes to Search Engine Optimization. PJ Web Solutions are a company for whom I currently work. Whilst they have always known how important link building is, PJ Web Solutions are only now attempting to become more proactive in their approach rather than being reactive and look for a source of information that separates the "wood from the trees" when looking to develop an effective link building strategy. It is for this reason why this blog post was born, it will separate the mindless array of junk that is posted on various websites and spam emails detailing ways of building links and will focus on what I regard as the ‘Top 5 effective link building strategies.
5) Effective Link Building Strategy : Internal Links
When a lot of people think of link building strategies they tend to always think about links that link back to their website. Which is fine, however it is integral that the way your own website links to other pages within your site, are structured logically and create content silo’s which ensures that new pages you create are crawled by Google and indexed correctly.
4) Effective Link Building Strategy : Manual Link Submission
Manual link submission is important when developing an effective link building strategy, especially, if you can use non-financial methods of persuasion. It involves manually navigating to relevant websites in your industry and finding a point of contact to request a link to your website. A good starting point is to search for your targeted terms and choose non-competitive websites to request a link from.
3) Effective Link Building Strategy : SEO Directories
Mindlessly submitting your website to as many directories is not a good element of an effective link building strategy and it can be argued that it could even have harmful effects on search rankings. Unfortunately, I am very much in agreement with the idea that if the directory is free then it is not likely to be worth submitting your website to. There are, however, directories worth submitting your site to such as Yahoo and Dmoz.
2) Effective Link Building Strategy : Linkbait and Viral Campaigns
Viral content, if done properly, can be a powerhouse in creating an effective link building strategy. It attracts links by other sites referencing the piece of code which provides the back links to your website. For example free code such as calendars etc that people like to embed on their websites can create links back to you! Twitter, Facebook, Youtube etc increase the effectiveness of link viral campaigns, as if people like the piece it will be ‘retweeted’ ‘liked’ and discussed gaining more and more exposure.
1) Effective Link Building Strategy : Content
My opinion is that whilst there is no doubt there are many ways to attract links to your site, some free, others paid for, the most effective way of building links is to prepare good, relevant content that people want to read. Content is king and if written well, it will appear on sites such as Digg, it will be retweeted and cause discussions amongst communities and social media channels. If content is written regularly and well, you can build a kind of social empire that people talk about and look forward to reading. Good ways of generating discussion could be, being slightly controversial, or playing devil’s advocate about a topic in your industry.
Always remember that building an effective link strategy takes time and is very much an ongoing process. If you dedicate the time to do things right there is no doubt you can succeed. Make link building fun, enjoy what you’re writing about and rather than it being a marketing chore, you can enjoy building links and driving your site up the search engine results page rankings (SERPS)!
If you are interested in joining the course yourself in the future – the next course starts on 10th February 2011 – this is an ideal opportunity to see what others have learned and speak to them directly to find out if this course is for you;
If you are looking for potential collaborations or new freelancers or employees who are well trained in the latest developments in the area of Search & Social Media Marketing you can meet our course delegates;
If you are simply interested in meeting people in the Search & Social Media Marketing field and sharing experiences.
The Search & Social Media Marketing course offers students ‘Search Engine Marketing Professional Organisation (SEMPO) Institute Online Training’ certification and practical examples shared by guest speakers from local agencies such as PushOn, Latitude, MEC Manchester and academics from the Information Systems, Organisations and Society (ISOS) Research Centre. The final week of the course offers delegates the opportunity to summarise their learning experience over the weeks and to demonstrate their knowledge in a practical task such as writing a guest blog post on a topic of their choice.
What are the guest blog presentation details?
When? – Wednesday 17th November 2010
What time? From 16:00 to 20:00
RSVP deadline (for refreshments) – Friday 12th November 12:00 noon