Working on a business assistance project for small and medium enterprises we hear time and time again from businesses that they know they need to be using social media but “I’m too old for all that”, “there are so many different sites I don’t know which ones are right for me” or “I’ve given it a go but I can’t see any obvious gains”. As someone who before my current role, has only used social media in a personal capacity, studying on the Search and Social Media Marketing course has made me realise that getting social media right will take some effort but there are definite benefits.
Strategy! Strategy! Strategy!
You wouldn’t embark on an advertising campaign without having first developed a strategy, the same applies to social media. Ask yourself some key questions. What do you want from it? Who are you trying to target? If you sell plumbing parts then taking hundreds of beautiful pictures of your products and putting them on Pinterest may not be the best use of your time…please feel free to prove me wrong though! CMO.com have published a guide to some of the main social media options. What resources do you have? If you only have limited resources then don’t overstretch yourself. Don’t forget to think long term, just as in traditional business, building up customer relationships is key and social media is a great tool for this. Keeping your followers engaged is essential which is when you need to think about…
Content! Content! Content!
Good quality content is just as important on social media as it is on your website. If you are putting out the same (dull) message over and over again your followers are going to lose interest pretty fast. Rebecca Rae, Head of Social Media at Photolink Creative Group, recommends focusing on three key points when planning your content 1. What they want. 2. What you want. 3. Something new. When all three overlap you will have the perfect piece of content! Creating a bank of content and using social media scheduling tools will definitely help you manage the time you dedicate to social media but don’t forget to be reactive too, use trends and news stories to your advantage but don’t miss the boat (Google Trends is just one of tools that can help you out with this). On the theme of being reactive your customers may use social media to contact you with queries or complaints so don’t lose sight of…
Social media is in many cases a public forum and any negativity can spread fast! This course has taught me that it is vital to develop a response strategy and ensure that all employees that have access to social media channels are aware of it. Don’t be tempted to just delete negative posts, by responding effectively and in good time you have the opportunity to turn things around.
These are just a few of the things to consider when entering the world of social media marketing and for SMEs it can definitely seem like a daunting prospect but help is out there! Unite with Business is an European Regional Development Fund Project which offers free business support for Small to Medium sized companies within the North West of England. The University of Salford is one of a partnership of six universities who can provide funding for student and graduate internships in SMEs. The project has provided support in a wide range of areas, SEO, social media strategy and content production are particularly popular. For more information go to www.salford.ac.uk/business-school/business-services/unite-with-business. We are also always looking for students and graduates interested in participating, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @SalfordUniUnite.
Cones as you may have realised aren’t interesting, they’re not funny, sexy, or appealing in any way, how then do you market one to the general public?
As a manufacturer of traffic management products we’re not exactly on trend, or in high demand. Basically cones are boring, and as a business to business company we didn’t think social media would benefit us in any way. After starting the Search and Social Media Marketing course though I thought why not try setting up a twitter and see where it gets us.
Before I set up the account I looked into other social media campaigns for boring products. The most successful one I could think of was Will It Blend?If you haven’t seen the videos, they’re advertising blenders but instead of just blending food or showing you a picture of a blender, they blend tablets, phones, toys, marbles, and a big mac, almost anything you can think of to show the power of the blender. The campaign really took off and the guy behind it all became somewhat of a minor celebrity in America. There’s also the Got Milk? campaign, Milk has got to be the most boring product imaginable but the campaign was so successful that it has been running for over 20 years, there’s been celebrity endorsements and even merchandise, who knew an advert for milk could be so successful!
Another really good social media campaign is that of Vitamin Water, they asked people to tweet them with what’s currently boring them, then Vitamin Water would come back with a response to make it brilliant. They even went to a town In Oregon called Boring and put on loads of events and gigs, the whole thing went viral and there followers on twitter went up 100%.
There was more of online presence in our field that originally thought, so we set up our twitter account, @MelbaSwintex, designed the page around our theme from the website, followed the relevant people and waited for a miracle, but as we quickly realised, planning needed to go into running a social media platform.
We currently have three people with access to our twitter, a designer, a sales rep and me, so a wide variety of people, luckily we all have our own personal twitter accounts, so we knew the basics, we just didn’t know what to tweet about! Firstly we laid down the rules of what can and can’t be tweeted, we decided to discuss tweets before we posted them so we didn’t get any repeat tweets and so that non of the tweets were offensive, spelt wrong, or incorrect. For us humour seemed to be the best way to go with, nobody wants to follow someone on twitter who blurts out facts about the first road cone or how to properly lay your road cone on the road. After only a couple of tweets we had a council ring us up and want to start a 2 year contract with us, just because I’d followed them on twitter, which is very encouraging.
Currently we’re tweeting about new products that we have coming soon, innovative design ideas that we are pursuing, particular tools that people can use on our website, and re-tweeting local news. We’ve currently got 31 followers, which doesn’t seem like many but to be fair it is a twitter account about cones. According to our Google analytic’s profile, the twitter account is already generating more views to our website. Hopefully this will generate more interest in us as a company!
Thanks for reading and if you need any cones Melba Swintex is the place you need to call!
At Wigan Lane Books we love interesting and unique books of character.
There are types of books that may look normal to the naked eye, but can actually have a hidden secret.
A secret that was only recently rediscovered and popularised by Colleen Theisen at the Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa in the USA.
The secret in question is that a select few books actually contain hidden artworks along the fore-edge of the book.
These fore-edge paintings can only be revealed once the pages of the book have been fully fanned out.
The sides of the book page edges have been painted in gilt, what is unnoticed by the reader is that each separate page has been uniquely painted that forms a picture when fanned. A clamp was used to create the fore-edge paintings.
The clamp holds together the book into the fanned position to make it easier for the artist to paint the picture. When the pages have been released from the clamp, the painting disappears. The for-edge paintings often depict countryside landscapes with characters in the background in various situations.
Here are some examples of fore-edge paintings from the University of Iowa Special Collections and Archives. The first four books are all by Robert Mudie. Each book has a different seasonal theme: autumn, winter, spring and summer.
The above image is from a book that was published in 1837, by Robert Mudie, taken from Colleen Theisen’s original tumblr blog post.
Animated version of the same book, also from Colleen Theisen’s blog post.
Winter by Robert Mudie / University of Iowa.
Animated version of the book above.
Spring by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa.
As a Marketer working at Magma Digital Ltd, a PHP Web Development agency building bespoke business critical systems, the power a Community has, is becoming increasingly apparent . One of the greatest aspects surrounding the programming language, PHP, is the Community that it has created – across the world there are many user groups organised to support PHP Developers.
Magma Digital play a key role in the organisation of the annual PHP Conference in Manchester, PHP North West (PHPNW). The Conference is run by developers, for developers, the aim of the Conference is to improve the web industry through new innovations and the improvement of developers skills. PHPNW is one of the largest PHP Conferences in the UK alongside PHPUK in London and PHPNE in Newcastle.
We gain a large amount of kudos through the recognition of our efforts for the PHP Community. This enables Magma Digital to further reach our audiences through our various social media channels. Many of you may wonder how reaching out to more Developers may benefit us? Well, Magma Digital have recently embarked on a significant growth plan, where we have been on the lookout for talented PHP Web Developers to join our team. Many of our followers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ have shared our jobs with their followers which has enabled us to reach our target audience by doing nothing more than putting the time into creating the social messages.
As one of the least ‘geeky’ people within Magma, I often find myself getting excited by the results of our social media communications to the point that many of the Developers in the office have labelled me as ‘Data Nerd’. To ensure you really see the return you’re getting from your social communication, track anything and everything possible. At Magma, we use the URL shortener bit.ly to shorten our links (less characters, yay!) but this also enables us to track the amount of shares and clicks for any particular link.
When we first embarked on our growth plan, we needed more developers and created the ‘Magma Hiring’ bit.ly link. The first broadcast of this link over social media saw a return of over 200 clicks in the first two days. Over the last two years we have used this link for all our job advertisements and have seen over 2,000 clicks. There are a number of ways to check the statistics of a specific link, the first which I find the most simple is to add a + sign to the end of your bit.ly link. So in this example it would be http://bit.ly/magma_hiring+.
Since we began to use the bit.ly hiring link in December 2011, we have recruited nine new developers most of which have come from our social media. In addition to the recruitment success, we have seen several recommendations to adopt projects that have come from other developers within the PHP Community.
We believe that supporting the communities we are involved in by giving a helping hand, has enabled us to make Community count! Our communities have seen the effort we put into making the web a better place and consequently they want to do their bit to help us out.
When you’re engaging on social media don’t forget that if you help people, they are more inclined to want to return the favour when you need it!
ABOUT Heather Taylor
Heather is Marketing Executive at Magma Digital Ltd specialising in business critical systems to help improve business processes and efficiency. Some examples of systems include payroll systems, pharmacy systems and legal trade systems.
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.
On Saturday we were all treated to the new teaser trailer for Sherlock Series Three, which created quite a fan frenzy on Twitter about Sherlock’s return to the small screen.
Hashtag Frenzy (Picture: YouTube/BBC)
After the bloody end to series two that saw Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) fall to his death, audiences have been waiting in anticipation for his return. The first teaser trailer concentrated on the reactions of a moustached John Watson (Martin Freeman) and Mrs Hudson (Una Stubbs) as he returned to Baker Street after his faked death. But this new 30 second trailer focuses on the fans and the Twitter frenzy rather than juicy plot details. Read more…..
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
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:
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.
There are some big brands that are still getting it wrong in social media today, with everyone looking for a new way or new ideas in social marketing and ‘getting their brand out there’. Sometimes this can cost them dearly and be damaging to their brand. Here I just wanted to share with you interesting points I have read and also share my thoughts on social media ‘Do’s & Don’ts’.
1 – Don’t just create a business page in social media for the sake of it – have a purpose
Having a Facebook or Twitter business page just because your competitors has, isn’t always the answer. Have a clear marketing purpose and ‘Do’ have a plan! Evaluate what you want to get from it and set clear goals.
Think long term
You want to attract your customers
Do your research
Once you have a page, do you have a plan to maintain that page? Have you designated someone within your company to maintain the page?
2 – Don’t use the wrong URL for your Facebook page
Make sure you post often, without it being too spamy! To post frequently and then to leave your pages for a week, would be bad practice you want to keep your followers/public involved and engaged. Without consistent and regular posts they won’t have a reason to follow you or your page, give them new regular content and a reason to keep reading.
4 – Don’t spam
You might not think your sales messages are spam, but posting the same message too many times, could really upset your followers. They like to be spoken to, not shouted at – BUY! BUY! BUY! – constantly can get boring and result in people giving up following you! Have a good mixture of content include your sales messages but integrated within the grand mix! Remember to word it so it isn’t to sales targeted or aggressive; include call to actions – but don’t go over the top!
5 – Don’t be a robot – have a voice
If your social media presence is for your brand and not you personally, you may find you are more successful when you bring in some personality into your communications. This can be as simple as thanking people for retweets or offering your expertise to help others, whilst sharing a little of your personal side. It is good to have an opinion and being a human voice rather than a robot is what people will relate too.
6 – Don’t self-promote all the time
This again could come under spam, I know self-promotion is why you are originally on social media but these networks are vastly different from other marketing tools. A good rule of thumb would be to balance your self-promotion by promoting and helping others, connected to your business/market. Find similar pages/markets to share content, this is another way of varying you’re content and keeping your audience captivated.
7 – Do use the right social media channels for your business
There are loads to choose from and not every social media site is right for certain business, do your research. LinkedIn might be the obvious place for B2B but does this also fitting for your market the obvious choice isn’t necessarily the best choice! Wikipedia has a list of all the good social media sites. Do you research; find out who your competitors are using and if they are using them successfully – take note!
8 – Don’t outsource your social media to someone/companies that do not know your brand or target audience
If there is a team responsible the social media or you are out sourcing it to an external agency/company make sure you ALL share the same tone of voice as not to confuse your audience! Remember one wrong message will go noticed and could spoil years’ worth of brand building. Make sure you are all giving the same messages.
9 – Don’t avoid reacting to negative feedback
One of the downsides to social media is the uncontrollable element of it. While you can’t control every detail or who they share it with, one element you can control is how your business responds to their feedback. With the right social media tracking you can respond to these comments and if they are negative look how they can be turned into a positive. Depending on the subject matter would depend on how you would respond. You could get the user to email you to sort out behind the social media scene or respond directly to them online. You’ll be surprised how responding as a voice can help or win over a lot of customers, just knowing they are being listened to or getting a response, could go a long way. (Be careful though not all instances can be turned in to a positive but the fact that your brand is saying – ‘Hello I hear you’ can help!).
10 – Do use it as an outlet to amplify a message
Don’t over-focus on social media’s ability to amplify a message and create awareness, always remember it is also about engagement and connecting with customers. You can retweet a message several times, if the message isn’t something interesting enough for them to care about it will not matter! Make sure it is written well and even add some humour to it if the subject is apt.
There are no hard and fast rules in social media
There are no hard and fast rules of what you should or shouldn’t do, so these I would only see as best practices to help create successful engagement on social media sites. I would also say read the official guidelines for the particular social media site you are using and keep reading them they can and do change and are always a good place to start, for example:
This article was unbelievable it is a true story about a man who takes a hostage for 16 hours and announces it on Facebook only to see the his friends and the police join in negotiation. This to me shows the extent in everyday life (not just in business), in which we are using it or how is it being used. Last month saw ‘The Drum’ (marketing and media magazine), cover an article about how Seabrooks crisps broke the rules with their competition on Facebook.
2010 saw some great social media campaign’s on the link above it has the ten best success stories that brands have had with social media marketing, one of my all time favourite was the ‘Old Spice’ campaign, I remember wrapping up ‘Old Spice’ for my dad at Christmas as a little girl – this really was a great come back for them, getting across that this brand is not just for old men – more spicy men!
Thanks for reading my blog, please share your comments about your social media ‘Do’s & Don’ts’ or have you seen anything about social media that has shocked you or made you smile, we would like to hear your stories!
“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.