Digital marketing and SEO – the ten commandments

By Mar.24, 2016

Get ahead in SEO and digital marketing

CC by hin255 from

The Search and Social Media Marketing course at Salford University has some brilliant SEO and digital marketing tips . Small businesses like mine need to be able to market themselves online. We all know we have to be at the top of the rankings to get noticed. Here are the ten most important lessons we’ve learned so far:

1.  Google is king

Four in five website searches are on Google. Do it right for Google and all other search engines will be your friend. Google will only help you find customers if you do what it wants. So do it.

2. Thy website shall have a decent content management system (CMS)

With modern platforms like WordPress freely available everyone should be regularly updating their web content. Why? So you can be responsive, test out new keywords and add new material freely, which is all great for your SEO and digital marketing.

SEO and digital marketing piramid

3. Businessperson – know thy SEO keywords

All your web-based marketing is going to hinge on the search keywords you choose to focus on. Google keyword planner will help you find the most popular SEO search terms for you.

When choosing which to use, first make sure they are relevant to your business (Justin Beiber fans will not appreciate clicking through to James Crawley Electrical Contractor and neither will Google).

Avoid generic, hugely popular terms such as ‘Electrician’ that will eat up your budget without much benefit. If you pick longer, more specific word strings such as ‘registered electrician Manchester’ you are more likely to be exactly what searchers are looking for and you’ll get better click through rates as a result.

4. Thy digital content is king

Here the course got a bit technical but Alex’s advice came down to the following points.

First, focus on one key phrase (for this blog post it’s SEO and digital marketing) per web page. Use it in your page title and versions of it in your subtitles. Third, write content that people might actually like to read. Fourth, don’t nick other people’s content and paste it as your own. Finally, use a plug-in like Yoast to check how well your page is doing in SEO terms.

Digital content is king

When it doubt, add a cat. (Don’t, it doesn’t work.)

5. Thy photos and links shalt be cleverly titled

It’s an easy oversight but re-naming photos and rewriting the anchor text (the line of copy under the link on the search results) tells the bots, or beetles, or whatever they are, that your page is exactly what they are searching for.

6. Cool sites shall link to thee but thou shalt not link back

Having other sites link to yours is good for your SEO, apparently, particularly if they are high ranking themselves. Just don’t be nice and offer a reciprocal link back. Google doesn’t want you to have friends, it wants you to be adored.

SEO and digital marketing hurts the brain

© num_skyman &

7. Thy mind shalt go blank when thinking what to write for a blog post

Google is a sadistic teacher who is making you say what you did in your summer holidays – again and again and again. If you’ve run out of ideas for new blog posts try a few of these:

  • Offer free advice that shows you as the expert in your field.
  • Show how likeable you and your staff are with a meet the team post.
  • Show how busy and popular you are using photos (with permission) of your clients having a brilliant time or looking very grateful.
  • Think ahead to relevant events and dates that may be a call to action for customers.
  • Celebrities – Have they mentioned you? Which products did they use?
  • Timely, relevant comments on national trending events.
  • Be positive. Don’t moan about customers or the council or your partner. Unless it’s really funny.
  • Focus on a particular customer group – mums, first time buyers, honeymooners – and tell them why you’re just what they are looking for.

8. Thy shalt include social media in your digital marketing.

Bex from Reason Digital was our social media guru. She told us Facebook and YouTube are still the best for consumers but Twitter is great for developing networks – just don’t look like you’re trying to flog something. There were some amazing examples of how Snapchat and Instagram were helping businesses attract a young audience. To reduce the time commitment, use apps like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to manage different accounts and schedule your posts.

For one-man-bands in danger of never doing any work again because of social media, Bex recommended setting up notifications on your mobile that tell you when someone has mentioned you or liked your posts – and to generally ignore everything else.

9. Thy shalt not ignore bad news, thy shalt not believe thine own SEO ranking

If you Google your own company it’ll rank much higher than if someone else does the same search. Use Incognito mode in Chrome to get an accurate picture of your ranking. Likewise, make sure Google Analytics doesn’t include in your visitor numbers all the times your staff have used your own website. Filter out any visitors you don’t want to count.

If you are putting yourself into the digital universe you have to prepare for the odd bit of flack. The advice from the course was to respond as soon as you see a negative post. Be polite, apologise if necessary and try to take the conversation offline immediately. Don’t set yourself up as a mug who’ll give away freebies every time someone threatens a bad review.

10. Thy shalt put all this in a SEO and digital marketing plan

Everyone should have a basic SEO and social media marketing plan. The focus will help prevent you from  faffing about for hours doing things that are no benefit whatsoever to your business.

Start by auditing what’s worked or not worked in the past. Check out your competition for ideas. Set yourself a target that you can measure such as sales or clicks to the contact page of your site.

Next, focus on each segment of your customer base and think about what in particular appeals to those people. What are the keywords for this audience? Get a few people from your target market to run through your website and give you feedback.

Create a timetable of activity you can stick to. This should include editing your website, pay-per-click keywords, planned blog posts and social media activity.

Look for bloggers and other sites admired by your target market that you may want to link to you. Offer to provide products or copy in return for clicks. Gauge influence through sites such as Followerwonk.

Finally, make sure you set up Google Analytics to monitor the web traffic you attract, where it’s coming from and – most importantly – whether it’s buying from you. Review your progress regularly to make sure you are on the right track. Good luck!

See Claire’s progress with search and social media marketing on James’s website.