Cameron Wells | Advice
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ADVICE

Drowning in a sea of advice on marketing? Help is at hand. Try any of our 10 top tips series to get the facts, fast.

CHOOSE A PR AGENCY

  1. Be realistic. Don’t be wowed by the agency which comes up with the most interesting or unusual ideas.  Wacky ideas can sound impressive in a pitch, but they can also be highly unworkable.  Ask them for a media plan to hit the ground running and look for an agency who is realistic, honest and up-front about the job they can do for you.
  2. Horses for courses: Find out who will be actually working on your account. You may be meeting the slick presenters at the pitch but then be passed over to the newest recruit straight out of college to cut their teeth on your account.
  3. Proactive not reactive: Find out how proactive they are in creating news. Your PR agency shouldn’t just sit back and wait for you to give them story leads.  They should be using a combination of imaginative thinking and hard graft to unearth opportunities for you.
  4. Short-stay: Ask them how long their clients stay with them on average. This should give you a good measure of their levels of commitment.
  5. Skin deep: Find out how much of a priority your business will be to them. If your account manger is spread too thinly working on 12 different accounts at once, how can they ever hope to really get under the skin of your business and understand your market?
  6. Take aim: Look for a B2B marketing agency which will agree to setting campaign objectives together, not one who makes up their own objectives for your PR programme and then congratulate themselves for achieving them. PR is cost effective but it’s still an expense. Everybody deserves to know what return they’re getting on their investment.  You should be getting regular updates on results.
  7. The whole truth: Check what’s included in the monthly fee so you can avoid being hit with a long list of ‘extras’ they omitted to mention at the pitch.
  8. Eats, shoots and leaves: Yes we know social media speak is in the ascendant but there’s still no excuse for sloppiness.  If emails and proposals from the agency are littered with grammatical errors and typos, chances are all the subsequent work will be too.
  9. Online PR: any B2B PR agency worth its salt will be fully up to speed on how to grab coverage online and communicate directly with audiences online via blogs and social media
  10. Ask to speak to current clients: they should be the agency’s best advocates and if they’re not, you need to know why!

HANDLING THE MEDIA

In the spotlight: top tips on being media savvy for business growth

Today’s business environment is hugely competitive, compelling companies to promote their services, image, brand and reputation in an effort to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

The media offers one of the most effective means of achieving this, and the return on investment can be compelling. Clients of Cameron Wells Communications for instance have enjoyed hundreds of thousands of pounds of media coverage annually for a tenth of their investment in media relations (PR) services.

A businesses message endorsed by the media is an extremely powerful promotional tool.

  1. Always respond to a media enquiry.  You are being given an opportunity to influence what appears in the news and, more importantly, how you, your company and industry are perceived.
  2. Be aware of deadlines – journalists work to very tight schedules – if you want to get on the air or see your name in print, be prepared to move fast and cancel a few appointments.
  3. Be prepared before interviews. Find out – or work out – what the journalist is likely to ask you and prepare and practise key messages.
  4. When being interviewed, be confident and remember that you are an expert in your field. Inject a little bit of oomph and allow enthusiasm to shine through.
  5. But don’t make it up. No-one expects you to know everything about everything within your organisation or industry.  Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know the answer to a question; just say so and offer to find either the information they need or an appropriate person to talk to them as soon as possible.
  6. NEVER say “no comment” – you might just as well admit you are guilty.
  7. Don’t feel compelled to fill a pause or a silence with unnecessary information – silence can be used by an interviewer to get a person to make revelations they wouldn’t otherwise divulge.
  8. Don’t just answer yes or no – give full answers but, if it’s for radio or TV, no more than 30 seconds long.  Any longer and you will be edited from a recorded interview or interrupted during a live one.  Yes or no answers make for very dull and uncomfortable listening.
  9. If you want to promote your company and its products and services, be subtle, or you’ll sound like a snake-oil salesman. Don’t disparage the competition.
  10. Don’t drop your guard when the interview is over. It’s never over until the reporter leaves the building or hangs up the phone. And remember that journalists never stop working and speaking “off the record” no longer exists.

GET NEW BUSINESS LEADS THROUGH DIRECT MARKETING

Digital and social media has undoubtedly changed the face of B2b marketing with many businesses redirecting much of their marketing spend to these channels.

So should Direct Mail still have a place in your marketing plan? Is it cost effective? Does it deliver results? Can it help customer engagement? Will it drive sales?

Read our top 10 tips to implementing a successful b2b direct mail campaign.

1. Plan ahead

Set very clear objectives that can be measured. Do you want a sales meeting? Who with? When?  How many can you handle each month? Do you want to promote a short term special offer or launch a new service? How many sales or product trials do you require? Set up unique telephone numbers, ad codes, arrange tele-sales follow up or track unique website visitors so that you can measure the campaign success.

2. All about the money

Establish what is an acceptable cost per pack. Before you brief your agency, give clear direction on your budget. Embossing, spot UV and promotional gifts may look fantastic but will they deliver the ROI you need? Don’t forget to include the ‘invisibles’ in your overall pack cost – postage, list purchase, data cleansing, inserting (hand or machine enclosed), labelling and sorting plus follow up all need to added to the creative and print costs.

3.Power of data

Fish in your own pond and use a reputable list broker. Don’t ignore your lapsed customers. Don’t omit non responders to past campaigns. They may be in market this time and interested in your new offering. Segment and profile your most profitable customers and then buy similar data from a recommended IDM or RAR provider. If timing is critical to your product or service, try to buy tagged data with a renewal date appended so you are contacting potential customers at exactly the right time.

4. Know your audience

Who are you targeting? The Finance or Marketing Director? Or the PA gatekeeper who opens the CEO’s mail? What sector do they operate in? What is the size of the business? ‘Who’ drives everything – from the data provider to the concept and tone of voice to the messaging. Get this wrong and even the most powerful Direct Mail pack will fail.

5. Keep your enemies close

Try to get on mailing lists of your competitors. Monitor their on and offline activity.  Know what they are up to, what they are saying and offering – then do it better.

6. Make it memorable

Be different. The format and creative execution must have stand out. You have very little time to make an impact. Remember people are time poor and are bombarded with mail – probably from your competitors. Make yours intriguing enough for them to want to open and you’re half way there. Whether that’s through a message that really strikes a chord, a compelling offer or a branded gift which engages them.

7. Power of words

Be single minded – make your campaign proposition obvious. A skilled copywriter will turn your product or service features into meaningful benefits for the end user. Features are ‘so what’ whereas benefits demonstrate how your offer could make them twice as effective or allow them to go home on time by being more efficient.  Make them want you as much as you want them. But don’t overpromise. Make sure everything you say is legal. Always check the T&Cs and small print.

8. What should I do now?

Make your call to action clear.  There should be no uncertainty about what happens next. Should they call you to arrange a meeting? Email you? Enter a prize draw? Visit your website to arrange a demonstration?

9. Testing testing

Budget and volume permitting you should always A/B split test. Long copy v short copy. Incentive v none. Letter only v full pack. Price v benefit as lead message. With and without email or call follow up. Monitor, learn and refine your next campaign accordingly.

10. How did it measure up?

Always share your results – internally and with your agency. And don’t just track the mailing response rate – it’s the conversion, overall ROI and the projected lifetime value of the lead that will really tell you if direct marketing is working.

HANDLE A SOCIAL MEDIA CRISIS

HOW TO HANDLE A B2B MARKETING SOCIAL MEDIA CRISIS

  • Reply quickly and apologise
  • Take it offline – ask them to direct message you so can continue conversation in private
  • Set up separate customer service twitter address and promote on main twitter profile – so people don’t get mixed messages
  • Set up Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to search on multiple terms e.g. Chief executive name, brand name, ad campaigns etc
  • Update home page and direct people to Twitter/social media for real-time updates
  • Confirm when customer service line is operated on home page
  • Rank twitter users/complainers by Klout.com and personalise replies to increase impact with big hitters

COME UP WITH NEW IDEAS FOR CONTENT

Content marketing part 1 – coming up with ideas for new content

Content marketing has become the new bandwagon that everyone has jumped on in B2B marketing. It’s another bit of jargon that can easily be translated, however, and owes as much to human nature as to textbook strategies:

  1. Fact 1: Unless you are in the final stages of the buying cycle, nobody likes being actively ‘sold’ to. It feels intrusive and no B2B marketing professional wants to end up feeling like a foot-in-the-door double glazing salesman.
  2. Fact 2: Instead, B2B marketeers have to earn their right to sell later on by sharing useful, objective, credible, relevant, expert advice now – when prospects are in the early stages of research. Don’t tell them about your products, tell them about how the general technology can help them to solve a problem, make them look good in front of their boss, support their staff better, make their working day easier so they can leave work on time etc.

So far, so straightforward. But the internet is awash with anodyne advice from the school of the bleeding obvious. So how do you come up with high quality, engaging, fresh content to fuel your marketing campaign?

Aside from the obvious point about subscribing to relevant enewsletters, LinkedIn groups, Google alerts and RSS feeds so you are amongst the first to know about industry developments, in an ideal world you could also ask your current clients what they want to hear about.

You should then create a schedule so the inspiration doesn’t dry up with enough flexibility in it to be able to respond to new developments as they happen.

At Cameron Wells, we’ve been doing this for clients for 5 years – here’s a case study and a list of ideas which might help:

  • Buyer guides e.g. 10 things to look for when specifying… a 3 step guide to buying…
  • 10 questions to ask…
  • 5 must haves, 5 mistakes to avoid
  • Trends – creating threats/opportunities for your clients
  • Warning signs – 7 signs of impending cashflow problems
  • Strategies: 12 ways to reduce your PMI costs
  • Definitions – 10 ecommerce terms explained – demystify buzzwords
  • Resources – 10 best books, best websites, HR online calculators
  • Aggregated content e.g. 10 best infographics (where you should always credit and link to source)
  • Enhancements – 10 ways to make the most of your tracking system, are you getting the most out of your dictation technology?
  • Best practice – 10 keys to sustainable growth/case studies
  • Metrics – are your enewsletters working? 6 metrics to track
  • Capture content from events and then drip feed out info in different formats: e.g. from a presentation: video – topics by topic, podcast, slides, article, white paper, webinar and a news release

GET YOUR HEAD ROUND SEO

  • A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO SEO AND B2B MARKETING B2B marketing campaigns often target prospects making slow but highly informed decisions on high value purchases.Driving traffic to your B2B website throughout the buying cycle is critical, but how do you ensure your site is listed on page one of Google and stays there?  Find out how with our beginner’s guide to SEO and B2B marketing…1. Audit your site
    • Make sure all the pages on your site can be reached from the home page by the Google bots and try to keep to 3 or 4 levels deep maximum. The easiest way to do this is to add a site map via Google Webmaster (free to sign up to)
    • Check to see how many pages of your site are already ranked by Google – enter site:www.yoururl to see this
    • Make sure your url is correct. E.g. if you are www.company1.im then you will only appear in the search results in the Isle of Man
    • If, for example, you are www.b2bmarketingcompany.com url, check you are set to show results for the correct country – you can do this in Google Webmaster – if not, it will show results in the country in which your website is hosted!
    • Check your speed score – aim for more than 80
    • Check your domain authority – how many backlinks you have (15-45 will be average for a small business). You need your DA to be higher than 20 to achieve rankings
    • Check how many people are viewing your site from a mobile device via Google Analytics and whether your site is responsive

    2. Get the keywords right – but don’t overdo it

    • Go to Google Adwords and set up an account so you can research which search terms are used the most by people and check you are optimising on the right terms – basically the longer and more detailed the search term, the higher the click through rates but the lower the volumes of people searching
    • If you search for a generic phrase that is relevant to your company and scroll to the bottom, Google now automatically suggests searches related to that term
    • Draw up a list of search terms – probably 10-30 max, and no more than 3 per page
    • Go through each page on the site adding in the relevant search terms – the higher up they go the better, but don’t go crazy and add in loads because it will look awful and it’s now obvious to spot when companies are doing this online; no more than 3 or 4 mentions per page or 2% keyword density for 300 words of copy
    • Don’t use the same keyword over and over – the goal should be to inform the reader, not to inform the search engines. You are more likely to be penalised by Google for repetitive keyword use than not having enough keywords
    • Make sure you fill in the title, meta description and meta keyword tags for each page – they won’t impact on search rankings any more but they are still hugely influential in persuading people to click on your link not your competitors
    • Give every page a page title (the first line shown in the search results) that is compelling and make sure the page text and the title tag match i.e. all the search terms must be on the page for that page to be found
    • Write your description copy (the second line) carefully as it is your opportunity to sell your company and encourage people to click through
    • Use ‘l’ to separate phrases and put SEO terms at front and the brand at the end
    • Include key phrases in links (e.g. Read B2B marketing case study, not Click here)
    • Add keywords to alt text captions for pictures
    • Add keywords to intro text to videos and in filename
    • You can now include keywords in graphics, as Google can now read them in html5
    • Include lots of relevant keywords on home page, it is the main signpost. Add 300 words of search term-rich copy on the home page at the bottom so it doesn’t interfere with design but can still be read by the Google spiders
    • Include keywords in your h1 headers on each page (these are just the headings on each page with code to tell Google that this is a heading)

    3a. Appoint an SEO expert to submit to directories and add backlinks to your site

    • Appoint an SEO agency and get them to conduct an initial website audit – they will then give you a list of recommendations including copy to add in the metatags boxes in your content management system (these are no longer used by Google, but it still best practice)
    • Pay the SEO company on an ongoing basis to submit the site to various directories and keep ahead of the Google algorithm changes
    • Get everyone you can think of to link to the site from their site, as inbound links from credible sites (not link farms) are viewed highly by Google as giving your site credibility. Inbound links from high quality sites (e.g. B2B Marketing – use Google AdWords as before and check page ranks 1-10 where 6 = much more than 6 x 1)

    3b. …or, if you want to do it yourself…

    • Go to Moz opensiteexplorer.org and type in a competitor to see what links they have and how this could be emulated
    • Check to see if you have any historical poor links (e.g. from link farms) and disavow them via google Webmaster
    • Share your content on other sites with links leading back to your site (eg. embedded into news releases)
    • Add valuable content on your site (e.g. a calculator or tools) so people link to you naturally
    • Find other blog sites and offer to guest blog for them
    • Send news to reputable free PR distribution sites
    • Approach clients, suppliers, associations you are members of to set up reciprocal links
    • Push out content through social media channels with links back to your site
    • If you are sending out emails with links to your site, make sure you direct them via bitly etc, as that represents a link from another site as opposed to a link from an email which has no ‘link juice’

    4. Keep adding content

    • Finally – and this is absolutely CRITICAL for SEO – you need to be adding regular content with relevant search terms in – ideally as a weekly blog of about 300 words on the news section. This needs to be new words – not just copied from elsewhere or you might get penalised or the original will be ranked instead of you. Google is all about providing relevant up to date content to its users. Content is KING when it comes to SEO. You can’t just create a website and then leave it, as Google will spot that it is old content and not direct users to it as a result
    • If you have to include duplicated copy, you can either either add canonical code which references the original author or tell google not to index the page

    In conclusion…

    The more content you have, the more opportunity you have to include relevant search terms. The more relevant search terms, the more up to date the content, the more inbound links you have coming in to the site… the higher the listing!

    One final point. Remember that Google now serves up personalised search results which reflect your search history. Make sure you clear your cache before you check your listings results as otherwise the results will be skewed and show your site listed as much higher than it might actually be due the fact that you visit it all the time (and so Google thinks it is more important to you than other sites).

    Want to know more? Read the 17 myths about SEO in 2015 guide from Hubspot.

THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD CREATIVE BRIEF

As one Creative Director unsurprisingly put it; “It’s the most important piece of paper in the agency”. Get the brief wrong and you will waste valuable time, resource and reputation. And have a really grumpy creative team.

First and foremost a brief must be brief – 2 sides of A4 maximum, 1page is ideal. Remember the left brain, right brain rule of how a creative mind works compared to that of a suit! But brief does not mean it shouldn’t be thorough.

Run through the brief in person if possible and deliver it with passion. Give it the time and enthusiasm it deserves. A good brief should leave the creative team feeling excited and motivated to get started.

In brief – top 10 tips for the brief writer

  1. Before you write anything, do your research, prepare, question and challenge
  2. Don’t just fill out a form, but use the briefing form (see below) to stimulate your thought process
  3. Be very clear about the aim of the brief
  4. The main brief sections fall into 3 main categories: Background, Communication and Implementation
  5. Deciding what you leave out can be as important as what you put in
  6. Include only the critical information in the brief with the remainder in the attachments
  7. The single minded proposition should be the focus of the brief
  8. Understand your audience and what motivates them
  9. Think about how to make your brief memorable
  10. Confirm your brief in writing and get approval from necessary parties

When you’re ready to put finger to keyboard, here’s what should be included in every brief…

Background

  • brief overview: give an overview why the work is required including supporting customer research, past campaign results and competitor activity where appropriate in attachments.
  • objectives: these should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) eg 20% increase in sales leads amongst FTSE 250 HR directors within 3 months – NOT: lots more sales leads as soon as possible!
  • target audience: ‘who’ drives everything from media selection, tone of voice to imagery. Approaching affluent, AB, 60+ retired couples in Cheshire is very different to talking to SME business owners in the North West. Include any valuable consumer insights
  • execution: what exactly is required? A lead nurturing email campaign? A/B split test consumer press ads? 30” radio script? VAT free direct mail pack? An integrated campaign featuring all?

 

Communication

  • single minded proposition: arguably the most important part of the brief, yet the most difficult to get right. What is the ‘essence or key take out from the brief – ? A good SMP should be captured in one sentence – or ideally just a few words. The SMP for the M&S food TV advert “This is no ordinary…” was simply ‘Food Sex’. The agency would have produced a very different ad had the proposition been ‘Great value yet delicious food.’
  • primary and support messages: pick out the most salient messages which will add value and be meaningful to the target audience – these can be company attributes or product features and benefits which can be functional or emotional.
  • creative direction: this is where you need to consider the look and feel of the piece – should it look hard sell, traditional, nostalgic, dynamic or quirky? Should it position a brand as an innovative, fast paced industry expert or a caring, nurturing service provider which will pull at the heart strings? Think about formats, photography style, colour palettes, fonts etc. Give direction – not instruction so that the creative team has chance to do what they do best.
  • tone of voice: How will the headlines and subheads engage the recipient? Should the copy by punchy, humorous and conversational or formal, informative and thought provoking? The tone must clearly reflect the brand personality.

 

Implementation

  • call to action/ response mechanism: be very clear about what the recipient should do next. Should they visit your website to buy online, call to arrange a meeting? Don’t forget to include any tracking or promotional codes.
  • budget
  • timings/ key dates
  • mandatory inclusions: eg small print and brand guidelines

Remember the old adage – you only get out what you put in. You can’t bake a mouth-watering cake with out-of-date or missing ingredients so don’t expect exceptional creative work if your brief is lacking in lustre.

GETTING ROI ON SOCIAL MEDIA

How do I gain tangible return on an investment in social media marketing?

It’s a common question but also one that is rarely answered in any satisfactory manner.

There remains a large amount of confusion around the issue, perhaps due to the prevalence of conflicting opinion and misleading advice.

The bottom line is that, for social media to deliver ROI, it must be aligned with overall marketing aims and, ultimately, the goals of the business too.

A real world approach

One of the major benefits of social media is that it is highly measurable.

Each platform – whether that’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube – churns out a huge amount of statistics to quantify the success of any social media efforts.

But it’s also important to remember that social is not a silver bullet. Despite the number of major success stories, the majority of businesses will not see an instant jump in the number of leads, conversions or sales that are directly attributable to social media.

Particularly when it comes to B2B, social is most effective when it forms one element of an integrated campaign that also includes other elements such as PR, email marketing, direct marketing and telemarketing. It also requires a sustained commitment over time to ensure its potential is maximised.

Do not expect results overnight. Although quick gains can be made by establishing a presence on social media, genuine results will take time and effort, largely by using good content to nurture existing leads and reach new audiences.

Ensure measurement matches goals

The importance of this point cannot be understated.

For example, the company aims might include:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Improve customer engagement
  • Increase sales
  • Generate leads in a defined market sector
  • Build awareness of a specific product or service

This should be determined at the outset, before any activity has even been undertaken, because the nature of the goal will also determine the channels, tactics and messaging that are used.

When the focus is based on increasing awareness or reach, metrics such as the number of followers on different social channels, the number of impressions received by certain posts, the number of times a video is viewed or the number of times a blog post is read are suitable objectives.

When engagement is the aim, ‘likes’, shares and comments are more fitting, and when judging impact in a defined market, it might be useful to measure an increase in followers from that sector or the amount of people who engage with targeted social media advertising.

Set conversion goals

Even then, these figures only tell half the story and there is a danger of placing too much stock in ‘vanity’ metrics, which might show positive trends but don’t equate to tangible results for the business.

It might be possible to equate positive trends to social media campaigns but it is more difficult to define the exact value of these campaigns.

One way to get around this is by comparing the social activity to an equivalent advertising value. For example, how much would it cost to get your marketing messages in front of the same amount of people, either via traditional print advertising or pay-per-click.

But, as much as possible, it is important to set conversion goals, where a specific action is completed. These might include:

  • Online purchase
  • Submission of contact form
  • Use of online quote feature
  • Sign-up to newsletter
  • Download of file
  • Visits to a blog or campaign landing page

Using Google Analytics it is possible to track how many visitors from each social network complete one of the above actions. Once these leads are in your pipeline, it is also possible to calculate what percentage go on to make a purchase.

Over time, you can use this data to assign a monetary value to social leads. What is the average conversion rate for social leads and what is their average spend following conversion? By comparing these stats against the investment made in social media marketing, it is possible to calculate the return.

Although social shouldn’t be viewed purely as a lead generation tool, measurement is necessary throughout the process to ensure activity is having an impact. Constant review of the figures also helps to ensure campaigns are having the desired impact and changes can be made when necessary.

Tools to make measurement easier

Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube all provide their own analytics but here are some free tools to help you master metrics.

Google Analytics. Absolutely essential for tracking visitors to your website and determining the behaviour of leads from social.

Hootsuite. Free tool that allows you to schedule posts for a number of networks and also provides analytics.

Followerwonk. Analyse your followers and compare to your competitors, or find social influencers.

TweetReach. Discover who is talking about your brand on Twitter and measure the reach of posts and hasthtags.

Klout. Measure influence on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and several other channels.

SumAll. Track metrics from your different social accounts in one place.

HOW TO CREATE ENGAGING INFOGRAPHICS

Infographics have created a marketing bandwagon that all savvy marketeers appear to have scrambled onto to liven up dull topics or simplify complex ones, but how do you make them as engaging and effective as possible?

Here are our 10 top tips to creating the perfect infographic:

  1. Ensure you consider everything and plan everything before you start to design an infographic, for example consider the structure of it, what you want to include on it and what the purpose of it is. Will it be used to mainly to educate or entertain people, for example? Will it be for social media or more for sales meetings collateral? Create a central theme around which all your statistics will hang.
  2. Create a strong, enticing header for your infographic and social media posts to encourage click throughs.
  3. Get it right from the offset – use correct facts and stats for your infographic and double check they are correct before thinking about anything visual.
  4. Make your design unique to ensure it stands out; use strong graphics and make sure it has a colour scheme and look and feel that accurately reflects the brand.
  5. Tailor your infographic for your target audience, using relevant design style and language. In an ideal world you will already know that this is a hot topic and that your target audience feel strongly about.
  6. Don’t try to tackle too many subjects at a time, one subject per infographic.
  7. Keep a good balance between images and text, don’t include too much text as this defeats the point of an infographic.
  8. Ensure your infographic flows logically and that everything is in the correct order.
  9. Don’t be lulled into making it too long – the average time spent viewing an infographic is only three minutes so forcing people to keep on scrolling could be extra design budget down the drain.
  10. Always include your sources or a link to your sources online.

Looking for some inspiration? Marketing content engine Kapost has a good selection of B2B infographics here.

Plus here’s a couple we prepared earlier….

https://blog.business.tomtom.com/christmas-deliveries/

https://blog.business.tomtom.com/uk-construction-companies/

http://www.pmihealthgroup.co.uk/files/5114/3134/3983/infographic2015.pdf

THE NEW SEO

Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird… the digital whizzes at Google have been keeping marketeers and SEO specialists on their toes with a constantly evolving search landscape, designed to deliver better, more relevant search results to customers.

It can all get very confusing but there are actually some (relatively) simple do’s and don’ts.

DO…

  1. Provide high quality content: The marketing cliché that content is king rings truer than ever for two reasons:
    1.1  Time on site was Google’s No 2 ranking factor in 2015 (after click through rates) – so the stickier your site is and the lower the bounce rates, again the higher up the rankings your site will climb. This is because Google can be confident that it is taking their client through to relevant content which keeps their interest.
    1.2 Google recently introduced a Knowledge-Based Trust (KBT) score which scores your website on the amount of objective and accurate fact-based content (as opposed to unsubstantiated marketing claims, for example) which it checks against its vast store of facts on the internet. It is no coincidence that national newspapers, Wikipedia and the BBC appear consistently in all our search results – ranking is becoming less about ‘popularity’ (links from other sites) and more about accuracy, truthfulness and trust.
  1. Use Google Analytics to check your user experience – put simply, it’s pointless ranking at number one on page one of Google if people clicking through then don’t convert – get in touch, download some gated content, read a white paper etc.SEO has moved on from being all about rankings to being about optimisation of what happens when someone lands on your site – the so-called UX or user experience.  Search engine optimisation should also embrace the whole picture ie how to influence behaviour most effectively once people have clicked through.  How quickly your pages load, how long people are spending on each page and how many pages are viewed per visit are good site quality indictators which are used by Google to judge the usefulness of your site to its users and where to subsequently rank it.  A/B testing landing pages can seem like a drag but it can have massive impact on conversion rates.
  1. Think local – make sure you optimize a Google+ My Business Page to make sure your website receives maximum exposure for local searches
  1. Use H1 headings and sub heads but don’t stuff them with keywords – the aim is for the title to make sense and entice visitors to read on. Titles no longer play any role in Google rankings. Again, it is more about creating a quality page of content where the most important messages are at the top and copy is split up by sub heads to make the user experience easier.
  1. Invest in social media – securing a guest blog spot with a link back to your site can be a very effective way of generating high links. Sharing links to useful content like white papers or advice on your website via social media channels also creates a valuable source of links back to your site.
  1. Write strong page descriptions – make sure your meta descriptions which get displayed by Google in the SERPS (search engine results pages) are appealing. Research may show that the top 3 not just on page 1 but of subsequent pages on Google get most click throughs,  but the one line description below the website link also plays a major role in influencing click throughs.  You can easily change these in your website’s content management system.  They don’t play any role in getting better rankings but they are nonetheless very important in persuading people to visit your site. Having high click through rates was also Google’s top ranking factor in 2015 – so the more people click through to you, the more relevant you are deemed to be for that search term and the higher Google will list you in future.
  1. Get your keyword strategy right – use Google Adwords to help generate lots more relevant search terms which you may not have thought of and to research those with decent search volumes. In an ideal world, you are looking for search terms with high volumes, low presence competition.
  1. Make sure you add alt tags and image file names to all the images on your site. This one is an easy win as Google still needs help with reading images!  Be accurate with your description obviously but this is one area where you can successfully use keywords if they are relevant.
  1. Get responsive – with last Spring’s Mobilegeddon move, Google began using a website’s mobile friendliness as a factor in ranking. Make sure your website is responsive ie. that it looks as good on a mobile or tablet as a dektop PC. You can check this here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

DON’T…

  1. Don’t worry about having to submit your site to Google – the Google spiders will find your site when they do their usual web crawls.
  1. Don’t prioritise links over content. Yes, you still need to build links – without recourse to the old style link farms obviously – but the way you build links has moved on too.  Again, it is a question of quality not quantity – links should be relevant and have a high authority score themselves.
  1. Don’t overstuff your site with keywords – so 2004! The Google algorithms use Latent Semantic Indexing to work out what your site is about without having to find an exact match for the search terms someone is entering. They are getting more sophisticated at interpreting what content best matches each search term every year and have invested heavily in getting round the keyword ‘cheating’ problem.   In fact, you will get penalised by Google for repeating keywords too many times, so focus instead on writing relevant, quality content.

HOW TO SEO YOUR BLOG

If you’re a marketing-savvy business, chances are you will have realised the potential of a blog and will already have one in motion. But just how do you get it noticed among the masses of content already out there?

Optimising blog content will help to increase search engine visibility and drive more traffic to the site.

We’ve put together a list of the top nine things you should consider when writing a blogpost.

  1. Keywords – It’s pointless having fantastic written content if no-one can find it online.
    Keywords enable search engine spiders to find your blog among the reams of content published on the internet, allowing it to appear in search engine results.
    Don’t try and guess what people are searching for around the topic of your blog. Use a free keyword tool, like this one from Google, to research trends in search phrases and pick which will be beneficial for your post.
    Once you’ve established your keyword, ensure it’s placed:1.1. In the title – don’t use a vague title. It might sound good but if it doesn’t contain a keyword, no one will be able to find your blog when searching
    1.2. In the copy – ensure your keyword is mentioned early and often throughout the body of your content. Be careful not to overuse the keyword though. This will not only make the text difficult to read but Google could also penalise you for ‘over-optimising’ the post. As a general rule of thumb, try to put your search terms in one to two per cent of the copy
    1.3. In the blogpost  URL – keywords in the URLs show up on Google and have been proven to influence searchers on whether they click through to your blog
  1. Headings – Using headings (H1, H2, H3 etc) in your blogpost doesn’t just improve readability but it also helps Google grasp what your content is about.
    Subheadings also help to structure your post, allowing people to scan the text and understand the general gist of the content.
  1. Links – Links are still the core of Google’s search algorithm, meaning incorporating relevant links into your post will help the search engine spiders understand your niche and recognise your content as quality.
    Having too many outbound links, however, can annoy readers. Link to fewer, more valuable pages, include your keyword in the anchor text and don’t forget to link to your other content in order to boost time on-site.
  1. Number of words – When it comes to how long your body text should be, using more words means more SEO ranking opportunities.
    People search in different ways so by having longer copy, it means there are more chances to use different variations of your keyword throughout the text.
    At least 300 words per post is recommended.
  1. Images – If you’re including an image in your blogpost, make sure you name the file as something relevant to your content and fill out the alternative text field with a brief, keyword-rich description. This makes them another source you can use to direct traffic to your blog, especially when people are doing image searches.
  1. Meta description – When Google search results appear, there is usually a brief summary of the webpage below the actual link. This is known as the meta description and presents a strong opportunity for you to convince people to choose your site over another by using relevant and compelling wording. It’s your chance to sell your content as valuable and informative so tell the searcher exactly what your blogpost offers and give them a clear benefit of clicking through.
    In general, meta descriptions should be under 155 characters.
  1. Share via social media – Sharing your content on social media not only improves search engine visibility but also drives more traffic to your blog.
    Add social buttons to your post to encourage visitors to share the content across their social media channels.
  1. Categories and tags – Sorting your blogpost into a category can also help to boost your organic search efforts. Grouping the different content across your site into topics makes archived pages easier to find and creates additional opportunities for SEO.
    Tags work in a similar way. Describing the specific details of your post, they are used to micro-categorise your content.
    It’s worthwhile remembering that most ‘related posts’ plugins use categories and tags to show similar content to the one the viewer is currently reading.
  1. SEO plugin – By installing an SEO plugin, you can check if you’ve taken all of the necessary steps to optimise your blogpost. Yoast is a great tool if you use WordPress.