Google Ads is the new name for Google AdWords.
Introduced way back in 2000, Google AdWords was quite a revelation at the time. All we had before it came about were pages upon pages of organic results. Then Google announced that people could PAY to get their keywords above all the search results. And below them. And to the side too. (more…)
Saving money on AdWords is something we genuinely enjoy doing for our clients here at Clever Marketing. We get a lot of enquiries for assistance with PPC campaigns and many of them are from businesses who’ve not been looked after properly. Priding ourselves on great service, we love taking on these new clients and showing them real savings, return on investment and performance on their digital marketing campaigns.
For example, last week we had a call that went something like this:
“Hello, you’re a web design company in Surrey, can you help us please? We’re getting no enquiries!”
We looked at their website and, in a word, it was shocking. We found the following glaring issues:
The main website they showed us was a .co.uk but, as we crawled the site, we noticed that some of the pages switched to a .com domain. It looked like the designers or previous “SEO experts” had been trying to cross-link the domains, possibly trying to rank for two domains rather than one.
Then we spotted that simple problem of some URLs being www, others not, a typical “schoolboy error” that we see so often.
There were also URL redirects, mystery redirects, doorway pages, broken links, missing robots.txt files, no XML sitemap, oh, the list goes on.
So there was a lot of potential “black hat” SEO going on by the look of things. Getting enquiries at the expense of best practice is something we don’t do here at our Surrey marketing agency. We do things by the book and stick to “white hat SEO”, making sure our work is ethical as well as innovative.
But it was the PPC account that we had a quick look at that gave us kittens.
The client had spent over £1,000 on Google AdWords in the first three weeks of this month and said they’d not seen a single bit of business come through in those few weeks. So we took a look and in 5 minutes we spotted the following…
1. We saw that the client’s ads were running 7 days a week. Looking at when they got the few conversions that they had, it wasn’t on Saturday or Sunday. So we set the ad schedule from Monday to Friday. That alone would save a couple of hundred pounds per month.
2. The next point of contention was that the ads were being shown 24 hours a day. Now some products sell 24/7 but again we checked the time of the conversions and none were before 09:00 and the latest was 13:00. So we took a judgement call on this, worked out when we believed the client’s customers were active and decided to allow the ads to be shown between 08:00 and 18:00 in the evening. Again, this should also save at least £100 in the 3 weeks the ads had been running so that will amount to greater savings over the course of a month.
3. Then we reviewed the geographical targeting of the campaigns. There were a number of campaigns that seemed to be geographically restricted, according to their naming conventions. But on further inspection of the settings we noticed that they were being shown across the world! Luckily the number of clicks were relatively low but even so we fixed these geographical issues and saved roughly £100 a month for the client.
Adding up the savings we believe that the very quick analysis of the PPC account will save the client around £500 a month. That’s half of what they were spending previously and, if the conversion rates continue at the current rate, the Cost Per Click (CPC) will have halved as well.
However, this week we need to really dive into their account and see what we can do to give them genuine value for money. They need ROI so we’re here to achieve that for them. We may have to pause the campaigns and start again from scratch. But whatever we do as a digital marketing agency we need to perform for our clients.
So, saving money on AdWords is something we could do for you too…
We’ll do your keyword research, build your ads, adjust your landing pages and increase your CTR and conversions but drive down Cost Per Click.
About a year ago I heard some feedback from a meeting where, upon discussing the platform for a web design project, the client said:
“But I’ve heard that WordPress is the most hacked CMS in the world?”
You know what? That might be perfectly true. Let’s have a closer look at that claim and then see what we can do about it…
Every month we work on custom SEO reports for our digital marketing clients. One issue we always look at is how our clients’ websites are performing on mobile. Why? Because mobile has become a massive part of search in recent years.
When I had my first mobile phone nearly 20 years ago (a Nokia 7110) it had a tiny little screen. I could see three lines of text on a monochrome WAP browser.
Now, in the advancing 21st century, we have large full-screen, full-colour mobile devices and 4G data speeds with fast WI-FI connectivity too. Our mobile browsers are powerful and we have a great choice. Where once we had just Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator on our desktops we now have Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Edge and Opera on our handsets, as well as a raft of minor browsers (Red Onion, Puffin etc) (more…)
The Google search engine has always crawled and indexed desktop sites. For a long time that’s how we all consumed websites – on once-expensive desk-bound Personal Computers.
Then when laptops became affordable, they started to become the new desktop machines [I’ve got two on my desk right now – Ed]
The mobile web took longer to take off as the technology needed time to catch up. Think about the first phones you used to browse the web – Our Digital Marketing Manager had a Nokia 7110 phone which was WAP enabled. He could browse a few lines of monochrome text-only versions of websites, if they existed, using his phone’s numeric keypad and a scroll wheel. That was 1999 when The Matrix was in cinemas.
It took quite a few years for phones to really be useful enough for web browsing. The full-screen experience of the iPhone wasn’t around until 2007 but that was when the marketing blurb said:
“Apple reinvents the phone”
The iPhone was really a glorified iPod touch with phone functionality but it revolutionised the world of mobile phones. We could now see a full-colour full-size screen with more than those few lines of monochrome LCD.
Fast forward to December 2009 and we saw predictions from Morgan Stanley that mobile would “eclipse desktop internet” within 5 years.
By November 2016 we had the statistical data to prove that mobile and tablet internet usage had indeed exceeded desktop for the first time.
However, it has taken the search giant Google until March 2018 to finally say that they are now rolling out “mobile-first” indexing. In a Webmaster Central Blog post, Google said they’d been “carefully experimenting” for a year and a half and were now ready to start indexing.
Because we had historically built websites for desktop PCs, mobile versions were once an afterthought. It was a right pain as well because designers would have to create a pared-down version of a “full fat” website and serve the version dependent on who was visiting from which device. The markup language was also different so websites were effectively produced twice, once for desktop and then the other version for mobile, often text-only in the days of WAP. [We’re back to that with Google AMP – Ed]
Then we started to see “mobile-first web development”. It meant we had to consider mobile users first and build websites to address these limitations. Websites designed for the desktop are often full of text and images and this doesn’t always transpose well to mobile. Then there are the file sizes, big images, the size of the text, do you have to pinch and zoom to read, are the links so close together that you could click the wrong button and are you scrolling sideways to read a webpage? Not so good is it?
Mobile-first design addressed this by making sure that pages were designed in such a way that all these issues were dealt with so that both mobile and desktop users were satisfied.
Personally I think we’ve gone so far that we quite often see websites on desktop that are so obviously built for mobile but just happen to be served up on “the big screen”. The telltale signs are utter simplicity, no clutter, clear links and that giveaway “burger menu” icon.
Because mobile is now the dominant mode of search, desktop takes a backseat there too. Google used to crawl the web, visit your website, look at the desktop version and then index that site in the search results.
The problem with this is that not everybody has kept abreast of developments and there are a great many websites that still don’t provide a good experience for mobile users. However, the most important sites have caught up and any brand or developer worth their salt has produced mobile-friendly websites.
What this means for website owners without the knowledge, the budget or the means is that they will now start to see more visits to their website from Smartphone Googlebot. Mobile versions of websites will be indexed first and foremost, including Google’s cached versions.
If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website then your desktop version will still be indexed. However, Google is now urging webmasters to start making the move to mobile because, reading between the lines, this “amnesty” isn’t going to last for ever. Sooner or later the desktop versions of websites will start to suffer in the SERPs and that can only mean one thing – Your traffic will go down.
When your traffic goes down you’ll lose leads and sales will be affected and, in general, your website will not be as effective as it has been in the “golden years”. But this is a new age and it pays to keep up.
So, website owners, it really is time to start going over to mobile.
Do you need help with going mobile? Clever Marketing aren’t just Surrey’s premier digital marketing agency but also your first choice when it comes to web design and development.
We will be happy to discuss the next mobile-friendly version of your website and you can be sure that we’ll give it our utmost attention when it comes to making it SEO-friendly too.
So call us now on 020 3146 4341 or fill in our easy contact form.
Christmas and the New Year are now well behind us, the Vernal Equinox has passed and the days are starting to get noticeably longer – leaving work before the sun sets is a sure sign that spring is upon us. So with the new season blooming it’s a good opportunity to take a fresh look and spring clean your website.
That’s a good question, and you’ve definitely come to the right place to find the answer. As Woking’s premier digital marketing agency, our Digital Marketing Manager alone has nearly 20 years’ worth of experience in the field of Search Engine Optimisation, so let’s hear from him…
Normally I ask a ton of questions such as where do you currently rank, for which keywords & phrases, did you put any effort into getting that rank and do you actually get any traffic, enquiries, leads, conversions or sales from that ranking?
But you came here in response to the question how do I rank higher on Google?* so I will answer that for you…
*Other search engines are available (more…)
Back in November Formula 1 unveiled its new logo right at the end of the season finale, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel all received their trophies and then *drumroll* the new F1 logo was revealed.
The old iconic F1 logo has been around since the early nineties and F1 was sold to the American Liberty Media Corporation in 2016 so this is the first big shakeup in the visual identity of Formula 1. The new logo quite literally draws a line under the Bernie Ecclestone era. (more…)
Whilst we’re still in January we thought we’d let you know that Purple is the Colour of the Year 2018.
Purple was announced in December by The Pantone Color Institute, a consulting service within the Pantone organisation that forecasts trends in colour use.
The announcement was accompanied by a swatch from the Pantone Ultra Violet 18-3838.
Why purple? Well, in colour psychology, purple is the colour of mystery and non-conformity, counterculture and spirituality. It’s also a deeply cosy colour, warm and engulfing, luxurious even.
Purple is a colour between blue and red on the colour spectrum with blue being stable and conservative but red being hot and fiery. So purple is quite a mixture.
Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute said;
“We are living in a time that requires inventiveness and imagination. It is this kind of creative inspiration that is indigenous to PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple that takes our awareness and potential to a higher level,”
“From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come.”
That’s a very deep declaration but then purple is a very deep colour, if you’ll pardon the rock band pun.
Purple is a colour most associated with royalty, especially in Europe. Roman Emperors wore garments of Tyrean purple, produced from a dye that was both expensive and exclusive. The great expense of purple meant that purple-dyed textiles were seen as status symbols. Byzantine rulers actually passed laws that restricted the use of Tyrean purple to Imperial use, further cementing purple as the colour of rulers.
In popular culture we’ve had Jimi Hendrix bashing out riffs to Purple Haze, Prince singing about Purple Rain and the rock band Deep Purple.
There was a film by Steven Spielberg called “The Colour Purple” and the highest medal of honour in the United States’ military is the Purple Heart.
And now we come to a matter close to our own hearts – where do you see the colour purple in branding?
Well, the most iconic brand in the UK to use purple has to be Cadbury, the makers of chocolate and the well-known Dairy Milk. In 1914 the confectionery manufacturer started using purple as a tribute to Queen Victoria – purple was her favourite colour.
And did you know that in 2012 Cadbury won a high court battle where they prevented their rival Nestlé from using Pantone 2865c in their products? They even tried to trademark the colour as their own but lost that battle a few years later.
US food giant Kraft Foods acquired Cadbury in 2010 but 20 years before that they brought Jacobs-Suchard which included the Swiss Milka brand of chocolate, another one heavily using purple in their palette.
There’s a copy of marketing guru Seth Godin’s Purple Cow on our Digital Marketing Manager’s desk and last but not least there’s your favourite digital agency in Woking, Clever Marketing.
So, are you going to use purple in your communications in 2018? Do you have lofty aspirations and need a clever marketing agency to take you to a new level?
If your business’ website is underperforming, you’ve probably been asking yourself why.
Here are the most common reasons that indicate it really is time to bite the bullet and invest in a website design that will give you ROI for a few more years to come.
Just like “dog years” time flies in the world of the web. What was acceptable 5 years ago can be outdated now. Even when “mobile first” and “responsive design” became web industry buzzwords not every web design agency was quick to adopt to the new norms.
Being out of date includes the templates you’re using. Templates aren’t always about just looking good, many include a lot of built-in functionality too.
So, you may need a fresh new design, fresh templates and maybe it’s time to consider a new CMS too.[I saw a 2001 website built in HTML frames that was live in the same format for over 12 years! – Ed]
If you don’t know then that’s cool, we might be able to find out for you. But if we take a good look and then we don’t know either then that may be an issue. We can usually identify what platform a website is built on. If not then maybe it’s so unusual it will be “hard to find the parts for it”.
A custom-made website, built completely from the ground up, may have been a good idea at the time. Or maybe it was the CMS of choice from your hipster web devs fulfilling their funky, esoteric needs and not those of you the customer.
The question to ask yourself now is was it a sound business choice?
Answer these solid questions:
Has the website’s core code been kept updated? Is the website secure, upgradeable, stable, and scalable? Does your website keep up with the demands of modern browsing habits? Are the needs of modern users satisfied by the latest technology?
If the answer is yes then you may be OK. But if not, then it might be a good time for a new website.
If you’ve got one of those custom-built websites AND your designer went AWOL, went bust, abandoned the project or moved to another platform then those are big issues too.
With a “common” CMS like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla you should be OK. You will be able to find a new designer, developer or digital marketing agency to continue developing your site. If not, then coding, designing and SEOing a bespoke site could be problematic.
Time for a new website.
The website is old and on a custom-built platform.
Your designer and developer are nowhere to be found and neither of them ever mentioned SEO?
If your website wasn’t designed with SEO in mind and no optimisation has been done since the last launch then that is the reason why your site’s not doing well in search.
Time for a new website.
As your business grows then so should your web platform. The handful of static pages you’ve had for the last few years just don’t reflect where your business is now nor where it is going.
Besides, all your competitors have these new-fangled whizzy websites and when you check out where you rank in the search engines they always outrank you.
What you need is a sound, stable, scalable CMS that will cover every base right now and be ready to handle better content, more features and new functions.
Perfect. You should be able to redesign your website by reskinning it, in other words updating your template to reflect the new branding. But what if your site is all of the above?
It’s highly likely that you’ll have a few issues in making your old site work with a rebrand so, once again, maybe it’s time for a new website!
You know what will work? Getting Clever Marketing to build a new website.
We consider SEO from the very beginning. Clever Marketing look at creating a successful content strategy. We will design and build your business a brand new, fully functioning website that does well in the search engines, keeps your visitors happy and drives leads and conversions too.
Every so often, I’ll hear a comment or be asked a question about external links in website content.
Once, the comment was
“I was going link out from this article but then I decided not to.”
Another time, the discussion was about some copy that I’d crafted for a client:
“But there’s an external link in that article.”
My response is usually a quizzical
“Why do you say that?”
The answer is always less of a statement and more along the lines of another query…
“Oh, I heard that it’s not good to link out?“
So, let’s clear this up for once and for all…
I have never been one for skimping on external links unless there is a very good reason not to. It may be that you wish to reference a competitor but not give them traffic and help boost their rankings. But we’ll look at that later.
However, here’s a good reason why you should be linking out…
About ten years ago I used to run a news desk for a business information website. The news was initially supplied by a third party vendor and I’d typically receive a document consisting of a heading and about 300 words of copy. I chose to improve and support the simple news story by adding an image to accompany the copy and do some SEO too.
However, reading the articles before publication, as an editor, I’d always be frustrated by the failure of the article to provide relevant and useful external links. A story might be about the latest research on SMEs by the Royal Bank of Scotland and the author would quote a few figures from that report. But that was it.
In 300 words there was little to say of any real depth and I’d be wanting to read the source report for myself. But there was no link to the source of the information. Basically, the writer was saying there was this fantastic new piece of research but if you wanted to read it you’d just have to go and find it for yourself.
So, in order to fulfil the purpose of conveying newsworthy information to the reader, I had to search for the report and provide the link myself. And if there was a convoluted path to get to the report, I’d simplify it.
The aim of the news was to make the items newsworthy and to ensure the webpages were as useful to a visitor as possible. Providing links to external websites was a big part of that.
The very nature of the world wide web is to provide information, to share, engage and enlighten.
The language of webpages is HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and the clue is in the name. Hypertext is text that does more than just get read. Text with links to sources of more information are really useful. It’s valuable, it adds richness and depth to the experience of being on a web page.
This was the major concept behind HyperText as dreamt up by the father of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Pages of scientific information at CERN, the European Centre for Nuclear Research, did more than just sit as static text. Once-boring pages came to life with references to further information, giving greater depth to the user experience.
So, back to the issue of external links: Yes, a visitor will click away from your website, but if you gave them valuable information, then that’s brownie points for you. It enriches your brand as being a provider of useful things.
When a page links to another page, it’s supposed to pass on some of its benefits to that other page. So, an extremely popular and high quality website will have earned some “domain authority”. That means with the number and quality of inbound links, that web page is deemed as important and is assigned a certain score or level of credibility by the search engine.
Whichever pages are then linked out to also receive some of the benefits of that domain authority. Google used to do this with their Page Rank metric.
The spam score of the BBC domain and pages is very low so it just goes to show that the BBC usually provides links to high quality sources and references.
The holy grail of many webmasters is to gain links from such high quality sites because they pass on this “link juice”. Site owners used to “sculpt” the link profile of their websites so that they only gained incoming link juice but did not pass it on, usually by the use of “rel=nofollow” attributes on the links.
That’s one way to think about it. If someone clicks out they click away, right? Well, you could always open that link in a new tab. That way your website will stay in the users browser and you’ve provided them a useful link.
If the external link was what was useful to the visitor then so be it. Que sera sera, as the song goes, whatever will be will be.
But think about it this way – if your website was SO GOOD then why would you be afraid of sending visitors to third party sites? You need to make your site and your pages great quality and providing information, on your site or someone else’s, is providing that very service.
Again, kudos to you, my friend.
We mentioned earlier that there may be some reasons why you don’t want to link out, and here they are:
Don’t want to link to competitor? That makes sense. If someone comes to your website looking for information or a sale of your products and services then why make it easy for the competition?
Are you using anchor text to link out for things that you want to rank for? Again, if you are a provider of say digital marketing services then maybe you don’t want to be giving out free links to anyone else who offers the same service.
With these two points, one thing to bear in mind is that if your business offering is strong enough you may have no fear of linking out to competitors. It shows your readers that you’re not afraid to link out even if it is at the perceived risk of giving props to someone else. That in itself is a subtle but powerful message.
What we’re saying here at Clever Marketing is don’t be afraid to link out. Links are an integral part of the spirit of the world wide web. Linking out adds depth, richness and credibility to your web pages. Including external links shows you care, it shows you’ve done the research and are willing to pass that on.
So feel free to link out, it doesn’t harm you.
Have you heard of the term “thin content” in the world of Search Engine Marketing?
It’s when websites contain very short articles, in their blogs, news channels, or even on main pages and the word count is extremely low. (more…)
A recent report has shown just how productive the UK’s small and medium-sized businesses are and some areas of the country are streets ahead of others.
Looking through the data in The State of Small Business: Putting UK entrepreneurs on the map*, the most productive parts of the UK are over 25 times more effective than the least productive parts.
The City of London, the nation’s financial centre, is top of the list with £1.45 million generated per worker. West Somerset, a largely rural area including both a national nature reserve and a national park, produces the least turnover per worker.
London also takes the second and third spots in the top ten with Lambeth & Westminster plus Southwark coming in at number 9.
As a region, the south of England has the highest rate of productivity per worker in the whole of the British Isles.
However, that top ten slot for our Surrey hometown shows that Woking works for SMEs. Since 2010, small and medium-sized enterprises have created 73% of private sector jobs.
What’s more encouraging is that Woking, where we are headquartered, is in the top ten most productive places, where the average worker accounts for £274,000 of turnover in a year.
One challenging point to come out of the study, conducted by innovation foundation, Nesta, and the IT company, Sage, is that the gap between the most and the least productive areas is a potential “productivity gap” that could be holding back the country as a whole.
On the flip side, by identifying the areas that are in need of a boost, efforts can be focused on providing extra improvements. In some areas, poor infrastructure may be holding back business. In others, there may be problems with a lack of workforce skills.
Here at Clever Marketing, we’re keen to help local firms improve their productivity and we can do that in a number of ways:
Basically, if you lack the in-house skills to drive your business forward, we are the perfect partner to be an extension of your company. We are your are designers, we are your printers, we are your digital marketing agency.
Today, the 21st day of September, is the birthday of the famous British author, H.G. Wells.
You may know a little about him, you may know a lot. But, as a Woking-based business ourselves, we wanted to find out about the great once-local man and these are just some choice selections from the very many facts that we learned about him:
One of the funniest things we came across in our research was when Wells wrote a letter to his friend, Elizabeth Healey, in 1895 describing the original, serialised version of War of the Worlds;
“I’m doing the dearest little serial for Pearson’s new magazine, in which I completely wreck and sack Woking, killing my neighbours in painful and eccentric ways, then proceed via Kingston and Richmond to London, which I sack, selecting South Kensington for feats of peculiar atrocity.”
So, Happy Birthday, HG Wells, the first English sci-ifi writer, incredible mind, visionary, inspiration and former Woking resident.
A digital publication is the online equivalent of a printed brochure – though, unlike printed brochures, a digital version can be brought to life with animations, sound and video.
This makes it a powerful promotional tool for your business, helping to create a great first impression and sell to your customers in an interactive way.
With over 5 billion videos being watched per day on YouTube alone, it’s clear that online video is exploding and shows no signs of slowing down.
This consumption number increases even further when you include video ready social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and the late ‘six second’ Vine app. (more…)
For most digital marketers, creating viral content is the equivalent to finding the Holy Grail. Creating a piece of branded content which is widely viewed and shared across the internet is a sure fire way to drive traffic, brand awareness and ultimately – conversion. (more…)
How do you talk to your customers? It’s a difficult question to answer, as we all know that it’s not always just what you say, but how you say it that makes the difference.
How you communicate in person, on the web and on your social channels all contribute to your brand identity. But how much thought have you really given to your tone of voice? In our latest blog post, we discuss why a strong tone of voice is so important for brands, and how you can go about establishing yours.
As marketers, our most basic and honest job description is that we help to sell things. We spend our time shouting about who we are and why we’re so great in the hopes of convincing customers to buy from us, and if you haven’t realised that your tone of voice is a powerful weapon to help you do this, you’re missing a trick.
The words you use and how you use them can impact the way a customer not only feels about you as a brand but also the extent to which they feel compelled to act on your message. For example, which is the more persuasive: “please consider us for your next business venture”, or “we make your life easier– why not give us a call?” I think we can agree the more successful of the two is the latter. Why? It offers you a benefit, engages through the use of a question and also employs a relatively informal tone to suggest a friendly yet firm nature. Ultimately, your tone of voice helps to tell people not just what you do, but who you are.
An effective tone of voice will reflect the people behind the brand. It should be a manifestation of the personality of your company and its staff, as well as your values. Talking to a customer as if they’re on your level makes you appear more human and relatable, encouraging positive sentiment.
It’s near impossible to talk about the tone of voice without mentioning smoothie and juice drink brand, Innocent. Their cheeky, informal and humorous way of speaking to their customers both on their packaging and advertising has long been held up as an exemplary case study of the tone of voice.
For example, consider the current headline on their website: “show winter who’s boss”. Both punchy and timely, Innocent uses the simple language we use on an everyday basis instead of robotic jargon to echo a conversation you’d have with your friends. This breeds trust, authenticity and reassurance.
Innocent’s tone of voice has the dual benefit of eliciting trust and also allowing the brand to stand out from the crowd. Read any piece of copy and you’d be able to instantly tell it’s from them, such is the extent to which they’ve established their brand personality and voice in the marketplace. It’s distinctive, unique and recognisable, which does wonders for brand recognition and saliency.
If you sound just like everyone else, you have no point of differentiation that makes a customer choose you over a competitor. You’re likely to all blend into one, and your customer will use just one factor to decide whether or not to choose you: price.
The best kind of tone of voice evolves naturally from who you are as a company and what you believe in, rather than a sudden whim to be funny one day and authoritarian the next. Obviously, that’s not very specific or practical advice, so here’s a list of questions you might want to ask yourself at this stage:
Understanding the answers to these questions will help you to better understand who you are as a company and your positioning within a marketplace. Once you’ve given this some initial thought, you’re ready to dive into the nitty gritty of how you want to talk to your customers.
A key thing to remember is that although you might put a lot of time and effort into deciding on your tone of voice, it should never look constructed. Instead, it should be a natural manifestation of your values and people, providing you with a powerful sales and marketing tool in the process.
If you’re still struggling to get the perfect tone of voice copy out before that fast-approaching deadline, then get in touch and our team copywriting team can help you out.
In recent years, Google has rolled out a number of updates to its search algorithm to provide better and more relevant results to its users. In fact, Google makes hundreds of changes to its algorithm each year, and many pass by rather quietly without having any discernible impact on websites. However, there are a few updates that have caused major disruption upon release; namely, Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird. If you’re unfamiliar with Google’s algorithm, you might feel like you’ve unwittingly wandered into a zoo. Stick with us (or check out our previous SEO blogposts).
Before we go into any details, let’s first recap on what exactly an algorithm change is and how it can affect your website.
Google’s search algorithm is immensely complicated, but fortunately for digital marketers, it’s not necessary to know all of the various ins and outs in order to get a basic knowledge of SEO. In simple terms, the algorithm is much like a pattern or a process that Google uses to filter and sort its results when a user enters a search term.
In the early days of search engines, high page rankings were very easy to manipulate. At one point it was simple as inserting a piece of code. However, this meant that the top result on Google may not have been very useful or relevant to the term it was ranking for. As time and technology progressed, Google’s updates became more and more about how to stop people from cheating.
The first major update arrived in 2010, under the name of “Caffeine”. Since then, updates have gotten bigger, smarter and have made more and more of a monumental effect on websites. The algorithm now considers hundreds of factors – from your site’s age and size to the use of keywords and sitemaps.
Panda initially launched in February 2011, and to great fanfare. Its purpose was to decipher between high and low quality sites in search results. Named after one of its founders, Navneet Panda, this update sounded the death knell for websites spammy directories, sites with sparse content and “content farms” – sites consisting wholly of stolen 3rd party copy in order to rank.
Sites deemed to be of this low quality by Panda were heavily penalised by Google, either falling pages behind in the rankings or disappearing altogether. If this affected you, there are a few widely accepted ways to recover from these penalties. The first is to remedy any thin, useless content: a site full of pages featuring no more than a few keywords is not useful to a reader and therefore not approved by Google.
Another parameter set by Panda is duplicate content. In the old days, “Black Hat” SEO tactics included simply copying keyword-rich pages across your site in an attempt to improve rankings. Lessen the blow of Panda by making sure all of your copy is original and substantial.
Penguin appeared in April 2012, with its beady eyes fixed on unnatural or suspicious-looking backlink profiles. Links were, and still are, a significant factor in search rankings. If a number of high quality and authoritative sites have linked back to your site or blog, it indicates that others have found your content useful and are engaging with you. Certain links are more valuable and effective than others, but building a comprehensive back link profile has long been on the agenda of SEO specialists. Search engines also take into account the anchor text used to link to your site.
For example, if you’re a hairdresser in Newcastle and a number of other websites have linked to you using the words “Newcastle hairdresser”, you become more relevant to search engines for that search term.
The arrival of Penguin aimed to dispel forced, manipulated or unnatural links: in other words, poor quality links that SEO-ers went out looking for with rankings in mind. Again, the update punished sites for not delivering authentic and useful content, and like Panda, Penguin is regularly refreshed in cycles and re-evaluated at each point, so is constantly improving and evolving.
One of the main ways to recover if you have been hit by a Penguin update is to undertake a backlink profile audit. Tools such as SEMrush provide backlink checkers, allowing you to evaluate the quality of the links pointing to your site. If you find historical links from poor quality directories, it’s a good idea to contact the website and ask to have them removed. If this isn’t possible, you can also use Google’s disavow tool.
Small and delicate by name, aggressive and destructive by nature. Hummingbird first appeared in October 2013 and has been the most significant change to date. Rather than an update, Hummingbird is intended as an overhaul of the entire algorithm, with the main aim of better understanding user intent. Google now takes into account colloquial and regional differences as well as slang in search queries. This is understood to have been prompted by the recent introduction of voice search.
Much like Panda and Penguin, the overarching aim of Hummingbird is to improve a searcher’s experience. It rewards content that answers a search query rather than simply targeting a keyword. Hummingbird is, however, a bit harder to “recover” from – it’s not as simple as having a look at your backlink profile or beefing up your content. In Hummingbird, Google has found a way to make websites take a long, hard look at what they offer and consistently strive to deliver something better.
If you’d rather someone else did all the “heavy lifting” with your SEO and understanding of the Google algos, then let Clever Marketing take that weight off your shoulders. Fill in our contact form or drop us a line on 020 3146 4341 to discuss your digital marketing requirements.
Once completely disparate entities, SEO (search engine optimisation) and PR (public relations) strategies have grown closer over recent years. Modern SEO tactics show a focus on building high authority links – which is essentially about getting brands to talk about and work with you. At its heart this is also what PR is all about, making PR a key component of the “new” search engine optimisation method.
In addition, Google is increasingly ignoring links from low quality or spammy domains, in order to keep serving up the most relevant and useful content to its users. Therefore, what marketers now need to concentrate on is how to accumulate higher quality links from authoritative sources. One of the main ways you can do this is through combining SEO with your PR strategy.
So why should you use PR to enhance the SEO efforts within your organisation, and what are the benefits to your link-building strategy?
When you create a new piece of content, it’s likely that you already share it on your professional social media channels to encourage traffic and engagement. However, taking a PR approach to social media marketing can help to amplify your reach even more significantly through outreach.
When you approach partners or others in your industry to share your content as part of a mutually beneficial agreement, this can result in further distribution of your content and the potential growth of your channel. There is also the possibility of links and brand mentions, which have become more important than ever thanks to Google’s latest batch of algorithm updates. Social signals have also become much more important as a ranking factor, making social media indispensable in your SEO strategy.
An extension of social collaboration is through partnerships. Whether these are with other brands, bloggers or journalists and the media, all of these PR-based relationships provide the kinds of traffic and link opportunities that SEO experts dream of.
Creating meaningful content in collaboration with others is a great way to diversify your output and also reach new audiences. A few good links from authoritative resources will make a bigger difference to your traffic and ranking results than hundreds of spammy ones.
It’s a well-known fact that websites such as the BBC and Financial Times have exceptionally high domain authority, and therefore a link from either of these sites is likely to send your search traffic sky-rocketing. Using your media contacts aggregated through your PR work will do wonders for your search metrics.
You’ll know by now that Google is becoming less and less forgiving of black hat SEO techniques and is placing more emphasis on genuine, good quality content. Therefore SEO needs to adapt to survive, and one way to keep your strategy effective and relevant is to ensure it is based on principles of authenticity and trust, rather than isolated on-page tactics.
PR has always focused on a good story, and is fundamentally about building and maintaining a positive public image – something only genuine and trustworthy content can do. Incorporating these principles into your content will garner the right kind of recognition from search engines.
A tactic long used successfully in the PR sphere is the competition or contest – the idea of winning something for free has mass appeal and it offers you the dual benefit of engaging audiences and attracting both on and offline attention.
While competitions might not always mean masses of press coverage, users are likely to share them on social media, tagging their friends and spreading awareness. Through hosting such events, your company will get a reputation for generosity and creativity.
As mentioned previously, it’s more important than ever to place people’s genuine interests before a pure link-building exercise. PR people are traditionally more up-to-date on what people are reading and sharing than SEOs, who might be more interested in specific ways of increasing traffic and the analytics behind it. They might look at keywords for an insight into what a user is searching, but their prime motivation will always be key search metrics, while PRs only really need to concentrate on delivering something with positive and mass appeal.
Taking this viewpoint can help SEO specialists to create content that is even more engaging and shareable, leading to further clicks and links.
Whether you take care of both your SEO and PR in-house or you outsource them, it’s more important than ever before that they become integrated. Essentially, PR and SEO are still two very different entities and practices, but when used together they can further their respective goals of creating a positive image for your brand in the public eye, as well as ensuring your content receives the rankings and traffic that it deserves.
What Google now values above all else is what PR specialists have been doing for years: connecting, promoting and creating useful content.
Does your business need help with SEO? Would you like to take advantage of Clever Marketing’s years of experience in search engine optimisation and public relations?