2013 was a year that saw numerous events that had a massive impact on SEO and online marketing as a whole. In the past, SEO was essentially about two things; keywords and links. However, this led to large amounts of keyword saturation and link building, not to mention, quite a considerable amount of attempts to game against the system, using what we call ‘black hat’ SEO techniques. Over the past year, Google has made some major algorithm changes that have changed the direction of SEO and online marketing as a whole.
September 2013 was a big month for online marketing, with two major changes to search putting nails in the coffin of the keyword salesman:
First of all, Google switched to https:// privacy settings, meaning that all ever increasing amounts of keyword search queries would show up as ‘Not Provided’ in Analytics. This means that although anyone who uses Google to search for keywords or phrases that might lead to your website can still do so, however, you do not have access to this data. Whilst keyword search data is no longer available for organic search, in a further effort by Google to protect their Adwords revenue, keyword data continues to be available for paid search.
Secondly, Google surprised everyone by announcing the release of a brand new algorithm with no warning. Many argue that Hummingbird will prove to be the biggest change in Google’s algorithm since the beginning. The main purpose of Hummingbird is to allow Google to be able to interpret much more ‘conversational’, semantic language, understanding the intent of a search rather than just recognising short keywords.
The introduction of Hummingbird could be linked with the ever increasing popularity of mobile search. Many people prefer to use voice search on their mobile devices, talking directly into the handset to find what they need. We have started to search questions, not keywords. This means that people are less likely to use short-tail keywords, and are instead likely to search using full sentences that are more familiar to our everyday speech.
Hummingbird plays a big part in changing the way that SEO and online marketing is sold. The future of SEO is no longer based on keywords, but how keywords form a relationship to the intent of a targeted search. Whereas in the past, many in the online marketing community could get away with keyword stuffing to a certain level, the introduction of Hummingbird brings about the importance of online marketers producing more quality, detailed, long form articles that are designed to answer long-tail search phrases.
It could be argued that we are yet to fully see the real extent of Hummingbird’s impact online marketing, however, with search engines adapting to the way that we are now using long-tailed and question-like search queries, Hummingbird has undoubtedly set the stage for a future that is centred on mobile search. Online marketers must therefore adapt their strategies away from short keywords and push out more and more semantic-influenced content in order to capture more traffic. In 2014, we can only expect to see the increasing impact of Hummingbird.
At SEO it Right we like to be charitable so what better way to spend a Friday afternoon than colouring in spots and sticking them on our faces? All in aid of Children in Need of course
We’ll make a donation for every like we get for our photo on Facebook so please be generous in your liking and we’ll be able to make a fantastic contribution to this evening’s fundraising event.
Thanks to everyone who liked our photo – we got 80 likes and donated £80 to Children in Need. Next year we are planning something far more organised than a last minute spot-sticking-on session in the office so please watch this space!
Posted by Frances Berry
Lots of people like to talk about how SEO is dead. I don’t think there is any truth in this. As far as I can see SEO is just as important as ever and providing you are prepared to abide by the rules and amend your tactics pretty much constantly you can still very much reap the rewards. What is dead however, is the traditional method of selling SEO on keyword rankings and importance.
Whilst keywords are still very much a part of any online marketing strategy as they help us to hone in on what it is that matters to that business and what topics must be covered in the copy presented on that website, they are not the be-all and end-all of successful online marketing.
Google uses Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) to index content on webpages so if you think writing a few paragraphs with the same keyword appearing every few lines is going to get you to the top of SERPS you are very much mistaken. Good relevant content is built around related, synonym and similar keywords – each requiring justification to be on the page. With the introduction of Hummingbird, created to understand more complex search queries, onsite content must now be written to address the potential long tail questions that searchers may ask – moving focus away from more generic keyword search terms and getting people to look at the value of the content itself.
Whilst Google might like to think that Pay Per Click will kill the keyword salesman I think we can all safely agree that in the world of white hat SEO, selling on keyword performance alone is pretty much dead already. Yes keywords still have a role in online marketing but this is part of a wider visibility strategy that simply cannot be achieved and sustained through keyword marketing alone.
If you want a straight talking approach to your online marketing why not give SEO it Right a call on 0121 308 0219 where we can explain more about this.
Posted by Frances Berry
There are many ways to gain exposure online but one of the most effective currently is online or SEO PR. At SEO it Right we build online PR into the majority of our online marketing campaigns but in case you want to have a go yourself here are our top tips for writing an effective SEO press release.
What makes a good story
If you have to choose a topic for an online press release then you are doing something wrong. If something happens within your organisation that you think others should know about then this should automatically become the topic of a news release.
Bill tripping over his own big toe and spilling coffee on the shop floor is not newsworthy – blog worthy perhaps if you have photographic evidence or if Bill spilling coffee accidentally leads to the discovery of new floor cleaning practices, but amusing anecdotes do not make a good press release. The news is a serious channel for awareness building and thus you need to reserve your best stories for the online PR world.
Examples of good topics for SEO press releases would be the launch of a new store or branch, the acquisition of another business, the creation of a new website or brand development or an addition to your range of products and services. Further ideas may include how your business is responding to changes within your industry or the introduction of new, key members of staff.
Despite the fact that you may feel like telling the whole world your news, in reflection the most receptive and targeted audience will be your local one. If you are opening a new store or branch of your business then it makes sense to target news wires and publications within this new area to build up excitement about the forthcoming launch.
Getting the content right
Online press releases do not differ greatly from their traditional offline counterparts in terms of the structure of the content. An SEO press release needs to have a clear geographic target, be dated, have a headline that sums up the story behind the release and be set out in clear paragraphs using concise wording and delivering all the facts. Including a quotation from a key person within the organisation gives the release a ‘human’ angle and can provide an interesting snippet for readers and journalists to scan their eyes over.
Optimising the release
Some of the key ways to optimise your press release will be using hyperlinks within the text to drive interested parties back to a relevant landing page, website or blog. Crucial to the press release process now is to use no follow links wherever possible as Google classes press releases as paid advertising and thus any links within that release which are hyperlinked back to your site to create a backlink may be discredited if created as a follow link.
An SEO press release shouldn’t be seen as the start of the story but more the beginning. If you have something interesting to share about your business then it is only natural you should want to share it in lots of different places. Integrating your social profiles within a press release is vital so that anyone who finds your news interesting can follow you on Facebook, Google+, Twitter or Youtube to keep up to date with future developments.
Submitting in the right places
Traditionally press releases would be created by PR companies who would then call their contacts at various newspapers, publications, radio and television stations to get them interested in the story. Journalists would then decide if they wanted to run the story and possibly send round a photographer to take some snaps to accompany the news release. With the introduction of online news wires, this process has become much more immediate. Online PR news wires still need to approve content though so you need to make sure it is newsworthy, readable and featuring the relevant information if you want to have your release approved for online submission. You can purchase various packages or pay a one off fee to submit your news through the top PR wires, however unless you are an agency this can be very expensive.
As with any press release, getting people to publish is as challenging as ever. The more newsworthy your story is and the more targeted the places you send it to, the better your exposure will be. But at the very least, your news will be published somewhere online other than your own website and will create additional awareness about your business, brand, product or service, to complement an overall online marketing strategy.
If at the end of all this you think it might be best to call in the experts please feel free to get in touch
Posted by Frances Berry
Last week was a big week in online marketing. It began when Google took away keyword data from organic reporting and finished with the unleashing of its biggest algorithm change in 12 years – worried what this might mean for you? Then please, read on.
So let’s start with the algorithm change – the very wording of which will strike fear into the online marketers and customers who have seen their sites penalised in one way or another by the big two black and white beasts: Panda and Penguin. Hummingbird, however is not like it’s two land-based rivals, as Hummingbird is the big algorithm that our furry friends are part of. It’s main purpose is to allow Google to compute complex search queries such as full sentences. The fact that it has arrived now may be partly due to the fact that voice search on mobile devices is becoming more popular and somehow when talking directly into our devices to find something that we need, we’re unlikely to use staccato phrases such as ‘Italian restaurants Birmingham’ and instead opt for something more familiar to our speech patterns such as ‘find me an Italian restaurant in central Birmingham’.
Wouldn’t it be great then if Google could compute this data demonstrate in our analytics reports all of the long tail variations and complex questions that people have used to find our websites? Well it would, but it won’t happen and this is a direct result of the first drama of last week – the loss of keyword data for organic search.
If you read my blog post last week you’ll know that Google moved all search to https – thus encrypting all data before it can hit any analytics tools (not just Google analytics but any tool that uses data from Google search to report on traffic and keywords, etc). Hence, not provided is, or will shortly be, the only keyword that you will see.
What they have given us in one hand they have taken away with the other – or more correctly what they took away last Monday night means there’s nothing really positive to say about the bird that fluttered by at the end of the week.
Hummingbird, it is said, will ‘better understand’ the meaning behind the words – so as I sit here I am typing in ‘find me an alternative search engine that gives me the information I need to deliver better online marketing strategies and not just one that is interested in revenue from paid advertising.’ Compute that Google!
Posted by Frances Berry
If you have logged into your Google Analytics account in the last 24 hours or so, or perhaps you are an online marketer then you will have noticed something strange regarding search queries and usage. Last night I did some reading around and sure enough my fears were confirmed – it looks as though Google has switched to https:// settings which means that in Analytics all search queries will show up as ‘Not Provided’
In effect this means that anyone who goes online and uses Google to search for the keywords or phrases that may lead to your website will still be able to do so – but you will not be privy to this data. Google will be encrypting all of this data, so you won’t be able to see the search terms used to find your site. The good news for those who use paid advertising with Google is that keyword data will still be available for clicks on ads and realistically, this is most likely the reason that Google has made the move – to increase revenue from ad sales. Most of us, however, will just see it as another nail in the coffin for all those involved in delivering and building their business around a decent, honest online marketing strategy.
So if Google has gone large on ‘Not Provided’ it is time for us to look elsewhere to satisfy our hunger for keyword data. Watch this space…
Posted by Frances Berry
In the world of online marketing, SEO has developed a terrible reputation. There is good reason for this. Alongside the hard working online marketers who thrive by working alongside their clients to create the right campaign for their business, there are also thousands of shady characters that are ready to ride in and scam businesses large and small out of massive amounts of money. These SEO Cowboys are tarnishing the good name of all other search marketers.
The question is, who are these Cowboys? Unfortunately, they can be hard to spot. It is unlikely that they ride a horse, there is little chance that they will announce themselves with the clinking of their spurs, and though they use black hat tactics to rob good honest companies of hard earned money, they seldom choose to advertise this. The whole business of being an SEO cowboy is to trick clients into believing that they are the good guys that will help you make the treacherous journey to the top of search rankings safely and in no time at all. The chances are, you won’t last long on the wagon train.
With businesses being hassled constantly by unsolicited emails and phone calls, it is important to determine what makes a good online marketer. So how can an SEO Cowboy be found? Even without a giveaway black ten gallon hat, it is simpler than you would think to separate the villains from the honest SEO guys. To find out if an SEO agency really know what they are doing, there are a few key things to consider.
- First of all, take a look at their website. What does the website look like, what is the website’s content like and more importantly, how are they ranked on Google? You should expect a good online marketer to practice what they preach on their own website. If they can’t do a decent job marketing themselves online, then how can you expect them to do a good job for you? If a potential SEO company approaches you and you can’t find their website, or it is dated and free of informative content, you would be wise to leave your cheque book in your wallet.
- Are they making unrealistic promises? Very often, if an SEO company is making a claim that seems too good to be true, that is because it is. As many businesses want instant results, SEO Cowboys often feed them what they want to hear, rather than telling them the truth. SEO is a time consuming process, and any company claiming that they will get you to the top of Google for numerous keywords overnight is likely to be using underhand tactics. Even though this may benefit you for a short time, it will do you considerable harm in the long run. Google is never fooled for long.
- It is a worrying sign if an Online Marketer trying to sell their services to you is not open about their strategies, or just bores you with jargon. If somebody claims that SEO is all a highly guarded secret, or talks at you, throwing big fancy buzz words in your face, there is a good chance that they aren’t entirely sure what they are talking about. Many Cowboys are great salesmen, but not so effective at SEO. It is also important to take note of what an SEO agency wants to know about you. A good online marketer should require as much information from you as possible about your products, services, competition, market and relevant keywords.
- Especially in the days since Google Penguin waddled into town, Social Media is an essential part of online marketing. Is your potential SEO company active on their social accounts? Do they use them correctly and effectively? If a suspected SEO Cowboy does not make regular posts, or if they don’t make relevant posts linking back to their website, they may not be too clued up on the latest Google algorithm changes and SEO techniques.
- Perhaps the most important thing to remember about SEO is that content is key. Google loves nothing more than content rich websites. Look at an SEO company’s content marketing efforts carefully to see the quality of their work. If an online marketing agency has a helpful website and a high quality blog on which they post great, informative and relevant articles on a regular basis, this is a very positive indicator that they know how to perform content marketing successfully.
Essentially, a good SEO company is an open company. Online marketers should be able to do for themselves what they claim to be able to do for you, and communicate with you on a regular basis so you both know what’s going on. For SEO to work successfully, it has to be a two way relationship, where the customer gets the same out of their online marketing consultant as they give to them.
Though many people have had negative experiences with the countless numbers of Cowboys marauding as online marketing experts, an SEO company can be a valuable addition to your business. Through honesty, communication, constant research and development, and most importantly, a cart load of hard work, the right company can help your business see excellent growth.
There is nothing worse than a company constantly boring their social audience with promotional tweets and Facebook updates about ‘awesome’ products or services. Social media is not a platform for selling, but rather a place to generate brand awareness and encourage audience engagement with a view to then converting this interest into a potential sale at some point in the future. For this reason social updates ought to be engaging, different and interesting to those who may come across them – otherwise they are likely to be ignored.
At SEO it Right we pride ourselves in making our SEO, social media, online PR and email marketing relevant not only to our customers’ business and target audience but also what is going on in the wider world. Tapping into news stories, industry updates and awareness campaigns is a great way to increase your visibility both organically and socially.
To give you an example, this morning we are dressed as pirates and eating cupcakes – not that we need any excuse to eat cake here at the SEO it Right offices, but if we did then National Cupcake Week would be a good place to start! As for the pirate patches, well we have just returned from sailing the seven seas after a trip of plundering and pillaging…not really but as it is International Talk Like A Pirate Day there seems no better occasion to be donning an eye patch and singing a chorus of ‘What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor’.
Ok, so it is a bit of fun and it isn’t like we do any SEO for pirates, but if we did then today’s international awareness date would be the perfect opportunity for us to create some positive PR and engage with social audiences. Besides, having a little fun makes the day so much more memorable.
To find out more about how we can promote your business through social media marketing and SEO PR please do get in touch on 0121 308 0219. AArrrrrh! We look forward to your call me hearties!
Posted by Frances Berry
Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at your online marketing company? Well here’s a little taster based on some of the things we do on a typical day from our Birmingham SEO headquarters.
Firstly the day will start with a cup of tea – generally made by Claire because she is the most organised. Once the caffeine starts to tickle the taste buds we are ready to tackle a busy day ahead – because it is always a busy day if you are doing your online marketing effectively!
Monday mornings are the worst for most people which is why we like to treat our staff to a morning hoe-down as soon as they are awake. This does not mean that we do American style square dancing around the offices but more that we gather together to talk through the most important tasks for the week ahead to ensure everyone knows what they are doing who has responsibility for getting things done. Depending on what department you are in – sales, creative or technical – your day is going to be very different in terms of the work you do but will all be working towards the same goal – improving the online visibility of our clients.
Rather than bore you with the details let’s focus on the SEO team and what they get up to on a typical day…so without giving any trade secrets away they are skilled in creating content for clients’ sites, blogs, SEO, social media and SEO PR – in other words there is a lot of writing going on. It is this strength in online copywriting that we are truly proud of and what makes us such a special team – there is no outsourcing here – we just keep the staff chained to the desk all day and night (only joking…though there’s a thought…). Research also forms a big part of any day – finding newsworthy topics, identifying content is suitable for syndication, learning more about our customers so that we can be their social voice and generally keeping up with all that is new and upcoming in the big, bad world of SEO and online marketing. That’s something else we pride ourselves on – our ability and passion for R&D – without it we couldn’t keep up with new ideas, algorithm changes and the latest technology that keep us at the forefront of our industry.
Supporting clients is another vital part of the SEO’s day – helping customers to understand reporting so that they are getting all the information they need to develop their business, answering questions and providing training are just a few examples of how we provide support. The door is always open (apart from this week when it doesn’t work!) and we’re completely open and approachable in everything we do – I challenge anyone to find another SEO company in Birmingham or the UK for that matter who can provide the same honesty and integrity (ok so we’re probably not the only ones, but there’s nothing wrong in singing about your strengths).
Managing this business is stressful at times but then I wouldn’t have it any other way – working with a team of diverse, creative and enthusiastic staff makes coming to work each day something to look forward to and in an industry that never sleeps you can be assured that the next exciting thing is never far around the corner.
Tomorrow we will be dressing like pirates and eating cupcakes but that is all in another day at SEO it Right!
Posted by Frances Berry
The director of Birmingham SEO and online marketing company SEO it Right, has urged caution amongst local businesses that rely solely on organic search traffic for internet revenue and lead generation. Birmingham, West Midlands — (SBWIRE) — 09/17/…