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online-review1

Matt

January 29th, 2014.

How Online Reviews Can Make or Break Your Business

Your customer is staring at the screen, hovering over your buy button, and they can’t shake the feeling that they might be about to waste their money.

Finally, their cursor slips back to Google, where they throw “…reviews” at the end of the search query. They don’t come across anyone talking about your product, but instead find few about a competitor.

If people can’t find what others are saying about your product or service, then this scenario is a daily reality for your would-be customers.

Traditional advertising is losing its advantage. People have always trusted their friends’ opinion, and now, just about anyone can be your customers’ friend online.

As consumers we’re predisposed to respond to recommendations, rather than promotions. We trust honesty, skeptical of sales copy. Above all, we want be convinced by people like us to give in to our temptations.

If someone is considering handing money over to you, it means they’re tempted. They will look for reasons to buy.

All you have to do is give them reasons they feel they can trust, which means they can’t come from you.

The Secrets To A Lucrative Review Campaign

Review campaigns are efficient converters if done correctly.

In order to translate into increases in sales, they need to be optimised in four ways

  1. Schema Markup
  2. Persuasion
  3. 3rd Party Reach
  4. Reputation Management

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

1. Schema Markup: Make Your Reviews Impossible for Google to Ignore

People don’t link to reviews, so how are we supposed to get ours some visibility in the search results?

Schema markup and social signals are all the search engines really have to go by.

We’re covering social signals in section two, so here’s an overview of what you need to know to have your reviews indexed and properly organised to make them accessible to search engines.

Schema.org markup is the metadata convention that the major search engines (Google, Bing, and Yahoo!), agreed to use as the standard way to make web content more accessable to them.

Implemented properly, it makes sense of, and helps to organise structured data structured data.

The Markup

Use the “itemscope” attribute in a <div> tag to tell the bots that everything in this division is about one particular “thing”, which you’re about to specify.

<div itemscope> </div>

Use the “itemtype” attribute to link to Schema’s page about reviews, telling the search bots where you’re getting your markup from. This leaves it looking like this:

<div itemscope itemtype=“http://schema.org/Review”> </div>

Finally, add an “itemprop” attribute to this tag, and every other tag within it that you want the machines to understand. The itemprop name for a review is simply “review”, so our division ends up like this:

<div itemprop=”review” itemscope itemtype=“http://schema.org/Review”> </div>

Let’s look at an example taken from the Schema.org webpage on reviews.

Example Review

Webpage Text:

5 stars – “A masterpiece of literature”

by John Doe. Written on May 4, 2006

I really enjoyed this book. It captures the essential challenges people face as they try to make sense of their lives and grow to adulthood.

Schema Markup:

<div itemprop=”review” itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Review”>

 <span itemprop=”reviewRating”>5</span> stars -

 <b>”<span itemprop=”name”>A masterpiece of literature</span>” </b>

 by <span itemprop=”author”>John Doe</span>,

 Written on <meta itemprop=”datePublished” content=”2006-05-04″>May 4, 2006

 <span itemprop=”reviewBody”>I really enjoyed this book. It captures the essential

 challenge people face as they try make sense of their lives and grow to adulthood.</span>

</div>

You can go further into the world of Schema.org markup and make full use of all the attributes and properties that it offers you, but the above is all you need to get started and to label the essential elements of a review in a way the search engines will understand.

If it’s all a bit daunting there are a few markup generators out there which you might want to try-out.

reviewA bit of Schema markup makes your reviews stand-out in the search results. Searchers prefer to click on links that have a picture and/or a line of stars next to them which will have a huge impact on your click-through-rates. If you’re running ads in Google Adwords, why not give your landing page every advantage it can get?

2. Persuasion: Turn Customers into Spokespeople

Ask and you’ll receive.

Companies are constantly leaving opportunity on the table when it comes to reviews. It’s anyone’s guess as to why, considering how easy it is to tap this resource. Take this chance to get an edge.

There a a few ways to go about it:

Follow up email. You have your customers’ email addresses, so make use of them. Make it a simple one-click-at-a-time process, perhaps with the words, “Are you satisfied with our service?” and a binary option below, which opens up a fast-loading page with the words “…almost done.” at the top, and a single extra box to fill in a quick reason for their answer. Don’t ask your customers to fill out a survey. Most people imagine they’ll be committed to pages of questions.

Calls to Action. Where would it be appropriate in your site to ask for a review? Perhaps at the end of a tutorial blog post that helps your customers solve a common problem? Blog comments are better than nothing, but perhaps it’s worth directing people’s attention to something a little higher in return.

Social Media. People like to talk. And nowhere do they talk more online than on social media sites. On-site reviewing presents a mental barrier. The customer isn’t used to your domain, or your interface. It’s new and scary. But they’ll turn around to tweet in the next moment without hesitation. There is opportunity in the connection you have with the social web, and exploiting it can be as easy as tweeting, “Tell us what you think.” Consider having a section of your site that displays the best tweets you’ve ever received.

Incentivise. Asking nicely works on some people. Others need a little more of a push. Stay well away from gifts that could be construed as paying for reviews (i.e. discounts on future purchases), as this will discredit the reviews that you do manage to get. We’ve been trained to be suspicious of internet content at the best of times, so do everything you can to maintain trust. A good alternative is to offer a prize draw, or to donate to a cause. Any kind of incentive is risky to your reputation with not-yet-customers, so to be safe keep these offers to follow up emails and make it very clear that the incentive doesn’t depend on whether the review is positive or negative.

3. 3rd Party Reach: Have Spokespeople Everywhere Online

Google-Places_reviewsThe most powerful place to have positive reviews is on 3rd party sites.

72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, as long as they find them on an impartial review site such as Reevoo or Epinions, or on the marketplace site where they reached your brand, such as Amazon or Google Checkout.

Google Shopping seller ratings are aggregates of ratings pooled together from all relevant review sites on the web, including reviews left on your own site, so long as you’ve implemented Schema markup properly (see above).

While social media can be powerful, the highest return on time investment will always be spent on the sites where people go specifically to talk about products and services, and to either persuade or dissuade others from using yours.

Enter into these targeted conversations and take an active role.

Answer people’s questions or deal affectively and professionally with concerns that are raised, and don’t be shy about linking to pages that list your product or service. Remember, 3rd party reviews are seen as more trustworthy, so encourage them!

4. Reputation Management: Use Everything to Your Advantage

A bad review will help you.

Consumers who go out of there way to read bad reviews are 67% more likely to convert than the average shopper, and 30% suspect censorship when there are no negative reviews to be found. I know I fall into that category.

A caveat to this is that if the majority of reviews are negative, the impact is of course to deter most potential customers. There is a balance.

In order to strike it, we need to manage our online reputations by tackling negative reviews head on. Listen to what’s being said, as the feedback alone can be invaluable. To stay completely on top of it, keep a spreadsheet of negative reviews. This way, you can search and compare what customers wish were different. See what’s cropping up repeatedly, and if it’s clear something needs to change, you can now allocate resources to solving a problem that you can be sure will boost your business in the future.

 

dog

Joe Joe

January 23rd, 2014.

Reducing Your Content Marketing to 1 Hour a Week

I ran an experiment last year. I had a website with no blog. It had lots of pages on a niche topic, but very few readers. I installed a blog and began posting once per month. In a year, the traffic doubled – (I’ll admit it increased from ‘barely perceptible’ to ‘quite unremarkable’, but you can’t argue with the numbers).

 analytics

The massive spike around April 2013 was from some experimenting with paid discovery. The second, smaller spike was a particularly controversial blog post.

I think this settles the argument once and for all: A regular content schedule is a sure-fire way to get traffic.

I know what you’re wondering – ‘How does this affect me, the business owner?’

Well, business owner, I’ll tell you.

It means that you should be publishing regular content on your site if you want people to be visiting it. But as a business owner (or marketing manager) you’ll be plenty busy enough with all sorts of other concerns – do you have time for creating a content marketing strategy too?

YES!

You need to be producing content – that’s a fact. It’s a thing you can’t deny. I create content for 30 clients – I use the ‘DEAL’ system, from Tim Ferris (author of The Four Hour Work Week):

Define, Eliminate, Automate, Liberate.

Define

Define the sort of content you need. I daresay you won’t go far wrong with one blog post per week and one infographic per month.

You’ll also need to consider sharing and seeding the content as it’s produced. This can be done via the regular social networking channels, but also on targeted interest sites via email outreach.

All of these things take time – hours and hours of time. But only if you do them all yourself…

Eliminate

Remove any unnecessary steps in the programme. Don’t waste your time getting bogged down with trying to design things yourself or write blog posts yourself – there are plenty of people in the world who will do it for you in exchange for money. They are called freelancers and are readily available online.

Think about what you really need to do for the job to work. In fact, I’ll do it for you – you need to come up with content ideas and you need to check it, then post it. The rest can be done for you.

stoge

Automate

Automation is achieved by setting up a system that handles the tasks for you. In essence, you feed the machine with briefs and it comes back with content. Online freelancing services exist purely to make your life easier, and they’re really great.

My favourite freelancing sites include:

-Research/Data Input:

O-Desk

O-Desk is very useful for finding people to do basic tasks – data analysis, basic research, number crunching etc. I use O-Desk for jobs that are too time consuming to handle myself. For example, if I was trying to make an infographic about football transfers (which I am), I’d post the job on O-Desk and find someone more capable and efficient than me to handle the research and analysis while I concentrate on planning the next infographic.

O-Desk also allows you to create teams of people to handle larger ongoing projects. It’s efficient and easy to manage and provides a screentracker so you can make sure your freelancers are staying on task.

Do note, however – O-Desk has a very high number of have-a-go-heroes. They aren’t necessarily qualified in a given field, so although they are competent, you can’t expect them to do more demanding tasks. For basic stuff though, it’s ideal.

-Writing:

Textbroker

Textbroker’s site is fairly basic in functionality, but it focusses solely on copywriting so it’s far more targeted. Prices vary based on the writer’s rating (out of 5). I’ve found some really fantastic writers on Textbroker, but also some absolute stinkers. Usually I have to edit a few things as it’s easier than sending it back for amendments, but it saves a lot of time.

Good copywriters also tend to be good researchers. They’re generally more able to follow a complex brief than their counterparts on O-Desk, so you can offer them more in-depth projects to research.

-Design:

People Per Hour – covers pretty much every digital-based job, but I use it for designers

PPH is more useful to me than some of my own body parts. I can post a job at 9 in the morning, receive proposals and have the job in the bag before I go to bed that night. People Per Hour has the benefit of knowing where your freelancer is located, so you can target areas that are likely to have more qualified personnel.

For instance, in searching for a designer, Europe has more reliable design schools than other parts of the world, and by choosing someone in Britain I can guarantee we’re in the same timezone, language and operate on the same working hours. It makes the tasks much more manageable.

Dribbble

The site is really fun. You could spend hours looking at the fantastic artwork and designs people come up with. It costs a lot as it’s targeted solely for design and membership is by invitation only so the vetting process is quite thorough.

Hiring works like a traditional jobs list – you post your jobs and people apply.

It is possible to contact the designers for one-off work, but generally they know the value of their work so be prepared to pay for it.

-Outreach:

You need to get your content in front of people. Using services like O-Desk will be futile as the workers tend to take the easy option, and language barriers often mean briefs are misinterpreted. People Per Hour is better as you can find people with proven experience who can provide you with a list of relevant sites to contact with a view to posting your content.

Sites like BuzzSumo (free) and GroupHigh (not free) really speed up the process as you can tap into existing conversations about the things you’re promoting, and target the people interested in them.

-Seeding:

Seeding is an essential part of the content process. Making sure your content appears in the right places and in front of the right people is undoubtedly going to reap its own rewards. By building lists of relevant sites to post to, you can automate this process and make sure every piece of content is placed in front of the influencers, sharers and promoters you need.

If you’ve got a bit of budget, you might also consider paid promotion on social media. ‘Boosting’ a post on Facebook, or StumbleUpon’s paid discovery service guarantee the content will be exposed to more people. However, the content needs to be useful and relevant to the audience to gain more traction. If it’s not engaging, people won’t engage with it (click/share etc.) and you’ll have wasted the promotion budget.

Liberate

As you practice and refine this process you’ll find yourself free to do other things for your business. You’ll be free to chase new clients and more work, and the best part is, you won’t need to do any more work yourself – the system can handle it!

You’ll notice I didn’t mention anything about idea generation – that’s because I think idea generation is the one thing you shouldn’t outsource. You need to make sure your content is completely suitable for the purpose, and you can have a lot of fun coming up with new ideas.

 

Link Reclamation basic wins

Mike Sparkes Mike Sparkes

January 16th, 2014.

Link Reclamation – 7 Basic Wins

 

What is link reclamation?

Link reclamation is where you’re looking to re-establish links or mentions that were directed towards your site in the past. There are many reasons why previous links may have disappeared but usually it comes down to technical reasons, such as updated pages or a wrong redirect put in place. You could argue it necessary to carry out a link reclamation project every time a website is being redesigned and content is migrated.

Put simply, link reclamation is the process of locating, contacting and fixing broken links to yours or your client’s website. It also has the added benefit of being a totally organic process, with virtually no risk attached. You’re only making the most of current mentions of your company.

Link reclamation is the perfect go to method when starting any link building campaign. It’s simple, quick and will give your campaign a steady footing right from the word go. Examples of where to look for previous links could range from charity work, local or national press, sponsors, exhibitions and review sites such as trust a trader or trust pilot.

Shall we begin… Exciting!

 

 

Yippie!

Yippie!

 

For this you’ll need:

Moz’s Fresh web explorer

Webmaster Tools

Excel

Screaming Frog

Majestic SEO

 

Brand Misspellings 

One for brands is to look for misspellings. Frequently people will have webmaster error and for whatever reason, they will misspell your domain name.

For instance if you’re a big brand, say Renault or something, you could look for alternate spelling mistakes for your brand (Renualt.com) and where people have linked to the wrong site. From there, it’s simple enough to get in contact with the source of the link and ask that the link be corrected, helping both “our” users.

John Henry Scherck wrote a fantastic post on building links from brand misspellings, all you need is excel, majestic and Aaron Wall’s keyword misspelling tool and you can scale this to another level.

 

Reverse image search

Have any interesting images on your site? What about your logo? YES! This one is easy. Use the Google reverse image search. This can be a very effective piece to your link building puzzle. Monitor your images and see who’s used them without crediting you as the source. There are other tools out there that can help achieve the same, such as Tineye, Creative commons and Compfight.

You can take this a step further by using your competitor’s images or logos and see what websites are linking to your competitors. A good attitude to take from here would be to try and analyse why they’re using your competitor’s images over yours. It could be that they have a direct interest in your industry and therefore a chance to outreach presents itself.

 

Fresh Web Explorer – Moz & Google Alerts

Fresh web explorer really has to be one of the easiest ways to locate mentions of your brand that are being scattered around the web. Simply enter your URL or Brand name and search. You’ll hopefully be rewarded with a list of recent mentions that may have passed under your radar. You can also search for multiple phrases at a time, which is handy.

Similarly, you can use good old fashioned Google alerts. You can set this up to track your keywords, brand mentions and even Url’s. If someone mentions you, you’ll get an alert sent through to your email. From there, you can decide if you’d like to get a link from the resulting website.

 

Use webmaster tools

Go to crawl > Crawl errors, click on your URL’s to see where they’re linked from.

 

Webmaster tools crawl errors

 

 

Simply click on that link and you should have a pop that gives you a more detailed look. From here, click on “linked from”.

 

Webmaster tools link reclamation

 

 

This should give you the complete run down of who’s linking to you. From here, you can decide if these links are worth keeping or not. If they are and you have another page that is up to date and has thematic relevance to your 404 URL, simply place a 301 redirect in place. Then click “mark as fixed” and let Google get to work.

 

Webmaster tools mark as fixed link reclamation

 

 

This is such a simple fix that it would be a crime to leave it out.

 

Moving Links to your Primary domain

Many companies have more than one domain. Perhaps it was that new intern that recommended a new domain or mini site that you’ve completely forgot about. It could even be an old product that is no longer available.

Going through all your old web assets can sometime uncover some golden opportunities, sometimes going beyond links. Perhaps you’ll rekindle an old business or promotional partnership that served you well in the past. By resolving this issue with a 301 redirect, you can transfer link equity from the unfavoured to the favoured.

Important note: Don’t redirect an old site to the new if it suffered from a Google penalty. You’ll only be breathing new life into those spurious links that caused you all that bother.

 

Redirected Pages & Server response errors

Using the scraping frog tool, scrape through the depths of your site, as deep as you can possibly go.  Make an export of the crawl and pay attention to the response codes that are being found.

 

Screaming Frog status code

 

 

If you’re seeing server errors pop up, you can run backlink checker and identify problem areas. Pay attention to 302 redirects, change them to 301’s if possible, allowing previous link equity to pass through. You can also use a header checker tool to follow redirect paths. My favourite tool for doing is Ayima’s redirect tool. I can simply follow the previous redirect path for any problem URLs.

 

Links to tweets

This is a slice of genius from Ross Hudgens at Siege Media. If you have an active twitter account for your brand, you can make use of your historical data and create an archive of all your tweets and interaction, which can be done by going to account settings. You should then receive an email with instructions to download the zip file. This may take away depending on how active you are.

 

Twitter archive link reclamation

 

Place into a CSV and upload using screaming frog. Once it’s been crawled, you can easily see which web addresses have linked to tweets in your archive. If you’re responsible as the source of that content, try getting in touch with that web-master and ask if they can kindly change the link to your site instead of your Twitter handle.

 

Screaming Frog Twitter archive

 

 

This is just a handful of easy ways to reclaim or identify links that you should be making the most of, a great way to get a link building campaign off the ground. I’m always up for learning, so if you know any other cool little tricks, please comment below. Who knows, perhaps I’ll even be kind enough to link to you in the future.

 

Katie Hopkins

Joe Joe

January 6th, 2014.

The Daily Mail Thinks You’re a Dribbling Simpleton

 

The Daily Mail Thinks You’re a Dribbling Simpleton

“The Daily Mail is a worm-ridden sack of pus, sucking the life out of everything that’s beautiful about our world”

– reportedly the opening lines of The Dead Sea Scrolls. That said, they run one of the most successful websites on the internet.

Now I’m going to tell you how you can be loathsome and get 100,000,000 visitors to your site. I’ll also tell you how you can do it without being loathsome. That’s the kind of nice guy I am.

First, a quick note on ‘Virality’ and ‘Sharing’. ‘Viral Content’ is a term that can only be applied retrospectively. Nobody makes intrinsically ‘Viral’ things – it’s theoretically possible for anything to go viral provided it’s appealing and enough people share it. When I talk about ‘Sharing’, I mean exclusively the sharing that takes place on social media. Tweets, Retweets, Likes, Shares etc. The two concepts go hand in hand.

I’m a big fan of Jonah Berger, author of ‘Contagious’. Berger has scientifically tested different theories about virality and sharing to see what makes the best web content. He gives a selection of ideas. They are:

Social Currency – Make sure you’re supplying information that people will want to know.

Triggers – Make sure it’s something people are likely to be talking about.

Emotion – Make people emotional – this is really important (I’ll explain why later)

Practical Value – Make something useful

Public – Do everything you can to make it sharable

Stories – Tell a story. People love stories.

I will now go through and systematically address each of these points and explain how the Daily Mail uses them to great success.

Social Currency

People love to show off about things they’ve learnt. ‘Pub Ammo’ is the toe-curling cliché that seems to sum this phenomenon up neatly. If you make something that you think people will want to tell people then they’ll want to share it.

Take this example:

hoverboards

A cursory glance is enough to make you think we’ll all be riding around on ‘hoverboards’ next week, but a little critical thinking tells us that this would only apply to hoverboards that were 1mm in size. Take away the misleading opening question and this article could be quite interesting – and it certainly fills a knowledge gap (albeit not the one it advertises), plus 447 people shared the article

hoverboard shares

 

…presumably with this expression on their face:

You don’t have to be misleading with your own content. Just telling people something really, really interesting will be enough to ensure it gets shared around.

Triggers

In creating content, I would normally advise you to see what people are talking about by going on Twitter or Reddit and trying to tap into that subject with your own slant. Giving a different perspective can be good. However, if you’re the Daily Mail, instead of adding to the discussion you can just make news up about anything you like.

Here is a selection of things deemed newsworthy by The Mail. I have provided notes on how each tapped into ‘Triggers’.

‘The Only Way is Pregnancy: Billy Faiers and boyfriend Greg are ‘expecting their first child’ in the summer

(5 shares in the first 20 minutes. Not bad. I have no idea who these two people are, but based on the particularly rubbish pun I guess they’re reality TV stars. Obviously I’m not the target audience, so possibly they’re well-known in certain circles. The people who are interested in the breeding habits of television stars will be likely to share it).

‘What are THEY doing together? Justin Bieber takes Selena Gomez for a Segway ride around his neighbourhood’

(Obviously ‘Justin Bieber’ is a hot topic. I forecast that there is someone Googling ‘Justin Bieber’ somewhere in the world every second of every day. By running a non-story about ‘Justin Bieber’, The Mail ensures it will appear in the news results for ‘Justin Bieber’, increasing its clickthroughs and engagement. This article had 79 shares in an hour)

 ‘I would rather be alone with dignity’: ‘Relieved’ Jack Cockings opens up on Twitter following abrupt ‘trial separation’ from wife Melanie Sykes

(Only 4 shares for this one. Probably because nobody knows who Jack Cockings is. I’ve heard of Melanie Sykes, but she’s not the focus of the story, so this is quite unremarkable.)

‘Sam Faiers leaves home to cheers from family before being ‘hidden’ as she arrives at secret location ahead of CBB’

(Obviously the whole world will be tuning in for ‘CBB’ tonight. And readers will be pleased to learn that Sam Faiers (possibly a relation to the Billy Faiers above?) is a potential housemate. A reality TV star is going on a different reality TV show. This is the greatest thing to happen since The Flintstones met The Jetsons. For tapping into a ‘big new story’ (CBB) they’ve earned 34 shares).

You may think that these articles don’t have a particularly huge number of shares, but bearing in mind The Mail produces hundreds of new pages each day, these shares (and views) soon add up.

Emotion

We all know that the Daily Mail’s articles usually tick one or more of the following boxes:

Inaccurate, insensitive, sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-NHS, warmongering, scare-mongering, sensationalist, science-fearing.

That’s because they’re trying to make people emotional.

According to Jonah Berger, the best emotion for getting people to share things is ‘Awe’. If you create something awesome, people will be more willing to share it. Some people would incite ‘awe’ by cataloguing every sighting of Jesus’ face in everyday objects… but The Mail doesn’t care about awe. They’re targeting a different emotion (and one which I personally think would be more useful to target…) Anger.

Anger causes arousal and arousal causes activity. If you spend an hour on Facebook, you’ll see roughly 66,753 posts from your friends, outraged about some story or another.

Take this example:

breast is best

The article is about a woman who had post-natal depression and committed suicide after seeking help for her mental illness. The article (written in the words of the woman’s husband) suggests that she was failed by the system because the hospital staff focussed on the breastfeeding issue and ignored the mental health issue.

Firstly, women aren’t admitted to hospital just because they can’t breastfeed. Maybe she had Mastitis and needed antibiotics, maybe the baby was losing weight and needed to be monitored. In any case, this probably wasn’t the focus of the hospital staff when treating her.

Secondly, breast feeding wasn’t the direct cause of her suicide. She still killed herself after she’d fed her baby with a bottle so although the breast feeding problem probably wasn’t helpful, it wasn’t the only cause.

Thirdly, hospital staff aren’t trained to treat mental health issues (it’s still a fairly new discipline). Even then, people aren’t admitted on mental health grounds unless they’ve attempted suicide before or have a solid plan to do so.

So this article is unscientific, inaccurate, insensitive, sensationalist, anti-NHS and misleading. But it was still a viral success.

People could have shared it for 4 reasons:

1)      They applied basic critical thinking and were outraged that this type of ‘journalism’ exists.

2)      They were angry that a woman was driven to suicide by a breast-feeding obsessed society.

3)      They were angry at the mail for suggesting the breast feeding obsession is a bad thing.

4)      They were depressed by the story (sadness is still an emotion, though not as arousing and therefore not as useful for sharing).

It doesn’t matter what made them emotional. They still got worked up and shared it, causing more people to read it and get worked up and share it.

And with every angry share, The Mail grows in strength.

(If you’re creating content for your business, a bit of controversy is ok but it’s probably better to stick to ‘awesome’ stuff)

Practical Value

Content that teaches people how to do something in a simple way is a success story in the making. Life Hacker has made its entire business model out of it, and there are thousands of similar tips and tricks doing the rounds all the time on social media.

The Daily Mail doesn’t really target this aspect too much (unless you find paparazzi shots useful), but occasionally they’ll offer something vaguely practical:

slimming

The article doesn’t answer the question, the ‘expert’ is a dietician who says ‘there is no quick-fix for weight loss’ and the rest of the article reads like a series of press releases from dieting products.

But you can see they were trying to be useful, and for their trouble the article got 226 shares.

If you were thinking about content for your company, you could keep it interesting and useful and summarise some kind of industry secret. That would be pretty valuable. The more useful, the more people will share it and promote it.

Public

Making your content easily sharable is the key to getting it shared. If you can prompt people to talk about your company on Facebook or Twitter then you’re on the path to viral success.

Just think about The Daily Mail. If you’ve ever taken to Twitter or Facebook to complain about the latest ball of hate spouting out of the Daily Mail, then consider yourself a sucker.

Last year, Samantha Brick wrote an article claiming other women hate her for being beautiful.

She claimed that although she is heaped with gifts from men, she is admonished by jealous women. The article included lots of pictures of Brick. I don’t want to republish them here (I’d have to credit The Mail) so instead, I’ve done an artist’s impression of Samantha, complete with Rotten-Seafood Grimace.

sammy

Bearing in mind The Mail’s readership is 52% female, the formula of ‘piss off the most people’ seems to be in full swing. People took to Social Media in their thousands to complain. In the blink of a heavily mascaraed eye, ‘Samantha Brick’ was trending on Twitter and the firestorm of comments drove an untold amount of traffic to the Daily Mail site.

Digital success is fickle. While it’s likely 100% of the Tweets were chiding Brick, they turned out to be a tool of success. By complaining about her en masse, the Twitterers strengthened her platform – lifting her onto a pedestal and turning an unknown woman into a ‘celebrity’ overnight. Now we have to put up with her trending on Twitter every time she meets her controversial opinion deadline.

Stories

We enjoy stories.

I mean ‘we’ as a species. It’s possible other species also like stories. Of course, there’s the famous case of the bonobo which learned a rudimentary sign language. He was able to tell the zookeeper that the missing toucans could be found in the lion’s belly. Amazing.

I made that up, but I reckon you liked it. People like stories. See?

I’m afraid The Daily Mail’s stories aren’t quite as heartwarming as mine.

They’re ‘human interest’ I suppose. The breastfeeding example above is a beacon of story-telling. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end. A hero (the woman who died). A villain (the NHS). And a moral (don’t obsess over breastfeeding?).

Other stories the Daily Mail has introduced to the literary cannon include these heart-warmers:

‘RAF veteran has clocked up a million miles over 73 years (and hasn’t had a single accident or prang)’

 ‘Baby-faced gang leader is banned from town centre unless he is with his mother after terrorising shoppers’

‘You’re the best dad ever’: Mairead Philpott’s sick letter to a vile father of 17 who killed six of their children in a house fire’

‘Kim Jong-Un killed his ‘scum’ uncle: Dictator had him stripped naked, thrown into a cage and eaten alive by a pack of dogs’

These stories are so reductionist they can fit into one grammatically-questionable sentence, but that’s part of their beauty. You’re intrigued by them and you click on them to read more.

Then you get angry and share it.

Hopefully this article has helped you understand why The Daily Mail is so consistently horrible.

In the words of Pope Benedict: ‘I DID IT ALL FOR THE RETWEETS, BABY!’

If you want to emulate this kind of viral success, give us a ring and we’ll sort you out with a bespoke content marketing strategy.

P.s. If you don’t like anything I said, you should probably share this with everyone in your social circles and possibly write a blog post about me (but be sure to link back).

Majestic SEO Search Explorer

Mike Sparkes Mike Sparkes

December 18th, 2013.

A review of Majestic SEOs new search explorer

 

Majestic SEO, the web’s biggest open link map, just recently updated their search explorer tool to version “Alpha v0.3”.  The search explorer allows marketers to search on a specialised search engine which ranks pages based on how influential on the web graph they are. The approach is no nonsense and provides realistic search results, which exclude ads, authorship and the influence of temporal algorithm rankings.

 

So what should we expect?

Majestic says, we shouldn’t expect the tool to rival the major search engines, but it turns out they don’t have to as they believe the time is right for a subscription based engine with no advertising and which offers complete transparency. This makes it a great tool for digital marketers, because for the first time, we can more accurately see what factors are influencing high rankings in our niche.

The new update sees two new features that should have the mouths of SEOs watering: The new live rank factors and a new link prospecting methodology.

Live Rank Factors

Labelled as “transparency at your fingertips” by Dixon Jones (marketing director at Majestic), the live rank feature allows users to search by keyword to see what factors are increasing the rankings for theirs or their competitors sites in the SERPS. From this, SEOs can gain a better understanding of what it might take to rank for specific sets of keywords or topics.  “For the first time, you can run a search query and see exactly why one search result appears above another”.

The Live rank feature search results tab allows users to analyse the corresponding data on a much granular level than anything before. When performing a search, your results are scored on variables such as InTitle, InAnchor and InURL.  Majestic’s trusty flow metrics are also involved as well as referring domains and total external backlinks.  These metrics when combined are giving us a great understanding of how Majestic are interpreting the search data.

 

Live rank factors - Majestic SEO

 

Getting your hands dirty

From the Live rank factors page, you can dig deeper to get a better grasp of the data being presented. Go to the “Ranking Factors” tab and you can switch from “Data” to “Chart”, which allows you to easily digest the information being presented. From here you can see that if your site is dominating majestic’s search explorer but neither of the big search engines, then this may well mean that there are other factors which are at play, such as personalisation, ads, authorship and so on.

 

Data vs Chart - Majestic search explorer

 

All of this offers great insight to us as SEOs because it allows us to know when enough high authority links have been built and the onsite optimisation of our pages is in good order. If you’re under pressure from clients or your boss to “BUILD MORE LINKS” then be sure to show them the data. Make them aware that although you’re ranking high in Majestic’s search explorer, building more links might not be the way forward and you may end up tripping the big search engines’ spam filters.

Majestic has commented on its plans for its live rank reports going into the future, saying that they’re looking to increase the variables in the algorithm which will be more closely aligned to those of Google and Bing, (well the ones that are perceived as common knowledge in the SEO field).

 

Link Prospecting Methodology

The link prospecting methodology makes use of AQS (advanced query syntax), our good old friend “site:”. Using this command will return sites that are more than likely to be authorities in their given fields/topics. You can also go further by using the command to bring up blogs on all kinds of platforms.

Example:                          

 

“Keyword site:blogger.com site:wordpress.com site:blogspot.com site:tumblr.com site:squarespace.com”

 

Link prospecting methodology - Majestics search explorer

 

Extra Tip:

The “bucket list” feature allows you to save a list of competitors URLs and run a search against only those URLs. This is an amazing way of benchmarking against your closest competitors.

I love this new feature as it can be used to go beyond link building. I can use this tool for research by cherry-picking the types of results I want in my bucket list, such as trusted and accurate news sites. For example, if I want to research a specific celebrity, I can exclude any news source that offers little substance (red tops and glossy magazines).  Majestic also commented that this tool can be used by PR professionals who want to work on reputation management.

To take a full tour of the tool you can view Majestic’s “how to” webinar below. It’s packed full of great instructions and tips for getting the most out of the tool.

 

 

I’m excited to see how it’s going to develop over the coming months as they start to add more and more data. I have but one recommendation for going forward…

 

Geo targeting

The issue I found when using the tool for the first time was one that could quite often pop up for many SEOs. It is that of searching and building for branded terms.

Example:

Searching for “Sony” will return results from Sony TLDs and international sub folders such as:  .com, .net, .co.uk, .jp etc. However, the same search in Google will come with geo targeting and return results such as: .co.uk, local, news, Wikipedia and Amazon, which would be a truer version of what my target customer would be seeing.

 

Majestic search explorer - Geo targeting

VS

Sony example - Majestic SEO

The only way I can think of to resolve this would be to include the Google results in my bucket list, but that can also be limiting in a way because I’d constantly be changing half my list due to the amount of variables in the results on any given day, such as news.

I would personally like to see a Geo toggle implemented within the search explorer to give better flexibility in the results. Other than that, I personally love what this new tool has to offer.

 

 

Commodus

Joe Joe

November 25th, 2013.

Nobody Cares About Your Brand

One of the biggest problems facing Content Marketers is how best to represent ‘The Brand’ when developing engaging content.

I’ve got a newsflash for you:

YOU DON’T HAVE TO!!!!

In fact, I’d go even further and say you should always try to move away from your brand when building content. The less ‘advertorial’ the content is, the more engaging and sharable it will be.

Far be it from me to tell you your brand is boring, but unless you own a company that makes Star Wars costumes for cats, the internet won’t care what you have to say.

The best content is the stuff that:

  • Fills a knowledge gap,
  • Answers an important question, or,
  • Gets people worked up into a frenzy of commenting and sharing.

You need to ask yourself one important question when planning your content:

Who Will Find This Interesting?

The best answer to this question is ‘Everyone’. You need to ensure maximum appeal to encourage maximum sharability. You need to be getting your content in front of high authority websites and bloggers. If they see the value of the content, they’ll be more willing to use it and provide you with that all-important link. You will never, ever, ever be able to trick people into posting an advert for your website. That’s just not how it works. However, if you’re offering something entertaining or useful that they can reuse to their advantage, they’ll be much more willing to promote your brand.

Here’s a nice thought experiment to explain what I mean:

You’re at a festival with two stages. On one stage, a man is stood talking about the history of his company. On the other stage, a man is riding a lion and juggling swords while a penguin tries to shoot an apple off of his head with a revolver. Who do you think would draw the bigger crowd? Which will be filmed and go viral on the internet and which will be ignored?

The internet is the world’s biggest festival. There’s plenty of content out there, so make sure yours stands out.

I know what you’re thinking: ‘But, Joe! My brand is interesting. I’m offering something unique and my clients love it’. That may be true, and it’s a great system for driving sales. Unfortunately, web content for the most part isn’t about driving conversions – it’s about promoting the brand, building authority and increasing engagement.

I’ll agree your brand probably is very interesting, but I guarantee you’ll find your content more successful if you focus on using your unique industry position to inform your content, rather than define it. I’ll bet you’re sitting on a goldmine of insider information that would be perfect for filling knowledge gaps or creating a useful resource. Everyone has some information lying around – whether you’re a travel company with a great knowledge of the most beautiful places to visit in Europe or a rug manufacturing company with an insight into the psychology of rug design. Put a spin on your data and make it as interesting as possible.

Here’s a takeaway list of things to remember when planning content:

Interest: You need to make it interesting. Make sure nobody will be saying ‘So What?’

Emotion: Getting people worked up on a human level is a surefire way to increase engagement. Happiness and funny content are well shared, but (I’ll let you in on a secret…), making people angry is the best method. The more furious people get, the more active they become. That’s how the Daily Mail is so successful (See Matt’s post: ‘Why the Daily Mail became the world’s most read newspaper‘)

Topical: Try to tap into a current trend on Social Media or in the news. If you can give it a new slant, all the better.

Usable: Usability is a hugely beneficial trait of online content. If people think their friends might find it helpful, they’ll send it to them. Life Hacker is a fine example of this in practice.

In summary: sometimes it pays to step away from your brand a little in the name of creating good content. Especially on the internet.

Take a look through our Complete History of Viral Content and apply this criteria to see why things were successful.

hummingbird-dd

Joe Joe

October 10th, 2013.

Google’s Biggest Update in Years has Already Happened: Hummingbird

Those of us interested in how search engines work have been talking this week about ‘Hummingbird’. Not the hollow-boned, nectar-loving tweetie-pies; rather Google’s newest and most revolutionary search engine algorithm in quite some time.

You’ll likely have heard of ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’. They were algorithmic updates which supposedly made the search results better. Unlike their counter-parts in the animal kingdom, they weren’t cute and they didn’t make for good YouTube videos; but they did improve the quality of websites and the practices of SEOs.

‘Hummingbird’ is a different beast entirely. Far from being an update to an existing algorithm, it’s an entirely new feature which shows Google’s desire to move searching away from ‘Keywords’ and towards ‘Semantic Searches’. They’re approaching what they call “conversational search”

In 2001, you may have searched for:
‘CINEMA + TIMES + LONDON + AVENGERS’

And you may have been presented with an article from The Times about a new movement of filmgoers in London who are avenging the demise of arthouse productions.

But search isn’t like that anymore. People search more or less how they talk, so searches are more like:
‘Cinema times in London for The Avengers’.

And the rise of voice search on mobile devices means people will try to search:

‘What time is The Avengers playing in London?’

Words like ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘when’ etc. now have a value in Google’s searches. They want to give the most accurate response to your request.

What does that mean for website owners?

As a website owner you’ll need to be improving the information content of your site. Undoubtedly keywords will still matter, but since Google is now holding keyword data to ransom, the best thing you can do is improve the quality of your on-site content. This also means you can stand out in your industry – if you’re the world’s authority on Playstation Game Artwork then make sure you can answer questions like ‘Who designed the GTA 5 artwork?’.

‘Hummingbird pays more attention to each word in the query, ensuring the whole query is taken into account – so if a resulting page is a bit less strong in general, but it’s the most relevant to your search terms, that’s the result you’ll get.’ – Google, as told to The Register.

People are asking questions. If you’re equipped to answer them then your site should reflect that.

Personally I think this is a step in the right direction. The internet is becoming more personal, so responding to the intricacies of language is more essential now than ever before. It makes far more sense to work out what people mean rather than just responding literally to the words they use.

adtech

Martina Martina

September 12th, 2013.

Things I learned at ad:tech London…

adtech

Today is the day that ad:tech came to town!

Behind the glass doors at National Hall, Olympia lay a  smorgasbord of digital know-how; from online marketing guru’s to customer relationship management specialists and experts on mobile marketing.

With seminars to the left, conferences above and pop-up stands everywhere else, people from far & wide scattered about the building, shuffling papers and clutching iPad’s on a journey to learn how to be better at their job.

After circling the perimeter to check out some of the businesses on show, I found my way to Oban Multilingual‘s free seminar, where Jonathan Murphy covered tips on how to successfully run multilingual PPC campaigns.

Helpful tips on multilingual PPC campaigns:

  • Some PPC campaigns are generally easier to rank in non-English speaking countries, because competition isn’t always as fierce.
  • When setting up domains in foreign languages, Google translate should not be an option.
  • Whilst Google is king of the search engine in the UK, this doesn’t always apply abroad; Asia favors Baidu and Yandex is popular in Europe – this should be taken into account.
  • Webpages should be translated (by a qualified copywriter) after research has been carried out on things like colloquialisms or Americanisms  such as “free delivery” that  changes to, “free shipping” for websites in the USA.
  • Call-to actions and the colour used to display them is important; red is popular in Asia whereas orange is something that would be used in the UK (where red is usually a no-go for a call-to action).

Other useful marketing tips:

After the above I milled about, popping in and out of other talks, to see what other gems I could pick up – Here are a few I particularly liked:

  • New international website with no inbound links and no indexed pages? – Try PPC!
    Instead of waiting for Google to trawl through the pages on your website and index them, think about how Google uses it’s robot: adsbot-Google.
    Pages will be read if you are buying traffic to them, which can eventually lead to rankings, even when the website is relatively unknown.
  • Using video marketing in Google’s display network? – Include a transcript!
    YouTube allows you upload transcripts for your videos to determine the video’s keyword relevancy for a user searching for that topic. However, it has been tested and proven that Google also uses these transcripts outside of YouTube to index these videos too! So transcripts could help your video turn up in a Google search…
  • Are your YouTube videos getting enough attention? – Stop other ‘related videos’ videos showing up after yours yours (when embedded on a website)
    Suggested videos are great and all, but not when they could potentially drive business away from you. Simply disable related-video suggestions on YouTube before embedding them. Problem solved!

I hope you find this information useful, I did! ;-)

bad-email

Martina Martina

August 23rd, 2013.

Putting an end to creepy emails!

bad-email

Spend enough time wading through spam emails and you’ll be amazed at what you find. From dodgy salutations to cringe-worthy formatting, on a very slow day this makes for a good few minutes of entertainment.

Here are some of the most ‘creepy’ elements of bad email-ship:

Over personalisation

Why it’s done & why it sucks:

This is usually an attempt at making a company look uber-friendly, since the emails they send you are formatted like a buddy would send them.

The downside is that sometimes we sign up with nick-names, tags or misspellings which can quickly turn a harmless greeting into a spammy annoyance. Seeing “Happy Birthday JaneDoe101!” or “JaneDoe101 we miss you!” littering up your mailbox is usually the first step on the way to an unsubscribe!

Archaic greetings

Why it’s done & why it sucks:

Dear Sir/Madam” or “To whom this may concern” are clear-cut indicators of cold calling (or cold mailing) – sure they’re gender neutral but boy are they impersonal. They scream “Someone, anyone – please read me!” rather than seeming relevant to the recipient. 

Too many imperatives

Why it’s done & why it sucks:

It’s true that the call-to action is a huge part of the science behind a smooth conversion, so putting in punchy phrases like “click here!” and “buy now!” seem standard procedure, but there is such a thing of over-doing it.

Ultimately, I don’t want bossy emails, and legally anything being sold is an ‘invitation to treat’ so in your next sales email, try the passive approach with an A/B test to see what gains a better reaction.

Too long

Why it’s done & why it sucks:

It’s been a while and there’s a lot to say, but how long do you think I’ve got? People are time conscious, say less!

If you need to explain something a nifty way of doing so is by linking back to a blog post published on your website. Not only is this considerate of your customers, it’s also potential for indirect conversions; they may just browse other parts of your website…


And in taking my own advice, I’ll keep this short and sweet – but feel free to add any other examples you can think of in our vowel to make electronic mail, sustainable! ;-)

links

Adam Adam

August 21st, 2013.

How to Check a Link is Live (and Scrape It’s Anchor Text) Using Google Docs

I’ve been using Google Docs to keep track of links built to client sites and to track the progress of any link removal work. Occasionally I’ve noticed links have either been removed, the linking page no longer exists, or the links reported in that incredibly useless ‘sample link report’ are wrong. As SEOs/link builders/content marketers/inbound marketers/digital ninjas (select/insert your choice of title here) this is something you’ll want to check from time to time.

Whilst tools like ScreamingFrog are great for this sort of thing, sometimes you might want the convenience of checking this within Google Docs:

=lower(index(importxml(A1,”//a[contains(@href,'www.datadial.net')][1]“),1))

This lovely little formula grabs the lowercase anchor text of the first link containing ‘www.datadial.net’ of the URL in cell A1.

 

Very handy!

markenlogo_searchmetrics_0

Matt

July 18th, 2013.

Using Searchmetrics And VLookup For A Competitor Rankings Comparison Report

Searchmetrics is a brilliant SEO tool, the amount of insight that it gives on client and competitor sites is incredibly useful. One of my favourite reports, along with some manipulation in Excel is to run a quick rankings comparison report on your competitors so you can gain insight into what they’re ranking for, more importantly what they’re ranking for and you’re not, and also how your site matches-up a full range of industry keywords.

For this sample report I’m going to take a look at some of the bigger sites in the insurance sector.

http://www.aviva.co.uk
http://www.churchill.com
http://www.lv.com
http://www.morethan.com

Other good insurance companies do exist, along with quite a few terrible ones.

Run each domain through Searchmetrics and run a long-tail keyword report on each of the sites that you wish to compare.

Organic   Rankings   aviva.co.uk  Weekly    Searchmetrics Essentials

Export and download each of these reports.

Organic   Rankings   aviva.co.uk  Weekly    Searchmetrics Essentials2

 

In Excel create different sheets for each of the exports along with the first sheet which should be named ‘comparison’ this is where all of the magic happens and your data will be pulled-in.

sheets

Paste each sites data into onto it’s own sheet, as well as cumulatively into the ‘comparison’ sheet.

Then under Data > Remove Duplicates remove duplicated keywords on the ‘comparison’ sheet.

remove-duplicates

Then delete the  following columns in the ‘comparison’ sheet  – URL, Pos, Title, and Traffic Index. This should leave just Keyword, Search Volume and CPC.

Next add columns for each of the sites that you wish to compare. This should leave you with a sheet that looks something like this.

sheet

Then, using VLOOKUP you’ll need to pull the ranking data from the other sheets into the comparison sheet. So for example into Column C all of the rankings for Aviva will appear.

The formula you’ll need is =VLOOKUP(A:A,Aviva!A:G,3,0) The easiest way to generate this is to use the insert formula function,

function

Lookup value – Is the value that you’re looking up, in this case is column A, the keyword.
Table array – is the table you’re finding the value in, which is the Aviva sheet, so click in the table array entry field, then go to the Aviva sheet and highlight all of the columns.
Col index num – is the column with the data in that you wish to import, so column 3, the ranking position.
Range lookup – Enter FALSE or 0 here to find an exact match. This will cause #N/A to be returned if the site isn’t ranking for the keyword.

Repeat this for each site. And then expand the selection by dragging the corner of the box down to apply to each of the cells in the sheet.

expand

Tidy the sheet up by formatting as a table, and (hopefully) you should have something that looks like this.

final

If the #N/A results are annoying you can easily remove them by modifying the VLOOKUP formular from

=VLOOKUP(A:A,Aviva!A:G,3,0)

to

=IFERROR(VLOOKUP(A:A,Aviva!A:G,3,0),”-“)

You can also colour-code the rankings using conditional formatting.

endsheet

 

If you would like to download this example sheet I have added it here – CompetitorReport

 

 

Facebook1

Joe Joe

July 11th, 2013.

How We Gained 1000 Facebook Fans in 2 Weeks

How we gained a client 1000 new fans in two weeks.

‘How can we increase our social following?’

It’s a question we get asked all the time.

There are a number of ways to boost your social profile, but the most efficient and effective is a targeted and well-publicised competition.

This is something we told our friends at The Turtle Mat Company when they approached us to help build their social reach. We sat down and developed a plan for a brief but effective competition – tying in with the launch of their new range of door mats and their promotional stall at the Chelsea Flower Show.

The prize was simple, but attractive to their target demographic: £100 in Gardening Vouchers, with runners up receiving a mat from their new range.

turt mat

We wanted to make a big impact, so rather than relying on Facebook’s somewhat costly promotional posts and adverts, we developed an app using Offerpop – a really straightforward and comprehensive competition design service.

Entry to the competition required Liking the page; answering a simple question: ‘What’s your favourite flower that blossoms in May?’ and also included the option to leave an email address to sign up for more promotions and news.

In the run-up to the competition launching, we publicised the competition via email, Facebook and Twitter; then during the course of the competition we arranged for some paid-exposure through relevant social platforms.

The results were phenomenal:

–          Turtle Mat’s Facebook fans boosted to over 1200 in the two week run of the competition

–          90% of people who Liked the page also supplied an email address for future contact.

–          Since the competition was targeted, the responders were passionate and excited to be involved.

–          Cross-promotion on Twitter led to a run-off increase in Twitter followers.

Overall the competition was a huge success, and gave a huge boost to Turtle Mat’s marketing power on Facebook.

Social competitions are a really effective way to generate a buzz around your product, engagement with your brand and (most importantly) give a natural increase to your marketing potential.

To talk to us about boosting your social profile, give us a call!

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