5 things that have changed SEO in 2013?

seo2013A few things have been changing at Google over the year that are significantly changing the face of SEO. I have put together what I believe to be the top 5.

  1. The fall of the keyword – Take a look at Google analytics and you will see that the Keyword analysis (Acquisitions – Campaigns – Keywords) has become pretty much useless, with the number 1 search term now being “Not Provided”. This is not by accident. It is just the next step in Google’s journey to wean site owners off their addiction to keywords, and encourage them to focus on their content as a whole.In my view this is no bad thing as shoehorning keywords into copy purely for the benefit of SEO rarely makes for engaging copy.
  2. The rise on content marketing – Although content marketing has been around for ever (It used to be called PR) it has suddenly become the in digital marketing buzz word. And from an SEO perspective it is becoming increasingly important many of Google’s latest algorithm updates have been all about giving extra weight to pages that contain great up to date content that engages with their audience. Thus if you create a website that engages with your market you will perform better in SEO terms.From a marketing perspective this is good news, as it means that finally the objectives of SEO and user experience once they reach the site are becoming aligned (Maybe Google do know what they are doing!).The upshot of all this is that SEO focus must move from writing SEOed copy to writing great, engaging copy that will thrill your readers, and then making sure that that copy is placed on both your site,and on good quality sites that are likely to be frequented by your potential customers. (more on this here)
  3. The rise of social in SEO – Social media has been of increasing importance in marketing over recent years, but now it key in SEO too. If Google want to reward content that engages with its readers, social is a great way of measuring that. So it now uses social interactions (Facebook likes, Tweets, Linked in Shares, Pinetrest pins etc) as a measure of how audiences are engaging with content. So the more people share your content, the more  notice Google will take of it.So how do you get people to share your content? – Write “great, engaging copy” that your readers love, and want to share with their friends! Not only does sharing mean your copy gets Google brownie points, it also means that it gets distributed., and read more widely. Win Win!
  4. The rise of the video in SEO Google owns Youtube, so it is not really surprising that video is becoming more prevalent in Search Results. Video also offers some great opportunities from an SEO perspective, as it is something many sites ignore.A recent Post on e-consultancy gives some great tips in this area.
  5. The rise of the image in SEO – Like video, images also offer some great Search Opportunities. Not only can and do users now search specifically for images, again like video, optimising images for search is something that is again overlooked, and thus offers some interesting opportunities.You will find some interesting hints & Tips in this area here.

In summary, what has 2013 meant for SEO? It has moved the agenda firmly into the world of Marketing. Whereas before you could engineer your site into the search listings through a series of technical tweaks, and short term SEO focused activities like link building. Now delivering good search listings is all about presenting your message in an engaging and effective manner that will mean people want to find it, and when they do to share it with their friends. In other words, rather than being the end in its self, great search listings are now a by-product of a well engineered, engaging, marketing communications strategy. Although it is now much more difficult to pay someone to “SEO your site”, focusing on marketing, and putting in place a good digital marketing communications strategy including written content, Video, Images and Social will deliver real results in its own right, and in turn mean your search performance, as a by-product.

 Win:Win

Fantastic feedback from another great MailChimp Seminar

mailchimpAs well as providing full service email marketing to a wide range of clients, we recognise that some people prefer to take more of a hands-on role – but often aren’t sure where to start. We are keen to promote the effectiveness of email marketing to all businesses and, with this in mind, we have partnered with various local agencies to deliver introductory email marketing events. One of our partners is Tameside Council with whom we have delivered 6 events over the past 12 months. There is a range of on-line email marketing solutions that you can subscribe to and use yourself. We have investigated many of these over the past 2 or 3 years and there is one which, in our opinion, tops the list in terms of usability and cost effectiveness – MailChimp. MailChimp is one of the easiest systems to use and offers a lot of functionality and online support. Even better, for smaller users, it is free! Our latest MailChimp seminar was last week and, following the successful formula of previous events, we mixed an introduction to email marketing with a demonstration of MailChimp after which the second half of the event was hands-on with delegates using MailChimp for themselves. Feedback from all delegates was excellent with Quality of Information and Level of Interest both rated 96-98% Perhaps a few comments tell the story best:

I designed and sent a simple newsletter in a couple of hours.. ...this was far beyond my expectations.  ...just what we needed to rationalise our future email marketing plans...  Fantastic & helpful  Interesting new angle on marketing...learned something new.  Excellent seminar. Really informative and well structured.

We have one more event planned before Christmas but it is already fully booked – with a waiting list. We are planning more events for the New Year. If you want to find out how MailChimp and email marketing can boost your business, do get in touch to reserve your place.

Marketing tools with staying power? – BSA celebrates 10 years of professional email

10YearsTwo things have happened this week which show, on the one hand, how things can change in marketing without you really noticing, and on the other how a good idea can have real staying power. First, I was asked recently to do a presentation by the Chartered Institute of Marketing entitled “Marketing on a Shoestring”. Now I don’t know about you but, when faced with preparing a presentation (or proposal or any other document for that matter!) it is ALWAYS easier to start with something other than a blank piece of paper. You may end up with something completely different to what you started with but at least you have a structure as a launch pad. So faced with delivering this presentation, I was pleased to recall a seminar I had given back in 2009 entitled: “Marketing on a Shoestring”! (The recession was already starting to hit). I called up a copy of the 2009 presentation and reviewing it there was a key point that really struck me:

 No reference to Social Media!

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter were already established and available in the UK but they hadn’t yet become established as the marketing tools they are today. What was around in 2009 and on the verge of breaking through into mainstream marketing was MySpace – but where is that now? Needless to say, my current CIM presentation makes significant reference to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter as valuable marketing tools in 2013; but where will they be in 2023, or even 2018? It isn’t very far off.

Only the best survives

When we first started doing email newsletters for clients it was as an add-on service to wider telemarketing and direct marketing programmes. It was only later that it grew into the mainstream service we offer today. While Social Media was barely making its presence felt in 2009, as far back as 2003 we were already preparing and sending e-newsletters for clients and they were already generating significant business opportunities. I came across an email from April 2003 which clearly demonstrates the power and effectiveness of B2B email marketing. The email was a reply to an e-newsletter we sent to a senior engineering manager at United Biscuits. It read:

I would like you to pay me a visit at Manchester Site I want a cost 2 replace Imaje coders on Jaffa

2 lines with a 5-figure enquiry value! And the response from our client:

...the contact is based at Carlisle but has responsibilities at M/C too.  He's a high-level contact we've had difficulties trying to get in front of so please accept a pat on the back...

And email marketing has real staying power as the success continues…only last week another client reported a response to an e-newsletter that they say should lead to a 6-figure enquiry! If you’d like to see how e-newsletters can work for you, give me a call

BSA in business advice partnership with Local Press

presshat

Anyone who keeps abreast of the latest thinking concerning the UK economy can’t help but notice that the Government currently sees the SME sector as key to the economic future for the country. A fact that has not been missed in the North West where we are based. As part of a new initiative to support SME Growth within the region, BSA Marketing has teamed up with the local press to deliver a weekly business support column in the Tameside Reporter & Glossop Chronicle Newspapers.

Weekly information and advice

With a solid reputation for sound, realistic business advice, BSA Marketing is now accredited to deliver individually tailored support to companies under schemes run by Growth Accelerator, and the Manufacturing Advisory Service. We have a great deal of experience and knowledge to offer business under these schemes, so when we were offered the opportunity to share some of this through a newspaper column, we jumped at the chance. Each week, the column features help and advice which we hope will be valuable to anyone running an SME business, covering a wide range of business related topics. To give a flavour of the column, the topics covered over the first few weeks will include:

  • Is Your Marketing Joined-up – Answer 5 questions & find out
  • Internet Marketing for SMEs: Step 1 – Switch off your computer!
  • Marketing Communication – Don’t forget the long term

Although we focus heavily on Marketing, and make no apologies for doing so, as after all good effective marketing is key to business growth. We are also working with other expert partners to include topics in other fields including Finance, HR and Export. Anyone who lives in the area will find the column in either the Tameside Reporter or Glossop Chronicle. For those of you who don’t, you will find the initial articles here:

  1. Introduction to the Growth Matters Column
  2. Strive for Five – Is your marketing Joined-up?

Q&A opportunity

We are also happy to answer any question related to SME growth as part of the column, so if you have any issues where you would like our input, contact us via our website, or you can follow BSA Marketing via @bsamarketing and tweet your questions. The column also has it’s own twitter account: @growth_matters

Home Hat or Work Hat? Which Social Media to use?

Which Social MediaClients regularly ask us whether they should be using Social Media more widely in their marketing and, if so, which social media? There are many companies promoting one Social Media platform or another as the ‘must have‘ marketing tool and while you can’t deny this in principle, you need to be thinking in terms of your customers and your markets.

Facebook

To kick off, let’s take Facebook. I don’t know about you but I use Facebook. I’m not logged on all day, everyday but I do find it useful to keep in touch with friends and family across the world and to see what people have been up to. It is also a great tool to follow developments and engage in discussions around hobbies and interests. But my FB engagement does not cross into my work. If I am thinking Home/Leisure (i.e. I am wearing my Home Hat) I have engagement with FB – and if a business wants to engage with me while I am wearing my Home Hat, then so be it – so long as I find what they want to say interesting and relevant! On the other hand, if I am at Work or even just thinking Work (i.e. I’m wearing my Work Hat) then Facebook is not for me. It is too chatty and inconsequential. When work suppliers and contacts try to engage on Facebook it has a negative effect on my relationship with them – and often I just don’t get involved! I see Facebook as a social tool and, in my experience, so do the other people I know who use it.

LinkedIn

Conversely LinkedIn is squarely targeted at Work Hat. To date it has been seen primarily as a tool for people looking for a new job – or people looking to check out the background of people they are considering employing!  So does it have any real mileage for marketing engagement and relationship development? I believe it does, particularly if you are targeting niche/specific sectors. On an individual basis it can be a great way of getting introductions to key people. If you know A and A knows B and B is a key decision maker in your target market, then often A will be happy to introduce you to B. It’s like asking for referrals but you have more control and influence! This approach must be used carefully and professionally but it can be extremely effective in the field of Work Hat. Another interesting LinkedIn development over the past year or two is the growth in popularity of LinkedIn Groups. These are where people with a common business interest can post articles, ideas, questions etc. and invite response from other group members. Normally LinkedIn groups are NOT sales channels and overt or regular sales pitches are frowned upon. This said, if you use groups creatively and always remember the importance of interest and relevance, you can effectively build your standing and influence in a field. This can take time but persistence will often pay real Work Hat dividends.

Twitter

So where does Twitter fit in all of this? From a business marketing point of view, I don’t believe it is practical to communicate solely using Twitter. It’s role is more as connective tissue to effectively link and promote content on your Website/Blog/Facebook/LinkedIn etc. Keen tweeters will say that you need to tweet regularly (up to 10-15 time PER DAY!) for Twitter to be effective. This can be off-putting to most businesses – and I don’t believe it is true! What is important is that (bit of a theme here!) You aim to keep tweets interesting and relevant. At BSA (@bsamarketing), we tweet 6-8 times per week on average and while we don’t have the followers of Justin Bieber or Katy Perry, our follower list is full of relevant contacts and is growing steadily.

Other Social Media

There are many other social media tools out there, each one aiming to be the new Facebook or LinkedIn. In deciding whether to use them, my advice is to use your common sense. The ideas I discuss in this article can be equally applied and we are still talking about people and their personal motivations. Just remember…. Engaging with your contacts when they are wearing the wrong hat may have undesireable consequences

Social Media or Email Marketing?

Social media or email marketingSocial Media + Email Marketing. A marriage made in heaven or a marriage of convenience?

At their most basic, both email and social media are simply communication channels through which you can contact your audience. How we use them is key and there is no question that used together, the results can be greater than the ‘sum of the parts’. However, what should you use? Social Media or Email marketing? You shouldn’t just think more is better and simply sign up for every social media account you can find and try to use them all. If you are aiming to build real relationships with your target market, quality is at least as important as quantity. Email marketing opens up real opportunities for businesses to connect with their customer base. Communication options include newsletters, press releases, and incentives that will attract traffic to a website, like discounts on services and/or products. This marketing activity can be expanded by taking the message to social media platforms (such as Twitter) that can leverage an email campaign to see it distributed beyond your mailing list. There is greater scope to personalise your email messages but you will always be limited to communicating with those people you have on your database. The hierarchical nature of Social Media offers great potential to spread you message more widely as your friends tell their friends. This sounds like it could be a great combination but it is easy to forget:

What’s In It For Me?

If people who receive your messages don’t find them interesting and relevant, they will switch off. Just because you have something you want to say doesn’t mean people will want to listen….

The Ripple Effect

An email campaign certainly reaches your email subscribers and can even be forwarded to friends and colleagues; however the message gains real momentum when a company’s subscribers use their social media to pass the news on to their followers. This ripple effect then becomes never ending. However, don’t just try to engage with all your audience on all of their social media presence. This post gives some advice.

Joined-up

Combining social media and email marketing to spread your communication across different channels is also a good way to distribute information without bombarding contacts with emails. Where it would probably be frustrating to find multiple emails from the same company in your inbox, social media followers want to know what a company is up to. Mixing things up is especially important; linking to a number of different items – within reason – will attract different groups of people and help spread the word about a company’s latest news. Irrespective of which platforms might work for you, it’s paramount for a company to create a healthy relationship between email marketing and social media; together, these two marketing methods can generate a powerful awareness about your products and services while keeping the company connected to both existing and potential customers.