Check your website is search friendly

Check your website is search friendly

Getting your website to rank on search engines is a huge way of driving those all-important visitors to your site, but how do you do it? We have put together a quick-fire checklist to make sure you understand the basics of what your site needs to do to be search friendly.

  1. Are your URL’s well formatted?

URL’s are a funny one, not many people think to scrutinise their URLs to make sure that they are well formatted and make sense. Ideally you need to use short URLs, with a keyword included. They need to be human-readable, as user experience really effects search results.

Also ensure that your site is secure, this means using HTTPS rather than HTTP, as this has been confirmed to be a positive ranking signal.

  1. Are your page titles and descriptions optimised?

The word ‘optimised’ starts to feel a bit like jargon, what we mean here is ensuring that your page titles and meta descriptions are using the correct keywords and have a really good description about what is on the page. Your page title is one of the most important ranking factors, so it needs to be relevant, contain a high value search term, and ideally tell people what to expect if they click through to your website.

(Your meta description needs to be catchy and contain a call to action. Be creative and speak with personality, this is a form of advert driving people to your site and you need to stand out from the crowd.

  1. Are you regularly updating your content?

Your website needs to have freshly published content on there, that’s why so many sites have a blog. Content can be anything, articles, infographics, slideshows, videos, comments or case studies.

Search engines want to know that your site is up to date and therefore still relevant, so they check to see when your site was last updated. Having fresh content means search engines will index your site more regularly.

  1. Does it take ages to load your website?

Page speed is a really important ranking factor, search engines want to ensure that you are serving people with the content that they want quickly and as a result a good experience for users. People are getting faster and more inpatient, they want to know the facts NOW – and search engines know this.

Test your website here.

  1. Are you mobile-friendly?

We have talked about this a lot in previous blogs such as ‘Is your website mobile responsive’, so we won’t’ repeat ourselves too much – but it’s a really important point to hammer home! More and more people are not just visiting but transacting on websites through their mobiles now, and Google have confirmed that this is a key ranking factor, so this is a must.

Digital News Round Up – April 2018

Digital News Round Up – April 2018

This month was a big one for social media and data privacy being in the news, but there are a few important tidbits that are worth noting for marketing!

Wetherspoons calls it a day on social media

Some of April’s biggest social media news was that pub chain J D Wetherspoon is quitting social media. They tweeted to their 44,000 followers that their firm’s head office and 900 pubs will quit Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, which they did immediately.
The chain has suffered some bad publicity across social media, and much of its activity on the platforms has been involved with dealing with complaints. It’s said that the decision has also been taken following recent publicity over the use of social media to criticise MPs and others, especially those from religious or ethnic minorities, but also because of concerns around the “misuse of personal data” and “the addictive nature of social media”.
Some have claimed that the firms announcement is a publicity stunt, but Wetherspoons maintain it is purely a business decision. It’s going to be interesting to see if anyone follows suit, but as for the publicity stunt theory – we certainly have heard the name Wetherspoons mentioned a lot in the last few weeks!

Twitter bans bulk tweeting

There’s been a huge change in the world of Twitter this month too as the rules surrounding duplicate tweets have now come into force. Whereas you used to be able to post the same tweet multiple times, since 23rd March it is now against the platforms usage guidelines to post duplicative or substantially similar content either from single or multiple accounts.

Whilst this may make things slightly harder for those who want to consistently promote something like a piece of content, an online course or event, we think that this change can only be a good thing as it encourages us to be more creative and present on the platform, and after all that’s what social is all about.

Facebook is now more popular than ever

Last week it was announced that despite all the controversy surrounding Facebook and its involvement in the privacy scandal over user data, the average number of monthly active Facebook users for March rose by 13%. It seems that it’ll take more than this scandal to break this mighty social media platform, and it shows how important it is to consider Facebook and other social media in your marketing strategy, as long as you work diligently with data and creatively with content.

Getting ready for GDPR

You might have noticed that you’re suddenly being bombarded with emails from companies telling you they’re updating their terms of service. That’s because they’re all getting ready for the EU’s forthcoming efforts to protect our personal data.

Although the changes don’t come into force until 25th May, companies are adjusting their privacy policies to let users know what they’re doing to make sure they’re in line with the new regulations and how they’ll store and protect your data. It’s worth checking you’re happy with each individual company’s new policies, as they will all vary.

What’s App raises minimum age limit to 16

At the moment, the minimum user age for the messaging platform is 13, but ahead of the EU data privacy regulations coming into play later this month they’ve announced they’re raising the age limit to 16.

Although What’s App has not said exactly how the rules will be enforced, users will have to confirm their age when they’re prompted to agree to the platform’s new terms over the coming weeks.

It’s great to see that What’s App are doing something to protect teenage minds and self-esteem, but there it is a tricky situation for 13-15-year olds who are now used to being able to use What’s App to keep in touch with friends and family.

Know your audience

Know your audience

Do you know your audience? I mean, can you really picture them? Who are they? How do they digest information? And, most importantly, what messaging will affect them the most?

Defining your target audience and creating detailed personas is a crucial part of any successful marketing strategy. But let’s get back to the basics, what do we mean when we talk about personas and target audiences?

What are target audiences?

It’s highly unlikely that you have just one target audience. They will be split by their interests, their presence online, or their culture. When thinking about the differences in your audiences, it’s tempting to think about it purely in terms of demographics such as age or gender, however it’s much more effective to think about audiences by their interests and motivations.

A good example could be a bank, segmenting their data depending on the current life status of their audience and their attitude towards money – 3 different audiences: the first-time buyer, the student, and the regular saver – wanting to save up for a nice holiday or a new car.

It’s thinking about the various possibilities around your offering and categorising them into their interest groups. Doing this helps you ensure that you are writing to them in the most effective way.

What is a persona?

A persona is the next granular step in the strategy after defining those target audiences. You have your target segments – the first-time buyer, the student and the worker. Now, you want to create a life-like persona for each of these audiences that help to bring them to life. It helps you to picture them whilst creating the strategy, key messages and copy.

What do you include in a persona?

It’s important to think about a range of characteristics, based on facts that you already know about your current customers.

  • Their age
  • Their gender
  • Their hobbies
  • Their career
  • Where are they on social media?
  • How do they get information? Watching TV, buying newspapers, listening to the radio?
  • How do they prefer to purchase services or products? Online, in store, brochures?
  • What are their problems, and how can you offer a solution?

How do you use personas?

The last point above is probably the most important one. What is their problem and how can you offer a solution to it? Have a real think about this, and it will form your key messages to this target audience.

For example, the first-time buyer wants an account that helps them get the most from their savings, so they can get as big a deposit as possible. So, word your campaigns around this – use the terminology that they are using so it sounds like you are speaking directly to them. And put the messages and content on the platforms that this audience are using, be it social, search or offline marketing.

Put yourself in their shoes. What do they want to hear? Write that down.

Who should get involved?

Creating personas and target audiences isn’t something that a marketing team should keep to themselves. Get everyone involved, especially people who actually talk to your customers– your sales team, or your customer service team are great to get into the mix. They will have valuable insights that will really help you understand exactly who you are talking to.

What next?

So, you have all created some pretty ace personas. Make sure you circulate these everywhere, so all your staff understand who your customers are, and how you are planning on talking to them. Make sure it’s consistent throughout the company so that each touchpoint is using the same key messages and tone of voice.

It’s also important not to just create these personas once and leave them a decade. Just like everything in marketing, audiences and their interests change. Review your key messages annually to make sure they are still true and effective.

Most importantly, creating personas can be really good fun – so enjoy it!

Emily’s Digital News – The Facebook Edition

Emily’s Digital News – The Facebook Edition

We made it – we have managed to reach the end of January! It’s been a full-on month with some pretty big digital news – one being so meaty we will focus this month’s blog on that… The Dreaded Facebook Algorithm Change and how to approach it.

You have probably already heard about the change to the Facebook news feed – it’s a biggy. They are changing the way that everyone has visibility of brand and page posts in their news feed. Now only brand posts that are engaged (mainly receiving lots of comments) will get priority in people’s news feeds.

They already announced at the back end of last year that Facebook was going to start penalising engagement bait posts – these are posts that ask people to like or share their page in order to win a prize. They are really pushing that they want people to be commenting on videos and content to prove that they are engaging content.

So, the top bit of advice so far is to revise your Facebook marketing strategy. Do you post every day with a bit of content that aims for people to click through and read a blog on your website? Do you currently focus just on organic reach to your audiences? Unfortunately, both aren’t going to be enough in the new Facebook world.

Your content should now be thinking about how you can get people to interact with you – CREATE CONTENT THAT MAKES PEOPLE THINK AND FEEL. That’s the best way to get people discussing your content and reacting to your videos. Evoke some emotion. Ask them questions.

Social media is now getting all about the live and real-time content. More live streaming of videos is one of the biggest trends that marketers are expecting to see in 2018. This doesn’t have to be a big budget high-end film – just a good story that’s done quickly on a phone will work just as well.

Another method of communicating on Facebook now could be making more use of existing Facebook groups and setting up your own Facebook groups for each target audience. A group is a collection of people with shared interests, so if your content is relevant to those interests then this an avenue to also consider.

You can also simply ask your followers to prioritise your page if they want to continue seeing your posts. This is done by the individual navigating to your page, hovering over ‘following’ and selecting ‘see first’ instead of default. I wouldn’t rely solely on this – but it’s one more step that can help with your content reach.

Finally, organic reach has steadily been decreasing – but now it is more certain that to get the reach your content needs, brands will need to start considering putting money behind their Facebook activity and creating targeted advertising campaigns. We are still waiting to see how these changes will affect the cost of Facebook advertising, it may be that it will now start to cost more per campaign. So, these will need to be based on thorough research, only promoting content that is already engaging, so that it will encourage the viewer interaction and get an additional boost through that.

In summary, it’s not Facebook Armageddon that you may have been reading about in the news. It’s tackling Facebook in a new way, as lots of brands have gotten sluggish with their content strategy. The take home principle is – Facebook is about people. Remember that in each and every post that you create. It’s all about the quality of the posts you send out. It’s better to do one great content piece that gets people reacting, than sending out one post a day to try and maintain awareness. That will simply not work now.

If you have any questions about your social media marketing strategy, contact us today at [email protected].

Plain speaking marketing – Part 1. Websites

Plain speaking marketing – Part 1. Websites

The world of marketing is an array of complicated, technical terms and acronyms. It can be daunting for anyone new to marketing or approaching an agency with a project. So, that’s where we come in.

Over the next few months, we will be publishing a series of plain-speaking, jargon busting blogs that break down the complicated languages you can be faced with, and explain what the terms mean.

The first area we will be focusing on, is possibly the most technical – websites.

Website terminology deciphered

CMS

Have you ever been asked what CMS you are using? This means the ‘Content Management System’. It’s another way of saying the type of software that your website is built around. It can be open-sourced CMS systems, like WordPress, Drupal or Umbraco. This means that it is a free to use template which a developer can then take and interpret, coding it to provide the functionality and visual identity that your brand requires. You can also get bespoke CMS systems, which are built directly by the developer purposefully for your needs.

CRM

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, this is the system that you use for managing your contacts, data and potentially your email and direct marketing. CRM systems can be huge, they can integrate with your email marketing client and your website to provide a full picture of your marketing funnel, leads and opportunities.

Mobile-first

It’s well-known now that search engines such as Google and Bing now require your website to be mobile optimised, ideally built with mobile use in mind first over the desktop experience. This is because more and more people are browsing the internet on their phones over a desktop or laptop. If your site isn’t performing well enough on mobile, your entire search engine rank will now be affected.

Landing page

A landing page is the web page that you are wanting people to hit first when they click through from an advert, search engine result, social media campaign or a referral. The landing page needs to be clear, consistent with the tone of voice that your campaign had, and have a call to action. It also needs to be trackable, so you know how visitors got to the landing page, and how many of them have clicked on the call to action (otherwise known as a conversion).

Google Analytics

This is a free to use platform that is integrated into most websites, providing insights and analysis into user behaviours on your website. It provides facts and figures such as how many people are going to your site, how many people stay there and browse, and what pages are they interacting with. You can set up goals and objectives to monitor your website performance against your marketing goals.

Cookies

Cookies are not as scary as the news may make out. They are small text files that capture information about website users, their unique user ID and the site name that they are on. They can then track the websites that you visit, which is how when you are browsing the internet it knows which sites you have already been on, remember your passwords and can add things to a cart whilst you are still shopping. Everyone who has a website needs to have a clear cookie policy, and let people know that they use cookies.

Search engine optimisation

We will post a separate blog about the world of SEO as there is quite a lot of terminology around this that is useful to understand. SEO is the practice of getting your website discoverable through search engines such as Google and Bing – so that when people are looking for the content that your website provides, they are presented with your website. It’s a huge way of getting website visitors, and SEO is getting more and more important as it also has an impact on any paid advertising that you may do through Google or Bing. SEO is a constantly changing practice, as Google updates their algorithms regularly determining what factors your site should hit in order to score well – so it’s something that you need to consider when running a website.

Bad marketing habits to break in the new year

Bad marketing habits to break in the new year

1 – Set it and forget it with social media scheduling

Social is not just about broadcasting your content and hoping that people will engage and respond to your posts. You need to be actively engaging in conversations on social media, commenting on posts, sharing other people’s content and responding to anyone who shares your branded content in order to build a following and give your brand some depth.

Timing posts has problems too. You need to be aware of what is going on externally before sending out content, it might be that a topic is trending that you should tie your content to; or that a big news story has broken out and your content is no longer appropriate.

There isn’t anything wrong with using a scheduler to make sure your content is spread out and consistent – but make sure you are still regularly on your social platforms, engaging with people and listening out for content to curate yourself

2 – Forgetting that a brand is all about your customers and your culture

Ask people what a brand is, and often people will think of just the logo – maybe a slogan too. However a brand is so much more than this. When defining your brand, think about the emotions that you want people to have towards your business. Do you want to make people feel hungry, excited or happy? That is what you need to be defining at this stage.

A brand needs to be consistent, with the same tone of voice through every single touch-point that a customer could hit your brand through. It’s about internal communications, ensuring that your employees all understand the same values, and can define your business in the same consistent way across all departments and locations. It’s certainly more than a logo.

3 – Creating content without an end goal 

This is the bad habit of not strategically planning your online content ahead of time. This means that content will be inconsistent, and may not have a purpose. When content doesn’t have a purpose, it’s hard to measure its success!

Instead, plan ahead. Decide what your objectives are from social media and web content, and ensure that you use a relevant call to action that can help push towards your goal. Write your content in advance to ensure that your tone of voice is consistent and content is sent out at the optimum time and with the correct format that is the best for your audience.

4 – Not measuring properly

How can you know if your marketing and brand are working if you aren’t setting appropriate goals to track your success against?

Many people look at the same KPIs – how many hits is your website getting? How much time do people spend on your site? How many people ‘bounce’? But do you know what these figures really mean against your business objectives?

If you want people to hit your site to get information quickly, then a high bounce rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing! No one rule fits all organisations and websites. Look at what you want your visitors to be doing and then measure the appropriate metrics against those.

If you have any questions around social media, search engine optimisation, marketing strategy or branding and design – contact us to find out how we can help at [email protected]