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22
Jun

Want To Be On The First Page Of Google?

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viewing PPC marketing resultsNow Could be the Time to Develop Your PPC Strategy

Used right, PPC can bring your rankings to the top. But to stay there, it needs to be part of a cohesive SEO strategy.

The best SEO strategy incorporates a blended approach that uses a number of tools to bring you better rankings and higher conversion rates, all with an eye to budget and getting the best possible return on your investment.

It is strange, then, that so many people view PPC management as something supplementary to their overall SEO campaign. While PPC is a distinct topic, it is a strategy that must be aligned with your other SEO activities in order to realise results that are meaningful and lasting.

So how can your business benefit from a combined approach that blends paid advertising with your traditional SEO tools, to come up with an overall strategy that puts your business on the first page of Google and keeps it there?

Why use PPC?

Some people get the impression that there is some kind of either/or when it comes to SEO and PPC. If the latter is a shortcut that gives you a leg-up into the top results, then what is the point of bothering with organic SEO?

The answer might be obvious to most, in that the pay-per-click leg-up provides a great shot in the arm, but you still need SEO for a sustained, long-term digital marketing strategy that enhances your reputation, your conversions and your overall sustainability.

Less clear, perhaps, is when the question is turned on its head. If organic SEO is working well, then why bother with PPC? The point here is that like it or not, the top four results from most search engines are reserved for paid ads.

The long and short of it is that your best chance of winning more clicks is by holding a prominent position in both the organic and the paid listings.

More Data Means Better SEO

Organic SEO and PPC each provide separate and unique data streams, and more data means better information to enhance conversion rates, leading to more sales and better profits.

This can also generate a virtuous circle within the digital marketing campaign itself. The more data you have, the better you can analyse your keywords, and the faster you can enhance and optimise your PPC ads, leading to better return on investment from your PPC as well as better results.

But it does not just enhance the PPC aspects. By assessing the overall conversion rates of the PPC campaigns, you can also steer the overarching SEO strategy in the most profitable direction, thereby optimising the whole organic approach.

What Businesses Can Make Use of PPC?

In short, all businesses can. We recently saw how the government used PPC to share their manifesto with people asking questions such as “what is dementia tax?”. Charities can also utilise PPC, in fact, some charities are eligible to receive a free spend with Google’s Ad Grants service of up to $10,000 a month.

While AdWords can work for all businesses, it can be very challenging for those operating in a very competitive niche. As with any other type of advertising, the key is ensuring that ad spends never eats into the profit margin, at least, not in a long-term advertising strategy. Some companies do operate AdWords, and other PPC services, at a loss, so they can corner the market. If you can place your business at the top of the paid search results during an exceptionally busy period, or better still, when a totally new product launches, many people will see your brand first and may some to associate your business with the new product.

This is especially true in retail. For instance, the latest kids craze is fidget spinners. Stores such as The Works have positioned themselves as leading suppliers of fidget spinners organically, but other companies have been targeting the keywords to generate more interest. One such company is YPB Print Solutions that offer branded fidget spinners via the paid shopping results in Google Search.

Not Only Google AdWords

Although we started talking about getting to the top if Google with PPC, it is important to mention that there are other very effective PPC platforms out there. Social media ads are a highly targeted means of using PPC to further improve traffic, with positive benefits feeding back into your overall SEO effort and enhancing your ROI.

This is because the advertising platforms on sites like Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn serve up targeted ads to increasingly specific demographics. The data collected from these campaigns provide valuable information to inform and steer your overall SEO strategy, maintaining consistency across all channels.

Google AdWords is not the only PPC platform to invest some time and budget on. While Google AdWords is an excellent way to target users who are searching for terms relating to your business or product range, Facebook is by far the most effective way to target specific demographics and geolocations.

Facebook offers a wide range of advertising options, from simply promoting your Facebook business page to promoting individual posts that link direct to your products and services.

The great thing about Facebook is that people tend to be there when they are not specifically searching for a product or service, which means unlike Google, you do not have just one chance to hook them – you can keep your ads running, targeting a specific market, knowing that they will eventually see your ads, and you will only pay when it is clicked.

Some campaigns can work very well on Facebook. For example, if you provide a service that helps individuals at specific times, such as a tax return filing service, you can run ads in the weeks before the deadline, knowing that some small business owners will have been procrastinating for months and will now be in a panic, wondering how on earth they will file their return before the HMRC deadline. Other services include advertising floral deliveries just before Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, or advertising previews of the next mobile phone to be launched, and then inviting people to sign up to a newsletter to get instant alert when the phone becomes available.

Another platform that is growing in popularity is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the biggest and most powerful B2B platform, and allows you to reach a very specific business audience. For instance, you can target people by job title and qualifications, which is very useful if you are either advertising for a new position within your company, or marketing to a specific set of individuals. For example, people who offer web publishing services may run ads to attract content managers, SEO consultants and PR officers. Timing is still key – if you advertise your services at the end of the month when people are struggling to complete all their tasks before month-end, you can strike gold and win a new client that will keep coming back for years to come.

PPC is SEO

The best SEO campaign will make smart use of PPC, but only as one of a whole range of tools that all blend to provide a strategy based on continuous improvement and optimised return on investment. When done well, your PPC campaign can generate more organic traffic by increasing brand awareness. This is really true of all types of marketing – while you may be promoting a specific product or service, always be sure to push your brand out there too, that way, when they next generation of products are launched, people will remember your website and may bypass Google search completely.


16
Jun

The Best Online Tools for Digital Marketing Agencies

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tools for seo agenciesSince Freelance SEO Essex took its first baby steps five years ago, we have tried and tested just about every online tool that has promised to streamline our workflows and improve productivity.

Some of these tools are specifically for digital marketing, while others provide invaluable support for all business types. So, whether you’re just starting out, or have been running your own business for a few years and now feel swamped and stressed with all the chaos around you, April is a good month to get organised and cut out that workplace stress! In no particular order, here are some of the online tools that we’ve stumbled across through the years that can bring extra value to your operations. Many of these can provide excellent cost savings and can help you enhance the way you do business.

SEO Tools

The SEO tool industry is huge and you can easily blow your annual software budget on SEO tools alone. Over the years, we have ditched a fair few tools that failed to show adequate time-management hacks. These are the ones that survived:

SEMRush

SEMRush provides a wealth of digital marketing data about any website. You can quickly see if a website is performing well either in organic search or paid search. You can use this tool to quickly assess the health of websites and set out a preliminary optimisation plan.

So, what is best about SEMRush? We utilise many of the SEMRush reports to help develop a strategic content plan that is tailored specifically for each of our clients. By using SEMRush to both analyse the health of a website and to better understand what competitors are ranking for, and how they’re achieving this, we can create a strategy to deliver exceptional search results to our clients at a very competitive price. Some agencies use template SEO strategies which mean that each client receives a near identical package. As these packages are not designed to achieve specific goals, they often fail to deliver.

SEMRush provides data from two broad areas of search engine marketing: organic search and paid search. By examining where competitors are spending their ad money we can determine which keywords are mostly likely to be provide the best ROI, which means we waste no time in supercharging our client campaigns. The organic data shows us where the market really is, so rather than chasing a range obscure keyword phrases we can focus on the ones that are being used most often. Keyword research still forms a vital part of all our SEO strategies.

Majestic

The importance of links has declined in recent years, but they are still a vital part of the search engine ecosystem. Majestic is the best tool for gathering and analysing any website’s backlink data. When we speak to a new client, this is one of the first tools we fire up, as it will tell us how active they have already been with regards to their online marketing.

Majestic serves two main purposes really. First, is allows us to take a look at the backlink profile of competitor websites. This allows us to quickly discover gaps in our clients’ link building strategies. Often a client will overlook vitally important trade organisations and business directories where they can showcase their business to their target market. Long gone are the days when an SEO could just create thousands of random links to rank a website well – today it is all about developing an authoritative and relevant backlink profile.

The other use for Majestic is to analyse our client’s current link health. Since the development of the Penguin algorithm, which is now more than five years old, we have had to take a far more cautious approach to any link building that we do. Also, sometimes we need to remove toxic links from our clients’ link profile, if we feel that they have received an algorithmic link penalty.

Majestic also shows us the anchor text used in links, and this can also help to mitigate link building risk. We know that websites that focus too heavily on a narrow set of high traffic keywords are far more likely to receive a Google penalty than those which build a wide range of links with more natural language. If we see that a client has already built too many links with the same anchor, we’ll advise them to revise their keyword strategy urgently.

SEOBook Toolbar

SEOBook is one of the original SEO toolbars, and still our favourite. We pretty much run Firefox on all PCs in the office purely because the SEOBook toolbar works so well on it. We use this tool for general domain research, as it will quickly show information on link strength, meta data, whois info, keyword research and a whole host of other tools. Traditionally, it was largely used for TBPR (Google’s toolbar pagerank) but that has long been abandoned by Google. The SEMRush data it provides is, however, a very useful way to get some quick insights into the quality of a website without having to run reports.

Communication Tools

Communication is the key to success in any business, and these tools will be familiar to most of you already. For email, MS Outlook and Gmail, are great – both of these provide cloud based email access so colleagues can work from any location. Gmail is mostly used when collaborating on Google Sheets and Docs.

However, a comprehensive digital marketing strategy must include a wider array of tools, which is why we also make good use of Facebook Messenger, Skype, SMS, and of course, the telephone! While computer based tools play an important role, you cannot beat the efficiency of a good old fashioned telephone.

MailChimp

MailChimp is the best tool for email marketing. It’s very user friendly and provides a selection of professional looking email templates, and is also free for the first 2500 email subscribers, so is perfect for small businesses that are just starting out.

After you have used a system like MailChimp, you’ll never look back. As well as making sending emails to large groups of subscribers an easy task, it also provides analysis tools that report click through rates, identify specific links clicked and also report when people unsubscribe or report a mail as spam. These tools are vital to ensure that you optimise your emails. Without such a tool, getting the perfect balance of high open rates and click-through rate with low unsubscribe rates is practically impossible.

HootSuite

Hootsuite is a social media management tool. From one online interface, it’s possible to publish across a wide range of social media platforms. It also allows you to schedule posts, monitor engagement, analyse traffic and follow trends. This is a great tool for managing multiple social media profiles.

What we really like most about Hootsuite is that it provides ways to automate some aspects of social media. Although manual updates are the preferred method, there are occasions when you want to be sure that site updates are automatically sent out to all social media accounts. Hootsuite can also be used as an alternative to using Twitter, as the visual streams allow you to better focus on your own marketing campaign rather than getting swamped by the irrelevant noise.

CRM and Workflows

Businesses will typically use Google Sheets and Excel to manage their daily workloads. Client database and workflow management can be more efficiently handled via Insightly. Insightly is another tool which is free for individuals and very reasonably priced for small teams. It allows tasks to be allocated to team members and updated, which ensures nothing is forgotten. It also provides a customer database, and all customers can be linked to assignments.

Money Management

Money – it is ultimately what makes or breaks every business! The key is to use great team of accountants and make use of online banking to process many payments, but you can also make use of PayPal for all international payments. BACS is fine for UK transactions, but when ordering digital services from overseas, PayPal is the easiest and safest method.

To help reduce the stress incurred on your accountants, perhaps you could use Quickbooks to manage invoicing, process receipts and business expenses, and for managing payroll and VAT? It has a handy mobile app that allows us to keep accounts updated from any location.

Google’s Webmaster Tools

No discussion on web SEO tools is complete without a mention of Google’s now extensive range of tools. As well as Search Console (previously called Webmaster Tools), Google also provides Analytics, PageSpeed Insights, Mobile Friendly testing tools, and the Keyword Planner (via AdWords). Another mention must go to Google Chrome’s Incognito mode, which is invaluable at quickly looking at search results in a “fresh” browser – due to personalisation, it can be difficult to know where others see a website ranking – this tool largely solves this problem, although there are still some issues with geolocation data clouding the results.

The technology that supports small business is evolving rapidly and it is likely that if you ask any company in another five years what products they are using, many of these tools listed here will be replaced. The most resilient products are often the simplest, so the likes of Outlook and spreadsheets will probably be with us for decades to come, but all the other tools are subject to change over time.

When choosing tools for your own business, always make use of the free trials on offer and test as many as possible before settling on a few that will enhance your business the most. So long as you only pay for tools that pay for themselves, your business will be healthier, and you will feel far less stretched!

The technology that supports small business is evolving rapidly and it is likely that if you ask any company in another five years what products they are using, many of these tools listed here will be replaced. The most resilient products are often the simplest, so the likes of Outlook and spreadsheets will probably be with us for decades to come, but all the other tools are subject to change over time.

When choosing tools for your own business, always make use of the free trials on offer and test as many as possible before settling on a few that will enhance your business the most. So long as you only pay for tools that pay for themselves, your business will be healthier, and you will feel far less stretched!


16
Jun

The Real Reason Your SEO Is Failing

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is your SEO in freefall?Why Does Some SEO Fail to Deliver and What Can You Do About it?

SEO has manifold benefits but is also fraught with potential pitfalls. How can you leverage all the gain without the pain?

If you have spent any amount of time researching digital marketing, you will know the benefits that a good SEO campaign can bring. Higher rankings on the search engines, more traffic to your site, increased conversion rates and better brand awareness all spell improvements to the bottom line and profit margins.

So it might come as something of a shock if you have dived into an SEO campaign full of enthusiasm and achieved nothing except a depleted budget and some expectant looks from the Chief Executive.

Here we share the main causes that lead to a campaign letting you down, and how you can avoid the elephant traps before it is too late.

Don’t Be Impatient

The first piece of advice is to remember the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Don’t panic! How long have you given it to decide that it is not working? SEO experts will tell you that you should start to see tangible results to organic methods in 4-6 months. And that is just the start.

The solution? Manage expectations. Any reputable SEO consultant will be open and realistic with you, and you need to ensure the same level of transparency is passed up the chain of command.

The Site Must Be Right

Site architecture is critical for success, in particular if you are running an e-commerce store. If your website is anything less than easy and intuitive to navigate, then you will always be fighting an uphill battle.

As a general rule, every page should at most be three clicks away from your homepage, and ideally fewer.

If you think this might be a problem for you, it is really time to sit down with your web designer and get it fixed. Try to look at it from the visitor’s perspective, and also, don’t be afraid to take a peep at what your competitors are doing.

Remember The Power of Social Media

Today, an estimated 2.3 billion people use social media. That’s over 30% of the world’s population. Put bluntly, you would have to be mad to ignore the power of social media as part of your SEO campaign.

Social media engagement brings unprecedented visibility and engagement with your audience. It is also great for increasing traffic and getting people talking about your product or service, all of which can have a big impact on your SEO.

The solution is simple – make sure you have a presence on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and ensure that you have a formal, documented process for keeping them on-brand and current.

Improve Your Content to be Contented

The cornerstone to every part of your digital marketing strategy is your content. It needs to be unique, relevant, interesting and sufficiently in-depth to satisfy both your visitors and the search bots.

If you have not done so, carry out a content audit as soon as possible. Weed out any duplicate content, as it can confuse the search bots and make sure that what you have is detailed, relevant and not just there for the sake of it, to avoid falling foul of Google’s infamous panda algorithm. Get in touch today to get your SEO campaign back on track.


23
May

Government Uses PPC Advertising For Reputation Management

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We are just over two weeks away from the general election, and for the first time the polls suggest that the Tories have lost ground, while labour gained. The main reason for this appears to be the huge amount of negative press regarding the so-called “dementia tax”.

The latest conservative manifesto has including a section on how social care for the elderly will be funded. The new social care plan will see older people having to finance their own care, and it has largely been interpreted that this will involve requiring people to sell their homes to pay for care when they can no longer look after themselves. Only £100,000 from the equity of a property would be protected to pass on as inheritance, meaning that children could lose most of their inheritance if a parent falls seriously ill. This is creating more anguish for elderly parents who are already worried that their hard-earned wealth will all but vanish by the time their children can inherit.

PPC Campaign To The Rescue

Because of the overwhelming amount of negative press, the Conservatives made the decision to use Google AdWords to promote their own website whenever people searched for “dementia tax”. On Monday 22 May, searching for dementia tax shows the following result at the top of the search results, before the news carousel, with the title “The So-Called Dementia Tax – Are You Getting The Truth?”:

dementia tax ppc ad 2

Reputation Management Or Desperation?

Reputation management is a vital part of any business today on the Internet. No person or business is immune from the occasional negative story, and the problem with such stories is that they tend to linger around for years following the event. However, in this case, it is more a case of PPC for firefighting than reputation management.

This is not the first time that the Conservatives have used PPC to steer people away from the negative press and towards their own carefully crafted campaign stories. SEMrush reveals that they also recently bid on “free school meals“, after their announcement to abolish the policy created during the coalition with the Liberal Democrats, which provides free school meals to all infant school children.

conservatiives semrush ppc

 

Stealing Labour’s Thunder?

What is most revealing about the decision to bid on the “dementia tax” keywords, is that it was Labour who coined the phrase. The Tory digital marketing team is literally taking the oppositions campaign slogans and using them against them. This is a cunning piece of digital marketing, which will largely go unnoticed by the electorate – the Conservatives have always called this policy their “Social Care Plans”, and they are not bidding on these keywords:

social care plans search

This is the first time that we have seen UK political parties using Google PPC to drive readers to their own propaganda, and away from the mainstream media, for terms that have been coined by the opposing parties.

Dementia Tax U-Turn

Due to an unprecedented level of criticism from the media, including publications that traditionally support right wing policies, Theresa May decided late on Monday 22 May to ditch the manifesto plan in what has already been called a dementia tax U-turn.  Sir David Butler, a social scientist and psephologist has been studying general elections since the 1940’s, and also co-developed the swingometer, said: “In the 20 general elections I’ve followed, I can’t remember a U-turn on this scale.”

Can some strategic PPC management save the Tories from their disastrous social care plans and subsequent U-turn? We’ll know the answer in a couple of weeks.


19
May

A great night was had by all at the Essex Digital Awards 2017

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Last night, our team attended the Essex Digital Awards 2017, which took place at Boreham House, Chelmsford.

We were billed as Associate Sponsors for the fourth year running, and were lucky enough to rub shoulders with a whole host of other fantastic supporters, including Headline Sponsors Nimbus Hosting, Essex Chambers of Commerce, Heart Essex, Superfast Essex, The Employment and Skills Board, Barclays and the Essex Chronicle. Voice Communications also joined us for the event. freelance seo essex at eda17

After taking part in a brief Facebook Live session, Director Danielle took to the stage to present the award for Best Blog for Business, handing over Bronze to Fireplace Products, Silver to Darkworld Gaming, and Gold to local copywriting specialists Creative Quills.

The full list of winners can be found here.

The atmosphere was truly buzzing and the huge amount of digital talent in our county never ceases to amaze us!

To lend more support to our local businesses, Freelance SEO Essex is offering a free SEO consultation to all those nominated for an Award in 2017. For more information, or to book a meeting, please contact us directly.


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