Search Engine Optimization or Content Marketing?

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It is a rare chart that tells a whole, comprehensible story.  I don’t have such a chart for you but I do have a chart that tells, in my opinion, an interesting story about how ignorance breeds change and growth.  This is a story that has played itself out thousands of times over since civilization first began, and maybe for the past few hundred thousand years.  Someone invents a perfectly good process but before it can become standardized someone else invents the process again and calls it by a different name.  What most of you call “content marketing” is just another form of “search engine optimization” and it was only your collective shame that buried this expression.  You were ashamed of all the penalties and downgrades and algorithmic surprises that your past methods and strategies led to, so you rebranded everything (including yourselves) as “digital marketers”, “content strategists”, “social media managers”, etc.

It’s all still search engine optimization.  You’re optimizing for image search on Pinterest, soundbite search on Twitter, share search on Facebook, content search on Google, etc.  You never stepped away from SEO; you simply started optimizing for different kinds of search.  But in doing so you invented phrases and names and descriptions that made it sound like you have moved on.  And those rebranding efforts have paid off dramatically as this chart illustrates.

No, this is not another “SEO is dead” argument.  As long as we have something to search with and to search for we will be optimizing for search.  SEO won’t die until search dies.

I want to share two older articles here that I have updated.  You’ll find they are still quite relevant to what many of you are doing even after nearly 10 years.  This is not what I call “10 year SEO”.  This is what I call “SEO fundamentals”.  This stuff never changes.  Ever.  And those of you who keep saying that SEO has changed in the past few years need to learn the truth about what search engine optimization really is.

It’s not your latest bag of tricks and trendy SEO blog posts and conference presentations.  Optimization gives the best performance possible.  If you don’t know how to use the fundamentals to keep a Website going for ten years you’re not ready to evolve away from SEO.  You still have much to learn.  Hiding it behind new buzz expressions won’t change a thing.

We’ll begin with basic link theory because people tend to forget that “social media platforms” are Websites.  The Social Media Web has its own rules for search which boil down to:

In “Four Sources of Links” I described very high-level categories for linking that are still valid today.  Most Web marketers who have convinced themselves that subfolders are more important for SEO than subdomains missed point number 1.What always mattered, and all that ever mattered, was how you linked to your blogs.  And in every case I have investigated, including Salesforce’s blog (which my friend Todd Friesen recently used to support subfolders over subdomains), the culprit behind poor performance was not the subdomain but the lack of navigational support for the subdomain compared to the navigational support for the subfolder.

If you want more links you need more visibility, but visibility drives (brand value) search.  How do you create visibility without forging link relationships all over the spammy Web?  I shared several suggestions in “How to Use Search to Build Visibility”.  Unfortunately, some people took away the wrong message.  I didn’t mean for you to flood these channels with worthless “content marketing” in order to create links.  You don’t need a link to create visibility.  You do need a message that is on target and which makes clear reference (with or without the link) to what you want people to find.

Four Sources of Links

Originally published in March 2007.

Everyone wants links. In today’s search environment, the key to linking success begins with understanding where links come from, how you get them, how you use them, and why you really need them.

There are four sources of links (in descending order of importance):

  1. Your internal navigational links
  2. The links you give yourself from other sites
  3. The links you ask other sites to give you
  4. The links other sites choose to give you


Internal navigational links outweigh all other links for several reasons. They are the first expression of trust in a complex system where trust has always been valued to one degree or another. It’s hard for a search engine to rationalize calling your root URL a spam page if 1,000 other well-linked pages on the same host all link to it.

Internal navigation links also ensure that your pages are found, if they are done properly. The more links you point at your internal pages, the more easily those pages will be found, crawled, and indexed. Not that links guarantee indexing — for they don’t — but if everything else is in order, then all that stands between your brand new page and ranking well in search results is the absence of inbound linkage.

Internal navigation links also help you boost page relevance through anchor text. It’s unfortunate that search engines such as Google stubbornly cling to the practice of allowing links to pass anchor text. Doing so in no way improves their search results and in fact reduces the quality of their search results because it induces people to be deceptive. Still, without being deceptive you can point instructive anchor text from one internal page to another to improve relevance.

You have complete control over your internal links. They give you total flexibility. You get more power from your own links than from any other source of links.  (2016 Lesson: Screwing over your subdomain through poor internal navigation is bad SEO.)


Links you give yourself from other sites include all the classic spam links: forum signatures, blog comment links, guest book links, free-for-all page links, profile links, etc. They also include links embedded in biographical tag lines for press releases and free distribution articles. The inevitable rush among Webmasters to exploit these types of links has rendered most of them pretty much useless for passing anchor text although they may help promote your visibility and send you traffic.

There are other links you can give yourself as well. Social media taggers have already begun exploiting some of those types of links. So have classified ad spammers. Generally speaking, if someone out there is letting you create content on their Web site for free, SEOs and spammers are abusing the privilege in the insane pursuit of (now usually worthless) links.

If you want these types of links to pass value, you need to build value in them. It actually requires less effort but more patience to build value in external links than it does to generate hundreds or thousands of spam links, most of which won’t help you. You build value in linking sources by telling people about them. Link to those pages, or only use pages that many other people link to. But intruding or dropping links doesn’t build value. Instead, it destroys value.  (2016 Lesson: The rush to build links in every corner of the Web destroyed the positive impression people once had for SEO.)


Links you ask other sites to give you are the most sought-after links, even though they tend to be less important than the first two types of links. These kinds of links include traditional reciprocal links, paid links, free directory links, etc. In general, these types of links are easily organized on a large scale. They lend themselves to categorization because people who are open to link requests usually receive many and therefore need to handle those requests as efficiently as possible.

These linking methods still work to some degree, but their return on investment has declined considerably for the same reasons that links you give yourself have lost value: the search engines do their best to filter out their value.

Another type of links you ask people to give you are the (presently) highly coveted baited links, the so-called “natural” links people give you for creating great content. If you create good link bait you’ll realize a spike in traffic and a surge in unrequited links. The problem with link baiting is that it doesn’t offer long-term value. You have to keep creating high-value content in order to keep the traffic/link spikes rolling. As soon as you rest on your laurels, your high traffic/link days are over.

And just because you baited yourself into drawing 400,000 links doesn’t mean you will dominate every search going forward. While having lots of “link juice” is always good to have, if you don’t assert relevance with your new copy, your new copy won’t rank for anything useful regardless of whether it enjoys lots of link love.

In other words: PageRank is not nearly as important for search engine rankings as SEOs tend to believe. It never has been.  (2016 Lesson: Now many of you believe Google has devalued links in its algorithms.  You’re wrong.  It devalued the links in YOUR algorithms.)


The links other sites choose to give you tend to be weak because you really don’t have any influence over them. You don’t decide where they point to, what anchor text they use, or where they are placed. Now, I’m not saying you should turn your nose up at 1,000 truly organic links. If you’re not creating link bait and people still point links at your site over a long period of time, that’s a good thing.

Link bait goes for large numbers of links in a short period of time. That’s really not natural, not in the sense that a good Web page can accrue a handful of links every month for 5 or 6 years. Truly natural links don’t come because of all the pizzazz you formulaicly whipped up in your content. Truly natural links come because people share your passion with you and they discover your passionate content.

If you create link bait, the links you get are links you asked for. As soon as you create something for the sake of getting links, you leave the path of natural linking. That’s just the way it is.

Ultimately, the more control you exercise over links, the more they can help you, and hence the more powerful they are in terms of search engine optimization.  (2016 Lesson: This is why I have been equating “content marketing” with link building for years.)

In search engine optimization, links get your content crawled, help your earn trust so your content will rank for multiple relevant queries, and improve relevance through the anchor text they pass to their destinations. Some search engines may also look at link anchor text favorably for the source pages.

In Web marketing, links create visibility, build brand value, and pass traffic. You tend to get more value by practicing Web marketing than by practicing search engine optimization, if only because pursuing visibility and brand value creates a more stable presence. In search engine optimization, everything you do is subject to the whims of the search engines.

In all four categories, the best links are those which convey intrinisic value to a human observer. If you feel compelled to hide your links, there’s something wrong with your linking strategy. The more willing you are to let your visitors see your links, the more effective your links will be. If you cringe because you’re grudgingly linking openly to a Ring Tones site, you’re not very willing to let people see that link.

In other words, the more you cringe over your own links, the less valuable those links — and whatever pages they point to — truly are. And why are you wasting your time and energy on links you really don’t care about?

3 Surefire ways to fail at email marketing

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There are so many reasons why every company out there should be focusing their efforts on an email marketing strategy.

But before you can find success with email marketing you need to first build a solid list. There are right ways and wrong ways to building your email marketing list. If you build your list the wrong way you not only open yourself to legal issues, but you will also severely decrease your chances for success. If you build it the right way you will see higher open rates, higher click through rates, higher conversions, higher customer loyalty, lower spam reporting and lower unsubscribe rates.

Let’s explore three ways you should NOT build a list.

Do not add everyone you are connected to on various social networks to your email list.

There is a fairly heated debate going around on this one. I have heard there are people who have recommended others go out and export their entire LinkedIn connect list and add those people to their email list. I am adamantly against this. It’s one thing to send a LinkedIn message to a couple of people, it is an entirely different things to download your whole list just to add those people to your email database. Not only will you immediately hurt your reputation by doing this, you risk getting marked as spam which puts you at risk for getting in some BIG trouble with the FCC (the organization that oversees the Can Spam Laws in the US)

Do not add everyone who gives you a business card to your email list.

This is a personal pet peeve of mine. I network a TON. I am often times added without my permission to marketing email list. I can’t tell you how many pampered chef, REALTORS and mortgage folks email me who I can’t even remember meeting. Do not go around collecting business cards to grow your email list. This is a lose lose strategy.

And now for the worst offender: The purchasing of email list.

This is a waste of money that would be better spent on marketing or creating campaigns that will help you build an email list of people who actually want to get your emails. It’s not technically illegal, but many ESPs—including Constant Contact, Mailchimp and Emma—prohibit sending to purchased lists. Unless you want to have a HUGE amount of people annoyed with your company and marketing you as spam, avoid this strategy by all cost.

Why are Web Analytics so important for a website

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A strong online presence can be the key to a business’s growth with increased exposure and better communication with potential and current customers alike, but what is the point of a fancy website and lots of online activity without a carefully thought out strategy? How can you develop strategy without accurate and up-to-date analysis? This is where web analytics come in.

With great free tools such as Google Analytics there is every reason that any business no matter the size shouldn’t be using some form of web analytics program to measure the success of their digital strategy.

But to those new to Analytics the whole thing may be a bit daunting but by using Web Analytics correctly the tools will allow you to go MAD! Yes there are 3 key things a solid understanding of Analytics allows you to do as a marketer/business; Measure, Adapt and Develop.


When it comes to measuring website activity it is easy to just look at traffic numbers as we did back in the old days of the internet with the classic page counter (for those who remember the old days of the World Wide Web) but with analytics you are able to measure success in the same way you would any campaign or project with set target driven goals.
Granted visitor numbers are still key, the more traffic you have the more chance you have achieving your desired goal, much in the same way you would with high level foot traffic in a face to face scenario but when creating a goal you are able to think about what you want your website to achieve. Are you targeting a specific landing page? Do you want your visitors to find their way to a bookings page, online store, specific content or an enquiry page?
You can set specific goals that allow you to measure these targets vs. the visitor numbers heading to the site in general and therefore measure the success of online campaigns as well as the site in general.


Once you have the goals in place and you are accurately measuring your sites failings and successes you have the information you need to help improve the site in small ways by adapting what you currently have to improve the site and help you to achieve those goals you have set for the site.
Firstly you can look at the flow of your site. Where are your visitors landing, Where are they going and Where are they leaving? Once you look at these elements you are able to understand how people use your website and answer the most important question of all are those visitors getting to where you want them to be? Are you achieving your goals?
If the answers to those final questions are either no or yes but we could be doing more the flow will help you to determine where you can place Calls to Action targeting key traffic heavy pages to guide the flow towards those target pages.
You can also use your analytic data to adapt to new technologies by seeing what devices your visitors are visiting your site from. Do you need to look at developing a mobile or reactive site due to the about of mobile/tablet visits you are getting? Is your site speed slower on certain browsers? The answers to those questions are available and will help you create a more successful and better web experience for your visitors.


Using analytics will allow you as a business to develop an effective digital strategy and also add new elements to your overall marketing/business strategy in to the future.
There are certain bits of analytical data which you can build in to your online strategy the first of which should be your sites referrals, in layman’s terms your websites friends; the ones sending traffic to your website. This information looks at where your guests come from outside of your SEO, this allows you to assess your social media impact on your site as well as that of blogs and external partners who are directing visitors to your site. When you have that information you can decide to build stronger links with external partners, include call to action links on social media or measure online advertising campaigns for success in achieving your goals helping you to gauge a ROI on those campaigns.
You can also develop a content strategy based on those pages that are proving popular on your site. With popular content you can look at creating more of this content across your site to help generate more traffic, building calls to action inside the popular content to direct visitors to your goals or even turning your popular content in to a potential revenue stream or data capture goldmine.
The analytical data can also yield some interesting geographical demographic information on your site visitors which could in turn affect your overall marketing strategy. Analytical systems can tell you which regions and cities/towns your visitors are visiting from which opens up new questions and possibilities for your business. Could you appeal more to these regions with regional specific content or could you even look at opening a new location for your business in these cities as there appears to be a possible market?
With developing your online and marketing strategies analytics does help you discover possibilities you may not have thought about without the information at your finger tips which is always a great way to help your business grow and develop in to the future.
So there you have it the some key ways your business can measure, adapt and develop with the help of web analytics.

10 Things Every Small Business Website Needs

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If you want a website that not only looks great but is also capable of generating new leads for your business, make sure your site has all of the following ten traits:

An Easy to Remember URL

You don’t want multiple dashes or numbers in your website URL. Instead, it’s important to have a simple address. Since you will say it over the phone and may put it on marketing materials like posters or even billboards, you want something that can be typed in without any issues. Ensuring your address is easy to remember is also why it’s best to stick with .com, .net, or in some cases, .org.

Clear Navigation

When it comes to navigation, simplicity is always best. You want to be sure that regardless of where someone is on your site, they’re only a single click away from your main pages.

A Clear Explanation of You and Your Business

People should know exactly what you and your business are about within a few seconds of finding their way to your site. Failing to include this information can cause visitors to lose trust and hit the back button.

Prominent Contact Information

When it comes to perfect website design for a business, your contact information needs to be readily displayed. Even if you’re hesitant to include a phone number, doing so will help inspire trust among visitors. That’s true even if they never call you.

Real Testimonials

Continuing the theme of ensuring that visitors to your site trust your business, you should have real testimonials that customers have sent you. If possible, include people’s pictures next to their testimonials. Another option is to link to their social media profiles.

Use Quality Pictures and Subheadings

Since online readers like to scan, be sure to break up any big chunks of text on your site by utilizing relevant images and informative subheadings.

Tell Visitors What You Want Them to Do

In order to convert visitors into actual leads, you need to tell them what they should do. So whether that’s submitting a contact form or giving you a call, be sure your site makes that desired action crystal clear.

Regularly Add Content

Whether it’s news updates about your business or informative blog posts, regularly adding new content will help you engage visitors and bring in more search engine traffic.

Take Advantage of Google Webmaster Tools for SEO

The best way to ensure your site is accessible and doesn’t have any SEO issues is to sign up for a free Google Webmaster Tools account. This will provide you with reports, as well as alert you to any issues that need to be addressed.

A Reliable Host

If your site is down, it’s not going to help your business. That’s why it’s vital to carefully research your options before committing to a specific host.

The power of branding

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What is branding?


If a brand results from a set of associations and perceptions in people’s minds, then branding is an attempt to harness, generate, influence and control these associations to help the business perform better. Any organisation can benefit enormously by creating a brand that presents the company as distinctive, trusted, exciting, reliable or whichever attributes are appropriate to that business.

While absolute control over a brand is not possible due to outside influences, intelligent use of design, advertising, marketing, service proposition, corporate culture and so on can all really help to generate associations in people’s minds that will benefit the organisation. In different industry sectors the audiences, competitors, delivery and service aspects of branding may differ, but the basic principle of being clear about what you stand for always applies.


How brands are changing


In the last few years the digital communications revolution has completely transformed this balance of control. The consumer’s voice has become louder and much more public. Consumers can publish their experience of a brand and compare it with the experience of others. The ability of a brand to respond to this can have a profound affect on the way they are perceived. It’s also affecting the types of brand that achieve prominence. There is even a thriving market in brands whose primary strategy is to champion the consumer’s voice, Tripadvisor is one of the most famous (or infamous depending on your point of view) of these.

For example Coca-cola. After 13 years of dominance in 2013 they were knocked off the top spot in Interbrand’s influential listing of the leading 100 global brands. The two brands that overtook it were indicative of the way the world has changed. At number one was Apple, and at number two – Google. Both companies rooted in technological innovation, but perhaps more importantly both brands that are focussed on providing a products and services, that make people’s lives easier.

Apple’s transformation from a computer manufacturer to a media giant didn’t happen just because of the introduction of the iPod and iPhone. It happened because they developed revolutionary new services around those products – iTunes and the App Store. They thought very hard about their customer and what would make their life easier. Whilst Google has started to develop hardware products its brand is rooted in its incredibly popular search service.

Both those brands are resolutely customer-focussed, and great branding and responsive behaviour allowed them to build the right kinds of connections with the their customers to thrive. Although eclipsed by the two technology giants on that particular chart, Coke too continues to use its brand clout to create the closer connections with people that today’s communications landscape demands. A great example of that is the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign they launched in the Summer of 2013, allowing people to buy a bottle of Coke with their name on.


Why do you need a brand?


Branding can help you stand out from your competitors, add value to your offer and engage with your customers.

Creating difference
Branding is a way of clearly highlighting what makes your offer different to, and more desirable than, anyone else’s. Effective branding elevates a product or organisation from being just one commodity amongst many identical commodities, to become something with a unique character and promise. It can create an emotional resonance in the minds of consumers who choose products and services using both emotional and pragmatic judgements.

Rachel’s Organic Butter, for example, chose black for its packaging design so it would stand out from the typical yellow, gold and green colours (representing sunshine and fields) used by competitor products. The result is that the brand appears more premium, distinctive and perhaps even more daring than its competitors.


Adding value

People are generally willing to pay more for a branded product than they are for something which is largely unbranded. And a brand can be extended through a whole range of offers too.

Tesco, for example, began life as an economy supermarket and now sells a wide range of products, from furniture to insurance. But a consistent application of the Tesco brand attributes, such as ease of access and low price, has allowed the business to move into new market sectors without changing its core brand identity.

This obviously adds value to the business, but consumers also see added value in the new services thanks to their existing associations with the Tesco brand. Of course, this can work in reverse too: if consumers don’t like the Tesco brand in one product area, they’re less likely to choose the company’s offer in another product area.


Connecting with people

Creating a connection with people is important for all organisations and a brand can embody attributes which consumers will feel drawn to.

Apple’s original launch of the iPod, for example, catapulted the company from computer business to mass-market entertainment brand, with iPod marketing drawing heavily on people’s emotional relationship with their music.

By moving into music and film, Apple redefined what the company did and shifted its brand association to something that connects with larger numbers of people outside computing or creative community. They continued this shift with introduction of the iPhone, iPad and App Store bringing portable computing and its software into mainstream consumer culture. In doing so the brand has become more and more entwined on the lives of consumers making it incredibly powerful.


The key ingredients of any brand

In this section we outline the four cornerstones of any good brand using examples from the business world.


Defining your brand

If you’re thinking about how to rebrand your business, its products or services, or if you want to assess where your brand stands at present, there are a few key aspects you should consider:

The big idea – what lies at the heart of your company?Values – what do you believe in?Vision – where are you going?Personality – how do you want to come across?
If you can start to answer these questions with clarity and consistency then you have the basis for developing a strong brand.


Let’s take each of these in turn.

The big idea

The big idea is perhaps a catch-all for your company or service. It should encapsulate what makes you different, what you offer, why you’re doing it and how you’re going to present it. The other ingredients are slightly more specific, but they should all feed from the big idea.

The big idea is also a uniting concept that can hold together an otherwise disparate set of activities. Ideally, it will inform everything you do, big or small, including customer service, advertising, a website order form, staff uniforms, corporate identity, perhaps right down to your answer machine message.

To pin down your own big idea you will need to look very carefully at your own business and the marketplace around you, asking these types of questions:

How can you stand out?What is your offer?What makes you different?What is your ‘personality’?What do consumers want or need?Is there a gap in the market?
To aid this process it’s usually very helpful to get an outside perspective on things too, so consider working with a management consultant, business development consultant or design consultancy.

Once decided, the articulation of these ideas can be put into action through branding techniques such as design, advertising, events, partnerships, staff training and so on. It is these activities that set up the consumer’s understanding and expectation of your company; in other words, its brand. And once you’ve set up this brand ‘promise’, the most important thing is to ensure that your products and services consistently deliver on it.

IKEA: the big idea
IKEA is good example of a company with a big idea. Its brand is based around the notion that good design is for everyone, not just design snobs. Past campaigns have urged us to ‘chuck out the chintz’ and fit out our homes with well-designed furniture and products at affordable prices.

Their branding plays on this central idea of the democratisation of design. In the last few years they have created advertisements featuring house parties in IKEA homes, campaigns where customers could appear on the front cover of their own IKEA catalogue and in 2013 they demonstrated their commitment to providing design for everywhere even the smallest spaces with the smallest IKEA store in the world.

In stores, products are given individual names and customers stack up their trolleys from the warehouse themselves (saving IKEA money in the meantime). This is all in keeping with the idea that you don’t need specialist, privileged knowledge to go out and buy good design.



Generating a vision for your company means thinking about the future, where you want to be, looking at ways to challenge the market or transform a sector. A vision may be grand and large-scale, or may be as simple as offering an existing product in a completely new way, or even changing the emphasis of your business from one core area to another.

Although corporate visions and mission statements can often appear to be little more than a hollow dictums from top management, a well-considered vision can help you to structure some of the more practical issues of putting a development strategy into action. If you’re clear on what you’re aiming at, it’s obviously easier to put the structures in place to get there.


Like the word brand itself, the term brand values is perhaps a little over-used in design and marketing circles, but it does relate to important aspects of how people see your organisation. It’s what you stand for and it can be communicated either explicitly or implicitly in what you do. But imbuing your company’s brand with a set of values is tricky for a number of reasons.

Firstly, everybody wants the same kinds of values to be associated with their business. A survey by The Research Business International (now part of Synovate) found that most companies share the same ten values, namely: quality, openness, innovation, individual responsibility, fairness, respect for the individual, empowerment, passion, flexibility, teamwork and pride.

Secondly, it’s not easy to communicate values: overt marketing may seem disingenuous, while not communicating your values in any way may result in people not seeing what you stand for. And lastly, any values you portray have to be genuine and upheld in the way your organisation operates. Branding and design consultants can help you clarify what your organisation or business stands for and then they can develop ways for you to communicate that effectively. This might be through graphic design, language, advertising, staff training, the materials used in product manufacture and so on.

Branding and design consultants can help you clarify what your organisation or business stands for and then they can develop ways for you to communicate that effectively. This might be through graphic design, language, advertising, staff training, the materials used in product manufacture and so on.

Pret A Manger: values

Pret A Manger makes a big play of valuing fresh food and minimising wastage. So, all its food is made on location each morning (with no sell by dates) and any left over at the end of the day is given to homeless charities and shelters.

In this way the company has laid out a value and has followed it through with the way it runs its service.

Burberry: rediscovering values
Burberry is an example of a brand that for a while, lost it’s core values and was beginning to underperform.

Originally a luxury manufacturer of raincoats it had become near ubiquitous. The famous Burberry check was appearing on everything from dog leashes to t-shirts. Consistency of the brand had been lost, with customers around the world getting a different experience. In 2006 new CEO Angela Ahrendts brought luxury firmly back to the agenda, appointed a single creative director to oversee the brand worldwide and ruthlessly cut away the baggage that had begun to attach itself to the brand reducing the product line back to the luxury, high-end of the market. Coupled with a creative and considered use of new technology this has resulted in the revenue of the company rising from $1190 million in 2006 to over $3000 million in 2012.


Once you have established your ‘big idea’, vision and values, they can be communicated to consumers through a range of channels. The way you decide to present this communication – the tone, language and design, for example – can be said to be the personality of your company.

Personality traits could be efficient and businesslike, friendly and chatty, or perhaps humorous and irreverent, although they would obviously have to be appropriate to the type of product or service you are selling.

It need not have anything at all to do with the personalities of the people running the company; although it could, if you want to create a personality-driven company in the way that Richard Branson is very much the figurehead for Virgin.

And for smaller companies, the culture and style of the business can often reflect the founder, so its values and personality may be the same.

Here are a few examples of how you can start to control the elements of your company’s personality, conveying certain aspects to customers in different ways:

Graphic design: The visual identity – hard corporate identity or soft, friendly caricature?Tone of voice: Is the language you use (both spoken and written) formal or relaxed?Dialogue: Can your users or customers contribute ideas and get involved in the organisation? Or is it a one-way communication?Customer service: How are staff trained to communicate with customers? What level of customer service do you provide?
As companies grow, their personality and values are reflected more in internal culture and behaviour than through the characteristics of the founders. This personality then defines how the companies express their offer in the market.


Putting it all together

Using the key ingredients that we’ve outlined here – and bringing in consultants to help you define and implement them – will give you a solid understanding of your organisation’s brand, as well as strategies on how to present it to people.

Starting with the big idea, you can then go on to refine and set out your company’s vision, values and personality. And once these are all in place, you can think about hiring designers to turn your brand blueprint into tangible communications.


Brand management techniques

Once your encompassing brand ‘promise’ is in place, you need to consider how you will communicate it and then how you will manage and develop it over time.

When it comes to communicating your brand to the public, there are a few techniques and issues that are worth considering:


An established technique in branding a business is to tell its story through communication elements such as corporate identity, packaging, stationery, marketing materials and so on. This can be quite low key, but it paints a picture of the provenance of the company and its products.

Sheffield butcher John Crawshaw, for example, hand-picks the meat sold in his three shops, whilst most of his competitors have their meat delivered in vacuum packs from an abattoir.

So, to illustrate this aspect of his service – or brand offer – a logo showing a butcher carrying a carcass over his shoulder was designed for Crawshaw’s business.


The credibility of your brand’s offer must also be solid. For example, a Yorkshire drainage company called Naylor launched a range of lifetime-guaranteed flower pots, but the Naylor brand was inappropriate to market this range because it was associated too directly with the drainage side of the business. So the company set up a new brand called Yorkshire Flowerpots, with its own tone of voice, personality and visual identity so that it could sell the products with greater credibility.


A great deal of branding is about defining and presenting a point of differentiation in the sector you’re operating in. Get this right and your organisation will stand out brightly against your competitors.

Construction company Hilti provides an example of differentiation in a sector. Whilst most other construction companies use technical images of buildings and products in their communications, Hilti emphasised its relationship with the people involved in construction, showing black and white photographs of workers using Hilti tools, which are highlighted in the company’s corporate red.

Engaging with customers

Part and parcel of creating differentiation is engaging with your customers or users. If you stand out of the crowd for positive reasons and your tone of voice and communications are credible customers will look at what you’ve got to say.

When Orange launched in the mobile phone market in 1994, its identity, language and offer were very distinctive from its established rivals. It presented an optimistic vision of the future based on technology, but from a human rather than technical point of view. Its logo and name were abstract, creating stand out against BT Cellnet, T-Mobile and Vodafone, and its services were organised into simple talk plan packages.

For over a decade, this approach has remained more or less unchanged. For instance, the 2008 Orange campaign revolved around the slogan ‘I am who I am because of everyone’. Adverts featured a series of individuals (including recognised entrepreneurs, artists and writers) listing the people that have most influenced the course of their lives.

By appealing to everyone’s sense of individualism and focusing on the value of human interaction and communication rather than competitive price plans or the latest technology, Orange are able to extol the benefits of their service without ever having to mention mobile telephones.

Focusing your product portfolio

If you have a number of different products or services it may help to consider how you can streamline or organise them to make the offer easy for consumers to understand. Sometimes, the logic of internal company structures can dictate how a product offer is organised, but this does not necessarily make sense to an external customer. So think carefully about the best way to present what you do, even if it means setting things up differently from your internal organisation.

Rationalisation of products or services might also allow you to focus your investments more efficiently. After working with Design Council, household cleaning product manufacturer Challs shifted its focus to four key products, rather than the 92 it had previously been promoting.

Multiple brands and brand ‘stretch’

If your company operates in more than one sector you will have to consider how you present the business in each area. One approach, as illustrated by Virgin, EasyGroup and Tesco, is to have a single brand identity which is applied to sub-brands for the areas you operate in. So we have Virgin Money and Virgin Atlantic, Easy Pizza and Easy Cruise, Tesco Entertainment and Tesco Finance and so on.

Just how far you can ‘stretch’ your primary brand in this way depends on the core ideas, values and associations you have to start with. In some cases it may actually be more effective to develop a completely distinct brand for the different sectors you want to operate it, rather than stretch your existing brand to meet new markets. As mentioned above, for Naylor’s flower pot business it made more sense to set up a dedicated brand called Yorkshire Flowerpots than to associate it with the existing Naylor drainage business.

There have been some notable and high-profile failures when it comes to brand stretch. A natural cleaning vinegar launched by Heinz bombed as a product because people associate Heinz with food, not cleaning. Harley Davidson (over-)extended its range to include perfume. This failed because it was perceived as being at odds with the Harley Davidson brand values of masculinity and strength.

Endorsed brands

A slightly more sophisticated possibility is to set up ‘endorsed’ brands. This is where you create a new brand in its own right but allow the ‘parent’ brand of your main company to feature as an endorsement of the new brand. Playstation, for example, is a powerful brand in its own right, but it has always been endorsed as Sony Playstation, leveraging the reputation of Sony Corporation.

Reinvigorating your brand

Whatever sector your work in, keeping your communications fresh is essential. Using designers to help reassess your designs, language or identity every few years should be seen as an ongoing investment in your company rather than a costly extra.

All successful companies revisit their communications periodically, even the world’s most recognisable brands. But reinvigorating your brand doesn’t necessarily mean you have to start from the very beginning, reconsidering your big idea or vision and so on.

Take Coca-Cola for instance. They are constantly reviewing all aspects of their brand and refreshing them. In 2007 they commissioned design agency Turner Duckworth to produce a range of new packaging designs that would breathe new life into the cornerstones of Coke’s visual identity; the classic logo, the contour bottle and the use of red and white. In 2009 they launched a new strap line ‘Open Happiness’ and in 2013 they created personalised labels for their bottles.

If you’re happy with your company’s big idea, vision and personality, these things can remain the foundations of what you’re doing – but the implementation of your brand should be refreshed to keep things on track and ensure it remains relevant to your target audience.


Brand names are an important aspect in setting the tone and personality of your brand, as well as being a key element in marketing activity. Along with design and tone of voice, a name can be a means of differentiation and should reflect the overall brand strategy you’ve developed.

Choosing a name can be a difficult task in itself, but it’s made even harder because so many are already in use and trademarked. By sure to check carefully that any names you’re considering for a company, product or service aren’t already in use and protected by law.

On the whole, a name falls into one of a few types, which can be arranged along a kind of spectrum of attributes.


These attributes are:


Names which simply say what the company/brand does. For example:

Easyjet – makes flying easyToys ‘R’ Us – is all about toysAA (Automobile Association) – is for motorists
Names which suggest associations to the brand but do not try to describe the offer precisely. For example:

First Direct – first bank to offer instant telephone bankingInnocent – natural purity of the fruit juice
Names that break sector rules and stand out. They make no clear reference to the nature of the business. For example:

Google – quirky, accessible, positive and suggests curiosityAviva – an invented name than suggests dynamism and movementToast – suggests familiarity and warmth
In branding and brand management a lot of importance is placed on achieving consistency, so that the same attributes and characteristics are evident in all areas of the business’ operations. Essentially, ‘the big idea’ touches and informs everything you do.

Some contemporary brands are less heavily ‘policed’ in this way. There is a trend towards encouraging customers to generate their own content or interpretations within a framework of branded elements or templates. The London 2012 Olympics logo, for example, was designed by Wolff Ollins with these types of user-generated adaptations in mind.

Evolution or revolution

An important question when undertaking any reassessment of your brand is whether to go for small, incremental changes as a refresher, or to plump for a major overhaul of your company’s or product’s image.

Broadly speaking, evolution is preferable if you are already in a strong position with a solid customer base and you just need to keep up with a growing or developing market. Revolution, on the other hand, might be more appropriate if your customer base is in decline, the market has changed substantially since the inception of your current brand or you have no point of difference from your competitors.

To work through these kinds of questions it is a good idea to consider hiring a designer to look at the current status of your organisation and explore possibilities for developing it.


Branding for different sectors

In this section we explore the similarities and differences between branding in different market sectors.

Start-up businesses

If you’re launching a new business, you’re in a unique position to operate as what is often called a ‘challenger brand’. This means that you can take a look at a market sector from the outside, assess all the players, opportunities or gaps in the market and then launch your product with a brand that challenges and shakes up the conventions of the sector. It’s hard to do this once you’re established as there’s more to lose, so think carefully about how brave and ‘rule’-breaking’ your product or service can be if you’re about to launch to market.

Another benefit you may have as a start-up is that the business is likely to be small and therefore responsive and adaptable, with no existing processes that have to be changed to create a new brand. In short: you’ve got one shot to do something exciting, relatively cheaply, so go for it.The name and graphic black and white packaging all broke the ‘rules’ of design and branding in the desserts sector and the product consequently stands out strongly in supermarkets.The brand has subsequently been extended with the launch of Frü, a range of fruit desserts.


Public sector

Although all branding is about communicating a clear offer to your customers or users, branding in the public sector is not necessarily as concerned with maximum market stand-out, as it typically is in the commercial/private sector. For public sector organisations, such as the police force and health services, the focus may be on clarity and access to important information. So branding and design may focus on signposting this information or communicating issues clearly in order to change people’s behaviour – a Department of Health quit smoking campaign, for example.

Clarity can sometimes fall foul of the complex nature of public sector services, which are often run by a network of stakeholder organisations or partners. In branding terms, putting the logos of all such partners on ‘customer’-facing communications can lead to visual clutter, a lack of clarity and confusion. It’s important, therefore, to be clear when a brand or branded campaign is needed and to ensure that its identity is distinct and clear for users.


Service companies

Whilst most companies and organisations are providing a service of one type or another, for some businesses customer service is the dominant part of the offer. For these companies particular attention needs to be paid to how the brand (the big idea and all its components) are reflected in the way the service is provided and the way staff interact with customers.

In essence, service brands are built on the people who deliver them. This means that staff needed to be trained to get an understanding of the company’s culture, its ‘promise’ to customers and how they will be put into practice on a day to day basis. In this scenario, the human resources department is closely linked to brand management.


First Direct: service

First Direct was the first company to bring a 24-hour banking service to the market and its level of service was a key message in promoting the bank to potential customers.

To ensure the delivery of high quality service, First Direct recruits people with customer service skills rather than those who are already in the banking industry. This ensures that the company’s service delivery matches is brand ‘promise’.


Business to business

A lot of the brands discussed in this guide are consumer-facing brands, but many businesses market their products and services directly to other businesses, not the public. But the principles of effective branding apply in just the same way in the B2B sector as elsewhere. As in consumer products, B2B companies need to use branding to differentiate, stand-out and create a distinct personality, even if that personality is more corporate and business-like in its tone.


Mechan: B2B branding

Mechan designs and manufactures mechanical handling equipment for the rail industry, but by 2005 its image was starting to look dated. At the same time the company was faced with a static UK market and growing competition from abroad, so it needed stronger communications to create impact with potential business customers.

Working with a designer the company researched what the brand actually stood for (the big idea) and then a branding consultancy created a visual identity that is strong, clean and simple and works across all the company’s communications, including products, website, trade stands and literature.


Design and branding

An organisation’s brand is a whole set of associations which people make when they think about or encounter that business.

A common misconception – and one that designers are always at pains to correct – is that a brand is simply a logo or identity. The logo is just one manifestation of a brand, although it’s often a top-level communication, seen most frequently by the greatest number of people. It should therefore embody the key ingredients of the brand in a distinctive, recognisable marque.

Take the Nike ‘swoosh’ for example. Designed in 1971 by Carolyn Davidson, then a graphic design student at Portland State University, the swoosh is a simple yet effective logo that conveys energy and movement, appropriate to a company that makes performance sportswear.

So, while brand building and branding are complex, strategic activities, there is almost always a vital creative design component too.

Design is what translates the ideas into communication. And many designers will work through both the strategy and the implementation to ensure that the results are consistent, adaptable and in-keeping with your original brand attributes.


Key design ingredients

There is a range of design elements that can be used to convey a brand proposition. Here are a few of them, with an example in each case:

Colour – Orange
Shape – Toilet Duck
Touch/materials – iPhone
Sound – Intel
Illustration – Lloyds TSB
Typography – BBC
Environment – Guinness Storehouse

After working through a branding project with designers you should be left with something called brand guidelines. This is a document which details exactly how the different design elements (typically visual) should be applied in different situations. It will give information on things like typography, graphics, colours, materials, templates and photography used in the visual manifestation of the brand, providing instructions on how to apply them in different contexts, at different scales and so on. More detailed brand guidelines may include things like cultural or behavioural directions for staff training.

The organisation can use these brand guidelines to manage the brand after the designer’s work on the project is completed without losing the original consistency and clarity of the designs and, most importantly, with losing sight of your original big idea.

Why Email Marketing is the Key to Ecommerce Success

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But the reality of website traffic is that most people who visit your website or online store are new visitors who will never visit again—unless, that is, you do something to keep them coming back. Building an email list helps you get around this issue and retain more of the traffic you worked so hard to earn.


Your email list and campaigns drive repeat traffic back to your website by providing an incentive to return (either with discounts, valuable content, new products, etc.) and directly communicating it on a regular basis.


According to recent research by the Direct Marketing Association:


The ROI of email is 3,800% (according to the Direct Marketing Association).

72% of people would rather receive promotional material via email than social media.

38% of people say receiving special offers is the top reason they subscribe to an email list.

In other words, if your ecommerce business hasn’t taken the time to adopt email marketing, then you’re leaving money on the table. And if these stats don’t convince you, here are five more reasons you should be building your email list.



1.Email Outperforms Twitter and Facebook for Selling Online


Most businesses, small and large, know that social media is the place to be for distributing content and marketing messages. A McKinsey & Company study however points out that email marketing is still 40x more effective than Facebook and Twitter when it comes to generating a sale.The reason email is so much more effective at driving traffic and sales is because you get to take the conversation about your products and business to your customer’s most personal online space: their inbox. While platforms like Facebook and Twitter are great for free content distribution and engaging your community, they’re also noisy and your audience may not be on them when you post an update. Your emails, however, are there waiting for someone when they open their inbox.



 2.It’s Getting More Difficult to Strategically Climb Google’s Ranking Algorithm


Customers coming from both paid and organic search are extremely valuable to your business; however, climbing the search rankings in Google is getting harder and harder.


For those that keep up with the latest in search engine optimization news, you probably know that a lot of the tried and true methods that SEOs have used in the past to gain higher keyword rankings are being devalued by Google. Algorithmic changes have (rightfully) cracked down on low quality content, keyword-based anchor text, paid links and many other linking strategies. This has put many businesses that have used these in the famed Google penalty box, and many more businesses in a state of constant fear that they may lose their rankings in the future.Most of the SEO strategies that are safe and work well (like content marketing) take time to build upon before desired rankings are achieved, leaving new businesses with only one option to get on the first page quickly: Google AdWords.This is why businesses are investing in PPC ads to build their mailing list. This way, instead of just getting a potential one-time click in search, they are opening the door to future communications with their target customer base, one where they don’t have to worry about getting penalized.



 3.Email is Content Marketing’s Best Friend


Content marketing is a strategic marketing activity whereby businesses create and distribute original content that their audience finds valuable. Rather than paying to get in front of potential customers with traditional advertising, businesses aim to draw attention to themselves by delivering relevant education and entertainment which builds buzz for the brand as well as trust with the audience.That’s why collecting email addresses from your visitors is so important. It gives you a way to keep in touch and follow up with your audience over time and ensures that all the time and money you’ve spent on creating content results in more than just one-time visits.



 4.Email Drives Traffic and Sales


With the potential to communicate your messages to specific segments on your email list, you can use your email list to reach your customers in a wide variety of ways.


Here are some ideas to get you thinking:


Newsletters provide your audience with the latest information on new products and updates to your business.

Drip campaigns are a collection of emails sent at strategic times with the intention of engaging and educating customers over time, until they purchase.

Special occasion emails for holidays, birthdays, and other personal events.

Abandoned cart reminders ensure customers complete the checkout process.

Reward loyal customers with exclusive discounts.

Re-engage customers who have not shopped in a while.

Generate feedback testimonials from customers.

Trigger campaigns send specific emails when customers take a certain action (Customer clicks ‘Men’s Wear’, ‘Men’s Spring Season Discount’ email is delivered 2 days later)

You can engage your customers through email in much deeper ways and use it to drive traffic to your ecommerce website. Shopify’s email buy button also makes it simple for your email recipients to go straight to checkout with the product they love.



5.Email Allows You To Build A Relationship With Your Customers And Potential Customers


While social media and search are great ways to get discovered by future customers, email is the best way to maintain and strengthen that relationship over time.Sixty-six percent of online consumers prefer to buy new products from brands that they are familiar with according to a Nielsen study.This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you if you do any online shopping. You’re more likely to buy from the websites and brands that you are more familiar with and have formed a relationship with.Email marketing is the best example of “permission marketing” — a term coined by Seth Godin, marketer and bestselling author — which means people can opt in and out of their relationship with your brand as they please. Unlike traditional advertising and other intrusive marketing channels, it’s ultimately their choice to hear from your business.

Digital marketing 10 facts you need to know

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In 2016, the average person spends more time online than watching TV or interacting with other media such as newspapers and magazines. As a result of the constant desire for the internet (circa 40% of the worldwide population actively using the internet), digital marketing budgets are expected to rise.


 1.You need a marketing budget

In 2015 the average company allocated circa 30% of their company budget to digital marketing to ensure their marketing was handled effectively. With more and more businesses realising the importance of a good digital marketing strategy, it is key that your business sets aside a budget to stay competitive and makes the most of the huge amount of digital users in 2016!


2.User experience is key to success

Google has suggested that 90% of people move between devices (desktop, tablet and mobile) to accomplish a goal, proving the importance of ensuring a good user experience across the board.

Key areas of focus that help provide a good user experience include: responsive design, quality content, actionable ‘call to actions’, simple navigation, appealing design.

By getting these right, your visitors are more likely to have a better user experience, become a regular user, interact with your business and refer other people to your website.


3. Facebook Messenger on top

According to Facebook, Facebook Messenger now has 900 million monthly users, adding an extra 100 million from January 2016!


4.Businesses should optimise for mobile

According to Ofcom, ‘smartphones are considered the preferential browsing device by internet users in the UK’. To ensure your business benefits in 2016 and beyond, you will need to ensure your website is responsive to such devices, as well as undertake mobile SEO activities and produce content personalised for mobile.


5.First impressions are everything

First impressions count. 2.6 Seconds is the time it takes for users’ eyes to find a section of a website that influences their first impression.

In a recent study, Google found that websites that followed general conventions and had low visual complexity were perceived as highly appealing and created a positive first impression with users.


6.Quality, not quantity

Link building is a key factor of Google’s ranking algorithm because it conveys trust and credibility for your website. This is a key area, that carried out incorrectly can have a damaging effect on businesses i.e. linking to a high amount of irrelevant links will affect a websites reputation with Google.

It is all about the quality of the source, how relevant it is for the user and the authority of the link.


7.Content budgets are on the rise

This year, circa 28% of overall marketing budgets will be spent on content marketing. This is because having relevant, updated content, will help improve the credibility of your website to Google, enabling your business to become a more reliable source for users.


8.Analysing your marketing activity is crucial

It is important to track your marketing data, analyse it and adjust your strategy to stay competitive. There are many methods of which are excellent in providing accurate results that businesses can really measure to stay on top.

Hiring a digital marketing agency provides a great opportunity to gain regular, precise analytics and data – freeing your time to handle other aspects of your business.


9.Investing in SEO is important

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a trend that is hot in 2016 and is responsible for driving a high percentage of traffic to websites from Google (when done correctly). SEO includes: keyword optimised content, links, website design & navigation and competitor analysis – to name just a few.


10.Mobile conversion rates are on the rise 

Mobile conversion rates across search, social and display have had an annual growth of circa 32.9% (search), 51.2% (social) and 34.7% (display). Following the ‘Google mobile friendly’ update, Google has announced that ‘more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.’

7 Ways to Increase the User Engagement on Your Website

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Those days competition in the market is fierce with little or no prospects of do-overs. Website users have a plethora of options to choose from and hence it is absolutely essential that websites be designed in a way that they are easy to use, attractive, engaging and assist your visitors at every step of the way. By making websites more user-friendly you can captivate the attention of your target market, retain customers and therefore drive sales as well as company growth. Here we’ve lined up seven ways in which your website can become more user-friendly:


1.A logical layout
Customers take around 50 milliseconds to develop an impression about a website after they first land on it and according to a research by Google users not only find simpler websites more aesthetically pleasing they also prefer stereotypical website layouts that conform to the respective industry’s best practices as opposed to complex layouts.Hence, it is imperative that tremendous thought is put into the site’s organization so that even first-time users have no difficulty navigating it.


2.Search and navigation

A way to uplift your website’s usability is to make use of a clearly visible and always present search tab. By doing so your users will be able to find anything that interests them with ease. Moreover, usability can be increased manifolds by using search tabs that make predictions and recall previous searches. This is important since according to statistics; nearly 30% website visitors make use of search tabs to find information.

It is also recommended that a main all-incompassing navigation tab is present across all your web pages. Moreover, the navigation tab should provide access to all significant pages in your website and since the top left a corner of websites receive the most attention; it is recommended that the search, as well as navigation, be placed in this location. They should be designed in a manner that enables them to pop-out i.e. users should be able to easily locate them.


3.Rich content quality

Content on any website is crucial as it gives users a reason to stay and keep coming back. In order to make your website user-friendly; it is recommended that you devise content that is thoroughly in line with your company’s branding strategy. It is also advisable that you conduct rigorous market research to identify terminologies that your target audience generally uses. This will make it easier for users to understand and relate to your content. Moreover, the specific focus needs to be made in order to make content as concise as possible.


 4.Web design recommendation


In today’s competitive industry; it is extremely important to have a visually appealing web design. High-quality web design is an instantaneous indicator of high quality and can play a crucial in motivating a user to stay on when they initially land on your website. Moreover, it is also direly important that your web design project your company’s image and branding strategy so that from the moment that visitors land on your website they are able to get a feel of what your company is all about. This can be done by using the colors of your company’s logo as the theme for your website. It is also recommended that you use minimalist approach while designing your websites as it will allow your visitors to focus on what’s important rather than being overwhelmed with too much visual noise. If your business is one that requires the display of a huge product range; it is advised that you neatly tuck your product range in product categories so that users can pick the category of their choice and be directed to a separate page containing details about the category.


5.Site must be responsiveness
The number of mobile phone users has surpassed the number of PC owners and we see that more and more people rely on mobile phones to access the internet. According to a statistic; around 31 million people solely use mobiles to access the internet in the US alone. Hence, websites that are not responsive are loosing out on potential sales. While designing mobile websites it is important that the mobile versions be carefully crafted to make optimum use of smaller screen space. Here, it is recommended that these websites be simple and uncluttered and should include all the functionalities of the desktop website.


 6.Hidden menus
Hidden menus surfaced in 2015 however their appeal has only grown stronger in 2016. Hidden menus are navigations that appear when a user hovers over a particular section of the website. These menus direct users towards a necessary call to actions pertaining to that particular section. The use of these hidden menus not only makes the website easy to navigate but also increases the usability of the website manifolds by giving it an interactive and cognitive feel.


7.Speed analysis


An aspect that can not be overrated is the loading time of websites. Research indicates that 40% of website visitors leave if a web page takes more than 3 seconds to load. Hence, it is important that the loading time is reduced as much as possible to increase your website’s user-friendliness. This can be facilitated by using a minimalist approach to web design.

The use of these steps can instantly make your website more user-friendly.

Search engine’s demand to keep your content fresh

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Keep your content fresh and up to date


How do you make sure that all content on your website is still relevant? Why is that even important? For some of you, coming up with new ideas for blog posts seems the biggest challenge of blogging. However, you want your existing posts to show up-to-date content as well. And that could well be an even bigger challenge!


Why is up-to-date content important?

Updating content is important, because you don’t want people to find information on your website that isn’t valid anymore. If you have optimized your post well, chances are that people will find that post in the search engines. That was the whole point of optimizing that post in the first place. Imagine a blog that hands out SEO advice to its readers. Older posts shouldn’t contain advice that isn’t valid anymore. People would make terrible mistakes in their SEO strategies.


Why is fresh content important for SEO?

Keeping your content fresh is important for SEO reasons as well. If you rewrite an article, Google will notice changes in that particular article. If you update your content regularly, you’re actually showing Google that your site is alive and up-to-date. You could either update an article – with or without changing the date – or you could republish the post.



Tips on how to keep your content fresh

1.Most important: update those cornerstones

Most important tip on keeping content up to date is to focus on your cornerstone articles. These articles should be the best articles on your website. These are the articles you want to be found for. So, these should be on the top of your list, while updating content.



2.Update those posts that generate a lot of traffic

Updating can be a lot of work. And if your site becomes really large, this could be a day job! If you have to make choices which articles to tackle and update first, take a look at which pages generate a lot of traffic. Start with those. These are the pages that are actually seen by your audience. These pages have the highest priority on showing fresh content.

3.Delete those really outdated posts

As your blog is growing and you’re writing tons of blog posts, some of your content just slowly becomes really old. Some posts are evergreens, but some posts just aren’t. If these articles aren’t read by anyone either, you could decide to delete them all together. This will clean up your site nicely!

4.Dont forget ‘other’ pages

Not only your blog posts should have up-to-date content, other pages are important as well. Don’t forget to update those FAQ. Perhaps new questions have emerged among your audience. Make sure to add those. While updating your website, don’t forget the ‘about page’, the ‘contact page’ and other static pages on your website. I understand that this content doesn’t change that often, but make sure that changes are actually being made!


Conclusion on how to keep cont

Keeping the content of your website up to date and fresh is important if you want to attract readers from the search engines with (somewhat) older posts. While rewriting and refreshening old content, make sure to start with those cornerstones and most popular articles first!

7 reasons why you need to invest in Digital Marketing

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In 2016, the time the average person spends online is more than twice the time he spends watching TV or interacting with other media such as newspapers and magazines. As a result of the internet rise and evolution (around 40% of the worldwide population actively using the internet), it is certain that businesses will start investing in digital marketing.

1. Set a marketing budget

In 2015 the average company allocated circa 30% of their company budget to digital marketing to ensure their marketing was handled effectively. With more and more businesses realising the importance of a good digital marketing strategy, it is key that your business sets aside a budget to stay competitive and makes the most of the huge amount of digital users in 2016!

2. User experience is key to success

Google has suggested that 90% of people move between devices (desktop, tablet and mobile) to accomplish a goal, proving the importance of ensuring a good user experience across the board.
Key areas of focus that help provide a good user experience include; responsive design, quality content, actionable ‘call to actions’, simple navigation, appealing design…
By getting these right, your visitors are more likely to have a better user experience, become a regular user, interact with your business and refer other people to your website.

3. Businesses should optimise for mobile

According to a survey, 70% of the people that use internet, tend to browse through mobile devices. To ensure your business benefits in 2016 and beyond, you will need to ensure your website is responsive to such devices, as well as undertake mobile SEO activities and produce content personalised for mobile.

4. First impressions are everything

First impressions count. 2.6 Seconds is the time it takes for users’ eyes to find a section of a website that influences their first impression.
In a recent study, Google found that websites that followed general conventions and had low visual complexity were perceived as highly appealing and created a positive first impression with users.

5. Quality, not quantity

Link building is a key factor of Google’s ranking algorithm because it conveys trust and credibility for your website. This is a key area, that carried out incorrectly can have a damaging effect on businesses i.e. linking to a high amount of irrelevant links will affect a websites reputation with Google.
It is all about the quality of the source, how relevant it is for the user and the authority of the link.

6. Analysing your marketing activity is crucial

It is important to track your marketing data, analyse it and adjust your strategy to stay competitive. There are many methods of which are excellent in providing accurate results that businesses can really measure to stay on top.
Hiring a digital marketing agency provides a great opportunity to gain regular, precise analytics and data – freeing your time to handle other aspects of your business!

7. Investing in SEO is important

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a trend that is hot in 2016 and is responsible for driving a high percentage of traffic to websites from Google (when done correctly). SEO includes: keyword optimised content, links, website design & navigation and competitor analysis – to name just a few! How many of these are you budgeting for this year?