Monthly Archives: February 2011

My Twitter Week (21-27 Feb 2011)

A round up of what I’ve been reading, clicking and sharing over the last seven days. There were a number of really good reads this week, please take a minute to check over them, there will be something for you!

In a week where the top Twitter trends were understandably dominated by the spread of democratisation in the Middle East and the earthquake in New Zealand, good marketing was initially hard to find.

1. CONTENT It was Tuesday before a great blog post surfaced, where on the Savvy b2b Marketing blog, the girls were looking at how to overcome the four main challenges in b2b content marketing. If you’re lazy, the four challenges are using content, producing content, delivering consistently engaging material and best practice dissemination of content.

2. BLOGGING From there, it was interesting to get Mark Schaefer’s take on how to make your company blog connect like a personal blog which is a real problem for many businesses right now trying to dip their toe in the digital social media space.

3. BUSINESS In business news, it was interesting to read that recession busting Asda outlined plans to share a £27m bonus windfall with staff. And not an Ocado van in sight!

4. SOCIAL MEDIA Back on the internet marketing front, Social Media Examiner published a very impressive read reviewing the 22 Hot New Social Media Tools Worth Exploring. I particularly liked the look of CinchCast (audio recording on the go), Screenr (screen capture software) & Onlywire (blog aggregation).

5. WEB TV Meanwhile, YouTube was moving further into the realm of online TV channel with the news that fans could soon be tuning in to NBA basketball & NHL ice hockey games live on YouTube.

6. PUBLISHING The always insightful Harvard Business Blog had Joshua Gans musing on the present and future of digital publishing and the changing relationship with ‘content complementors’.

7. B2B SOCIAL MEDIA The Excellent MarketingProfs posted on How to Create a B2B Facebook Community, again an enduring discussion topic at marketing conferences around the world right now.

8. BLOGGING Hubspot published a useful rundown of the top 100 marketing blogs. Disappointed not to be in there, but it may be one for the future. At the time of writing I just got picked up by the NYTimes (item 7), so fame can’t be far away!

9. LINCHPIN Finally, the doyen of modern blogging and business thinking. Seth Godin returns to his latest work to ask ‘Are you a linchpin?’ Here’s the blueprint.

What have you been reading, and what do you think to any of these?

4 ways to drive web traffic with SEO

This fourth and final part of my SEO series considers how to drive traffic to the website ‘off the page’. This involves getting links to your website on as many other websites as possible, the ethical way!

1. Link building: Search engines place importance on incoming links and, as a result, ‘link building’ has emerged as a critical part of the optimisation process. Explained simply, 100 websites offering a link to your website collectively implies that your site is relevant and worth visiting. So start thinking creatively about where your target audience congregate online.

2. Indexing: Make sure your website is correctly indexed with the major search engines. Most search engines have an address like Google where you can input your website’s domain name for ranking.

3. Social media optimisation: If you haven’t already, you should consider setting-up profiles with major high traffic sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr. They consistently feature on the first page of most searches alongside company websites.

4. Digital PR: In line with the thinking behind social media optimisation, often a top ranking position in a search belongs to a reference or article on a well visited news or media site. This could be in a specific b2b sector (for example, in the food sector - Food Navigator) or Yahoo! for more general, b2c searches.

Summary: An unrelenting global news cycle, the rise in self publishing and the ‘always on’ nature of the internet means there will always be somebody, somewhere interested in what you have to offer. Having content distributed more widely, with more back links, gives browsers a better chance of finding you when they need to.

Image: iPhoneMatters

An extended version of this post originally featured on the BDB Blog in October 2010. Click to read it in its entirety.

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Applying social media to business marketing

I thought I’d share the slides from my presentation to second year marketing students at the University of Derby this morning, which I think help frame the discussion of which tools and strategies work best for businesses wanting to take advantage of these emerging platforms.

There are some great consumer and business-to-business case studies cited and a useful Dummies Guide ‘List of Ten’ things to consider when creating a social media programme for your company, brand, product or service.

I think this lecture (my first) was warmly received by the group and hope it is by you too. As ever, feedback welcome either here on directly on the Slideshare page. Thanks.



Five ways to improve on page SEO

Visibility is everything!

In this third part of four posts on SEO, I’m considering the best ways to improve on page search engine optimisation.

1. Keywords: Keywords are critical as they drive your messaging, content and search. It’s important that there is synergy between how your site is written and what browsers are looking for. But there’s more to it than filling your web page content with keywords. Search engines have got wise to this and downgrade sites that don’t appear to read well.

2. Meta structure: Keywords need to be built in to your meta structure – the code that sits behind the website. Why? Placing relevant and targeted keywords in the meta description and tags indicates to a search engine bot that your website is genuinely serving content in relation to the keywords in question.

3. URLs: The titles you give to each page on your website should be presented clearly and simply. They should adequately relate to the content on that page to give the search engine bots the best chance of indexing the page correctly. This refers to both the domain (for example ‘www.website.com’) and the sub pages (for example ‘www.website.com/news’).

4. Alt and h tags: Images should have a text-based alternative (alt tag), again to help the search engine bot to index and display information about the image if it doesn’t load correctly. Check that you’ve built in alternative (alt) tags for all images used throughout your website. Copy on web pages should have heading (h) tags. Again, search engine bots place importance on headings and tags as part of the overall structure of a page and the serving of relevant content. Primary and secondary headings (h1 and h2) are generally the most important.

5. Sitemaps: Sitemaps are probably the most important but often overlooked element of SEO. Sitemaps act like a table of contents for search engine bots, allowing them to index the entire site from one convenient text-based resource.

Summary: Selecting keywords used by your target audience and feeding them through the content and code of your website gives it a greater chance of ratings success.

An extended version of this post originally featured on the BDB Blog in October 2010. Click the link to view.

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Content remains king in SEO

The old maxim that ‘content is king’ largely remains the case in internet marketing terms given the colossal amount of information available. Browsers now have unparalleled and unlimited choice.

Having a relevant and engaging website is key to both successful optimisation and your business prospering. We’ve already reviewed the key elements of design for SEO. But this needs to be matched by relevant content that provides a worthwhile and quality experience for website visitors.

1. Relevant: Because website content ages quickly. It might be that your company has entered new sectors and markets or left some behind. You may have new products or services to promote, or legislative changes to share. Or there may be a requirement to communicate with other stakeholder groups such as distributors, agents and investors, as well as customers and prospects. All these opportunities give rise to the concept of ‘content in context’.

2. Accurate: As web content can sometimes come from a number of sources, it’s important that it’s accurate. This means checking it’s technically correct, with no spelling or grammatical inaccuracies while also ensuring that there’s a prevailing format and tone. Key messages and preferred vocabulary should be consistently used.

3. Engaging: To retain interest and encourage deeper involvement, website content should be ‘sticky’. Video, for example, offers a powerful way to demonstrate product features and benefits and  bringing a corporate entity to life. And with video search accounting for 50% of online search (Bruce Daisley, YouTube, speaking at SAScon, April 2010), featuring embedded video from YouTube or Vimeo on your website will improve site visibility, ranking and inbound traffic.

4. Connected: It’s important that all links within your site are checked regularly, particularly as the site grows. Updating or removing content leaves the site at risk of being littered with errors and broken links.

Summary: Delivering relevant and accurate ‘content in context’ gives you the best possible chance of attracting, engaging and retaining visitors. It is, after all, the main reason they searched for a supplier like you in the first place.

An extended version of this post originally featured on the BDB Blog in October 2010. Please visit to read in its entirety and have your say.

Image: Positiverealestateprofessionals

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Why SEO is not just about keywords

Contrary to popular belief, comprehensive search engine optimisation (SEO) starts with your website, not with your keywords. Though there’s no magic formula, focusing on design, content, on-page and off-page will have a positive impact on ranking in search engine results.

Well optimised websites have a number of design considerations at their core and are critical in delivering the right impression, information and experience to stimulate future traffic and drive conversion. Search engine bots, just like human visitors, place a high degree of significance on whether (and how quickly) the site works, how easily it can be navigated and ultimately how accessible it is.

Here’s my quick take on which design considerations are important and why:

1. Functionality / usability: Website visitors are short on time and have bewildering choice, so they expect a site to work. This means ensuring it loads quickly, that all pages display correctly and links to pages both within the site and to other websites work. Enquiry forms, email and sign up functions need to be easy and quick to use too. Automated email confirmation and data validation should be in place when anyone elects to make contact.

2. Navigation: Your site has to be easy to navigate. If in doubt, test it on people removed from what you do. Ask them to complete a number of search and enquiry related tasks and watch how they go about it.

3. Aesthetics: Your site should be clear and attractive. Cluttered pages disrupt flow and confuse visitors. Colour palettes, fonts and images should deliver an experience that encourages visitors to stay and return.

4. Accessibility: It’s important to consider the needs of different browsers in your site design. This is especially relevant to settings that help the visually impaired and users affected by motor neurone, learning difficulties or deafness. The Disability Discrimination Act and WC3 international compliance standards for good web design should be consulted.

5. Hygiene factors: Finally, ensure that legal, data protection and privacy policy statements are included on your site. These can relate to the smooth running of technical content, the collection and use of personal data (through logins or forums) or assist with queries and concerns. Statements or downloadable policies should be comprehensively signposted and easy to find.

Summary: These elements might initially appear to have little role in SEO but actually they are important for optimisation and impact the overall website experience. And they are critical in building a durable, future-proof website.

An extended version of this post originally featured on the BDB Blog in October 2010. Please visit to read in its entirety and have your say.

Image: Tendou86 on Blogspot

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Linkedin Demographics (Jan 2011)

An interesting Slideshare is featured below (email and RSS subscribers need to visit the blog site to view) which showcases the ongoing growth of Linkedin. The latest statistics and demographics indicate that the site has tipped over the 100m mark.

I was intrigued on one hand to learn that the UK is 3rd overall (with 6m) whilst on the other hand the number of marketers is as low as 4% across the board. The age, gender and sector splits make for interesting reading too.

Overall, the uptake of Linkedin demonstrates that the raft of changes to improve functionality of late have made quite a significant impact. And though the site is some way short of the 500m and rising that Facebook enjoys, Linkedin does offer a very different proposition and is now so much more than the online CV library of old.



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Avoiding Tweeters Block: 30 Things to Tweet Today

I’ve conducted a little research project over the last 24 hours involving the 1500 or so people I follow on Twitter to see what business people use it for.

If I’m honest, I see a lot of rubbish. ‘Celebrities’ are normally the most tiresome. But brands and business accounts can put out their fair share of nonsense viaTwitter too. Presumably in a bid to ingratiate themselves to ‘the community’.

Generally, if you assume there to be seven core uses for Twitter, (outlined in my recent BDB Marketing Blog post), it becomes somewhat easier to align activities with objectives.

So whether you are looking to keep up to date with news, want to share news, want to conduct some research, want to develop prospects from your audience, deliver excellent customer service, drive traffic to other sites and/or drive loyalty, there is something you can tweet about right now.

1. Where you are /going / have been

2. What you are doing / working on

3. What you are reading / have read

4. What you are watching / have watched

5. What you are listening to / have listened to

6. What makes you happy / proud

7. What you are passionate about

8. What makes you cross / sad

9. Some praise / commendation

10. A complaint

11. A review

12. A link to another form of online content

13. A quote

14. A statistic

15. An historical fact

16. A prediction

17. A question

18. A request

19. News – company / corporate/ brand / personal

20. A vacancy

21. An offer

22. A prize giveaway

23. Something offered for sale

24. A Follow Friday recommend

25. Somebody else’s tweet (or other content)

26. Market data or research

27. A personal announcement

28. A business announcement

29. The weather

30. If you are really really stuck, what you are eating!

Image: CoffeeandCountries

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Top Tweets of the Week (A review) w/c 14 Feb 2011

My weekly Twitter round up

On Monday, it was reported that The English Football Association (FA) had clamped down on use of Twitter and other social media by issuing clarification on how they could offend or bring the game into disrepute. The English Cricket Board and ICC followed suit, instead looking to prevent in-game betting syndicates from gaining an unfair advantage.

Tuesday, it was interesting to read on Hubspot about ways to engage the sales team in marketing, and specifically in contributing to blogs. Most companies are some way off, but it is good to see that there is some theory that can be used to position it as more attractive.

Wednesday, I learned from @markschaefer that Twitter saved him from networking and saved his business as a result. A great, honest account from one of the leading social media thought leader in the US about the growing relevance of Twitter in business.

Seth Godin wrote some thought provoking words on pricing and valuing yourself and what you do on Thursday. The central premise being that you have to irreplaceable, essential and priceless to remain in control of what you charge.

And finally, it was reported this week that men are getting more broodier and want to settle down. Maybe it was Valentines  and all that chocolate!?

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Marketing shows you should be attending

Technology for Marketing and Advertising 1-2 March 2011, Earls Court, London

A great show with a fantastic keynote program including Google, Facebook, Ebay and Cisco, lots of breakout seminar programs covering topics such as direct marketing, CRM, data, email, mobile, social media, online and affiliate advertising.

With hundreds of the leading suppliers exhibiting, I’ll be attending this free event on day 2 (2 March) for my third consecutive year to keep up-to-date, make contacts and obtain inspiration.

Social Media World Forum 29-30 March 2011, Olympia, London

This is a social media specific show with a number of interesting sessions. Though the keynote programme is paid for, there are social media hubs taking place throughout the conference on the exhibition floor and these are free to delegates to attend. I should be attending this too.

Internet World 10-12 May, 2011 Earls Court

Though there is a degree of crossover between this and TFM&A, it is very well subscribed show, again with a strong branded plenary session, lots of workshops, seminars and a range of exhibitors covering digital and mobile marketing, ecommerce, social media and content management.

If I can make it, it will be day one.

TFM&A Manchester 26 May 2011, Old Trafford, Manchester

An offshoot of the main TFM&A taking place in Manchester, the agenda is still in development but as its on my doorstep it will be worth a look.

All the above are free to attend, this one will cost you.

Social Media in Manchester conference, 24 March 2011, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

I’m joining a strong panel including representation from Asda, Code, McCann and Juice Digital to discuss the very latest trends, issues and best practice in social media. I’ll be presenting on integrating PR and social media in the b2b space. For more, click here. There are some tickets still available, with 15% discount available until 4th March.

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