2014-04-28T21:53:18.574+01:00Hot off the press, my regular round up of the main themes to emerge from the latest BrightonSEO conference, the place where SEO’s go to seek inspiration.SEO has reignited its love affair with content marketing according to the buzz at the industry’s latest meet up.The carefully crafted programme at BrightonSEO featured the topic of Content over and over, again and in many forms.To clarify, I don’t mean ‘placing’ content across the internet – the practice of buying guest blog posts to gain links was conspicuous by it’s absence, ditched like a past infatuation in that typical way SEO’s have of falling in and out of love with attractive new techniques.No, the current infatuation is content marketing, a discipline which has been around in SEO for a few years but usually as one of many different techniques, used when time and budget allowed (creating great content involves sweat).So here are some of the specific ideas, recommendations and techniques around content generation which I heard today:Content on your site needs to be awesome – the best out there for that subject or topic. That way it will naturally get linked to and shared (with a little initial nudge of course).Your new awesome content needs to be flagged up to key influencers online using outreach to encourage sharing. Sometimes this outreach can be surprisingly low tech; use of a little black book and picking up the phone for example.Great content needs to be well presented, maybe enlisting the assistance of designers.Content doesn’t have to be text based, we could be talking images for sharing or awesome videos (if the cost of video production ever comes down enough of course).Use paid search to help boost and amplify your newly created content, especially on low cost social PPC channels.Providing great content is also a valuable opportunity for brands to answer their customer’s questions and build brand equity. Content can also help reinforce brand values and provide a positive brand experience.Better content on your site will keep visitors there for longer, reduce bounce rates and potentially help provide an overall lift in SEO performance.So how does this new need for content impact the SEO industry, agencies in particular? I feel that those agencies with a more technical approach to their work may struggle with the new demands for creativity, just as some SEO’s struggled to embrace social media a couple of years ago when social signals first emerged (after all some SEO people are by nature pretty anti social!)How will agencies cope with creative brainstorming of ideas for stunning content designed to appeal to a specific audience? After all it’s a long way from optimising meta data, especially if they don’t have content people in house. I foresee new job opportunities for creative thinkers, writers and designers.Personally I’m just pleased that my earlier working life was in marketing and particularly working with and within creative agencies. That experience might just be about to come in handy. Josh Whiten, SEO Expert in Kent[...]
2014-03-27T15:30:46.777+00:00Digital in Kent conference yesterday. This time round I chaired the morning session which I actually really enjoyed, it was nice being able to set the scene for the audience as to why each speaker had been selected and also having to think on your feet to pick out some highlights after each speaker's presentations.
2013-11-01T16:57:24.937+00:00legal marketing case study over on the Webscape website which nicely illustrates how the concept of Disruption can impact upon an industry vertical, in this case legal marketing in the personal injury claims sector.
2013-07-17T21:37:34.814+01:00I recently had the privilege of hearing some of the best known business leaders in the UK and beyond speak in person at Accelerate 2013 event in Liverpool. Their inspirational stories reinforced just how exciting and how challenging it is to be an entrepreneur.Accelerate was the first event of its kind aimed at potential high growth businesses across all sectors. The event recognised that in the future the majority of new job creation in the UK is likely to come from the small business sector and so the SME sector is rightly attracting the support and encouragement which it has probably deserved for some time.One of the recurring themes of the day was the tenacity needed to be an entrepreneur, especially in the face of repeated setbacks and even failures. This was amplified by the first keynote speaker of the day, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. Wales enthralled the audience with his down to earth and brutally honest account of his numerous business failures before he hit it big with Wikipedia and only then almost by accident. In a follow up fireside chat with BBC economics editor Robert Peston, Jimmy gave even more valuable advice to entrepreneurs such as 'learn to fail fast'. Obviously you should be committed to your new business start up idea and try and overcome challenges but when the writing is on the wall or circumstances conspire to defeat you, recognise this fact, extricate yourself, learn from the experience then move on. It's a lesson I wish I had followed myself many years ago when trying to launch an innovative online venture that proved just a little too innovative for its time! One business failure later and I felt the pain the pain of getting in too deep to my cost. However Jimmy Wales' final utterance made me feel a little better; "real entrepreneurs fail".The mood turned to a more positive one however with the next speaker, Doug Richards formerly of Dragon's Den and now of School for StartUps. Doug told an amusing anecdote about doing a lucrative deal for IT equipment in his early days as an entrepreneur based purely on opportunism, chutzpah and a can-do attitude. His advice to the audience was to 'always say yes'. You never know where it could lead you. Again this advice rang true personally. My current start up Simply Lawyers came about from an innocent phone call from a business contact asking if I fancied meeting up with some legal guys with a clever idea and wanted to talk to someone who knew about SEO. I could so easily have declined such an ambiguous request as a potential waste of time, but of course I said Yes!Martha Lane Fox formerly of Lastminute.com and recently digital advisor to government spoke passionately about how the Internet creates opportunities and breaks down traditional business barriers, especially through the use of social media. In short it's never been easier to be an entrepreneur thanks to easier access to information, contacts, funders and markets.Then a more traditional approach to business was reflected by veteran politician Lord Young who had served in Margaret Thatcher's cabinet and was now acting as a small business champion within the current government. His talk was actually surprisingly up to date and instilled something of a feel good factor in the hall - it's both uncommon and pleasant to be told just how important your efforts as an entrepreneur are to the economy and the UK.This political veteran was followed by a military veteran, General Sir Mike Jackson former head of the British Army. He growled his way through some pithy and succinct advice on leadership, with one of the most important points being the need to ensure everyone in the organisation knows what the aims of the mission are, from general to private soldier.We'll skip over the senior executive from Ryan Air whose contempt for keeping to the strict timings for the event amply reflected the attitude of his airline to its customers, whi[...]
2013-10-12T13:23:12.068+01:00I thought I would share a recent post I published over on Google+ entitled 'Integrating Social Media, SEO and Personal PR' which was nattily subtitled 'A Case Study in Combining Social Media Channel Management, SEO and Personal Branding'.The post is reproduced below and illustrates an exercise in improving one's personal brand online, identifying a social media strategy and leveraging social for SEO. It goes something like this....One unexpected benefit of participating in the recent Digital Kent event as a speaker was that I got to enjoy some excellent and through provoking presentations. Several things struck me about their talks:• The ever growing importance of Google+, like many I don’t feel I can ignore it any longer thanks to the talk by Thomas Power• The importance of knowing what it is I should be saying before using social media, as Jonnie Jensen has spoken about what are my Causes?• The importance of people speaking to people on social media, as Zoe Cairns pointed out.But I’d add something else to the mix. As search marketing experts we also look at social media with an SEO hat on. In another words we ask ‘how can we use social media to help manage, manipulate or dominate relevant search results?’. In other words how do we practice 'socialseo' ?To try and answer this question for myself, the team at Webscape and ultimately our SEO clients I’ve been carrying out the following trial I’d like to share. The case study followed these steps...Step 1. Chose the subjectSo with my brief clear, I now needed a willing subject for my evil experiment. I guess the most relevant search term you could apply to me personally would be... my name, Josh Whiten.Having recently undertaken a number of personal branding and reputation management projects for other clients I decided I would sort out the social media strategy for myself (and by extension my business) then see what impact this had on my exposure and branding online, plus any impact in search results.Step 2. Audited social channelsLike many of us I had collected a wide range of social media in both my name and that of my main agency business, Webscape Marketing.For me personally these included a fairly well used LinkedIn profile, a dormant twitter account https://twitter.com/joshwhiten and a hardly used Google+ personal page. I also had an active but locked down Facebook profile which I decided to keep solely for personal use.For Webscape we had a Twitter @webscapeseo used sometimes, a Google+ company page, Facebook company page, Linkedin company page and a blog within our website. As the only one in the business spending any time on the company channels, their output was essentially down to me!Step 3. Set my strategyAfter reviewing all these profiles and thinking about what I had learnt at Digital Kent I realised that I should actually revive my personal social media channels rather than hide behind the business profiles. After speaking at the event and participating in other projects and activities I realised people would probably look for me personally and would respond better to me in person online.Step 4. Decided on my causeSo what should my personal brand be about? Well I thought about the different areas of my life which should be reflected, causes I am passionate about, how my brand could help support and promote my businesses and also help me network with new contacts in the digital marketing field.Then came the SocialSEO aspect - I did some crafty research on Google Trends to see what SEO related search terms were on the increase and found that ‘SEO expert’ and ‘SEO company’ were both on the rise. So why not use my personal online presence to target searches for the former and my business Webscape to target the latter?I ended up with this bio which I could adapt for my personal social media presence;SE[...]
2013-10-12T13:23:41.032+01:00The Quarterhouse in Folkestone'sCreative QuarterCall it what you like; a scene, a cluster or a hub but luckily for us Folkestone has a small but steadily emerging cluster of digital and creative businesses. But just how can you measure the value of being part of such a scene?London already has it's famous Tech City hub centred around Old Street tube station and the benefits of being located there are clear for many businesses, especially start ups. This blog post by Bertie Stephens of start up Flubit.com spells out how his business has attracted talented staff and established credibility just by being in Tech City.In a slightly different sector is the well established Borough Market near London Bridge; although the market The thriving side streets around London's Borough Marketitself is focused on food you can see the benefit of providing opportunities for new and emerging businesses to test their produce on stalls but also in the emergence of related pubs, cafe's and food shops in the side streets surrounding the market.Then there are the networking opportunities. Just locally we share a building with branding experts Pebble Shores, web developers Created and up the road is a paid search agency Sleeping Giant Media, plus the assorted freelancers and professionals floating around. The scene looks set to get even more of a boost when local entrepeneur Josh De Haan opens his new digital hub and workspace opposite our offices.But building this cluster doesn't happen overnight. Yes it's had great support from the Creative Foundation and local MP Damian Collins but ultimately its down to us, the businesspeople and entrepreneurs who work in the space to really push things forward and take pride in what we are creating. As Alistair Upton of the Creative Foundation wrote recently "the people who set up these ventures and those who continue to run all the Folkestone businesses, both new and old, are what drives the town on and make it a great place to live."Josh Whiten, SEO Expert in Kent[...]
2013-04-27T17:21:28.298+01:00The Webscape team and I recently attended the latest BrightonSEO conference in, well... Brighton. Here is my personal round-up of the key Search Engine Optimisation trends which appeared to emerge from the event.The Shock of Google PenaltiesA lot can certainly change in six months. At the last BrightonSEO in September all the talk was of blogger outreach, social media signals and a degree of trepidation over the impact of the latest Google algorithm updates.This time round a constant theme of the day was how to recover from penalties imposed by Google, with slightly shocked speakers telling tales of submitting numerous reconsideration requests after being dumped out of the SERPS or even abandoning work on sites tarnished by Google penalties.It was perhaps no coincidence then that the day started off with a fireside chat between Kelvin (BrightonSEO Brainchild) and three former Google search quality team members. They gave some interesting background on how the Big G is all knowing when it comes to detecting unnatural link profiles (i.e. too many links with spammed anchor text and not enough branded or nofollows links). Then of course conversation inevitably turned to handling warnings, disavow requests and reconsideration requests.Now this was all a little alien to us at Webscape, as we haven't actually had any clients who have incurred Google penalties thanks we assume to out particular approach to link building. But as the day progressed and more and more discussion revolved around this subject you could almost start to feel a bit left out - as if you hadn't been invited to the illicit teenage party wherever everyone else got busted for getting up to no good!Great Content Cures All?But it seems this wake up call to the SEO industry has at least highlighted the importance of some other more positive and ethical techniques. One of the most predominant of the more positive techniques discussed was that of using quality content for SEO. Fortunately the debate has moved on from merely trying to crudely rebrand SEO as content marketing, a fairly meaningless label in my view.Now the discussion around content includes looking at the audience of a business or website to identify what sort of content might be of interest, finding ways to genuinely help your audience by solving their problem with great content, ensuring the web content you are going to promote with an SEO campaign is actually good quality so that it converts, and so on.To Outreach...Hand in hand with great content goes outreach, a term which seems to have evolved from a noun to a verb in just 6 months. Instead of describing the practice of blogger outreach now SEO's talk about ‘outreaching content’ once it's complete!Outreach certainly seems to have grown up and now appears to be adopting some of the principles of the long established PR sector, such as building relationships with key influencers on blogs and social media and feeding them regular content even if it isn't client or campaign specific, just to keep the relationship going.In Summary; SEO Needs to Reach OutThe last word should maybe go to one of the final speakers of the day who described SEO as having a terrific set of values to boast about, such as being adaptable and results focused. But the key purpose of SEO is to create great content and connect it with a relevant audience.And in order to achieve this SEO needs to continue developing its relationship with other partners and disciplines like PR, content, social, paid search and brand.Josh Whiten, SEO Expert in Kent[...]
2013-04-27T16:51:58.506+01:00Here's some free tips and advice on writing a great press release for your PR campaigns....
2013-04-27T16:53:12.067+01:00Public Relations, Press Relations, Publicity or PR. Despite the different labels, it all means the same thing - managing your organisation's reputation amongst it's key audiences (or it's 'Publics', hence the term Public Relations).An organisation's Publics can include existing customers, potential customers, staff, investors, suppliers, press, trade bodies, resellers, agents - even the bank manager. All Publics are individuals or groups that could have an influence, positive or negative, upon your business.Most people think PR is just about the press, and it's true that handling the media comprises the largest area of PR activity. PR is usually used to obtain favourable press coverage in target media, to help communicate with your target Publics.There are also other benefits. Amongst increasingly cynical consumers, an independent journalist writing about your business, product or service will also have far more credibility than your own official corporate message. In addition, online PR activity can now be used to spread your message online and gain valuable relevant back links to your website.PR Opportunities in KentFor the business wanting to promote itself within Kent, there are a number of B2B and B2C PR opportunities available in the media and press;Local PressThe dominant local press publisher in Kent is the Kent Messenger group, publishing a range of paid for and free titles across the region, as well as running local radio stations. The other main publisher, Kent Regional Newspapers, publish the Adscene and paid for titles across the region. Finally KOS Media publish countywide weekend newspapers and specialist consumer magazines.These media provide a good channel for local stories of consumer interest such as new branch openings, staff achievements and charitable support. Smaller stories such as these should not be overlooked by your business. They can help gain regular coverage, build relationships with the media, and help ensure local support from staff and suppliers. Following a 'people' angle with your news story seems to be the most successful way of gaining coverage in the local press.Consumer MagazinesThe leading consumer magazines in Kent tend to target high quality consumers in some of the more affluent areas of the county. As monthly lifestyle titles, a brief news story probably wont appeal to their editorial teams. Instead see if you can build an angle for them to run a longer editorial feature, perhaps on the history of your business, or the unique experiences of its owners. Kent Life magazine is published by Archant and covers the whole county. Other local titles include The Index Magazine, and Wealden Times.Business PressThere are several regular business to business publications in Kent. Kent Business is a standalone newspaper published monthly by the KM Group, and the business editorial team also feeds business stories into the weekly local press. South East Business is a monthly business magazine covering Kent and surrounding counties. Kent Director magazine also targets the region. These magazines tend to have a high quality readership of Kent directors and managers, but can at times major too strongly on accountancy, law, company cars, and official news from government bodies.The business section of Kent on Sunday has grown in scale and should also be considered, although the current location of the business pages tucked away at the back of the paper has always seemed a little curious.Radio and TVIf you have a strong enough angle to your story or it is highly topical, and you are able to provide someone for interview, then you could try getting coverage on local radio or TV. The two main networks are obviously the BBC who operate BBC South East and BBC Radio Kent, and t[...]
2013-04-27T16:53:36.679+01:00An article in the New York Times recently revealed how many US organisations are adding instant messaging functionality (similar to MSN) to their websites. It's a fascinating development that proves just how rapid the pace of technical adoption has now become.
2013-04-27T16:54:14.409+01:00In a competitive marketplace, there's real advantages to be gained from daring to be different with your marketing; by trying to be different to the competition and promoting yourself differently to the past.
2013-04-27T17:09:35.516+01:00Over the last few years I’ve worked with many clients to help them target other local businesses in Kent. During this time a common set of key marketing tools has evolved for communicating to Kent businesses. To help you promote your company, product or service to other businesses in Kent, this is the first part of a series of guides on Kent marketing, beginning with Networking.A number of business networking opportunities exist within Kent. You may already be aware of BNI (Business Networking International) which has groups around the world that meet for a weekly networking breakfast and to pass referrals to members.BNI Kent has a particularly strong representation with over 20 active BNI chapters. From personal experience Canterbury is a particularly good group with some very dedicated and committed members. BNI can be a good source of new business, but a degree of commitment is required in order to get the most out of the cost of membership. Be warned – it can be hard to stay motivated on a cold dark winter’s morning! Many BNI members tend to be smaller single person businesses, which is fine if they represent your market.Other networking meetings and lunches are organised by the Chambers of Commerce across Kent, the largest of which is the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce covering the areas of Ashford, Canterbury, Maidstone, Tonbridge and Malling. The Invicta chamber holds regular networking lunches, breakfasts and even speed networking events.There are several specialist networking opportunities in Kent for specific industry sectors or interest groups:Kent Wedding Network is a membership organisation that’s grown rapidly to help reputable wedding suppliers refer potential clients to each other at regular meetings, in a sector where there’s a great deal of crossover potential.Several networking groups exist for women in business. For example Channel Chamber of Commerce in Shepway organise regular women’s networking events.If you are a consultant or professional, possibly operating in the technology sector then the East Kent Branch of Ecademy, an online networking organisation, holds smaller regular meetings near Canterbury.If you’re planning on attending any of these networking events, its worth spending some time preparing yourself and then making the effort to make as many new contacts as possible. Go armed with plenty of business cards and a quick pitch about what you do. Try and meet as many people at the event as possible. If you find networking difficult, then you can never go wrong by starting with some friendly questions about the other person’s business, then bring the conversation back to what you do.Even if the contacts you make don’t seem immediately of use stick with it, because you never when networking can pay real dividends.If you’d like to comment on this post, share your experiences of networking or suggest other Kent networking events, then add your comments below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.Next up it’s Public Relations in Kent…Josh Whiten, SEO Expert in Kent[...]