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Your Public Awaits – 6 Tips On How To Ensure Your Website Is SEO Ready

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1 – Do some keyword research and find out what the most popular words are for your sector.

2 – Set up Google Analytics to track traffic to your site.

3 – Ensure that your website is device compatible and has responsive design features. Tip – use Google’s Mobile Checker to see where you currently stand.

4 – Check that your META titles and descriptions are descriptive and clickable – don’t forget about ALT tags for your images. They are important because they make sure that the content of your site is easy to understand and available to everyone who wants to view or read it.

5 – Add social media sharing buttons to increase the chances of back links. More exposure means a better chance of generating back links.

6 – Don’t scrimp on content. It is recommended that pages should have at least 400 words and have no grammatical errors. Google prefers quality content.

Don’t know where to start? Contact us on 01491 570 970 to find out more…

It’s A Blog’s Life

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Some 329 million people around the world are currently reading blogs. A blog can play a pivotal role in shaping your thought process and re-energising your marketing strategy.

In fact, blogs can be one of the most powerful online business tools for any organisation. If managed correctly, a blog can provide deliver opinion to new audiences and allow deeper engagement with your brand.

As our latest Passnote explains, it’s all about finding your voice, sharing your vision and amplifying your message. From commenting on the latest news and developments that relate to your industry, to giving the reader an insight into the inner workings of your organisation, a blog can help build brand awareness and generate interest.

When we develop blogs for clients, we tailor them to suit the needs of each client. We ensure a business blog has an identity that invites readers to fully engage with its content, and we focus on issues relating to the specific business and industry.

Readers will without question switch off from a blog if it reads like a sales script. We place the needs of the audience at the forefront of each blog we work on and we strive to make content approachable, relevant and topical for readers.

Initially, web traffic will come to a blog to see what is on offer . But if a blog is to secure longer term engagement with its readers then high quliaty must be posted on a regular basis.

Finally, there is the matter of SEO. Blogs have been proven to act as a catalyst in reaching out to new audiences, and they should be an integral part of any SEO strategy.

It is down to an infusion of fresh content and keyword implementation into original and quality content. Indeed, there has never been a better time to blog and is something that you really ought to consider adding to your PR and marketing toolkit. It might be one of the easiest decisions you make this financial year.

Download our Passnote and find out more about the benefits of starting a business blog.

Video Killed The PowerPoint Star

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With a New Year approaching, it seems that video might well be the glue that holds the content marketing strategy together. Video is highly sharable, mobile, and one of the easiest ways to provide information to your audience in an easy, accessible way.

By 2017 YouTube predicts that 90% of Internet traffic will be video.   An impossible feat you might say; but consider that YouTube currently generates over one trillion views per year.

Here are some key stats that demonstrate the power of video today to content marketers:

  • Nearly 1 in 5 people are watching daily video content to help with their profession
  • 7 out of 10 people have a positive opinion of a brand after viewing video content
  • 67.3% of companies now use video in their content strategy
  • 78% of organisations plan to use more video content in the next few years

Source: Axonn Research 2014

If you are looking to incorporate video into your content, then here are some things to consider

1. Diversity

Videos don’t need to just be about a face-to-camera. Use images, graphs, and add text to break up the subject sections. Ensure that the content is unique, compelling and informative.

2. Keep It Short

According to YouTube, audience engagement drops after the first 15 seconds of a video, so unless it is a ‘how-to’ video you really need to watch the clock when it comes to running time. Possibly introduce different speakers to open a new dimension to the audience?

3. The Rules Of Engagement

Remember to focus on a clear call-to-action, enabling you to get a good ROI. Don’t make the content too ‘salesy’ and keep a ‘knowledge takeaway’ at the forefront of the script.

4. Uploading

In the UK the key video hosting platforms are YouTube and Vimeo. 60% of video uploads don’t make the most of the description facility. Descriptions are meant to give an overview of what your video is all about so viewers and YouTube’s discovery systems can make sense of the content. Add links to your website and ensure that you have adequate contact details on there.

5. Be Consistent

Keep the videos consistent with the overall marketing strategy and brand focus. Maintain the same visual look and feel throughout for consistency, and don’t think that your videos all need to be graphically lead. Some of the most viewed videos are shot using a simple premise.

Finally, use free video editing tools available like Windows Movie Maker, iMovie, and Blender to add in branding, product images, and even music. Don’t be afraid to provide your audience with a wide range of videos and build up a library, it’ll keep them engaged in your brand for longer.

A measure of success

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Public Relations can provide a real boost to the bottom line. Whether it is called upon to develop awareness of a brand, to influence a debate or to drive sales, PR can be a powerful driver of business growth. However, measuring this contribution often proves a challenge to many organisations because they don’t have the right measurement tools in place.

This makes it impossible to gauge the success of PR activity against broader objectives, and identify the return on investment. Indeed, without the right metrics, even those that commit considerable effort and investment towards PR can find themselves unable to demonstrate precisely what it achieves when confronted by the Financial Director or a Purchasing Manager.

Ultimately PR helps to promote, support and defend brands. In recent years there has been much debate around ‘brand equity’ – the measure of a brand as defined by the customer loyalty it commands, the level of awareness it enjoys, and the premium that consumers are willing to pay for its products.

Brand equity may be the most treasured possession for a company like Apple or Coca Cola, although there is disagreement in management circles about how – or indeed whether – a monetary value can be assigned to brand equity.

So, while organisations can measure elements such as customer sentiment, market position, sales reach and product competitiveness through focus groups, dedicated research and customer surveys, it’s hard to measure the value of a brand itself.

It follows that measuring PR activity, which of course makes a strong contribution to brand equity, would be equally difficult. But that’s not the case. The accurate measurement of PR activity is not rocket science, despite unintended efforts of many to confuse the subject.

For example, 2010’s ‘Barcelona Principles’ outlined seven key elements to PR measurement. They observed that “goal setting is important”, that social media “can and should be measured”, and that both “transparency and replicability” are “paramount” to sound measurement. This sounds reasonable, but what does it actually mean for those that simply wish to get a better sense of what their PR is doing for them? Where does one start?

Download our Passnotes and find out how to measure your PR activity.

An event to remember

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The UK exhibitions sector generated £11 billion in spending and contributed £5.6 billion in value added to the UK economy in 2010, equivalent to 0.4% of UK GDP. Exhibitions are big business and with many organisations currently amid ‘event season’ again this year, it is important to ensure that you are maximising your exposure and getting the best ROI possible.

  • Are you confident that you’ll get the most from your attendance?
  • Have you told enough prospects that you are exhibiting?
  • Are you giving them compelling reasons to visit you?
  • Will you shout louder than – and so stand out from – the rest of the crowd?

Here’s a checklist that will help make your exhibition a PR and Social Media success…

1. Press release

The first priority on your event checklist should be to issue a press release previewing your attendance. You’ll need something that provides journalists and their readers with an overview of what they can expect to see on your stand. Issue a well-written and newsworthy story to your core media to meet any preview deadlines.

2. Press pack

This press release will also form the basis of an overview for your press pack, but you might want to include additional product press releases that provide in-depth information about any products being launched at the show. Also include a company profile if you have one, together with relevant product images. Don’t overload the pack with brochures or sales collateral. Submit your pack to organisers in good time and it will be made available for attending media.

3. Media interviews

Ask journalists to visit your stand for interviews and product showcases. Hundreds of exhibitors will vie for attention, so offer them a tempting story.  Prepare your staff and anticipate the questions that journalists might pose – especially on contentious issues.

4. Advertising and direct marketing

Direct marketing messages, whether to leads on your own database or to data gathered for the show, can highlight your attendance at the exhibition.  Advertising, meanwhile, generates brand awareness. Well placed advertising in online media also drives traffic to your website, especially when it carries a tantalising offer or incentive to visit your stand. Do ensure that any website you advertise on can provide accurate and meaningful metrics so you can judge the success of any campaign. And don’t forget affordable alternatives such as Google AdWords, sponsored tweets and LinkedIn ads.

5. Social media

Promote your attendance through posts on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.  YouTube is also a popular platform for uploading footage from the event and opens up a further audience that may have not attended the event but can still view the highlights. Provide teasers on what visitors can expect to see, promote incentives and post daily reports throughout the show using images and videos. A decent smartphone is perfectly adequate for capturing these if handled well. Ensure you know the hashtags and handles being used by the event organisers.  This will allow you to jump into other conversations around the exhibitions and exposes your posts to a wider audience.  Finally, exhibiting provides a great opportunity to increase your social media following, so promote your social media channels on printed materials and exhibition stand visuals.

6. Incentives

An incentive scheme can lure prospective customers to your stand. Often something like an iPad is offered, but this is an opportunity to be imaginative, to identify a hook that will resonate with your audience. For example, footfall can be driven by decent, readily accessible refreshments, workshops and brief technical presentations, giveaways, or by using promotional staff to tour the halls and send visitors to your stand.

7. Data capture

Exhibitions present a golden opportunity to capture sales leads. A pre-prepared email that thanks people for visiting your stand can be sent at the end of each day. It may seem obvious, but capture a visitor’s interests and grade them according to the business they might provide. After the event, supplement your data with any databases exhibition organisers or other sources are willing to share.

8. Speaking opportunities

Speaking opportunities at events allow you to share your technical expertise, demonstrate your understanding of the marketplace and build the profile of your executives. Keep any presentations brief and educational. Avoid overtly ‘sales speak’. And don’t forget to repurpose presentations as blogs, white papers or social media content after the show.

9. Video

Consider producing a video that captures your exhibition stand and products. The cost of hiring a professional crew has plummeted in recent years. Ask valued customers to answer a few questions on camera to produce short but powerful video testimonials for your website or YouTube channel. If a dedicated crew is beyond your budget, the exhibition organisers sometimes send a camera crew around the halls. It might be possible to get them to stop by your stand.

10. Establishing ROI

We’ve all heard the question – usually from the FD: “What will we gain by exhibiting?” Without metrics in place it is indeed difficult to establish the value of attending a show. However, marketing activity immediately after the exhibition should turn stand visitors into warm sales leads. The successful conversion of leads then allows you to accurately measure your return on investment. Overlaying this data with any media coverage generated, new social media followers and traffic to your website over the exhibition period will, in turn, capture any boost to brand awareness. Finally, don’t skip the all-important post-exhibition debrief. What worked? What didn’t?  What did you see that excited you from other exhibitors? After all, there’s always next year…

The 6 Ways of Improving SEO

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1 – Creating engaging content

Generating content can be one of the biggest challenges for organisations, and in 2014, one of the most important factors in organically improving SEO.

All content needs to read well, in addition to containing the targeted keywords and information in the meta tags and alt tags.  It is worth remembering that content on a site needs to be relevant to a search term in order for it to register in the search engine. Top Tip! – Content brimming with keywords can create a negative impact and may register as spam.  Try and write as naturally as possible – don’t let your keywords dictate your content! Use Google TrendsYahoo Buzz Log, and Google Adwords Keyword Tool for helpful ways building your keywords.

2 – Social media (although not technically a SEO bedfellow)

Today it is very rare in the UK to find a company doesn’t either use LinkedIn; Facebook; Google+; or indeed Twitter as part of its social media strategy.  Some consumers are even put off by a company not having any form of social media community.

Stop. Read. Tweet.

Social media is an increasingly valuable way for companies to provide customer support.  Companies are also utilising the purse-friendly advertising rates of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to help drive traffic to their websites and social media profiles. It can be the case that organisations get too ‘Twitter happy’ and forget about the end user.  Think about the tweets and make them give a new side to the same story.  For example some organisations tweet virtual copies of the same tweet, like this:

Tweet one  – The apple is red

Tweet two – The apple is crimson

Tweet three – The apple is burgundy

The tweets would be more interesting to the reader if they were padded and worded inversely, like this:

Tweet one – The juicy red #apple is exclusively selected for its plumpness and colour #iloveapples

Tweet two – Every year in the UK 490,000 tons of apples are consumed – that’s a lot of apples! #iloveapples

Tweet three – In 2007 the UK #apple market was worth around £115 million #iloveapples

You’ll notice that hashtags (#) have been used for the above three tweets, by doing this valuable information that is posted in the tweet will be readily findable and useful for customers looking to join the conversation. By tweeting additional information around your message, you can do a ‘double dip’ tweet where you are combining your messaging and brand with an added takeaway that may have more reach to a bigger audience; this will open the doors to social sharing.

3 – Get on the front page: PR coverage enhances SEO

In fact genuine earned media appearances are currently the most powerful form of SEO, and help to substantiate and amplify the messages in Pay Per Click ads.  We offer PR packages to suit all companies and will help clients get the most out of press coverage and target all the SEO sweet spots.

4 – Deep linking

It is important to ensure that relevant links go to different pages across your site.  This will allow you to identify the relevant links to each page.  This will help improve the users experience and allow search engines to pick up the valid content, boosting the overall page rank.  Links only going to a homepage are not viewed as important by search engines. Top Tip! – Do you have an events or blog page on your website?  Use these as your route into deep linking.  As your content changes on a regular basis you will be able to create links that can trigger the search engine to register your page and improve page rank visibility.

5 – Customer Reviews

Encourage happy customers to share their positive experiences with other customers online.  This is historically done through forums, however, more and more organisations are using social media as a way of directly targeting customer feedback.  It is also a useful way of improving your brand, with surveys and online polls.  Use free resources like twtpoll.com, polldaddy.com, and strawpollnow.com to generate more discussion.

6 – High Quality Content Checklist

Next time you set about publishing content on the web – do a quick content/SEO checklist:

  • Does the content have a strong intro, body and conclusion?
  • Contains research?
  • Offers the reader a solution?
  • Has a clear audience in mind?
  • Shares new information with the reader?
  • Gives a unique angle or debate to a topic news story?

Further Reading – The HGI SEO white paper is now available.  Please click here to download the PDF version. 

The SEO Zoo – recent changes to Google

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Google’s Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird algorithmic updates have meant that editorial quality and referral sites are now key (90% of UK searches are made through Google).

“What does SEO have to do with these various animals?” I hear you ask. Well, here’s a simple breakdown on each algorithm and what it means to us.

Panda

Google’s Panda algorithm came into the world in February 2011.  It’s an algorithm that is based on search result filtering.  Panda runs to help eliminate spamming, copy and paste, as well as its low quality content and back links.  When Panda vets sites that have these violations it replaces them with quality sites.

To prevent a decline in search rankings and traffic, continue or start to generate meaningful and original content on a daily basis – whether social media, blogs, press releases and website content.  These are all key factors in attracting the eye of the Panda!

Penguin

The Penguin 2.1 algorithm was created in October 2013 and helps sniff out spam links, resulting in a lowering of search rankings.

Although affecting just 1% of searches, it now means that web administrators and PRs will be penalised if they adopt so-called black hat techniques.*  Google has set out quality guidelines for inbound links and users need to remove offending links ASAP.  Naturally, we review all links on sites and ensure that sites are ‘Penguin friendly’.

Hummingbird

So far the biggest change happened in 2014, with the introduction of Google’s newest algorithm, Hummingbird.   The algorithm aims to give searches precisely what they are looking for.  So Google users can ask questions and receive results that actually attempt to answer the question, not just see it as a string of keywords.  This means we now look at ways that users can find content without relying on keywords. Addressing questions, commenting on hot topics and generating news related stories can help the Hummingbird ‘sing’!

What it all means

These changes mean that SEO and PR now share a fundamental requirement.  Both rely on highly relevant, informative and topical content.  In effect, we are now seeing a merger of the two practices as marketers seek to boost web traffic, and improve the resonance of their PR messages.

To use the well-trodden ‘content is king’ buzz phrase, content marketing is now the most effective way of earning links online.  So, on a practical level, this means that we ate Henley now look at a press release and, before a word has been written, closely consider how the intended target audience will use the information to repost onto other online communities.

Some food for thought

  • Start a blog or online community and publish information regularly
  • Think about SEO when writing any PR and marketing content, but don’t publish something just to have content ‘out there’ (this may have an adverse affect on SEO)
  • Keep content topical and distinctive through new arguments and debate that can entice the reader

*Black Hat Techniques – These are techniques that boost rankings in an unethical manner.  The techniques break search engine rules and regulations and present the content in a different visual way to both users and search engine spiders.

Further Reading – The HGI SEO white paper is now available.  Please click here to download the PDF version.

The Role of SEO in PR – The Basics

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Our next three blogs will address the growing importance of SEO strategy to press and public relations. In this first blog, we take a look at the basics.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a proven, cost-effective way to help organisations raise their visibility and generate leads for new business through valuable online activity.

By pairing SEO and PR, we help clients build links; drive traffic; optimise social shares; and gear up search engine visibility.  Increasingly, we see a merger of public relations and marketing communications with proven social media techniques and many of our clients have successfully incorporated SEO into their PR campaigns.

Each PR campaign is catered to incorporate SEO with the main objective of improving search rankings; lead generation; brand awareness; and sales conversions.

The Evolution of SEO

‘Old’ SEO

Old SEO

New’ SEO

Where SEO and PR meet

What does this mean day to day? Well, we assist clients in delivering topical, searchable content that is useful and helpful for each of our client’s communities.  New visitors to a site crave a ‘knowledge takeaway’ – a bite-sized nugget which can be used within their sector, specialism, or interest.  This will prove to visitors that a site provides a reliable source of topical and enlightening information, leading to the creation of sustainable communities – and allowing these communities to merge into other new environments through social sharing.

Engage!

So-called engagement platforms are becoming more and more sought after and we encourage clients to develop blogs using a sole spokesperson or a team of people that can address diverse issues.  On this basis, blogs become a useful way of engaging an audience with a two-way conversation.  Here are some benefits of running a company blog:

  1. Bringing new and existing customers to your website. Blogs attract new visitors from search engines, so keep your ear to the ground on any news relating to your sector that you could ‘jump on’. Include user-friendly links pointing back to the main website.
  2. Blog content can help keep a website fresh.  We suggest regular posts in order to fulfill the reader’s need for topical and up-to-the minute content.
  3. Brand yourself as an expert.  A blog helps position a company as an expert on a range of issues.  Having too much product information on your websites may be tiring for visitors, but creating a blog can maintain interest.
  4. Answer customer questions.  By opening up a virtual forum for customers, organisations can answer questions and show that they are happy to engage with online communities.

Getting the Most out of a Press Release

Press releases that are optimised to include multimedia assets and links to social channels are also effective for SEO.  We identify popular keywords and inject them into press releases for clients, whilst remaining sensitive to the story being told. Videos, podcasts, case studies and whitepapers are also used to provide a powerful boost to the traditional press release.

 

Further Reading – The HGI SEO white paper is now available.  Please click here to download the PDF version.

Plus ça change…

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Marketing Week has published a range of essays on the subject of the changing role of PR and communications. They really are worth a read.

The always excellent Michael Barnett provides an introduction and while he makes many valid points, is the realisation that “PR is no longer simply about securing media coverage” really such a ‘revelation’?

Experiences here at Henley suggest that most organisations even 20 years ago understood that effective PR campaigns combine creative thinking and strategic insight. Most saw ‘the bigger picture’, even back then.

And to another point made in the piece, every campaign the Henley Group has ever planned, worked on, or measured, has put the target audience front and centre – before considering the messages that would resonate best.

Does PR face new challenges? Absolutely. Are these complicated by the adoption of new communications channels? Yes, indeed. Have the habits and preferences of campaign audiences changed, and will they continue to change ? Yes, and yes again.

The fundamental need for PRs to understand and engage with an audience, develop creative yet hardworking campaigns, and provide measurement of their success is well established, and remains crucial despite these new challenges.