The 6 Ways of Improving SEO


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,, and 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


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.


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!


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’.


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


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


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.


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…


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.

For the record…


Our latest edition of Passnotes considers whether the press release remains useful to marketers in today’s online world.

In considering the topic, we went back to basics to consider what makes a good press release.  The findings are not surprising, but it’s useful to address them again – if only because so many of the press releases that land on a journalist’s desk fall foul of the recommendations noted here…

  1. Consider very closely whether your announcement really is news
  2. Focus on the Who, What, When, Where – but most importantly, Why?
  3. Consider that many journalists still edit from the top down
  4. Adopt the correct tone, avoiding ‘sales speak’ or marketing terms
  5. Banish jargon, buzzwords or impenetrable technology from the text
  6. Use correct grammar and punctuation and adopt the third person
  7. Keep the release short – around 500 words.  It’s not a feature article
  8. Provide attributable and interesting quotes
  9. Accompany the release with visually arresting pictures
  10. Include a detailed boilerplate with contact information and background

Readers of our latest Passnotes will see we have added to this list by offering tips that help make the press release more relevant, useful and versatile in today’s news environment.  It can be downloaded here.

Why ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ don’t always mean business growth


On the day that Twitter will go to market with a value of $2.2 billion, it’s interesting to note the comments of Mary Jo White, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States.

The Financial Times notes that Chair White questioned whether investors could understand a tech company’s size or future prospects on the basis of “unique financial or operational metrics”.

For metrics, read familiar social media terms such as followers, user numbers or even likes.

Her comments may resonate with many businesses.  In a recent new business meeting, a senior Director at a high-tech engineering company asked us what social media could for his business.  He was genuinely interested in the potential; but needed to be convinced that followers and likes could translate into sales and revenue.

I hope we showed that social media activity on behalf of our clients has brought real business benefits. Crucially, however, where these benefits have been gained it is because social media activity was tied to real and demonstrable business goals; not just the accumulation of the “unique operational metrics” that Mary Jo White claims are no guarantee of profits for investors.

Interestingly, Chair White calls for “clear description” from tech companies. Businesses should perhaps ask for the same when it comes to social media.

Social Taboos


We are now heavily involved in social media activity on behalf of clients. In fact, this part of our business has grown considerably over the last three years as B2B organisations in the industrial, technical and IT sectors have woken up to the importance of social media.

Once viewed as the reserve of large consumer brands, there is growing recognition that B2B organisations have much to gain from setting up their own social media networks;  engaging with customers and reaping the benefits before their competitors do.

Our clients use social media to support the sales process, to bind customers more closely to their organisations and to handle customer queries. And as more trade and business media embrace channels such as Twitter, we can target journalists with news and announcements, and identify additional opportunities for media exposure.

To answer a common question; yes, some social media are more appropriate for B2B use than others. Twitter? Of course. YouTube? Yes. Facebook? Maybe. We recommend that clients fully exploit LinkedIn – especially Groups and Discussions – to create a presence on an increasingly influential conduit to customers, routes to market, and internal audiences.

Of course, social media is a relatively new area of marketing activity and the technology that supports it is changing all the time. There are plenty of pitfalls and many organisations have discovered that a mistake is easily made.

At best a mistake might mean a missed opportunity. At worst it can damage to your brand and reputation.

So, while the internet is awash with tips on social media success, our first blog addresses some common mistakes that are easy to make. Consider this list carefully and see if you are guilty also…

    Undertaking social media activity for its own sake without a clear idea of what is trying to be achieved.
    Instead of treating it as simply another channel and an extension of what you are already doing.
    Letting internal audiences use social media without any guidance or understanding of acceptable or preferred usage.
    Keeping it ‘hidden’ in marketing, instead of using it as a tool that benefits the whole business.
    Creating your own groups, platforms and networks instead of tapping into the ones that are already used.
    Writing that doesn’t consider the audience being targeted – or the requirements of the channel.
    Engaging with audiences only when you can instead of devoting regular time and effort to communicate.
    Measuring activity in terms of “follows”, “likes” and “retweets”; but not terms that mean something to the business.
    Instead of recognising that it takes time to get social media off the ground and working properly.
    Instead of choosing the channels that work best with your business and are of most interest to your audiences.

Download our white paper on social media here!