How Long Does It Take To Rank Top 10 On Google?

Anyone who’s ever tried to outsource their Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) efforts knows that when you ask an SEO expert how long this will take, the answer is always ‘it depends’.

And they are right.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking… GIF Source

It depends on thousands of factors and there is no exact formula or ‘one size fits all’ approach. However, some factors that we do know play a key role:

  • Domain Authority;
  • Keyword Competition;
  • Content Quality.

And also it seems AGE.

So I hear you ask…

Does Page Age Make A Difference To Google Rank Position?

Yes. Ahrefs took 2 million random keywords on Google and pulled data from the top 10 ranking pages and found that Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is dominated by “old” pages:

  • 95% of pages in the Top 10 positions are over 12 months old;
  • The average Top 10 ranking page is 2+ years old;
  • The average age for a Number 1 ranking is almost 3 years old.

Waiting for your content to rank like… GIF Source

So, what strategies can you employ to speed that process up?

Competition Analysis

It sounds obvious, but many people still don’t do it – analyse what your successful competitors are doing!

Ask questions like:

  • What are they doing?
  • How are they doing it?
  • Can you copy/mimic or even improve on their efforts?

Use a strategy that works, and if you can, improve it.

Use a strategy that works; make sure that you constantly review it to ensure you are always using the most effective strategy to make your website rank higher.

To help you along the way, you may need a few tools:

  • BuzzSumo can tell you what content on your competitor’s websites are getting shared the most (shares are good to increase social signals).
  • Moz’s Open Site Explorer allows you to see everything from domain & page authority to inbound links and root domains;
  • Screaming Frog SEO Spider crawls websites’ links, images, Clinical Classifications Software (CSS), script and apps to evaluate onsite SEO.

Which leads us to…

On-Page Optimisation

So, after you’ve done your competitor analysis, the first thing you should do is optimise your website for on-page elements.

You should include things like:

  • Relevant content to the subject;
  • Keyword optimization;
  • HTML Tags;
  • Images:
  • Inbound & Outbound links.

The website plugin by Yoast is a great tool to help you get this right. It gives you tips and suggestions on how to improve your on-page SEO; for example:

Yoast SEO Plugin

Next…

Generate Backlinks

When you’ve got your on-page elements correct, you are essentially telling Google ‘this is what we do’; however, in order to rank well, you also need independent online sources to ‘recommend you’; this is easily achieved by generating backlinks to your content/website.

However, any old backlink won’t do. You must get backlinks from high domain ranking websites. Quality is better than quantity.

So how do links pass Domain Authority?

A great link building strategy is to create an infographic on your subject (Venngage is a great tool for this) and send to other audiences who might be interested and willing to share it with their audience. Once they share it, voila, you have a free backlink.

Next on the agenda…

Google Snippets

Google snippets are designed to answer your search questions at the top of a Google page. You will recognise them as looking something like this:

Google Snippet

Known as “position zero”, you can gain the top spot on Google, even if your linked content isn’t at the top of the rankings itself.

The way to achieve a ‘Rich Snippet’ is by creating content which answers a question, such as ‘how to make a pancake?’.

In order to achieve this top position, your content subtitle should be the question that needs asking and the next paragraph should answer that question precisely.

Bear in mind that Google reads your content like a robot which means you need to organise your content logically; if you do, you might even get your own snippet. If you don’t, forget about ranking in position zero.

And finally, something which goes without saying…

Don’t Forget Social Media For SEO

Some people will tell you that social media has nothing to do with SEO.

They are wrong… GIF Source

As we know, Google takes into account thousands of pieces of information in order to rank your website. When someone searches for a topic within your subject area, search engines do consider social media in rankings.

In particular, they look at:

  • How active your social media accounts are;
  • How up to date they are;
  • How many shares your website gets.

It has also been proven that a strong presence on social media has a positive correlation with better website rankings.

So there 😛 GIF Source

And don’t forget, social media offers 2.7 billion social media users. You’d be crazy not to utilise it as a sales tool.

So What Now?

SEO is sometimes over complicated. It’s all a matter of knowing what strategy to employ, putting in the hours and being patient.

As we know, 95% of websites/content can take up to 12 months to rank well in Google, however, if you get it all right, you may just find yourself ranking in a day:

How Long Does It Take To Rank In Google

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By James Rowland, Business Development Director at Neathouse Partners Ltd

New opportunities for workers over 50

Blog by Marzena Reszka

People in the UK are living longer than ever before – a major achievement of modern science and healthcare. Older people make up a growing proportion of the population, and so make an increasing contribution to society.

However, the UK is not making the most of the opportunities afforded by an ageing population. Too many people are forced out of work in later life by poor health or unwelcoming attitudes in the workplace. Too few people access the training they need to adapt to a changing labour market. Too many families face the choice between working and providing care for a loved one. Too few homes meet the needs of older people.

At Staffordshire University we have a project to support over 50s who want some enterprise and skills training. This will help develop both the confidence, mind-set and skills in this area. It is worth remembering that people in their 40s and 50s are the most likely to start up a business.

Smiling

As the population ages, so will the UK workforce. The productivity and economic success of the UK is increasingly tied to that of older workers. Thus, learning and training  becomes of even greater importance as the population ages.

The proportion of the working age population aged between 50 and the state pension age (SPA) will increase to 35% in 2050 – an increase of approximately 8 million people. Encouraging older people to remain in work will help society to support growing numbers of dependents, while providing individuals with the financial and mental resources needed for longer periods of retirement.

Population ageing and increased life expectancy changed traditional thinking about learning. Longer working lives and other changes to the labour market means workers need to be more adaptable than they were before. More broadly, evidence shows that life-long participation in learning can improve people’s health, cognition, wellbeing and resilience. The need to reduce the level of dependency in society means that learning, and any other tool for extending the period of time that people can live independently, is increasingly important.

We therefore, need employers support a multigenerational workforce maximising the opportunities for older workers, and secondly we need to support older workers to take a new direction or for those unemployed return to working. This is where self-employment can offer a more flexible form of working, that may allow older people to stay in work for longer.

Moreover, the age profile of self-employed people they tend to be older than employees are, with 43% of those recorded as self-employed are over the aged 50 compared to 27%, which are employees. Age UK says that older workers are more likely to have a higher chance of success with over 70 per cent of these businesses lasting over five years compared to only 28 per cent set up by younger entrepreneurs.

Here is a few questions to ask yourself:

Do you have a hobby or interest in an area you could turn into a business? Do you want a better work-life balance? Are you unemployed, facing redundancy or looking for a change? Are you wondering how to set up a community interest company?

The training will look at how to come up with a business idea in the first place. It will explore if it could be viable. In addition, once you know what you want to do we then guide you through the process of how to set it up. We can help you to identify who your customers will be and how to promote your product to them.

The project is funded by the EU and includes partners from trade unions in Italy, and business organisations in Spain, Belgium and Portugal all working together to deliver a good training package and to help boost life-long learning and economic recovery.

The training is free and if you are interested please contact  Hazel Squire h.squire@staffs.ac.uk  01782 294985 or Jon Fairburn jon.fairburn@staffs.ac.uk 01782 294094 at Staffordshire University.

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Facebook, Engagement Baiting, And What Not To Do…

Asking for ‘likes’, ‘tag a friend’ or ‘share this post’ is now being marked down by Facebook. A prime example below…

Yes, we’ve all done it…

“Tag someone who might be interested”

We all do it because it works (or did work).

That post back in October ’17 on Weston Cricket Clubs Facebook Page reached over 2000 users, whilst updates without a ‘nudge’ are lucky to reach 200. This was achieved by simply asking followers to engage with the post.

However…

Last month (18th December 2017) Facebook announced a new crackdown on what it calls Engagement Baiting.

What Is Engagement Baiting And Why Doesn’t Facebook Like It?

Engagement Baiting is the process of ‘tricking’ users into engaging with a post. The practice is designed to make a post or page rank higher in Facebook user newsfeeds by achieving more engagement.

Facebook has named 5 forms of Engagement Baiting it is taking action on:

  1. Vote Bait – Using a different reaction to represent a vote on a post;
  2. React Baiting – Asking a Facebook user to express how they feel about a post;
  3. Share Baiting – Asking you to share a post or page with a friend;
  4. Tag Baiting – Asking you to tag your friends in a post;
  5. Comment Baiting – Asking users to respond with a specific phrase, word, or number to a post.
Engagement Baiting Facebook

Image Source: FACEBOOK

Why Is This Important?

Simply put, brands, influencers and companies use this technique to get more organic engagement with a post, which can help them:

  • Generate visibility;
  • Give exposure to new audiences;
  • Ensure your content is being seen;
  • Grow their audience;
  • Potentially help them make more sales.

Facebook now considers Engagement Baiting to be spam.

What Have Facebook Said?

Facebook will start demoting content which they feel are ‘spammy posts’ that actively solicit users to interact with a post in a specific way.

The purpose is to allow for more meaningful posts, pages and conversations on Facebook and improve its user experience.

If you engage in this type of activity, you can expect your page and posts to be demoted.

Oh no… GIF Source

Facebook has given page admins guidance on Facebook Newsfeeds which they encourage all to read.

Posts, where people ask for help, advice or recommendations, will not be considered as Engagement Baiting and as such, will not be impacted by the update. These include missing person reports, charity work or asking for tips on writing a blog.

How Will Facebook Do It?

According to SEJ, Facebook will collect hundreds of thousands of examples of Engagement Baiting posts and pages and train an algorithm to detect the different versions. This will happen automatically.

So…

Click here to share this post on your Facebook newsfeed.

By James Rowland, Business Development Director at Neathouse Partners Ltd 

Google AdWords Basics: What Beginners Should Know

When starting out with Google AdWords, it can be very confusing. There are many aspects to consider and it is easy to waste a lot of money very quickly.

Google AdWords has much more to offer than the basics but it is very complicated to do well.

Nevertheless, having reviewed various accounts in my time, there are some basics beginners miss and MUST know about.

Keywords

Having a keyword strategy in place is imperative. Beginners go wrong by picking 100’s or even 1000’s of keywords and bidding on all of them.

Google Keyword Planner

This will bleed your budget before knowing what keywords convert and which do not. You will very likely end up with no budget left and no return on investment (ROI).

What they must do is hone in on the ones which matter.

Take a step back and think about your target audience and ask yourself:

  • What do they want?
  • What will they specifically search for?

At the start of any Google AdWords campaign, it is better to be narrow with your keywords than too broad.

Over time, you can broaden your campaign by using a more detailed keyword strategy, such as the Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAG’s) strategy.

It’s also important to check your negative keywords daily, or if you do not have the time, at least once a week as a minimum.

Conversions

A conversion is a process of showing an outcome from a click on your website.

This could be to gain a potential leads contact details, download an e-book or making a sale.

This easiest way to set this up on your website it by having a specific ‘Thank You’ page which can only be accessed when someone completes the outcome and link your conversion to that page. There are other ways, but this is the simplest. There is lots of free advice online to help you do this.

Google Conversions

Once this has been completed, you can then analyse what keywords are the best for you (and to know your campaign is working), and what keywords do not work so you can stop budget spend on what doesn’t work – and maybe funnel more budget into the keywords that do (just my logical suggestion).

Once you’ve set up conversions, you need to know your cost per conversion breakpoint.

Without knowing this, you will not know your maximum bid you can budget for to make a
‘return on ad spend’ (ROAS).

Here are 5 steps to working out your cost per conversion breakpoint.

This is vitally important as if pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns are too expensive you may need to rethink your marketing strategy. Dropbox is a good example. They had an aggressive AdWords PPC campaign, but it was quickly stopped when they had a $300 customer acquisition cost. Instead, they introduced a free referral program.

Ad Copy

Oli Gardner from Unbounce suggests that 98 percent of ads are a waste of money. What you do not want when you’re first setting up your AdWords campaign is bad ad copy.

Good ad copy can boost your click through rate (CTR) and thus positively affect your quality score (QS) which will result in a cheaper cost per click and increase your potential ROI.

In order to have good ad copy, follow these 5 steps:

  • Use Statistics – Statistics in your ad copy are a great way of grabbing attention and differentiating ads from your competitors.
  • Remove Pricing – analysis of top performing ads shows just 40 percent of top-performing branded ads and 37 percent of non-branded ads included pricing.
  • Use Promotions – It’s no secret, using promotions and discounts in ads are older than time itself, and guess what, they work!
  • Punctuation! – Use exclamation marks. SEJ found a significant increase in CTR when testing ad copy with an exclamation mark, and without one.
  • Appeal to Emotion – Ads that appeal to people’s emotion can result in positive results with their CTR. You can even use a headline analyser to test your headline out.

Google AdWords Ad Copy Template

Post Click Strategy

So you’ve found the best keywords, you’ve got great ad copy with a high CTR and you’ve set up conversions, but you’re not actually getting any. This is where your post click strategy comes into play.

You need to make sure you have a landing page specifically targeting the Keyword the visitor has come to the website from. If they want to buy frozen vegetable, the landing page should be about buying frozen vegetables.

The best way to design your landing page is by firstly, creating a page within the parameters of best practice for Conversation Rate Optimisation (CRO) techniques, and then A/B testing the pages with various controlled variables.

Unbounce is a great tool for creating and then split testing pages.

Basics Covered, But What Next?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking once you’ve mastered the basics, that’s all there is to Google AdWords.

There are numerous additional elements you will need to research and add to your account as you learn, these include:

  • Ad Extensions;
  • Google Display Network;
  • Advanced Settings.

As with anything in Digital Marketing, the more you learn, the more pitfalls you’ll avoid which will result in greater success for you and your business.

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By James Rowland, Business Development Director   at Neathouse Partners Ltd 

Enterprise training for 50 somethings and over

Are you aged 50 or over and are you thinking about setting up your own business? Or maybe you just fancy exploring a few ideas and getting some training?

Do you have a hobby or interest in an area you could turn into a business? Do you want a better work-life balance? Are you unemployed, facing redundancy or looking for a change? If the answer to any of these questions is yes then sign up now to this exciting new training course with the Business School at Staffordshire University.

We are offering you the opportunity to participate in a free face to face and online learning course that has been developed through identifying the needs of older workers. Through coaching, mentoring and training provided you will potentially be able to develop the entrepreneurial and enterprising knowledge and skills necessary to set up your own business.

Older woman facing camera behind flowers

We will look at areas such as how to obtain finance for your business and assess its viability. We even look at how to come up with a business idea in the first place, and once you know what you want to do we then guide you through the process of how to set it up. We help you to identify who your customers will be and how to promote your product to them. For those of you who feel you lack confidence we look at how to overcome some of the obstacles and barriers to ensure success.

The first of these courses will commence on 31st January 2018 and will include approximately 40 hours of face to face and online learning over a period of 1-3 months. The training is flexible so that you can choose to study the areas that best suit your needs. Following the training you will be signposted to a range of mentoring and support in the development of your business.

To register your interest in the course, please complete the application form using one of the links below. If you have completed the downloadable application form, please return it to Tom Ward at t.ward@staffs.ac.uk or the postal address detailed on the form. Should you require further information or a hard copy of the form, you can e-mail Tom or contact him on 01782 294902.

Online application form

Downloadable application form

Twitter: @silver_workers

Silver Workers "Use your expertise" logo

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Esports. Is it a game changer for UK education?

Staffordshire University Business School has become the first British University to launch an esports degree. The course focuses on the business and culture of esports from developing teams, communities and a fan base to hosting esports events.

Staffordshire University has invested heavily in new facilities as part of a £40m transformation of its Stoke-on-Trent campus and academics feel the University is well placed to plug into rapidly growing sectors like esports which is the practice of playing video games competitively over the internet or via networked computers in venues and stadiums.

Already Staffordshire University has responded to the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment’s (Ukie) white paper on esports by introducing a module on esports in their Games Degree.

Back in January, Dr Fletcher, Head of the Games and Visual Effects at Staffordshire University said:

“The module which is available to students on our Games Studies course is a fascinating branch of cultural studies. It looks at the national, and international market for esports, and the cultural aspects that drive it as well as the darker side of cheating and doping by esports players. Games designers are growing up and that brings with it new trends in gaming which comes with its own set of ethical dilemmas.”

Other countries around the world have recognised esports as part of the curriculum for some years.  In South Korea, where the first esports association was set up 17 years ago, they have been accepting esports players onto their sports programmes for four years. At the Asia Pacific University in Malaysia, students can complete certificates in League of Legends, DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. In Norway,  the Garnes Vidaregaande high school pupils can opt for esports and can study for up to five hours per week, they focus not just on game play but also combine physical exercise in the mix.

One thing all these esports educators have in common is an agreement that esports provides a vast amount of transferable skills to the participants.

Top skills for esports:

  1. Teamworking
  2. Resilience
  3. Stamina
  4. Problem Solving
  5. Communication
  6. Endurance
  7. Decision Making
  8. Leadership
  9. Critical thinking
  10. Analytical

The students on Staffordshire University Business School’s BA (Hons) esports will also have classes in event management, digital marketing, the legal side of esports and streaming techniques. This will make sure that when they leave university they’ll have all the right skills to prepare them for a great career. With huge growth predicted in this area there are lots of job opportunities.  Many recruitment agencies, like Odgers Berndston have set up separate divisions to deal with esports careers and there are even some new sites that have sprung up like ‘esports Careers’ who are currently listing almost 500 vacancies.  The British esports Association lists over 12 career paths on its website, here are a few:

  1. Shoutcaster/host
  2. Coach/analyst
  3. Journalist/content creator
  4. PR/Marketing executive
  5. Community/social media manager
  6. Broadcast/production crew
  7. Event manager

To find out more about esports at Staffordshire University Business School visit the website staffs.ac.uk.

Rachel Gowers MBA
Associate Dean
Staffordshire University Business School

 

Technology, Opportunity and Entrepreneurship

Technology has fabulously changed our jobs market since it transformed the production landscape during the industrial revolution, but even more so in the past three decades. Like in the 16th century, many jobs that were once considered crucial are now obsolete, and new job descriptions are being created in the labour market even as many forms of automation are presently being integrated into the production process. One does not have to go far to see how technology has changed our lives in forms of communication, transportation, work and leisure. Your being able to read this article has been greatly enhanced by technology and I as the writer have had to have some basic skills in technology to be able to deliver this article to you.

As an economist, there used to be a time when my profession worried about what humankind would do when we ran out of oil but recent technological advancements have once again rendered that discussion archaic. There also used to be a time when the factors of production were firmly believed to be land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship but some economists will argue that there is a need to include one additional factor of production in the modern era – you guessed it “technology”.

So what does this mean for young people as they decide their future? Should we be scared of this trend? How far reaching will advancements in technology be felt? Humankind has been very fortunate to have been able to grasp the benefits of technology and we have used it to live longer healthier lives, explore space and other planetary objects, and open great doors for the future but we have also made many mistakes along the way. Young people need to wary of this and know that they have to be the ones to decide on how we harness this power and what we use it for.

Business Management students at BMW in Munich

Business Management students at BMW in Munich

My area of focus in economic research right now is entrepreneurship and I became interested in entrepreneurship particularly because entrepreneurs are the ones who combine all the other factors of production to actually benefit humankind. Without the entrepreneur, other factors of production would be idle. Entrepreneurs however need to be somewhat knowledgeable to be able to do their jobs properly. Adam Smith, one of my favourite economists used the example of a small grocery to illustrate this point:

“The owner of such an enterprise [a business] must be able to read, write, account, and must be a tolerable judge too of perhaps, fifty to sixty different sorts of goods, their prices, qualities, and the market where they are to be had cheapest.”

This example shows that a business owner needs a modest amount of education to function profitably. This education might not necessarily be formal but the entrepreneur must know their stuff.

In our current society we are awash with technological advancements and these seem to be changing the way we live and do business. Businesses that have not kept abreast of current vagaries or have been slow to make investments in innovation have found themselves left behind, and entrepreneurs will need to know that they will face the same fate if they do not stay knowledgeable about technological developments that affect their customers and market.

This also presents some opportunities for entrepreneurs as they can be avant-gardists and influencers of the future. Imagine the impact that innovators have had on our current society not just in terms of social media but virtually in all productive fields. The world needs smart means of using its limited resources to improve the quality of our lives, and individuals who can do this successfully will be blessed with the commensurate rewards.

A holistic education is thus needed to be successful in the present climate as well as an open mind and the right sort of social capital. As the saying goes “no one is an island” and “many hands make light work”. Business owners and potential successful entrepreneurs will also be wise not to jump into the water with both feet but to test out their ideas and products carefully before venturing out boldly into the wide world.