Recent changes in the Google’s algorithm can affect your page ranking and sales

Paul Dobson, Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School


According to a number of reports Google has implemented a substantial search engine algorithm update in January, plus a number of smaller ones in February 2020 … But what does this mean for businesses?

The Google search engine uses a combination of algorithms and numerous ranking signals to deliver webpages ranked by relevance on its search engine results pages (SERPs) and we’ve seen these changes have a direct impact on the Google Analytics results and effectiveness of the customer journey to gain sales for businesses. An example of this, is the page ranking has changed to be more themed based.  However, there are ways for businesses to enable their website to be high up in the SERP. These include :-

1.  Snippets Dominate More Search Clicks

Google has changed over recent years with the aim to deliver better search results for the reader, examples include providing the answers through featured Snippets which appear above the organic results. For example, I’ve search “how to walk in snow”

For your website to take advantage of this, you need to provide clear answers to commonly asked questions in your website area of interest. These featured Snippets are evaluated and boosted to the top depending on their quality, with the results that 54.68% of clicks from Google come from featured Snippets. There are various ways to create featured snippet at the top of the page but the key ways include :-

  • Create something better than the current Answer Card / Provide updated information, and Google will prioritise this ‘Freshness’
  • Take the most frequent People Also Asked questions, listed in the Google search, and create content to match*
  • Focus on the most frequently asked types of questions: “How”, “Is” and “Why”

2. Keywords no longer work

Trying to pack key words into landing pages is no longer effective.  Google is using more natural language and wants to independently rank websites and use them as quality data sources.  Your website needs to be written as a natural language rather than trying to pack key words at the top, and consider the long key words that readers may use to find your website.  In addition, you need to consider your website as an overall themed area rather than a mixture of items or topics, for example if you’re selling car parts do not include information blogs on other areas such as toys, or if you do include other areas setup robot.txt and sitemap.xml so that Google does not to index them and get confused. 

3. Mobile User Experience (UX) affects your ranking and Sales.

On some of the websites that we use for student demonstrations of Customer Experience, (CX) User Experience (UX) and Google Analytics (for example https://aubergedechabanettes.com/ ) we can see up to 80% of the hits to the websites are from smart-mobiles in some weeks. A website that is not mobile compatible will lose customers especially as mobile access is a growing trend. How people find information using their mobile devices is also getting more advanced, so your website must be easy to read, grab people’s attention and then can answer their questions or keep them entertained.   If you own a business based at a property such as a Hotel, Restaurant, Bar and Beauty Salon, local SEO is vitally important. Studies show that 4 in 5 consumers conduct local searches on search engines using their mobile devices. Google now allows customers, at a click of a button, to navigate to you, call you or even book directly. 

4. Websites Optimize for Voice Search such and Alexa and OK Google

With the growing use of mobile devices and home devices, voice searches are becoming an increasing trend. These searches are not only done on phones, but they can also be performed on home voice assistants such as the Amazon Echo, Samsung Smart TV, Voice Pod, etc.

Questions asked via voice instead of entering search queries are going to make short choppy keywords less relevant and therefore search terms have become more conversational and targeted. This increasing use of voice searches has already had an impact of Google’s algorithms and Artificial Intelligence systems since the search engine needs to do more work to get the relevant information that the user is looking for.

5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the way forward.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an important technology behind Google to deliver better search results to its users to create personalized experiences for consumers.  The AI has been learning the characteristics of what makes websites of high quality or not, then classifies these web pages and determines their rankings.  Therefore, high-quality content is essential for effective SEO strategies. Users want content that is relevant, helpful, and timely, so Google tends to place websites with consistently themed high-quality content with higher search engine rankings.

If you’d like to know more about becoming an expert in using data driven strategies to lead businesses to success including how to use data to analyse, design and test elaborate customer experience systems in the customer journey to optimise growth, plus learning to work in development environments for Fitbit, Alexa and Google home and mobile devices/smartwatches/ smart home devices as well developing using cloud computing, have a look at our MSc in Customer and Data Analytics.


Author :-

Paul Dobson is a Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School in Digital and Strategic Marketing. He is actively involved in supporting local and EU charities and businesses especially hospitality businesses such as hotels and restaurants. Further details can be seen at https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulmddobson/

Ultimate Google Ads Guide for SME’s: 3 steps to increase return on Ads spend

Eerik Beeton, MSc Digital Marketing Management student


Return on Advertising Spend
Increase return on Ads spend with these 3 steps!

There are a few reasons why your Google Ads might not work as well for your business as it seems to work for your competitors. Make sure you follow these three steps and you’re guaranteed to be more productive with your Google Ads.

Many businesses have struggled to make most out of their digital marketing efforts and have employed strategies where they use an external marketing agency to handle paid digital marketing. I’m here to suggest that outsourcing Pay Per Click and Cost Per Mille (PPC/CPM) is not sensible anymore in the 2020’s. Why would you pay someone else to do what you can do yourself?

To prove this to you, the next three steps in this blog will bring to your attention some issues around outsourcing your Google Ads and how to do it yourself to both save money and increase the effectiveness of your paid ads!

1. Exploit automation, lose that agency and save up to half of the cost

Historically, making your ads has been time-consuming and has required a lot of technical input from marketers to stay in top of the game. Year 2019 was the year of automation, this also changed how PPC works. Now your PPC can be automated with budget diversification and smart audience targeting, making the use of an agency inferior. I’m listing more handy tools throughout this blog so keep reading!

If you buy click-based advertising services (Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), a service provider will usually charge a 10-20% of the ad spend and a minimum monthly fee for their work. If your competitor advertises their services in-house for £300 per month and you outsource this service, then your advertising spend on Google AdWords is £150-200. This gives your competitor 30-50% higher advertising budget and an advantage.

As the average return on advertising pounds spend on google is 1 pound spent, 2 earned, you’re most likely giving your profits away using  a marketing agency.

2. Optimise and save up to 69% on your Ads

Understanding you Ad quality score can help you to create better campaigns and improve your digital marketing as a whole.

Poorly optimised Google Ads are a costly mistake, not only are they more expensive but they won’t get your business the leads they are after.  Once you get your Ads optimised, your Ad spend can be decreased by 69%.

Maybe the most important part of your Google Ads optimisation is that they need to be eligible for Google auctions. This means that your ads need to focus on a few strange terms like Quality Score, Maximum Bid and Ad rank. Ad rank is influenced by the maximum cost-per-click (CPC) you choose for your ad and your ad’s Quality Score. In the following, I will explain how you can create the best quality score for your ads.

To improve the quality score of your ads, focus on the following 4 strategies

  • Use keyword planning to increase relevance of your adds by making ad groups based on keywords
  • Optimise your ads for higher Click-through-Rate (CTR) by using focus keywords and Google Ads extensions, like call to actions and contact options.
  • Improve the quality of your landing page. This can be achieved by (re)targeting your ad and landing pages using long-tailed keywords or by using Dynamic advertising.
  • Be patient! Google’s algorithms will take more than a few days to improve the quality score of your Ads and being patient is the key to measure the improvements.

If reading pages of descriptions is not for you, I’ve also included a 4-minute video clip on the strategies for your convenience.

3. Set tracking and retarget customers to get 3x more leads

Retargeting Ads are 76% more likely to be clicked on than regular Display Ads. Therefore, building accurate conversion tracking is important for improving the results of your advertising. This is important as it will show how the customer actually behaved on the site.

Often, micro-conversions, such as referral browsing, shopping cart additions,, are ignored in tracking. However, they are essential metrics that tell about the quality of traffic and enable accurate re-marketing to visitors who completed a specific activity. This can also be used to track the performance of your paid advertising and to make changes accordingly. See the short video below on how to set you tracking!

The importance of setting conversion actions to help your customer tracking is essential; if you’re not sure how to do this here’s a link to a Google Ads article that explains it step by step.

Lastly, understanding the whole customer journey and to assess all the steps is important. By setting tracking and using retargeting can feed into 3 times more leads for your campaigns.

Future-proof your Google Ads revenue

Google has focused heavily on machine learning and keeps finessing the technology in order to deliver helpful and frictionless customer experience. There have been some setbacks in the technology and most of the features are not fully functioning for the SME’s, but this said: – The year 2020 will be the year to look out for improvements in:

Next big things in the early 2020’s

Google has focused heavily on machine learning and keeps finessing the technology in order to deliver helpful and frictionless customer experience. There has been some setbacks in the technology and most of the features are not fully functioning for the SME’s but this said: – The year 2020 will be the year to look out for improvements in:

The power of branding #racetowin 2019

Prof. Vish maheshwari, Associate dean and professor of marketing


It is that time of the year again when festivities are in full swing for the imminent arrival of Christmas. There is a special feeling around mostly ‘merry’ but with a touch of somewhat uncertainty about few other developments that I would like to avoid discussing on this occasion!!

However, concentrating on the interesting #racetowin approach from most retailers to acquire as much customer interest, awareness and conviction (in the form of business), it is fascinating to see and experience how power of branding and varied marketing communication strategy is put in action.

From emotion to cognition, symbolic to functional and logical, social to societal aspects, but all with a touch of empathy, being crafted by retailers to connect with their customers at the time of this wonderful festive season. Below are some of the examples to understand application and delivery of brand essence through impactful storytelling:

McDonalds’ Christmas advert portrays close bond between Archie the imaginative reindeer and a young girl called Ellie, displaying the love and togetherness for families.

(Image: McDonald’s)

As usual much awaited each year, John Lewis (and Waitrose) advert this time aims at combining the sense of joy, love, compassion, excitement and friendship between a little girl Ava and a young dragon called Edgar.

(Image: John Lewis & Partners/PA)

Whereas, Boots have focused its advert around practicalities and struggle to find the right gift for your loved ones and is part of its wider festive campaign ‘Gift Like You Get Them’. This is alongside the launch of its new and creative approach through developing various personas to find perfect gifts using curated edits online called Boots ‘Boutique’ covering both offline and online platforms.

On the other hand, the online retailer Very.co.uk has focused its Christmas campaign around important aspect of community spirit promoting a powerful message of social responsibility and sharing the joyfulness of festivities by ‘act of giving’ and collectiveness.


Finally, it’s the return of Amazon’s singing boxes again for third year in a row but with a better emotional touch where the delivery of Christmas gifts through these boxes claim to play an important part in bringing smiles for your loved ones and create wonderful festive memories.

The examples above demonstrates that the concept of delivering brand essence and identity through meaningful interactions. Using relevant messages helps in connecting with customers through different attributes across all channels of integrated marketing communication. It also develops a recognisable brand image for recollection and reconnection with a positive impact and assured conviction during ‘selection/choice making’ stage as part of buying behaviour process. It reinforces the power of brand and branding that goes beyond mere physical and experiential attributes of a product or service.

To end – it is important to assert what philosopher Stephen King once stated that ‘products can be quickly outdated but a successful brand is timeless’


#GEW2019

About Global Entreprenuership Week:

From the 18-24November, Global Entrepreneurship Week inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities…Continue reading

Learn more about Global Entreprenuership Week 2019 by visiting: https://www.genglobal.org/united-kingdom

#GEW2019

Digital Entrepreneurship – A Game Changer

Professor Fang Zhao, Staffordshire Business School


Digital revolution is in its full swing now. Digital technologies become pervasive and ubiquitous, disrupting and reshaping business models and processes. According to the estimation of McKinsey Global Institute (2017), by 2030, 75 million to 375 million workers, about 3 to 14 percent of the global workforce will have to change their job categories thanks to digital disruption. Digital technologies have also created and grown the gig (or sharing) economy and generated new entrepreneurial opportunities and new types of entrepreneurship called digital entrepreneurship. The forecast is that digital entrepreneurship may add $1.36 trillion to the future world top ten economies and could generate 10 million additional jobs by 2020 (Nanterne 2014).

What is digital entrepreneurship?

Based on our team’s research, digital entrepreneurship is a distinctive concept signifying a strategic mindset and transformation, through which entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial organisations pursue business opportunities and create new and transformative services/products, processes, digital ecosystems, markets, business models, and ventures involving digital technologies.

What are the opportunities for businesses and organizations?

There are many opportunities that digital technologies can give rise to, in terms of the growth of digital entrepreneurship. In short, they present three key opportunities: connectivity, scalability and speed. Social media, one aspect of digital technologies, plays a key role in connectivity through network relations which may lead to co-creation and co-ownership. Digital connections are the veins of new venture creation linking creative people and focusing minds and actions on making something people want. On the other hand, the scalability and fast speed allow start-ups to scale up and down quickly and extend their reach across borders and time zones. 

What are the key challenges?

However, the low barrier to use digital platforms increases competitions and minimizes the chances of distinguishing one’s products/services from its rivals. There are also intellectual property issues, cyber security, data protection, to name a few. Digital entrepreneurs need to learn fast to upgrade their capability and skills. New learning becomes a continuous part of venture and business capability development. Knowledge bytes are a daily venture building feature as learning and working become integrated and fused in the digital entrepreneur’s world. Last but not the least, technology is just a tool, just a conduit, just a pathway, the goal is the business. The ultimate objectives that you use technologies for your business count the most. 


For further discussion on the topic area, please contact Professor Fang Zhao, Associate Dean – Research and Enterprise in Staffordshire Business School, Staffordshire University at fang.zhao@staffs.ac.uk.


#GEW2019

About Global Entreprenuership Week:

From the 18-24November, Global Entrepreneurship Week inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities…Continue reading

Learn more about Global Entreprenuership Week 2019 by visiting: https://www.genglobal.org/united-kingdom

#GEW2019

Getting Personal: 3 Ways to Improve Personalisation in Your Business

Leah Mahon, Student, Staffordshire Business School


Personalisation is starting to get just that little bit more personal.

According to Campaign Monitor, digital personalisation is predicted to see major change from past methods of user-created profiles and preferences, purchases and life stage events. Instead digital customers can expect to see their data used within new machine learning and data science-based features and platforms to create the personal interaction customers crave. Now, in this digital age with marketing spend predicted to improve ROI for businesses across all platforms by 10-30% with the use of personalisation, businesses now are rediscovering the meaning of personalisation and getting to know their customers all over again with these new developments in digital.

  1. The Discovery of Data

The way personalised data can be used now goes far beyond the days of an email address with a customer’s name on it. Now, the meaning of data is beginning to expand as businesses begin to harness important information not just about their customers, but the very the context of the product or service, and how customers align within this. Econsultancy describes the new data outlook for businesses to consider:

The Customer Context: –

Personalistion is about targeting the right message to the right person

  • Location: Geographical status can affect which product/services are relevant, or even accessible.
  • Commuting, working, relaxing: What a person is doing in the moment affects their mindset and therefore the outcome of the purchase.
  • Time of day, day of week: This helps to structure the message being sent out – a “Friday feeling” contrasts greatly from the “Monday blues”.
  • Season: Weather and time of the year can impact buyer behaviour.
  • Customer journey position: What a first-time buyer is offered can contrast greatly with a repetitive buyer.
  • Satisfaction: Negative feedback should determine the tone in the business message to a more humble standpoint, and reconsider the regularity of marketing communications.
  • Demographics: Basic demographics determines who has a need or desire for certain products/services or messaging.

The Product/Service Context: – 

  • Motivation: Whether the motivation behind a purchase is from desire or necessity.
  • Price: Evaluate whether customers can make regular transactions or if it is a one-off.
  • Frequency of purchase: Regular promotion of a product that is only purchased scarcely is misspent effort.
  • How they are used: Whether the product or service is an important aspect of your customer’s live people’s lives as this determines how regularly to market to them.
  • Likelihood of repeat purchase: If an item was bought as a gift the likelihood of another transaction is scarce, however if it’s replenishable marketing to these customers again can prompt a repeat purchase.

The new perspective of data cannot be used solely on its own, however. It rather propels and informs the underpinnings of Behavioural Personas;  understanding the psychology of your customers and utilising the right customer data platforms  inform all aspects of the customer journey stage, customer lifetime value, purchase frequency to satisfaction, marketing engagement and price sensitivity. One business that has embraced this strategy is Netflix. According to Wired, they do not utilise gender specification upon subscription as the traditional demographic outlook has become statias buyer behaviour has become incredibly impulsive. Instead,

they utilise strategies such as A/B testing to lead customers to their preferred genre of television and film on the landing page, right up to whether their customers watch content in later hours often, personalising it to a programme that’s half way watched, or simply shorter in duration to suit them.

 

2. Automated Decision Making

Those all important customer data platforms (CDPs) have advanced significantly in this digital age provide a crucial two-way communication that traditional data management platforms do not offer, because it is only able to personalise customer information as far as a signpost for future messages and offers. While CDP “provides the connective tissue between and among them [customers] to integrate the marketing stack and enable orchestration across the web, mobile, email, social and so forth.” CMS Wired details why advanced CDP is essential in digital marketing:

  • A Single View of the Customer across all channels and devices, and offline touch points, enable a smooth customer journey
  • Persistent Customer Profile data tracks all customer interactions and ad impressions, developing a continuously updated history of individual customers.
  • Cross-Device Stitching eradicates problems associated with third-party cookie data collection, advanced CDP will have the ability to stitch data, which can identify a user across different touch points.
  • Real-Time Decision Making need near real-time data collection and distribution of insight to optimise marketing campaigns and the conversion funnel to re-targeting and supporting call centre work progress.
  • Integration with the Digital Eco-System enables the CDP to expand to more technology as well as first-party data sources on a comprehensive level.
  • Privacy and Data Governance helps to protect customer data, and provides flexible opt-out solutions for customers, while its standards for governing data use makes curtail data leakage near impossible.

A business like Netflix again does this incredibly well with not only offering their customers streaming content, but tailoring it to their preferred genres every time along with some new closely related editions, heightening the personalised experience.

3. Content Distribution

One dimensional content personalisation would have included specific ads dependent upon engagement with content, and visits to certain websites to entice customers. But with the power to offer personalised messages, experiences, services, and products businesses can begin to delve deeper to execute a truly one-to-one experience with their customers. Building upon the findings from the context of a product or service and how this aligns with a customer can be seen within weather based marketing, which is keeping up with relevant trends simultaneously, and prompt browsing and purchases related to the weather. Some elements of content distribution to consider are:

  • purchase history
  • preferences
  • demographics
  • browsing and buying behaviour
  • customer life-cycle

Online clothing store Very evidently utilise the tradition forms of marketing by addressing the customer by name, but these fuel the necessary underpinnings to create a “richer experience with content or information” by relating it the world shaped around the consumer.

As customers demand more than ever for a one-to-one experience, it’s important for businesses to remember the new digital marketing strategies that are changing marketing as we know it, all the while meeting their customers -old and new – all over again.

Harnessing the power of social media for small businesses

Written by June Dennis, Dean of Staffordshire Business School, Chartered Marketer and Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.


If you only have a small marketing budget, social media can seem like an ideal way to promote your product or service. Twenty years ago marketers could only dream of having access to such a huge audience so quickly.  However, where does one start?

Here are just four suggestions that could help you get more out of that limited budget:

Know your audience – it’s so obvious, but it’s really easy to make the simple mistake of taking your eye off the ball when it comes to ensuring your communication channels and messages are targeted at the appropriate audience(s).  We can get carried away by all the opportunities open to us that we forget what the purpose of engaging with social media actually was!  For example, why use Facebook if you’re primarily targeting a business-to-business audience?  (Sometimes, there’s good reason to do so, but you need to know why).  Spend time to make sure you know who your intended target audience is and what the key message is that you want to communicate with them.  Only then can you identify and choose the communication methods which best fit your message and audience.

Know your limitations – basically, don’t try to do too much!  Social media may seem very low cost compared to other forms of advertising or sales promotion, but there is still the cost of your time to factor in, at the very least.  It’s also very content hungry and if you commit, say, to writing a daily blog or tweeting several times a day, you may find you crash very soon.  Take note of what other businesses your size manage to do and try, where possible, to plan out your messages in advance.

Know how to create synergy – try to use the same or similar content more than once if you can. So, if you write a blog or post something on LinkedIn, can you direct people to it via Twitter? Could you use the copy for some promotional material or a newsletter? When you put something on YouTube, how can you maximise its use? It’s pretty obvious, but not everyone does it. Encourage customers and staff to send in stories which you can promote. I’ve found that people get a buzz from seeing something they’ve submitted being used or published and it creates a virtuous circle and they submit more material….

And, finally, think of ways you can work with others to create mutual benefit. A while back, I did an interview for a friend who was looking to increase traffic to her website via YouTube. As a result, I also sent links to my contact to her webpage and used the content of the interview to develop this blog. We both benefited and had some fun doing it.

Undergraduate courses

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8 Trends To Keep Your Eyes On In 2018

1. Instagram Stories Drive Upcoming Instagram Trends

Instagram Stories is a big deal and they’re not going away. Daily viewers of Instagram Stories surpassed daily SnapChat viewers just one year after launch, and the growth isn’t stopping.

Instagram Stories was likely the biggest single change in the Instagram UX, and its marketing implications are huge.

A huge deal with Instagram Stories is this: accounts with over 10,000 followers can now add a link within the feature. Considering the fact that the only other place you can put a link on Instagram is just the one buried on your profile page, this is a huge deal, as it multiplies buying or inquiry opportunities by orders of magnitude.

Instagram Stories in particular will be relevant from a marketing perspective because, compared to other transitory video platforms, Instagram metrics are eminently trackable.

A final note on Instagram Stories: Their foundation is social media engagement gold. Video drastically outperforms all other forms of content on every test.

2. Influencer Marketing Makes Major Contributions to Social Media Engagement

Influencer marketing is big business — a billion dollar industry by some counts. There is an exhaustive list of micro-celebrities who earn six figure incomes. And this isn’t a fluke. Influencer marketing is uniquely keyed to exploit certain facts about a growing number of buyers.
As Millennials advance their careers, and Generation Z starts theirs, an enormous population’s purchasing power is increasing swiftly. These two groups — who, combined, literally comprise most of the world’s population — are uniquely influenced by this marketing method.

3. Generation Z to Decide Social Media Trends

We’ve mentioned Generation Z in both of the previous topics for good reason.

RetailDive had this to say about Generation Z and their associated social media trends:

“Gen Z is two- to three times more likely to be influenced by social media than by sales or discounts — the only generation to value social media over price when it comes to making purchase decisions…”

Furthermore, 81% report watching at least one hour of online video per day, or more, according to a study by Fluent, covered by AdWeek. Combine these facts and realize that droves of Generation Z will graduate college and/or start careers next year, and you start to see the powder keg.

4. Messaging Platforms Make Companies Accessible

 

What do you know about WeChat? They’re a wee little Chinese messaging company . . . errr, one that’s looking to cross 1 billion users this quarter. WeChat and WhatsApp are absolutely ubiquitous across either ocean, reaching across many different functions to dominate social media, direct messaging, and even purchasing and commerce.

Every year more and more buyers are Millennials and Gen Z, and fewer and fewer are older. In case you’re not aware of these people’s overwhelming preferences when it comes to talking to a company, we’ll illustrate in their native language:

top-social-media-trends-20185. Live Streaming Explodes

Live streaming isn’t about live streaming. At least not in the way we’re going to be talking about it. You’re going to see a lot more of it in 2018, and the people who do it well will be fully with the times and accelerating. Its prevalence will increase because it works.

But there’s something more at work here.

It’s actually about technology. We get better phones every year. Does that mean that we’re running the same apps better? Sometimes. But once the technological baseline of the average user has clearly moved up a notch, it becomes about making more robust apps that do more and fully take advantage of that new technology.

The smartphones of today are better than what we used to have by orders of magnitude. Furthermore, our data speeds are better, and are poised to make yet another insane leap in the next few years when 5G becomes the standard.

Live streaming is a medium or implementation of social technology that’s uniquely positioned to take advantage of hardware improvements for the next several years. The resolution of an image the size of a phone screen can only get so good before you have to zoom in to see a difference.

But better video processing across the board means all devices involved can handle more streaming at a better quality across more channels at the same time. This is such a huge change that it’s possibly unclear that anyone is even capable of fully understanding the ramifications.

6. Twitter is Going to Change

And they themselves might not even know how just yet.

Twitter has been slowly circling the drain, in some respects, for a long time now. 2017 pulled no punches with the social network, either. Twitter needs to make some big changes to stay relevant, as its growth is the slowest of all the major social media platforms.

7. Online Hangouts Become the Norm

Online hangouts go hand-in-hand with the live streaming trend, and with Generation Z. Consider Houseparty — an app for multiple friends to essentially FaceTime with each other in a group setting.

Houseparty made quite a wave in 2017 with rapid growth, and hit its stride well enough to inspire copycats, including perhaps an effort on the way coming from (no surprise here) Facebook.

The online hangouts trend is also going to intersect with VR. Sure, everyone promised everything this year with VR and AR, and all that ultimately came of it was two weeks of Pokemon GO.

But this year actually has the potential to be different. Many promising programs have another year of beta testing still left under their belts, but the technologies are improving in exciting ways. Once again, Facebook is at the epicentre, with Facebook Spaces.

8. Social Platforms See More Hardcore Moderation

The last year or so has forced the hand of several tech and social media titans to intervene and play a more active role in content moderation. Those manoeuvres, in retrospect, felt more like damage control than any sort of final solution.

We’re likely going to see companies revisit this in a more significant or longer-lasting way, and definitely more proactive than reactive.

As leveraging social media outlets for marketing first took flight, some were dubious of their staying power. The years since have changed sceptic’s into believers, and what’s on the forefront will clearly and easily amplify the channels’ relevance even further.

2018 is here… but were you prepared?

2018 social media trends predict that time on social media platforms will increase. This means you will need to improve your online presence in the year to come.

 

By Richard Holland – MSc Digital Marketing Student

 

Contact –

Linkedin- Richard Holland

Instagram – Ricardo J

Brand –

Instagram – Ricco London

Twitter – Ricco London

Facebook – Ricco London

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

Website Design: Inclusive Experiences Part 1 Visual: Colours and shapes

By Nick Heywood on the MSc Digital Marketing Management award

Why is accessibility important?

In order for the consumer to have an overall positive experience, it is strongly recommended that your project is designed to be inclusive. If the right accessibility isn’t in place, it could exclude consumers who may struggle or even be unable to interact with the project. The information that will be covered in this blog series can be applied to digital projects ranging from websites to computer games.

Visual Colours

Visual Colours

Visual: Colours and shapes

Visual aspects are crucial in any digital project, the appearance of your content is the first thing most consumers see, and influences how they will interact with it.

Using colour schemes/overlays

Using colour schemes/overlays

Colour-orientated design

This can be a tricky one, the use of colours can aid the experience for some consumers, it can however also hinder others if substitutional elements aren’t implemented.

Colour Schemes/overlays

Let’s start with how colour can aid experience, consumers with conditions such as Dyslexia and/or Irlen Syndrome can struggle to read against certain contrast and colours, due to struggles including the processing of spectral light, which influences how they process visual information; the use of coloured overlays to tint colours in front/behind the text can ease readability for them.

There is software that can help them with this online such as ColorVeil and nOverlay, although other platforms would benefit from access to alternative text colour schemes.

Alternate text colour schemes refer to the colour of the text, and the background behind it, especially in sections containing large bodies of text, or requiring quick reference during interaction. Providing options for the consumer to alter them provides an opportunity to not only tailor the experience to their needs, but also make it their own.

Colour schemes to take into consideration are shown in the image below

Text-Comparison on different colour backgrounds

Text-Comparison on different colour backgrounds

Taking font style and size into consideration can also aid this experience, Sans-Serif style fonts tend to be more comfortable to read, an extensive list of similar/other fonts to consider can be found at Dyslexic.com.

Communicating through shapes

If you rely on only colours to communicate functionality or change to consumers, it will be inaccessible to anyone who has a form of colour-blindness. Colour-blindness is a colour vision deficiency that affects how many colours a person can see in general; average colour vision is formed by three colour receptors in our retinas that process red, green, and blue, whereas a colourblind person will lack one or even all of them. The image below makes an accurate comparison of how people with various conditions perceive colours through their vision.

Colours perception for various conditions

Colours perception for various conditions

Photo Credit: Cole Seidner

This is why using various shapes can also help communicate your design, for example: how iOS Mail uses circles and Flag symbols to identify content you may wish to check, or how Twitter “fills” the Like/Love symbol to indicate you have Liked/Loved a post (see example below).

The role of colour and grey-scale options

The role of colour and grey-scale options

Viewing your content in a Greyscale colour filter is a good way of reviewing if colourblind individuals are able to visually process the information without the need of colour. Most modern smartphones have this feature under their Accessibility settings, up-to-date versions of Windows 10 (Windows+Ctrl+C) can also do this, Macs can do this via Universal Access in their System Preferences, it’s also feasible in Linux with plugins.

Following these steps in your project design will take it one step further to becoming an inclusive experience for consumers. Next time, we will be looking at how to communicate information that can’t always be seen or heard.

Nicholas Heywood

Twitter – LinkedIn – Portfolio

MSc Digital Marketing Management Student (Full Time)

How Influencer Marketing Could Benefit Your Business

Influencer marketing focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the market. Rather than marketing directly to this large group, you instead hire or pay these influencers to inspire and get the word out for you.

According to McKinsey, Influencer Marketing generates double the sales of paid advertising, as well as three times the amount of “word of mouth” messages. Furthermore, it results in recommendations – where people are up to fifty times more likely to purchase.

Influencer marketing could benefit your business in a number of ways, and you should consider using it because:

  • It’s more authentic than an advert.
  • It’s more cost effective than many other marketing channels.
  • It provides shareable content, which could amplify results exponentially.
  • You can effectively target a new audience.
  • It’s a way to create real-time engagement.
  • It’s an easy way to build trust with your customers and future customers.

Two cases come to mind where Influencer marketing benefited the business and the influencer, such as Youtube star PewDiePie teaming up with the makers of horror film ‘As Above, So Below’ – creating a number of videos in which he completed challenges and tasks set in the catacombs in which the film was set. This resonated with his then 27 Million subscribers, and received nearly double the views that the trailer for the film did.

The other, according to Neoreach, is American retail giant Walmart teaming up with former Vine star Meghan McCarthy. Meghan posted on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube, putting her stamp of approval on the promotion that she was promoting. Her posts gathered hundreds of follow up posts and tweets, an impact that no television ad campaign could make.

The Big Influencers for 2018

According to Forbes, some of the top influencers of 2017 are going to be even bigger in 2018. 

If the budget is there, then these are the kind of people that you want influencing customers to buy into your product or brand.

These include gaming maestro Markiplier, Keynote speaker and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, cooking whiz Rosanna Pansino, six-year-old Ryan ToysReview and powerful lady Lilly Singh.

Whilst all of these people have the majority of their following on YouTube, they are also influencers on the likes of Instagram and Facebook and could cost a hefty sum.

Some of these people may be out of your price range, but if you can find a local influencer to promote your product, then that may be worthwhile to your business.

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Regan Foy (Twitter / LinkedIn)

Staffordshire University Students’ Union

MSc Digital Marketing Management Student (Full Time)