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Why Buying ‘Social Indicators’ is a Bad Idea

Some of those who are reading this may have seen a recent documentary from Channel 4’s Dispatches team. The programme investigated the purchase of social media influence from companies in the UK and abroad. Businesses and celebrities who want to build up a following, whether for reasons of appearance or in an effort to boost their search rankings, are able to source hundreds of new fans and followers from overseas with just a few pounds.

In order to show you why it’s a bad idea to purchase so-called social indicators in an effort to bolster your SEO, I’m going to show you what happened to a site of mine. This was actually a deliberate attempt to sabotage it by a competitor. That’s right – buying social indicators is so bad for your SEO that rivals will attack you by doing it!

About the Site

The target was a small, simple local business site. There were a few pages about the services, some photos, and contact information. It was ranking on the first page for its target keyword, between positions 7 and 9. I had set up a Google Plus page for the business (as we all know, Plus is great for your SEO) and things were moving forward.

Then, this happened:

google plus marketing

88 new +1s for the tiny local business page, all on the same day. There is no way that these were natural – in their niche, the business would not have that many customers in an entire year. No other SEO work had been done recently, so the following results were purely due to the new influx of +1s.

The business lost its first page ranking for the target keyword, disappearing completely from the results. It has also lost its good positions for secondary keywords. Luckily, it still appears in the local listings and is receiving some traffic that way, so the situation is not as bad as it could be – but can you rely on this?

The Bottom Line

Don’t buy ‘Social SEO’ packages which offer to deliver a set number of ‘real, natural’ fans and followers to your business in a short time period. It will only ever be harmful. Instead, concentrate on creating great content and networking to build a real social base. I Say! Digital can support you in this. Why not give us a call and ask what we could do for your business?

Google Social Media Marketing: The Power of Plus

Ask any SEO professional what the most exciting current social platform is and you’ll receive only one answer. The relatively new Google social media site, known as Plus, can be a great way to integrate the search engine optimisation and social media marketing that your business is engaged in. There are a few different ways to approach this.

Hang on – what’s the big deal with Plus anyway?

The key reason why Plus is so important is that it belongs to Google. Google has access to all the information stored on Plus – it can see who’s a member, what they’re talking about, which sites they own, whose content they are sharing, and so on. A great deal of this data is helpful for the company’s algorithms when they are trying to calculate search rankings.

The potential to gather this information from other platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, is comparatively limited. That’s not to say that those sites aren’t important, or that they have no SEO impact. However, it does mean that if you’re focussing solely on the SEO benefits, and have to pick just one social media site, it should be Plus.

Google Plus Optimisation

Authorship

google authorship social media

An example of the way in which authorship is displayed in search results

Authorship is a simple mechanism which is used by Google to, you guessed it, determine the author of a piece of content. The process of enabling authorship consists of two steps – firstly, special code must be added to the content, and then the author must link back to the site from a particular area of the Plus profile.

Giving authorship credit to a content producer could help in either of two ways. Primarily, it lets Google know that a site is being run by real people. It can also help to build your authority as an author. It’s widely believed that Google is going to start calculating search rankings by looking at the author rather than just the content, so this is a great way to get in ahead of the changes.

+1s

google+ social media optimisation

It’s no secret that social media signals are taken into account by search engines. As touched upon above, it’s likely that signals broadcast via Google’s own platform will be heavily weighted. When real Plus users endorse your content, especially if they are authorities in your niche, you can be pretty sure that your rankings will improve. Additionally, it’s worth pointing out that sharing your content via Plus will mean that more people are exposed to it, driving traffic to your site.

So how can you get +1s for your content? Well, you could go to any one of hundreds of cheap overseas providers who offer to deliver dozens or even hundreds of +1s for the princely sum of $5. However, we know that fake +1s can have a negative effect on your rankings, so it’s probably best to steer clear of the quick fix.

The best way to attract +1s is to make sure that all of your content is easily shareable. Google themselves provide all the code necessary to insert +1 buttons into your pages. If you’re running a WordPress site, there are also numerous plugins that you can easily install to help you achieve the same aim.

Leave it to Us

At I Say! Digital, we always take advantage of Plus when planning social media or SEO strategies. It’s one of many tools in our box and we’re constantly updating our practices as the landscape evolves. Contact us if you’re interested in learning how we would approach your online marketing.

How To Do Your Own Inbound Marketing

Along with SEO, inbound marketing is one of the big buzzwords in marketing this year. As Google tightens up its algorithms to prevent manipulation and spam, more and more businesses are turning to inbound marketing to help them generate revenue and get found by the customers who are looking to spend.


In this article, we’ll look at the basics of inbound marketing and define some DIY techniques you can use to create your own campaign today.

What is Inbound?

Marketing techniques can be split into two camps: outbound and inbound. Basically, inbound marketing can be summarised as non-intrusive; unlike outbound marketing, you don’t need to display a huge banner or use a megaphone to get noticed.
Inbound marketing is becoming increasingly popular because of its links with SEO, lower costs and opportunity for creative and dynamic elements. It’s thought of as modern when compared to outbound, although both have their place.

How Do I Get Started?

Here’s a simple summary plan of your first steps in inbound marketing.

Sort Your SEO

Perhaps the most important building block for a good inbound marketing campaign is a well optimised website. It doesn’t just help with search engine positioning. It’ll also make your website contents easier to find, so it’ll complement everything else you do.

Build a Blog

Everyone knows regular content is the key to satisfying the search engines. It’ll also help you build authority in your niche. You can try publishing blogs via social media, posting guest blogs rich with unique content, or even creating videos. Whatever you do, make sure your content offers something really interesting – and publish frequently.

Market With Mail

Mailing lists have a bad reputation thanks to spammy outbound marketing techniques, but an email list is still a very valuable tool. Don’t be scared of inviting people to sign up so that you can build a valuable list of interested leads. Then, offer your email list subscribers value in the form of a discount, some unique content or valuable extras and freebies.

Improve Authority

Once you’ve established your campaign, get your brand name (or your own name) noticed. Write a book; ebooks are great providing you’re willing to give them away for free, but a print book is even better. Build a healthy Google+ profile, spend time networking on LinkedIn and snap up opportunities to get your name and face known. Even if you’re not directly promoting your business, the fact that you’re visible means people are developing a connection with you from afar.

Making the Switch to Inbound

For several years, we’ve been told that advertising is the key to marketing online. It’ll take some time for that to be reversed. The sooner you adopt inbound marketing methods and embrace them, the further ahead you’ll be when your competitors catch on.
The key to developing your inbound marketing campaign is to look for customers and help them to find you – don’t force your message in front of them. Before you know it, you’ll be generating sales leads at a fraction of the price you paid before.

Featured images:

Sam Wright is a journalist working with Brand Republic.

Online Marketing – Was Christmas a Boon for Your Business?

All businesses will operate in cycles. Retailers of romantic gifts and florists will experience a massive sales boost in the run-up to Valentine’s day, whilst travel agencies can expect to take the most bookings when people start planning their summer holidays for the year. Across virtually all sectors, though, Christmas time is a busy period, as anything that can be given as a gift is being sought by someone, somewhere.

The E-Commerce Landscape is Changing

Providing you’ve got a good product, there will be no shortage of demand. The difference between companies with ‘good’ and ‘great’ Christmas turnover is that the latter are well prepared. Just as brick and mortar shops need to ensure that they have adequate stock on hand and an effective high street sales campaign, online enterprises must get their affairs in order before the rush hits.

John Lewis has been making headlines due to its massive sales over Christmas time. This strong performance was underpinned by a 44% increase in online turnover compared to the same period in 2011, reflecting the changes we all know are occurring in the retail sector. People are spending more money online, and this creates unprecedented opportunities for smaller businesses. The internet is a more level playing field; you don’t need so much initial investment to set up shop, and your growth isn’t held back by physical constraints.

Make an Online Marketing Plan

Of course, when it comes to online marketing, almost nothing is instant. Search engines take a while to process changes to your site, and social networks require time to germinate. Businesses have to get a strategy in place in October if they want to boost sales in December. Don’t start groaning – I know it’s too early to think about Christmas when it’s January! But try to bear in mind that a little investment into digital marketing during the autumn months can provide a great return, and plan your business year accordingly.

SEO and Learning the Basics

It’s difficult to know what to say to people when you’re trying to explain the actual process and meaning behind that magic three letter acronym, SEO. I got into this conversation today with someone who happened to be a social worker and I was trying to best explain what it means. “Search engine optimisation” was my answer to, “what on earth is SEO?”. When I gave him the answer he looked visibly overwhelmed.

Don’t be. If you like infographics then you’re going to love the SEO and marketing resources we’ve been curating at Pinterest, and scrolling through the variety of easy to understand visuals is probably an easier way to show a ‘newbie’ the nuts ‘n’ bolts of how the whole thing works.

How to learn SEO

 One of the most informative of the infographics we’ve collected on this subject for a while (and we’ve seen a few!) was put together by marketing agency Koozai, who gathered a veritable who’s who of SEO and search engine marketing superstars for their personal input. People like Danny Sullivan, Google’s Matt Cutts and Joost de Valk from Yoast (the people behind the definitive WordPress SEO plugin).

The links and information on this single infographic are worth their weight in gold and will go some way to turning the lights on the subject if you feel you’re in the dark and baffled by the terminology and relative ‘geek-speak’ usually spoken of in hush tones. Pagerank, SERPS, Panda updates and the like!

Brighton SEO (where we’ll be in a few days!) get a mention in the round up of SEO conferences too, nice to see our local area getting a shout out and we hope to meet up with a bunch of new faces and contacts whilst we’re there.

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