Winning the Work – Digital Marketing, Analytics, Big Data

Following yesterday’s Workforce Revolution conference I have put together my initial thoughts on Winning the Work into a presentation.

At this stage it is very much a work in progress. I will be adding and amending content. And will be pleased to accept any thoughts from other delegates to the Workforce Revolution conference.

Brand Client Engagement

Brand Client Engagement

The discussion covered a number of areas in relation to digital marketing and social media. I also expounded my thoughts on reskilling and repositioning one’s expertise to match market opportunities and demand. Three areas of mention included digital marketing in general, digital analytics specifically and the current flavour of the month, big data.

Oct17

The Great British Workforce Revolution

The Workforce Revolution Conference

The Workforce Revolution Conference

I am out of the office on Wednesday 16th October attending The Great British Workforce Revolution conference in London. The conference aims to discuss and tackle the issues surrounding the growth of the independent director. As well as attending the conference I am involved in a panel discussion entitled “Getting the Work“. My specific brief is to cover the areas associated with utilising digital marketing and social media.

The conference is a collaboration between leading interim management agency Russam GMS and Angel News. Angel News is the leading European news service for the investment market, especially for business angels, investors and the companies they back.

The conference’s main sponsor is Santander Breakthrough.

Oct15

Google Analytics Improves Interface

This morning Google has improved the way it presents data in Google Analytics. This has a high relevance to us at Simply Clicks. Not only does Simply Clicks provide a web analytics service for most of our clients but we also undertake web analytics training, key component of which is Google Analytics. The constant changes underway at Google, including amongst many other things the growth of “Not provided” search and the changes to Google Adwords, have meant that many of our training schemes need more than the usual updating.

Google Analytics Acquisition Panel October 2013

Google Analytics Acquisition Panel October 2013

The first change I have spotted is the change of the “Sources” panel on the left hand side. This has panel has been renamed “Acquisition”.

The panel then contains a number of sub-headings. The old sub-heading for “Search” has now been replaced by “Keywords”. Ironically this splits in paid and organic search. I use the term ironically because of course organic keywords are now dominated by the “not provided” category.

Two new sub-headings are “Overview” and “Channels”. These two sub-headings allow you to see at a glance the performance by the major sources of traffic i.e. Paid search, organic search, direct, referrals and social.

The explorer bar now also has the addition of a summary view. This provides a complete overview of the performance of your website, combining most of the relevant data that used to be contained over the three separate views of Site Usage, Goal Set and E-commerce into 9 columns. These columns are grouped into three and shown separately as groups of three metrics under the headings “Acquisition”, “Behaviour” and “Conversion”.

Google Analytics Summary View October 2013

Google Analytics Summary View October 2013

I have taken a screen shot of a 7 day, this year vs last year comparison.

This shows all nine columns of the summary view. In many respects, this summary view has made the other views redundant as it contains the most important metrics.

I have only used the new version of Google Analytics for 10 minutes or so but it is already growing on me. Unlike many of Google’s other recent changes.

Oct09

A Bigger Christmas PPC Campaign for The Christmas Jumper Store

Women's Penguin Christmas Jumper

Women’s Penguin Christmas Jumper

The New Penguin Christmas Jumper for 2013

The Christmas Jumper Store has returned with a bigger PPC campaign for Christmas 2013.
The success of the Christmas 2012 campaign has encouraged the business owners to expand their range of fun Christmas jumpers.

Additional styles this year include:

  • Penguin
  • Snowman
  • Chimney pot
  • Bah humbug
  • Snowflake
  • Nordic
The range of new jumper styles complements last Christmas’ favourites of which the biggest success was the Christmas pudding jumper.
This is the third search marketing campaign undertaken for Manchester based JT Macs Ltd, The owners of The Christmas Jumper store.
Christmas jumpers have become and increasingly popular fashion item.

Oct02

The End of SEO as we Know it?

Brighton SEO September 2013 Screen

Brighton SEO September 2013 – One Week On

A week ago today I attended to September 2013 conference of Brighton SEO. I attended various presentations and took several opportunities to speak to many of the sponsors and stand holders. Much of the material presented was of high quality. Since then, I’ve spent a week mulling over much of what was presented and discussed and have finally organised my thoughts in a way that it is worth putting pen to paper. So to speak.

The broad consensus expressed at the conference was that SEO practise had changed radically since the spring 2013 conference. And that we were witnessing the end of old style SEO. A summary is as follows:

Negative Elements – Old SEO

These things are dead

  • Orthodox link building led SEO
  • Anchor text
  • Poor quality content
  • Article marketing
  • Link buying – if not dead – much riskier than in the past

In essence Google are getting ever smarter at spotting spammy SEO and driving the websites that utlise spammy tactics from the top rankings.

Positive Elements – New SEO

These activities become more important:

  • Strong branding
  • Strong marketing programmes
  • Building and managing technically sound websites
  • The publication and distribution of unique and compelling content
  • The ability to participate in dialogue with customers and other stakeholders

As a general consequence of the new environment many of the existing SEO agency business models are now defunct. The models deployed by many SEO agencies no longer work and could, in many case, actually be harmful to a client’s marketing prospects. Further, many SEO agency business models must be called into question. Who needs a link buying budget and someone to manage the link buying programme when the output will be worthless? What about the measuring and tracking software used to count and analyse inbound links of your own and competitor websites?

Following on from this, an SEO agency needs to look more like an advertising agency. Business strategy and branding require a different set of skills from raw link building.

I’ll be adding to this post of the next few days.

Sep20

Get a Life – Facebook is Bad for You!

The Economist Facebook Get A Life

The Economist Takes a Look at Facebook Users

I’ve not blogged for a while on Simply Clicks. I’ve been busy with new client accounts and have just spent two weeks in the South of France. However, an article on The Economist website caught my eye.  The article covers research into the happiness and wellbeing of Facebook users. Essentially it refers to two pieces of research that appear to show, that the more someone uses Facebook, the less happy they feel. In essence, heavy Facebook use is bad for you.

There are several caveats. First, the samples are quite small. In one study, just 82 people and the other 584 Facebook users. Secondly, the reasearch is largely confined to young adults in their twenties. Nevertheless, the research tends to indicate that relying on the social media platform your networking leads to a loss of self-esteem. This in contrast to networking in the offline world. One reason given is that posts on Facebook tend to amplify success and doctor the reality, tending to create feelings of envy.

Ironically, as the image above shows, 24,000 Facebook users had “liked” the article in the two weeks after publication. I suspect that as readers of The Economist they may tend to be lightweight users of Facebook. Anyhow, on a personal basis, as a lightweight user of Facebook, both socially and commercially I tend to feel vindicated by this research. Now, a similar study on LinkedIn would be more interesting from my perspective.

Aug29

Getting to Grips with Blog Comment Spam

Since the dawn of blogging, and its role within the world of SEO, we have all been subjected to some degree of spam activity. And spam is not limited to our blogs – email, mobile phones and even letterboxes are being littered with pointless unwelcome communications that many of us throw in the bin before it’s even looked at.
Comment spam on blogs is a special nuisance and I have been looking for a solution to prevent it for some time.
Some blog platforms make this slightly easier than others. WordPress, for example, provides several preventative approaches and plug-ins to help tackle the spam issue. Akismet provides some assistance with spam posts and is one of the favoured options, although I have noticed it doesn’t actually catch all spam comments and therefore a manual check will still need to be carried out. Blogger allows you to operate a verification, moderation and log-in based systems. The latter has become more important with the rise of Google+ author identities but it is a system that remains open to abuse.
As a result, even if you operate a small blog network as I do then it’s likely you will need to check for comment spam on a regular basis. I’ve noticed that once a network of spammers has found your blogs (especially if they are well optimised) then they will keep returning. Sometimes even utilising ‘bots’ to post onto the blogs and therefore automating the process and making them easier to spot.
Because the amount of spam posting I have seen seems to have increased dramatically over recent months, I have spent a lot of time turning off comments systems on my blogs. Again, WordPress allows this function as does Joomla, but some of the online platforms such as Blogger still require manual removal. The latest spam blitz I’ve received has been for WordPress track backs. So track backs are now being turned off.

There are several ways that these spammers will try and create links on your blogs. Over time I have discovered the following processes:

  • Traditional commenting on blog posts
  • Commenting on blog pages
  • Responding to existing comments
  • Pingback and track back requests

I thought I had all these eventualities covered when I spent time switching off commenting options on all my blogs as well as pings and trackback requests.
Infuriatingly, I have recently started receiving more comment moderation emails. When I looked at the blogs they were for I thought “How are they doing it as I have already switched the systems off on this blog?” This time they are attaching comments to images – more settings I will need to try and alter in order to avoid further issues!

Since the Penguin and Panda updates from Google we have learnt that the value of poor quality backlinks is diminishing rapidly, although many companies (often foreign) are clearly still offering low cost ‘link-building services’ and will go to any lengths to create their link network. In the meantime, those of us with genuine, quality, well-maintained blogs to manage, will have to spend more and more time fighting the anti-spam war!

Jul29

Simply Clicks Wins The Novastris SEO and PPC Account

Simply Clicks has secured the SEO and PPC management account of Novastris Insurance. Novastris is a start-up insurance company that specialises in the sale of online personal accident insurance.

Novastris is headed up by Steve Nickerson and David Marshall. The pair previously worked together at Accident and General and subesequently at Preferential Insurance. Preferential was sold to the Collinson Group in 2009.

Jul26

Penguin 2.0 Update Impacts Travel Websites in Big Way

Three weeks since the introduction of the Google Penguin 2.0 update and there have been major impacts observed on several leading travel industry websites including travel agents, tour operators and airlines. The data for both click volume changes and percentage change in total link volume comes from a report shown on eConsultancy that tracks the top 25 winners and losers of click volume since the launch of the Penguin 2.0 update. The surprising issue is the number of travel industry sites that feature. Five of the winners and six of the losers come from the travel industry.

Penguin 2.0 Biggest Travel Winners

  1. TeletextHolidays.co.uk +68,228 +68%
  2. HolidayHypermarket.co.uk +26,621 +105%
  3. AlphaRooms.com +22,808 +1,000%
  4. TravelRepublic.co.uk +11,246 +176%
  5. Monarch.co.uk 9,192 +57%

Total travel industry winners = 138,095 clicks.

Penguin 2.0 Biggest Travel Losers

  1. IceLolly.com-105,712  <-75%
  2. SunMaster.co.uk -22,230 <-75%
  3. Cheapoair.co.uk -17,094 <-75%
  4. GlobalLateDEals.com -12,900 <-75%
  5. BestforTravel.co.uk -10,726 <-75%
  6. DirectLineHolidays.co.uk -7,385 -65%

Total travel industry losers = 176,047

The balance of lost traffic totals 37,952 clicks. This would imply that the lost search visitor traffic has been spread out amongst a wider range of winners than the small number identified here. On its own, the search visitor losses of IceLolly.com account for more than three-quarters of the gains made by the top 5 winners. Interestingly one term, “Cheap holidays”, apparently accounts for a large proportion of this loss. IceLolly.com ranked 1st for this term prior to the Penguin 2.0 update and a manual check shows it currently ranks 35 for the term.

I suspect that the biggest issue surrounding Penguin 2.0 is the devaluation of sitewide links. I have yet to carry out any analysis into the sites in the eConsultancy tables but suspect that devaluing certain classes of links is perhaps the source of much of the change.

A wider issue is the impact of the loss in site visitors. And the impact that this has on each individual travel business. Each of these travel businesses has lost between 65% and 75% of their organic search traffic. If I get time, I will return to further analyse the causes behind the changes.

Jun16

How to Implement a 301 Redirect

Implementing a 301 redirect or more precisely managing 301 redirects is an increasingly important part of SEO. Especially when websites expand or migrate from one owner, host, domain or code platform. Over time, websites, if not properly managed, tend to get ragged. Duplicate content, broken links and out of date site maps tend to be errors that show up in your Google Webmaster Tools or SEOMoz  crawl diagnostics summary. A 301 redirect tells Google or other search engines that your web page or document has been permanently moved to another location or address. As a consequence it sends the PageRank or link juice from the old location to the new.

If you utilise a content management system or CMS there are quite often tools inside that allow you to arrange redirects. If not you will have to arrange the redirect yourself, usually via a .htaccess file. In my case I was working on two separate redirects. One to send http://simplyclicks.com traffic to www.simplyclicks.com. The other to eliminate the index.html versions of my home page. There are good reasons for undertaking both redirects.

Redirecting http://yoursite.com to http://www.yoursite.com

There are two good reasons for implementing this redirect. Firstly, Google may treat the http:// only and the www versions of your site as two different sets of documents. Secondly here is a risk that you will build up two sets of inbound links. There are many ways of organising a redirect and the way selected depends on your operating system and server. In the most reason case I was organising a redirect on an apache server utilising Linux.

Redirecting www.yoursite.com/index.html to www.yoursite.com

My main reason for organising this redirect is a problem I have with web analytics. quite often, web analytics will treat these two versions of the home page as two different pages. So you end up adding and diving all the time to get accurate statistics for your home page. The second reason is more long term and affects link building. What happens, if people send links to a home page which is www.yoursite.com/index.html and you moved platforms? So that your home page became www.yoursite.com/index.php? Without a redirect, the old page would become a broken link, losing all its link juice or PageRank.This redirect also applies to a redirect of .php or similar. But not .asp as this would be covered by the Microsoft IIS and is not covered here.

Below, I show the code used for organising both redirects in the same .htaccess file. The redirects must be in this order. The .htaccess file is uploaded to the root directy of your website that contains your home page.

########
RewriteEngine On
#
# redirect index.htm and index.html to / (do this before non-www to www)
#
RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} ^[A-Z]{3,9}\ /.*index\.html?\ HTTP/
RewriteRule ^(.*)index\.html?$ http://www.yoursite.com/$1 [R=301,L]
#
# redirect domain.com -> www.domain.com
#
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yoursite\.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yoursite.com/$1 [R=301,L]
########

If you use this code you will need to change the “yoursite.com” to your exact domain, e.g. simplyclicks.com in my case. This code works for me on Fasthosts.com, the largest UK hosting provider. You may need to make several tries and depending on your webhost wait for the new .htaccess file to become activated.

Apr19