Dive into augmented reality for digital marketing
Dive into augmented reality for digital marketing
The latest buzzwords in a long line of digital trends, or the next innovation that will change the face of the market? The jury is still out over augmented reality (AR), the technology that superimposes computer generated images over a user’s view of the world.

You’ll be familiar with AR if you’ve ever used animated filters on Snapchat, or used the IKEA app to work out whether that particular model of wardrobe will suit your bedroom. The most prominent and interesting uses of AR have reaped huge benefits for brands – one example is Nintendo’s monster catching game Pokémon Go, which was the most profitable app in 2016, with over 500 million downloads.

By 2020, it’s estimated that there will be one billion AR users around the world. The market is estimated to be worth around four times that of the existing virtual reality industry. AR for shopping is already being used to let customers imagine products in their own living space – and yet the technology is not industry standard yet.

There are several ways AR can be incorporated into your marketing beyond the IKEA use case above, where your products can be projected into a user’s way.

Another way is to bring products to life using AR-enabled adverts. A still, static advert on a page or advertising board could become an animated catalogue or interactive 3D demonstration of a product.

The benefits of offering all of the information about your products to your customers without a need for them to leave the house – or even look away from their smartphone – is priceless.

Though it’s relatively new in the marketing world, AR is already capturing imaginations, particularly when using video. Though you usually only have a few seconds to capture your audience’s attention, AR can extend this window to around 75 seconds thanks to its immersive properties. Therefore, producing AR video content already places you in front of the correct people for a significant period.

It’s also immediately shareable and social-friendly, so perfect for spreading on Twitter.

Finally, AR can give those impulse shoppers a gentle push to turn them into a certain buyer, thanks to the ability to actualise a life with said product.

In order to survive the changes to digital marketing, you must adapt to new trends. If the statistics are anything to go by, AR is here to stay.

Video - the future of digital marketing?
Video - the future of digital marketing?
Video marketing really should be an important part of your marketing strategy in the coming year. Creating a short video that talks about your offering and even demonstrates your service gets people hooked.

Prospective clients or customers who are pushed for time (and who isn’t?) aren’t going to spend an age reading through your longer blogs or articles. Sure, existing clients may want to read about your business in more detail but for those who want to get a quick view of what it is you actually do and how you do it, they’ll click on your video.

Decided to give video a whirl? Great, but make sure you do it right. Here’s a few tips on how to make the most of what is arguably the most engaging digital marketing tool:

1. Make your video short and sweet.
Research suggests that most viewers will only watch a video for ten seconds and you’ll need to grab their interest within that time. A great video content creator can help you to do this.

2. If you want your video shared, make it amusing.
Videos that are largely just marketing waffle will not be shared. People want to find out something new, or laugh, or both!

3. SEO the hell out of it.
Make sure your video description is comprehensive enough to enable people to find it through search engines. Google needs a decent description to make sense of your video and include it in search rankings. Use keywords and as much detail as you possibly can.

In conclusion, if you succeed in making a video that entertains or grabs viewers within the first few seconds, you’ve nailed it and return on your investment will follow. Working with content creators who can write engaging scripts might just be the best business investment you'll ever make.

5 content trends to watch out for in 2018
5 content trends to watch out for in 2018
By now, we're all used to hearing how technology is changing and revolutionising just about every area of our work and lives.

Nowhere is this more true than at the forefront of digital marketing. The bloggers, the coders, the UX specialists – from creation to distribution to distribution to consumption, tech is changing the way we use and consume content.

Brands need to stay up to date with the latest advances and affect their strategies to stay ahead – or risk losing out. So, to give you a helping hand, we've rounded up five tech trends that are set to shake up the content marketing landscape in 2018. Don't say we didn't warn you.

1.Virtual and augmented reality
Experts are saying that 2018 will be the year when VR goes mainstream, and it's expected that its soon-to-be widespread usage will create whole new opportunities for brands to optimise their content.

VR and AR still represent unexplored marketing territory, but as a market that's expected to generate upwards of £110 billion in revenue by 2020, it won't be ignored.

For most SMEs, creating virtual reality content is still out of their capability, but that doesn't mean they can't take steps to improve their visual content. Videos, graphics and apps all lay the groundwork for future moves into VR/AR, while also improving your overall appeal.

2. Personalised content
Content has gradually been becoming more personalised, but precision analytics that track profiles and establish buyer personas are promising to take this to a whole new level in 2018.

Big companies like Amazon and Google are already experimenting with creating hyperspecific customer profiles, and companies of all sizes will soon be following suit.

In fact, a survey from marketing firm Gartner have predicted that, by 2018, businesses that have invested in across-the-board personalisation will outsell those that haven’t by 20 per cent.

3. Live video streaming
This year, we've seen live streaming introduced to just about every major social media platform, and its success so far has been astronomical. As many as 82 per cent of consumers favour live video over other types of social posts, according to a recent survey.

Live video streaming is more immediate and more resonant, plus it helps to establish closer customer relationships with your audience.

4. Mobile optimisation
Things are more on-the-go and immediate than ever before and, as a result, more than 69 per cent of all digital media engagement happens across mobile platforms – that's why you need to make sure your content has to be suitable for mobile consumption.

In order to grow and sustain your reach, this one is essential.

5. Artificial intelligence
Some of the biggest universal tech developments of the moment are in the field of AI.

Tools like predictive analytics, natural language processing, and generation algorithms will soon have the ability to drive smarter, more effective content – and at a much increased volume and speed.

Some predict that within the next 5 years, half of all content will be machine-generated, with humans only being needed to edit and oversee where necessary.

As technology reshapes all that content marketing is and could be, it's important for brands to anticipate and embrace these new trends and the opportunities they present.

Make sure your company is one of those leading your industry into this bold new media landscape.

Content Strategy and Content Marketing: What's the difference?
Content Strategy and Content Marketing: What's the difference?
When it comes to taking your business forward into the digital age, tech-babble and SEO terminology can put anyone off – especially SMEs who may only just be coming round to the idea of a website as a necessary extension to their business. There's one distinction in particular that’s liable to cause confusion:

Content strategy and content marketing – what's the difference? Surely they're one in the same?

Well, actually no. And knowing why not may just be the difference between digital success and its less favourable alternative.

In the simplest terms, content strategy is the 'why' while content marketing is the 'where'.

'Why' will my audience find this valuable? 'Why' does it work for my brand? A content strategist needs to know the best direction for their content, and work with the content development team to deliver it.

On the other hand, content marketers will know 'where' to distribute and promote this valuable content in such a way as to attract, engage and acquire a clearly defined audience with the aim of driving customer action, and directing profits back to the company.

It's not hard to see then, that when combined, these two roles can be so effective at delivering insightful content to exactly where it needs to go. But to get there, both the strategist and the marketer need to ask the right questions and really get to the bottom of the motivation behind their content, and how it’s going to help them to achieve their business goals. For example,

Who's going to see it?
Who do you want to see it?
Why is it relevant?

Answering even the most rudimentary and overlooked questions will ensure your content falls in line with your strategy. Thinking outside the box certainly has its place, but sometimes it's the most seemingly obvious concerns that get overlooked. For example, 'why am I doing this'; the most important question of all when it comes to content, and the one that’s most likely to get lost in the melee.

But remember, knowing the answers is only one thing – turning them into targeted actions is another ball game entirely. So don't spend all your time on the whys and whatfors; put what you've learned into effect, and the results will speak for themselves.

Visit our Content Services page to find out how we can help you.

Harnessing creative content to further boost SEO
Harnessing creative content to further boost SEO
In the modern, online world where SEO is king, it should not be news to anyone that one of the best ways to boost brand exposure is through content marketing.

Writing news posts, blogs and other web copy around topics that your company specialises in is a good way not only to capture more traffic, but also to position you and your employees as reputable sources of thought leadership.

However, a step that many miss out on is optimising content for SEO, too, which can mean that you are missing out on driving more people to your organisation and, in an ideal world, getting them to engage with you.

Using keywords effectively is one such way of boosting the power of your SEO. Though you are likely to be using many of these already in your content, there are often keywords you have not considered that can help you reach even higher in search rankings.

Brainstorming the kind of language potential customers may use when asking questions or describing problems common to your product or service can glean new keywords, as can services like Google’s Keyword Tool.

A good rule of thumb is to concentrate on just one or two per piece of content, making sure each article’s focus is tight.

There are also different places to put keywords to further optimise their use. One of the easiest and most often overlooked is a piece of content’s URL – including a keyword or two will really help search engines determine what is on your pages.

Article length is important, too. Though Google does prioritise longer pieces, readers can be turned off by a wall of text. Articles over 300 words – ideally somewhere around 700 words – work best, with keywords making up between 1 and 2 per cent of the text.

Finally, leveraging links can be very powerful in your content. Internal links to relevant content help search engines map out your website more fully and improve the ranking of any pages included. External links, meanwhile, help identify keywords and,most importantly, can convince other content creators to link back to you.

All in all, using content marketing to boost your website’s SEO is a holistic and long-term activity. With a lot of hard work and paying attention to best practices, it could pay dividends.

How to improve your SEO with internal linking
How to improve your SEO with internal linking
In terms of SEO strategy, internal linking is one of the most important methods for development.

Building links with other sites gives added authority to your site – resulting in high rankings and a most trusted brand image. But internal linking can be just as important in the overall development of your site.

The concept of internal linking is a pretty simple one – each page of your site should include links to other pages of your site. By including the 'right' number of links, a few magic keywords and relevant destinations, you can optimise your SEO and user experience.

Unlike links to your site from external sources, these links won't pass any new authority to your pages, but that doesn't mean they have no effect on how your site is indexed and ranks.

In terms of SEO, there are several benefits from internal linking. For example, the anchor text that you consistently associate with a given page can help Google to understand its relevance in that field. Likewise, links help Google's search crawlers to understand the layout of your site to establish a page hierarchy.

Internal linking also provides non-SEO benefits; namely visitor retention, a more easily navigable site and a marked increase in conversion possibilities as links give more momentum in directing users through the buying cycle.

So, where to start? Here are three quick ideas:

Use a plugin
If your site is built in WordPress, there are a number of plugins available that will automatically include internal links as a hyperlink to certain keywords.

Avoid 'keyword stuffing'
Google has become quite clever at spotting keyword stuffing and will flag any pages it deems suspicious.

Choose which pages you want to rank highly
Identify which pages you'd like to direct people to and make sure you place internal links on the highest authority pages of your site that lead directly to those pages.

Overall, it's recommended that, on your site, no page should be more than three clicks away from another page. This level of linking will improve both your SEO and your site (and, by extension) your company's bottom line.

Although internal linking tends to be overshadowed by the more powerful effects of intelligent, external link building – it's a strategy that's well worth the small amount of effort it takes.

Visit our Content Services page to find out how we can help you.

Why Oxford is winning the SEO war against Cambridge
Why Oxford is winning the SEO war against Cambridge
You would imagine that two of the world’s most famous universities would not need to compete for Google rankings – after all, how many times have you met someone who needed to search for one to know what it was?

The Boat Race is the most obvious instance of Oxford-Cambridge rivalry, but both cities are synonymous with punting (from different ends of the boat) as well as world-famous hospitals, publishers and universities.

One SEO expert based in Cambridge has worked out, however, that the rivalry between the two UK cities extends in new ways online.

In what Andrew Cock-Starkey, founder of networking and learning group Optimisey, called an SEO showdown,
he discovered that the dreaming spires of Oxford were better optimised than Cambridge.

Scoring both cities across seven match-ups between similar institutions, Cock-Starkey awarded points for SEO basics, page speed and number of backlinks.

Though the two universities tied, Oxford’s football team – Oxford United – pulled ahead of Cambridge’s – also United – thanks to a superior number of links (and, perhaps, league position).

Other measures included pitting Oxford rockers Radiohead against Cambridge stalwarts Pink Floyd, which the Oxford quintet comfortably won (rather than Comfortably Numb), as well as the two punting techniques, of which Cambridge’s was far better optimised.

In the end, Oxford came out on top in four of seven pairings, while Cambridge won two and one was tied.

Cock-Starkey said that although the project started out as a “fun idea”, it illustrated some interesting SEO takeaways for organisations around the country when it comes to showing how even small differences can make a world of difference to a search engine.

Poor metadata, messy page headings and slow mobile loading speeds were some of the most obvious mistakes made by Oxford and Cambridge’s institutions, he adds.

He advised: “Good SEO doesn’t have to be complicated. ‘SEO’ tends to conjure ideas of spotty nerds, on a laptop in the basement but – as this study shows – if you can just get the basics right you can elevate yourself above a lot of your competition.”

SEARCH STREETThe word on Search Street is that Google’s been making some pretty major changes to its search algorithm and that social signals are now being given a lot more weight as ranking factors.

By social signals, we mean activity on social network pages that relates to your website. It could be a link from someone else’s Twitter account to a news item on your website; it could be a link to your latest blog post from your own company Facebook page; or someone reading that blog article and clicking the Facebook ‘like’ button at the bottom of the item.

But is this social activity making a difference to Google rankings? And if it does, are the social networks just a few additional links out of many passing PageRank?

We can start off by looking at what Google have said themselves. Back in May 2010, Google’s Matt Cutts said in a video that Google did not use social media as a ranking signal. But in December that year, Matt revealed that Twitter and Facebook were now beginning to be used by Google as ranking signals. [Rollover here to view]

He went on to say that Google also took into account the authority of the linking social media account, or reputation of the author. Which is totally in line with Google’s general link methodology. Continue reading

In a great whiteboard presentation, Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz talks about SEO metrics. Many website owners, and agencies for that matter, are focused almost completely on metrics that are very ‘old school’, consequently missing the overall picture that includes marketing KPIs and business goals.

I particularly agree with Rand’s inference that, in this new SEO orbit, some of what he calls traditional ‘Leading Indicators’ (i.e. number of incoming links) could easily be replaced with other indicators, like, say, the number of new blog posts.

Focus needs to be more strategic, more holistic.
Why do you want your rankings higher? Why do you want more links? Why do you want more web pages? Common answers often include ‘we want more traffic’ or ‘we want more exposure to our latest campaign’. There’s this assumption that this will automatically translate into achieving business goals.

But that’s not the case. Moving the focus up the food chain to the business KPIs themselves is more important, and this is where the online strategies ought to be set. Understanding the broader picture will allow you to work out what marketing KPIs are important and what leading indicators are the right ones to be monitoring to achieve your business goals.

And as Rand says, by focusing on bigger things, we can be smarter and accomplish a lot more.

Traditional search engine optimisation is something of an oxymoron. The industry is so relatively young and so inherently dynamic that it seems almost impossible for it to have any tradition.

But there are established ways of doing things and there are alternative and innovative practices within the business. As Google’s new algorithms continue to strengthen the bias towards sites with a lot of unique, interesting and well-written content, could it be that old school SEO just can’t cut it anymore? Is a new skill set stepping up to take its place?

Search engine optimisation grew out of a need to be found online. To begin with it was as simple as meeting a set of simple technical requirements that would allow Google and other search engines to crawl your site and know what it was about. Meta keyword tags, for example, were originally designed to indicate that a site included information about the terms being searched for and have therefore been included as ranking factors.

For Google in particular, external links have played a vital role in traditional SEO. The search engine’s success has largely been thanks to the linking aspect of its original PageRank algorithm, which checked backlinks to determine a site’s importance. The technology analysed incoming links and made the assumption that sites with a lot of links from important and relevant websites were more likely to be important themselves.

This is thought to tie in well with the way in which a human brain works. If a topic or idea is often referenced and linked to by other areas of the brain, the stronger the connection/synapse and the more important the information is to us. This could be part of the secret as to why Google has overwhelmingly been the most successful search engine: It’s the one that most closely mimics our natural behaviour, so using it is simple.

But Google started life as a Stanford University research project. Its early versions were excellent technical developments, but they weren’t designed to organise the sheer volume of websites that exist now. There are hundreds of millions of websites that need to be ranked and Google handles around 100 billion search queries every month – a mammoth task by anyone’s standards. Of course as the number of sites grew, so did competition between them. Tactics and ideas emerged about how Google’s PageRank worked and so SEO as a business was born out of an essential need to rank above other sites in order to increase web traffic. From the turn of the millennium, Google has been dealing with the ongoing evolution of the internet, playing cat and mouse with SEO experts, who monitor and attempt to predict the search engine’s algorithm changes. The problem for Google is that, particularly in competitive industries, website owners were all carrying out very similar technical optimisation.

This included site structure, setting a ratio of keywords to copy, meta-tags, labeling of images and, of course, link-building. Many webmasters had created link-building programmes that were a sophisticated mix of automated and human requests. The combination of a hugely expanding index and a commitment to SEO techniques by millions of website owners meant that Google’s search accuracy at the top of its listings was being blunted.

It was no surprise then to witness Google’s latest manoeuvre in this ongoing battle: the introduction of several major algorithm updates that shifted the focus heavily onto the quality and quantity of website content. Overnight, owners of websites that were packed full of duplicate content, over-embellished with keywords or holding hundreds of pages of skeletal product information found their sites’ Google search positions plummeting. Sites with adequate content but no social media presence were also suffering. No community equals no authority.

These updates have moved the emphasis away from traditional SEO techniques towards the creation and curation of truly relevant and engaging content that feeds the market’s informational requirements. Certainly, many basic SEO tenets still apply today, but on their own they are impotent.

To build search rankings, it is becoming obvious that a new type of ‘SEOer’ is needed. The skill sets that are now required are significantly different from those of SEO practitioners that worked (and continue to work) on the principles set in place ten, five or even two years ago.

Moreover, search rankings themselves are no longer the single goal of the online marketer.

Those that have taken a holistic approach to the discipline have generally subscribed to the belief that content in context is king. By this we mean that simply producing great content is not enough – it needs to fall within the sphere of the audience’s interests and, if you really want to be noticed, you need to know what to do with the content.

Listen to your market. Find out what your audience needs and address the disconnect between this and your current user experience.

Currently there are still too many teams working independently on the technical side of SEO, social media, PPC, editorial or public relations. As the boundaries between these areas become blurred, as search engines change their ranking criteria and as online discovery has broadened to encompass Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social channels, it is necessary to tie these different aspects of online marketing together. Content has become the common binding agent.

Fortunately, increasing numbers of online marketers are embracing this holistic approach. The need for integrated campaigns is uniting marketing departments with IT and PR departments, thus bringing some very different skills together in order to achieve optimum online exposure.

For information to flow freely, communication channels need to be opened and widened. Everyone must work towards the same marketing objectives, and have access to a shared, collaborative content calendar.

Without marketing, public relations, and social media, content would have no distribution channels and be rendered useless. Without good content – be it in the form of industry news, blog commentary, press release, video, independent research or a white paper – the PR and marketing departments have little of interest to share and discuss with potential clients and customers.

As consumers become increasingly demanding of their informational requirements, and search engines become more adept at directing this information, high quality content is becoming more of a focal point.

If you are in the market for ‘SEO’ expertise, make sure you select people with the right combination of skill sets to deliver the best content possible, instead of relying on traditional SEOers who have picked up their creative skills out of necessity rather than out of a passion for communicating through content.