SEO Blog

Posted on: 12/10/2015 - 11:38 | Comments:0

“How much!?! For that price I can get my own, in house SEO person!”

Most respectable online marketing companies will be well versed in the above reaction. Reputable online marketing companies charge anything from £3000/month (~$4600) all the way to £7k/month Some even higher. Based on an hourly rate of approx. £60 ($100) this equates to a minimum of 50 hours dedicated to your project.  So that initial reaction, although sigh inducing amongst those in the know, is perfectly normal. But how justified is it?

Well, that wholly depends on what your definition of SEO or Online marketing is exactly.

Although it is true that there is no such thing as effective cheap SEO, it is just as true that you can get cheap SEO at a high price.  Following that thought process and following our recent study showing that 52% of SEO companies still offer dodgy link building techniques, it’s not surprising that some see the option of an in house SEO expert as attractive.

So, before we even start analysing this further, I think it’s worth defining what SEO/Online marketing really means to us here at Reboot. For that purpose, I’m going to separate the two.

SEO Person: A person with some varying degree of technical and theoretical understanding on how search engines behave and works. This person will typically be able to carry out audits on a website and discover technical issues that may concern areas such as Meta tags, content duplication, website structure and internal linking. This person also displays clear understanding on what it takes to rank a website and what the inherent dangers are with differing tactics used to achieve this.

Online Marketing: The process of marketing a website in such a way so as to make the website and its content as attractive as possible for other online publications in the hope that they will associate themselves with said website via several methods most important of which is via linking to said website.

Now, you will notice that under tEO person definition, we intentionally said “displays clear understanding of what it takes to rank”. What it does not say is that this person is able, on his/her own, rank a competitive website without using techniques that are against Google guidelines. Why? Well its simple. The clue is in the title of the second definition. “Online Marketing”. Note it does not say “Online Marketing Person”. That is because, these days, competitive ranking increasingly demands more than one person to accomplish a successful campaign.

Online Marketing Team vs Lone SEO person

Stages of a Successful Online Campaign:

Idea Generation – This is most effectively done amongst a group of people. A group of people who get on with each other, are at ease and happy to shout out ideas without fear of rejection. Have you ever tried to do this with just one person? Yes, they will have the odd good idea but generating 5 or 6 per session is impossible if you are an SEO person on your own.

Research – The second, very important stage is always done best in a group. Each person takes an angle on the idea and goes off to research it. Again, incredibly difficult to do when you are on your own. A group is able to egg and encourage each other whilst being able to munch over obstacles and come to a working solution.

Content – This can be done individually but having multiple personalities in your content team helps with keeping the content fresh, original and vibrant while giving you the option of directing individual writing style or passion to the best fitting requirement.

Graphic design – Another crucial skill. Graphic design can bring an edge to your stories, breaking it up into manageable sizes while making the whole piece far more attractive and easy on the eye. Images, graphics, infographics, videos all help and are all crucial.

Outreach – Anyone that has ever tried outreach would vouch that it’s not the most exciting job in the world. It involves using specialist skills learnt and honed over years of experience. It’s a ‘knack’ which is easier to achieve and maintain when working in groups.

Social Media – Goes without saying really. Social media is a skill in itself. It’s not enough simply knowing how to tweet or post on facebook. Just because you may have the ability to manage your own personal account, does not mean that you are able to maintain several client account to a level that would bring in relevant, real, engaging followers and grow your reach substantially. Reach that can then be included as one of your outreach weapons.

So, for a company to take on a full time SEO person in-house, the job spec should include all of the above skills.

Now, how many people do you know who can offer all of the above? If you are lucky, you may just be able to get away with a team of 3. A writer can conceivably do the research, but you won’t find many writers that are also good graphic designers so now you need a graphic designer and a writer. The problem is that you still need someone who understands SEO. Not many writers or graphic designers are also SEO experts. (And there is nothing more dangerous than an SEO person who is not an expert)

Assuming you can get away with 3 people, and that is a stretch in itself, you will need to pay 3 wages. So, even if you are paying £15k each (which, let’s face it is not going to get you experts by anyone’s definition) you are already paying £45,000 every year. For that amount, if you choose your online marketing company carefully, you can get a whole team of experts who have been doing this for years. Who are real experts and have the backing and professionalism that is so necessary in this industry today.

Employment Headaches and Documents

Other negatives of having an in-house SEO person which people rarely think about are the inherit headaches that comes with employing full time staff such as pensions, sick pay, holiday allowances, equipment, subscriptions, software, payroll, tax, NI, HR issues, health & safety, employment insurance and the list goes on and on. All of which will invariably distract you from your own core responsibilities and make your job increasingly feel more like a babysitting role.

Freelancing option? A total waste of time. Freelancers are a great way of complementing your current resources but if you are hoping on building a whole team using freelancers for crucial, time sensitive projects, well, you are in for a shock. The problems occur due to the fact that you have no direct control over them. They tend to all start well, but after a while, they start taking longer and longer to answer your queries or get jobs completed. This in turn starts to hold all of our other freelancers back and causes a massive catch 22 situation where the only thing that is getting accomplished is your sanity. Differing time zones, varied level of skills, trust issues, security, language barriers and commitment are all serious issues which need to be considered. This is not to say that there are some amazingly reliable, trustworthy and skilful Freelancers. There are. We use 3 of them. But we use them in addition and in support of the main team rather than a crucial cog in the machinery. In other words, if our freelancers suddenly disappear on a 6 month trekking trip to Nepal with no prior warning or agreement, it won’t have any damaging effect on our business model.

Making the right choice of online marketing company obviously will have a bearing on the results. Assuming you have asked the right questions and chosen a good company, and there are many out there despite what some people may lead you to believe, you simply cannot compare the effectiveness of an online marketing campaign carried out by a dedicated, professional and experienced team to that of a lone SEO expert.

Posted on: 01/10/2015 - 12:39 | Comments:0

I hate SEO. There. I said it. Quite strong, I know, but I can’t help the mounting connotations the acronym invokes in my mind when it’s mentioned these days. I have no problem with the actual meaning of the phrase. Its more of what the term has morphed into in recent years. It's what comes to mind when the phrase is mentioned. Its now almost synonymous with SPAM, cold calling, junk email and hard sale.

White Hat SEOs Vs Black HAt SEOs

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Historically, like the spread on an infectious disease, we (and let’s face it, we all had a hand in this, it’s just that some of us have grown up and evolved with the times) have taken everything that is pure and beautiful with the way the internet interconnects, communicates and lives and slowly but surely destroyed it for our own selfish greedy needs.

Ok, slightly overdramatic but it has taken a single email response for me to come to that conclusion. You see, we have been working extremely hard on a campaign for one of our clients. We collected and collated hundreds of facts about smoking, categorised them into 4 separate categories and then whittled them down to 4 or 6 for each category. We then got Andy, our extremely talented graphic designer to design an infographics around those facts. It was titled The True Cost of Smoking and it was, even if I do say so myself, superb.

The outreach stage went quite well. Many bloggers replied stating how much they liked the blog and infographics. However, amongst the positive emails we received we also received quite a few, obviously automated or cut/pasted jobs such as the one below:

Payment For Link Request Email

So we spent hours collecting the information, processing it, further hours designing the graphics and without even asking for a link back (in the hope that common decency will prevail and credit will be given naturally) and we get a request for payment. Really?

The problem is that today, even the infographic’s future as a marketing tool is in doubt. Like everything else on this path, it has been abused to such an extent that what used to be an engaging, creative and informative way of bringing information to life, now conjures up a silent but growing “not another infographics” grunt as a response.  You see its not poor Jemma’s fault really. It is ours. We, as an industry are responsible for bombarding her with thousands of requests for links to questionable blog posts that contain nothing but some tedious, poorly written text with some shoddy website generated, pointless infographics blunting her reaction to them in such a way that all she does now is robotically send out payment requests in return; probably without even bothering to click on the link, let alone actually reading the content or examining the infographics.

We are here once again. In the same spot we were when directories were first mass produced and used as a linking tool. The same spot we were when people realised that the influence of articles can be harvested and massive article submission offers were used as a genuine SEO tool. The same spot where we were when people realised that those innocent comments on blogs, originally designed to enable networking between bloggers, can now be automated causing billions of crud-infested links pointing to some of the worst corners of the internet. 

The cycle is the same every time. Reputable Online Marketeers find a way to please the search engines ecosystem while SEOs find ways of degrading it to the point that it becomes dangerous.

Online marketers innovate -> Spammers copy, modify and abuse -> Google nukes the whole area as a response. The cycle continues. Real losers? The innovators.

The solution? In this game of cat and mouse between Google and spammers, the only solution is educating the milk bearer. The ones that keep the spammers going. The unaware client who is relentlessly assured that the £250/month SEO that he is investing in is producing natural, organic, white hat, evergreen, kosher links; The client that is being lied to but does not have the knowledge or tools to assess this for him/her self.



You would think that all of the above is starting to sink in. Dodgy link building is dead. After all, talk about online marketing, branding, content creation, content outreach and the famous mantra of content is king is everywhere these days. People are aware that the old ways open themselves up to penalties right? Well, you would be wrong.

Next time you get a call from a client flabbergasted by your SEO retainer pricing, don’t be surprised when he/she tells you that a competitor offering “natural SEO” has quoted them around a quarter of what you have. What they don’t mention is that their definition of “natural SEO” is vastly different from yours or in most cases, Google’s.

So we decided to do a test. We typed in the words “SEO services” into google search box and Vince Cuibus, our new SEO Exec compiled a list of the first 100 SEO agencies. He then visited each and every one of them and started searching for indicators on what they consider to be natural link building campaign. What He found was quite astonishing. Out of the 100 sites checked:


31% of companies still unashamedly offer: directory links, blog commenting, forum linksSome of these websites displayed their toxic link building techniques quite clearly and in plain view while others hide it quite well. Here are some examples:

This site blatently offering blog commenting service:

Blog Commenting Service

This site is offering Link Directory submissions "as standard"

Spammy Link Directories Offered "As standard"

This site buried its real link building techniques in it Terms Of Service where no client is likely to ever really look:

Use of PBN admitted in TOS!

25% of companies, although not mentioning it directly, obviously carried out spammy link building. We came to that conclusion because one or more of the below was true.

  • Asking them directly via online chat, phone or email received very evasive answers to the question on how they carry out their link building clearly suggesting they have something to hide. After all, if you carry out link building naturally, you would have no reason to not explain this.
  • Pricing. If no link building tactics were detailed and prices were extremely low (<£250/month) or arranged in vague packages then it’s safe to assume that the methods are less than natural.
  • Examining the website and reading between the lines. Mentions of “secret methods” or tell-tale signs such as guaranteeing that the links will stay live for a specific period of time. 

44% of companies use natural link building methods such as research, content marketing / outreach

These are the guys that say the right thing. Obviously, we have not verified whether they actually practice what they preach and to be honest, in my ever increasing age/cynicism parallel vectors (both pointing in the wrong direction), I would not be surprised if a large chunk of those don’t actually do what they claim to. 

If you are interested in the raw data file from the study, its here. We have removed the urls for obvious reasons.

You would think that online marketing experts are starting to realise that not all tactics used should be shared and written about for the sake of some links. We, as a company for example have some habits, procedures or tactics that work for us in the 3 main areas of any online marketing campaign (idea generation, Content creation and outreach) that are kept to ourselves. Not because we are greedy or don’t like to share, but just because I’m fully aware that as soon as I write my first “5 ways to improve outreach” blog, someone, somewhere will find a way of thoroughly deconstructing it and before you can say “Fiverr”…erm... It will be on Fiverr.

SEO to Marketeer Sig

Posted on: 08/09/2015 - 16:23 | Comments:0

BuzzSumo and Moz reveal the content sweet spot


Content Marketing Sweet Spot Infographics

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The two digital analytics companies teamed up this summer to analyse what makes content shareable and linkable. They analysed over 1 million articles to find correlations between shares and links and answer all content marketer’s prayers to reveal the truth behind what content really works.

They found in a randomly selected sample of 100,000 articles, almost 50% received two or less Facebook interactions (shares, likes or comments) and over 75% had zero backlinks. In the buzz and flow of marketing intelligence from recent years, this finding shows that the internet has responded to the “content is king” mantra, but not in a good way. Most content created is of poor quality and is simply ignored or it is not being amplified effectively. So it is more important now than ever to create compelling content that rises above the deafening sea of noise filling the ether(net).

Shares outweigh links unanimously, unsurprisingly, as shares are much easier to achieve. The ability to share anything on the internet is now a commodity. Getting links is much harder as it requires much more effort than simply hitting a share button. BuzzSumo and Moz’s research established that highly shared pieces of content did not necessarily achieve links in the same way. In fact, of the 1 million posts sampled, there was no significant correlation between amount of shares and links, meaning people share and link for different reasons. This is crucially important knowledge for content writers when setting targets for their content as they must treat shares and links as separate metrics, and they must be viewed on their own individual merits, because shares and links are not linked. 

85% of content published on the web is less than 1000 words in length. Whereas, content over 1000 words long significantly outperforms shorter content with more shares and links. Think about that for a second, 85% of content being published on the internet is sub-standard. This makes content creation exciting again, because knowing this means you can do better than over four fifths of the competition.

The sweet spot


Where content achieves a high amount of shares and a subsequent increase of referring domain links is the ‘sweet spot’. This is the holy grail of content, the answer to all content marketer’s problems. The content that sits in the ‘sweet spot’ comes from major publishers through popular domains, something many people knew already. So no life-changing insight there, however, BuzzSumo and Moz do not leave us hanging, they found that authoritative, research-backed content and opinion forming journalism were also in this sweet spot halo.

The research looked at specific domains and compared a larger sample of 49,952 articles from the New York Times and 46,128 from the Guardian.

  Article Study 1

They found that the correlation between total shares to domain links was lower than when a smaller sample based on a specific content type was compared. They found that opinion forming content achieved a higher correlation of shares and referring links.

Article Study 2

They concluded that content which commented on current events with either a controversial angle or engaging approach performed best in achieving links and shares, as well as authoritative writing, and deeply researched/evidence-backed content.

So now you know what content hits the sweet spot, you need to know which format will deliver the best results. Here is the result of detailed analysis on 757,317 posts that BuzzSumo and Moz took at random to analyse content formats with the highest share and referring link correlations.

Average Total Shares By Content Type

Average Referring Domain Links By Content Type

The content format with the highest correlation of total shares and referring links was ‘Why Posts’ at 0.125, with List posts (0.092) and video (0.091) not far behind. List posts were found to be the most effective content formats to achieve the highest amount of shares and following links. At the other end of the spectrum, infographics were reported to have very low levels of average shares and over 50% of infographics on the web had zero external links. Showing many content publishers have opted to turn to creating infographics out of anything and everything in recent years, which has devalued the potential of infographics as a once promising type of content.

Content length was the last determinant of success and longer pieces consistently produced higher rates of links and shares. The study analysed 489,128 text based articles and found that 85% of content was 1000 words or less, falling into the under-performing category. They discovered that both average shares and referring domain links on average increased in line with a posts length. Long form content gets higher average shares, but emphatically higher average referring links.

The take away points that BuzzSumo and Moz confirmed to increase shares and links were that content over 1000 words and list posts worked best. When they looked at list posts and discarded anything under 1000 words the average number of referring domain links increased from 6.19 to 9.53. Their findings demonstrate that a combination of factors contribute to the overall success of content, with some interesting discoveries about content format, length and type. So when content creation looks bleak, just remember that good quality content rules and that not just any ‘content is king’. We would not suggest writing for the sake of word count, this in fact could produce worse content but make sure that whatever you are writing about has been well researched, displays an original opinion and either informs why or even better can be formatted in a list.

If you want to find out more about the BuzzSumo & Moz report then follow this link to view the 30 page report.

Posted on: 06/08/2015 - 13:26 | Comments:0

As the internet continues to evolve and explode at an astonishing rate, we take a look at what the World Wide Web means to generations of Britons.

General internet usage

Figures from the 2015 Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) reveal that 78% of adults in Great Britain use the internet every day or almost every day – this equates to 39.3 million people. This figure was as low as 35% in 2006 when directly comparable figures were released.

Moreover, 74% often accessed the internet on the go (using mobiles, tablets etc.) and away from home or work. 96% of young adults, (pretty much the whole generation) aged 16-24 used on-the-go internet access, compared with only 29% of people over the age of 65.

Age Gap Internet Usage Infographics

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As recently highlighted by the BBC, high street shopping is on the decline as internet shopping becomes the new way to shop; our urge for convenience and increasingly busy lifestyles has meant internet shopping has shown huge growth in recent years. In 2015, 76% of adults bought goods or services online, up from 53% in 2008.

Young adults show the highest penchant for shopping online, with 65% of those aged 16 to 24 purchasing over the internet in 2008, rising to 90% in 2015. The 65+ age group are not to be left out, though; although only 42 percent of them bought online in 2015, this rose significantly from 2008 when the figure sat at 16%.

The most popular online purchase was “Clothes or sports goods”, unsurprisingly, purchased by 55% of adults. Household goods such as toys or furniture was next in line, purchased by 44% and finally travel arrangements and holiday accommodation, the purchase of choice for 37% of adults.

In the last 3 months, 22% of adults purchased online once or twice, while 28% of adults purchased 11 or more times. Online purchases totaling £100 to £499 were made by 42% of adults who had bought online in the last 3 months. 

 Number Of Purchases In The Last 3 Months

Of those adults who had purchased online in the last 3 months, 42% made purchases totaling £100 to £499, 12% made purchases of less than £50, and 9% made purchases of £2,000 or more. Age of consumer made little difference in this comparison - purchases between £100 and £499 were clearly the most common across all age groups, but in equal measures; of those aged 16 to 24, 49% spent on purchases in this range, compared with 42% of those aged 65 and over.

Online Purchase Value Table

As for problems encountered and complaints, information confirms the younger generations ‘need for speed’ so to speak, revealing 33% of 16-24 year olds had issues with the slow delivery of goods, compared with only 13% from the age group 65+.


Internet Activities by age group

Different age groups were surveyed across 17 different categories of internet use; adults aged 25 to 34 had the highest (or joint highest) use across 7 of the 17 categories surveyed. Those aged 16 to 24 reported the highest (or joint highest) use in 6 of the 17 categories.

Unsurprisingly, age group 16-24 ranked highly in recreational internet activities, such as social media (92%), and also education and training (59%) whilst adults 25-34 tended to use the internet for more ‘day to day’ activities like sending and receiving E-mail (88%) and reading online news, newspapers and magazines (77%).

Uploading original content to be shared to a website and blogging was most popular amongst 25-34 year olds (56%), closely followed by 16-24 year olds (55%).

Internet Usage Purpose Table

With regard to sex, there was little difference between men and women carrying out the said activities, with the exception of downloading software – carried out by 37% of men and only 19% of women. 

Posted on: 06/05/2015 - 14:44 | Comments:0

The Key Differences Between Genders When It Comes To Search

The battle of the sexes has raged from time immemorial, and we’re not going to solve that today - but we have to ask ourselves whether a greater understanding of gendered search can help us reach target markets more effectively. If potential customers are searching differently - and we can start to pick up on those patterns - we should be able to use this information to our advantage. 

Relative to how important these differences could be, there has been surprisingly little research done on the topic. It involves analysing information that’s hard to capture and quantify, and those that have done the research seem to be working from relatively small sample sizes. 
However, their results are startlingly similar. The core of the conclusion seems to be this: women are more likely to use specific, long search terms, while men are more likely to ‘accidentally’ find the result they were looking for. Yet somehow, men are more satisfied with the results they find than women.
Some of the research also suggests that there are key differences in the kind and type of information that men and women are searching for, as well as how they find it. 
Men and women use search differently - and if we’re not accounting for that, it’s potentially a major oversight that could mean we’re losing out.

How Often Do Men and Women Actually Use Search?

The Pew Research Center - an American nonpartisan fact and think tank that focuses public issues and trends facing the world, has been conducting research in this field for over a decade. While their research is US-centric, their results are potentially applicable to the Western world. 
In 2008, they found that while most men and women report having ever used a search engine, men were far more likely than women to even use search on a typical day - while 53% of men were using search on a given day, women lagged behind at 45%. 
As we all know, trends related to technology are constantly changing. If we take a look at overall patterns, we can argue that men are more likely to use search - historically - but over time, women have been catching up to the extent that the difference now is almost negligible. From 2002 to 2008, the percentage of men online using search on a daily basis has risen from 33% in 2002, to 53% in 2008, while the percentage of women has also risen significantly from 25% to 45% in 2002 to 2008 respectively. 
So what? Men are using search engines more frequently than women - but to what end? And what difference does that make to business? 
The data from the Pew Research Center also tells us some more general information - that men have been more engaged in search, and men have stated that they search more frequently - while also expressing greater confidence in their search abilities - though their results and satisfaction with their findings seem to be contrary to this. 

Do Men And Women Have Equal Faith In Search Results? 

Interestingly, in 2005, Pew found that men have been more aware than women of paid vs. unpaid search results, and are more likely to know the differences between the two. 43% of men know the difference, as compared to 32% of women. Furthermore, 51% of men have some inkling of search engines tracking user behaviour, as opposed to just 34% of women being aware of these systems even existing.
“Men and women trust their search engines about equally. Some 67% of men and 70% of women say they are a fair and unbiased source of information."
“Men stick with a single search engine more than women.  Some 47% of men regularly use just one search engine, compared to 40% of women. On the other hand, 51% of women use 2 or 3 engines, compared to 44% of men.”

Differences In Search Terms And Queries

Knowing about basic differences between the sexes and whether or not they even use search is one thing - but by looking at the differences between their actual methodologies, we can get some real insights into customer behaviour. 
A 2010 paper by Maghferat and Stock appearing in Webology - a peer reviewed journal devoted to the World Wide Web - highlights some of the ways in which men and women use different search terms to retrieve information. While they look into deep web searches, their conclusions on how their sample uses search engines is most relevant to us. 
They found that “68.4% of women compared to 46.2% of men used query search operators in the formulation” of their searches. 
They also found that men are far more likely to ‘accidentally’ come upon their desired search results, whereas women are more often fulfilling their search requirements “structurally and purposefully.” 
In other words - women are more likely to use long search strings, while men are more likely to search generally and then drill down. Men are spreading the net wide and using less key terms, while women are using specific key words for more focused searching. 

What Results Are They After And Who Do They Trust? 

The previously mentioned characteristics ring true with research regarding the differences between men and women’s preferences for information that isn’t centred on online search. 
Though not focused on online search in particular, a 2006 paper out of the Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium by Xie, Hui, Jigang Bao and Morais can give some insights into some fundamental differences between the types of information men and women are looking for. 
They found that while typically men’s “preference for logical and analytical thinking makes it easier for them to use Boolean logic” to put queries together,  women’s “rich verbal abilities… support the use of a wider vocabulary and multiple syntactic relationships.” 
Women are far more likely to go on recommendations garnered through word of mouth, are more likely to share information and are more likely to develop a relationship with a source. They’re also more inclined than men to collaboratively search for information - in some ways we can see this in action in the success of Pinterest and social sharing sites. 
In their specific example - looking at how men and women retrieved information in a holiday setting - they found that women are more likely to search for information regarding lodging, food and local culture, while men were more likely to search for information on transportation, weather and security.

Why Should We Care? 

Women are more likely to share information - and more likely to return to trusted content providers. They’re more likely to recommend your site to others, given their preference for collaborative, social approbation of information. On the other hand, it seems that search engine algorithms are almost inherently skewed towards men’s formulation of queries. 
While some of this data is limited - its power is overwhelming. This information could be used to change the way we write headlines for different audiences. With more information on the kinds of data one sex is more likely to search for, we could have really powerful demographic insights on our hands.