SEO Blog

Posted on: 09/02/2016 - 15:27 | Comments:0

 

Picture your perfect blog post:

I bet you’re imaging a content masterpiece, with thousands of comments, likes and shares; it’s all over social media. It contains wonderfully crafted written content along with striking, unique imagery and graphics and it has gone viral because you were born to write fabulous, sharable content.

Regrettably, the reality is a whole lot different. You write this perfectly constructed blog post, and you wait, and you wait some more… only to discover that it’s been completely ignored. It brings in little traffic, gets 2 likes (one from each of your parents) – and as for social media shares? You can forget it.

So what did you do wrong?

Read on, and you’re bound to find your answer. So you want to create content that spreads like wildfire? Start by reviewing the tips below, and implementing them. By no means can you expect some magical traffic increase all at once – any online marketers worth their salt know that content marketing just doesn’t work that way. Generating viral content takes massive amounts of strategising and tons of hard graft – but continue to implement the below tips in each and every one of your blog posts and you will soon start to see results.

Let’s begin…

Tip One – Headlines MATTER

 

“On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.” David Ogilvy, Confessions of an Advertising Man

Mr Ogilvy says it all, really. Human kind judge things almost instantly – it’s in our nature – so first impressions really do count. The headline of a piece is kind of like having a strong handshake in a job interview; mess it up and chances are your potential employer won’t have high expectations for the rest of the interview. You have to remember that readers need to have confidence in the headline, and if they don’t, there’s no way they’re going to read the piece.

So how do you construct the perfect headline?

If you’re writing articles for SEO purposes, then your headline is going to be displayed on Google alongside plenty of others; you need to make sure it’s catchy as hell and stands out otherwise no-one’s going to click on it.

Use numbers, capital letters, and symbols - anything visually interesting will add gumption to a headline. As for words, use the three W’s: when, why and what – instructions such as these make people think they’re going to get something out of your article. Buzz words and strong adjectives such as ‘simple, fun, free, incredible, surprising, strange, awesome’ also work well.

Tip Two – Take Inspiration from Proven Success

The basic idea here is ‘if it worked before, it’s likely going to work again’.

In order to take advantage of the so called ‘Skyscraper technique’ all you have to do is find other content with lots of likes and shares, try to recreate whatever it is that made this content so popular and then make it even better.

You can build upon the existing content and easily improve it by looking for things that it might be missing. Some easy ways to successfully progress a piece are to go more in depth than the original author did, add statistics and interesting numerical facts, make the piece more visually interesting by adding visual aids such as graphs, infographics and cartoons and finally, simply expand upon anything that you felt was poorly covered or not written about in great enough detail.

Doing these things should refresh and update a previously prosperous blogpost – making for a great new piece of original content. People have already shown interest in the topic; you have a ready-made audience!  Now all you have to do is outreach it to the same audience and watch your traffic, shares, likes and links grow and grow…

Tip Three – Ensure your Content Benefits the Reader

 

The basic mentality of sharing is to elevate the sharer’s authority and intelligence in the eyes of his/her audience. This means people will generally share things that they feel will be useful, helpful or interesting to their social media audiences (family, friends colleagues etc.).

If you keep this in mind whilst writing content, then you’ll be more likely to something that has ‘take away value’ for your readers.

Lists and ‘how to’ articles have practical utility; they teach people how to do things, give golden nuggets of advice and are generally written in an easily digestible format. It’s no wonder therefore that they are some of the most shared articles on the internet.

Tip Four – Make it Easy to Share

 

Picture the scene: you’re reading a blog post that you think would interest your mates. You decide on a whim to share it to your Facebook page but then see that there’s no Facebook share button. Do you take the time to copy the link, log into your Facebook account, then paste the link and post a status update? Probably not.

The bottom line is, if you don’t have share buttons added on to the end of your blog post, then you’re losing valuable shares and therefore valuable traffic.

And don’t forget about other ways to share – people love options:

Make your images shareable

Shareaholic allows you to make your image shareable using WordPress plugins. The image shared will link back to your blog post, in turn bringing in more traffic.

Make your text tweetable

Use Clicktotweet to create easily tweetable bits of text. The click-to-tweet service will highlight quotes, summaries or any important text of your choice, allowing the reader to simply click on the highlighted text and create a tweet and a link back to your blog post!

WordPress plugins such as TweetDis are also useful for creating links back to your blog post through tweets. Famous bloggers often put tweetable quotes into their blog posts, as Michael Hyatt demonstrates below:

 

Michael Hyatt puts a tweetable quote into his article

Going back to Tip Three and the psychology of sharing, we learnt that people share things on their social media that they think will make them appear more intelligent and authoritative in the eyes of their audience – and the same goes for tweets! If you give your readers a great, scholarly, snappy quote in your blog post and you make it easy for them to tweet it straight to their followers, then chances are they’re going to do so.

Tip 5 - Ask and you might just get!

 

The simplest – and most effective - piece of advice you’ll ever get:

Calls to action really work!!!

It’s actually surprising how many people fail to recognise the importance of asking for what they want - (in this case shares and likes). Ask your followers to share your post and in some cases they will do so; you have nothing to lose, after all!

In Conclusion…

As aforementioned, blogging successfully takes a lot of hard graft; you won’t be successful overnight. But keep to these tips in your next blog post, and your next blog post and the next one after that, and you might just start to see the fruits of your labour!

Posted on: 05/02/2016 - 14:27 | Comments:0

People browse the internet for a whole host of reasons; entertainment, resolving a query, relaying information…the list goes on. For each search, often millions of results are made available to the user. With endless possibilities, it is essential that you, as a writer or SEO company, provide good, user-friendly content for the reader in order to stand out from the crowd. However, good content is rarely enough to satisfy users anymore. To have that competitive edge, your information needs to be pertinent and succinct whilst making for a fun user experience.

Break the mould

Find your niche. The subject of your piece is the crux of the article. Duplicate content on the web can land you in hot water and will be heavily penalised. You should be able to clearly identify the purpose of the piece, whether it is to entertain, inform or discuss a certain topic. Writers should also be able to pinpoint the unique selling point of the article. Maybe your work covers a subject in more depth than other have done before?  

content is king

Spacing

 

Although blogs rarely indent text, it is still worth spacing the text out and making use of headings to highlight the introduction of a new topic.

Break up text with images

 

Large blocks of text can be visually daunting. With modern life becoming more demanding, especially in terms of time; readers want information that is instant, eye-catching and that makes for a simple read. Images should all be made a uniform size that is compatible with your blog.

Use graphs or infographics where relevant

 

Visual data can be very appealing to users providing that it is clear, concise and relevant. Infographics are two-a-penny now however, well-designed infographics are not. Often with information overload, a cluttered layout or of a poor resolution, they add little to the article.

So what makes for a good infographic?

 

what makes a good infographic

 

Share this Image On Your Site

Do not overcomplicate text

 

Keep things simple. Information should be short, snappy and (again) relevant. Many companies get overly bogged-down attempting to relay their technical jargon. This often results in sentences that are so long, the user would pass out reading them from lack of oxygen! That said, this does not mean that you cannot offer an in-depth insight into a topic. Simply, when read out-loud, your work should flow. To achieve this, you should avoid potential distractions in your literature that may interrupt the user’s engagement with the text.

 

content marketing strategy

So what would these include?

 

Abbreviations: Unexplained acronyms can cause confusion and put off readers from continuing with the article. Furthermore, it can leave the reader with unanswered questions owing to the fact that they simply do not understand what you are attempting to say. In this scenario, the user is likely to opt for another site that offers friendlier UX (user experience!).   

Overuse of links: Links are there to support your study. Writers who string together existing articles in order to create a new piece, are in danger of looking spammy or losing their reader to a link that they themselves have included. Links should support your study, but your unique angle and content should be the skeleton of your study, not vice versa.  

Grandiloquence and Hypherluted language: a.k.a overly complex language. To appear knowledgeable, writers often attempt to overwhelm the reader with ‘big’ words. Ironically, this often deters users in favour of another site which offers material that is easier to digest.

definition for content

Image: Credit to pinterest.com

Writing about subjects that you are genuinely passionate about will reflect in your writing. Providing content that you yourself would read and find interesting and inspiring is more likely to keep readers engaged for a longer period of time. Furthermore, the personal tone it achieves will be an additional selling point. Writers should always review their work before publication.

Ask yourself:

 

  • Does the piece appear attractive / is the layout well-structured?
  • Can I myself read the article the whole way through without getting distracted?
  • Are the use of images appropriate and relevant to the text?
  • Is your piece topical, unique and useful?

how to write good content

 

Image: Credit to visionlinemedia.com

If you can honestly answer yes to all of the above; there is a good chance that your article is indeed user friendly and is therefore more likely to be read and referred to.

 

Posted on: 04/01/2016 - 16:43 | Comments:1

The average business person receives over 100 E-mail’s every single day, Many from SEO companies meaning 90 percent of them will most likely be swiftly deleted to make a busy inbox more digestible.

The aim of the outreach game is to get your E-mail opened and read – and that’s where subject line becomes the most important element of outreaching content. Yep – you read that right. One little subject line can make or break your whole outreach campaign, so make sure it’s a good one.

But how exactly do I make sure it’s great, I hear you ask?
 

When it comes to the tricks of E-mail marketing, the people at Mailchimp’s words of wisdom are pretty simple, yet thoroughly effective: 

“The best subject lines tell what’s inside, and the worst sell what’s inside”

 

With this in mind, we’ve put together a handy guide to help you ensure your subject line game is on point.

Whilst there is no such thing as crafting a perfect subject line, we’re confident that using our selection of tips, you can get pretty damn close…

 

Personalisation Matters

If you were trying to get a friends attention on the street you’d call out their name, right? Well the same goes for email marketing. Putting your recipients name directly into the subject line is sure to make it stand out in an overcrowded inbox – after all we’re used to responding to our own name! And there’s proof - research has shown a positive effect on opening rates of emails when the recipients first and last names are prominent in the subject line; Personalised subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened.

Punctuation

Don’t be afraid to be visually different. People tend to respond well to things that are striking, so use CAPS, punctuation and even brackets to catch your recipient’s eye. An exclamation point will immediately ignite curiosity in someone, in the same way that a question mark will. Quotation marks are another great way to make your subject line different from the rest of an inbox and very readable.

Call to Action

Use the trusty CTA technique and ask your potential reader a question! People are hardwired to answer questions, and when asked (or told) to do something, they generally will respond. Try subject line starters such as ‘did you know?’ or ‘can you help?’ to boost your open rate by more than 50 percent.

The ‘From’ Line is Key

Using ambiguous terms like ‘info’ in your ‘from’ line can have a negative effect on opening rates – no one wants to open an email from someone that they don’t know from Adam. Put your full name into your from line if you know the recipient, or if not be sure to include your company name to give the impression that the email is from a reputable company and isn’t just spam or a virus.

Short and Sweet

Research has shown that shorter subject lines have a greater chance of being read (subject lines with 30 or fewer characters have an above average open rate) so as a general rule, keep your subject line as close to the lower end of 50 characters as possible. Short, clear, concise and punchy are all qualities you should be aiming for when creating subject lines -this is because people favour things they can more easily read and digest.

Keep Mobile Devices In Mind

Think carefully – how often do you check your email on your phone or tablet? With our society’s smart phone addiction, chances are it’s a pretty common occurrence. 40% of emails are opened on mobile first – where the average mobile screen can only fit 4-7 words max! This means you need to consider how your email is going to show up in different outlets as well as the traditional desktop computer. IPhones cut off subject lines after 35 characters in portrait view and 80 in landscape view, while Android limits are 33 characters in portrait view and 72 in landscape view. On both devices, the “From field” is also more prevalent than the subject line. Be sure to keep this information in mind when crafting an email.

Choose your Words Carefully

Crafting a subject line can be compared to a fine art; it requires creativity, savvy and most of all a great knowledge of your target audience. The use of certain words in a subject line make it more likely that your email will get opened and seen by the recipient, and therefore your content will reach as many people as possible – happy days. ‘Urgent’, ‘important’, ‘announcement’ and ‘invitation’ are all good ways to go, as opposed to ‘reminder’ which research has shown immediately turns people off. Finally, using common sense to assess what your audience wants to receive can be a great help; people love to be thanked and complimented, so do this in the subject line to promote opening of your email.

Practice Makes Perfect

As aforementioned above, there is no exact formula or science for writing the perfect subject line. In fact, like most art it’s very subjective and what works for some people won’t work for others and vice versa. We recommend you use general guidelines and send out a few different emails to people and record the opening rates. Whichever method got you the most opening rate should be your go-to subject line – simple! This experimental approach will save you a lot of time and should get you the results you want.

What Not to Do

So now you know what makes up a great subject line, but can you decipher what makes a terrible one? What makes a subject line so bad that your E-mail isn’t simply disregarded but will actually provoke a response of pure anger?

As you can see, the E-mail sender provoked a less than polite response in his attempt to outreach using the subject line ‘Heads up’.

So what’s so wrong with his choice of subject line?

Well, pretty much everything; using our guide as a checklist, you’ll see straight away that he has clearly made a plethora of mistakes.

First up, there isn’t a name in sight, making the subject line deeply impersonal. Secondly, there’s not a hint of punctuation or variation in capital and lower case letters; the subject line almost blends into the page and isn’t visually eye catching.

The recipient hasn’t been asked a question or told to do something; instead the subject line is a blank statement with no call to action, meaning the recipient automatically feels less inclined to respond.

Although the subject line is well under the 30 word limit, none of the target words have been used and neither has flattery or any sort of complimentary language.
 

 

Fundamentally, this subject line managed to completely miss the point– the aim is to catch your recipient’s attention and tell them something about what is going to be in the E-mail. ‘Heads up’ tells us nothing about the sender, and shows us that he knows nothing about the recipient or his company.  Nine out of ten times this will not produce the result you want i.e. exhibit a (above).

This rather extreme response isn’t hugely common (and may well have been down to someone with a particular antipathy for spam having a bad day) but the principle remains that spammy subject lines will be ignored and E-mails disregarded.

To avoid this, you need to write subject lines which make your outreach seem appealing to your recipients and most importantly, not spammy!

 

Some of our Personal Favourites

Just for fun, here’s some of the subject lines we’ve seen that we think should go in the ‘Subject Line Hall of Fame’ for greatness – watch and learn:

LEAN STARTUP: Baby Got (Feed)Back - Putting the Lean in Learn
Because everyone knows (and secretly loves) Sir Mixalot’s nineties banger.

Please Touch Me! Enterprise Delight via Multitouch
Cheeky and bold, this subject line is sure to catch your recipient’s attention for all the right reasons.

Defence Against the Dark Arts: ESAPI
To appeal to the Harry Potter fan in everyone.

Do Gamers Dream of HTML5 Sheep? 
We don’t want to say this kind of joke would rise a laugh in a room full of gamer geeks, but if the shoe fits…

Best of Groupon: The Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)
Just Groupon, being hilarious.

Barack Obama: “Hey”
Pure genius. Who in their right mind wouldn’t open a person message from the President for crying out loud?!

 

Posted on: 18/12/2015 - 13:02 | Comments:0

Friday 18th December is the official Text Santa Christmas jumper day – and there was no way Team Reboot wasn’t getting involved!

So today we turned the heating down and donned our Christmas jumpers with pride in support of UK charities McMillan Cancer Support, Make a Wish and Save the Children.

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 SEO 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.