10 SEO Practices to Stop

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Often in life, doing something is better than doing nothing at all – even small steps are a contribution to a journey. But this assumes that the small steps are in the right direction.
In the world of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), if your steps are in the wrong direction, you are doing more harm than good: you would be better off doing nothing at all.

All very wise, but in the world of SEO, how do you know what direction is the wrong direction? Well, we are here to help and here are 10 SEO practices that will lead you the completely wrong way in 2015. You need to stop doing these ten…..like now!

Keyword Stuffing

Yes, people are still doing this. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t too long ago when trying to cram as many keywords onto one page was seen as a great way to get to the top of Google’s page one. But in the SEO scheme of things, this is very old practice – and it’s not difficult to see why. If you have tried to read a passage that has been keyword stuffed, it is incredibly difficult to understand and is a terrible user experience. And if Google keeps sending you to pages that are like this, it won’t be too long before you start looking (presumably not on Google?!) for a new search engine. Avoid this, the search engines and more importantly users, hate it.

Buying Links

Link building is not an easy process for the enthusiastic SEO amateur – you probably know that you need to be careful but of what exactly? Well, be careful of anyone who is selling links! The purpose of link building is for a search engine to understand your site’s authority: in other words, if a great website (like ours!) links to your website, then a search engine will think ‘well, if these guys will link to that site, the other site must be pretty good’. The search engine doesn’t think ‘this site has 10,000 links so it must be better than a website with 9,000 links’. Unless you are dealing with SEO specialists, be incredibly careful, you could do more harm than good.

Duplicate Content

There is a lot of duplicate content out there, but if you were to talk to the website owners, they will often say something along the lines of ‘it’s because of our company’s structure – we need to include the same text on this part of the website as we do on a different part, it’s an internal politics thing, nothing we can do’. And we hear that answer a lot! But the end user probably doesn’t care about your internal structure, and a search engine certainly doesn’t because your structure is causing it a problem. After all, what page should rank number one? Search engines will try to find out which page came first and which page was copied. The punishment for copying? A penalty…..ouch.

Attack Your Competitors

In some very competitive markets, there is more than just a friendly rivalry between companies – the competition is fierce. And where it gets fierce, it can get nasty. There are ways that companies can attack one another with SEO (just check out our article on negative SEO, don’t worry, you shouldn’t have nightmares!) such as getting very dodgy links to point to your competitors site, but this is not the way to work on SEO. You should focus all of your efforts on optimising your website, not attacking a competitor – not cool and the blackest of black hat SEO.

Writing for Search Engines

Digital marketing and SEO have both made content marketing very important in the 21st Century. Engaging content is one thing, but what about content that search engines love too? Surely that is just as important? Well, they are the same thing. The best advice that we can offer is to produce your content with your user in mind. The more natural that your style is, the more interesting and engaging it will be for the user, and for the search engine too. The algorithms are very sophisticated and are looking for great content from the user’s perspective (don’t forget that’s who they are sending to your site) – focus on the user with your content, not search engines, and you won’t go far wrong in SEO.

Not Checking the News

In case you hadn’t guessed by now, here is a newsflash – SEO is a fast moving environment! SEO is not always black and white: in fact, there are various shades of grey and some SEO practices are keenly debated among specialists. It is not always easy to keep up, and the bad news is this – unless you are prepared to invest the money in hiring a professional or invest the time in keeping up with the latest developments in the world of SEO, your SEO will not work in the long-term.

Guessing Your Keywords

If you have ever asked the question ‘how do I get my website onto page one of Google’ to an SEO specialist, they will probably answer ‘for what keyword?’ This will have a big impact on what happens next! You should absolutely stop guessing your keywords – do some research and find out what the words are that people will search for to find companies, products and services like yours. This can be a long process and you will probably end up with more than one keyword to optimise against, but it is well worth investing the time to make sure that you optimise against the right keywords.

Ignore Search Console

If there was a tool which was able to tell you what links were pointing to your website, what the latest updates in SEO are (for the world’s largest search engine), how to improve your SEO and notification if something is wrong, would you ignore it? Thought not. Now, are you set up in Google Search Console? Thought not! Get your website set up, it is a very valuable resource that you will get for free, so stop ignoring it.

Not Sorting that Slow Page

There are a lot of pressures on the speed of your web pages – social sharing buttons, analytics code, sloppy HTML and images which haven’t been optimised (it’s all about visual content, right?). All of these things will slow down the time that it takes for someone to view your web page. This is also a common issue for mobile webpages which are visited more and more all the time. Search engines do not want to send their searchers to sites with a slow page load because it’s such a miserable user experience. Get it fixed now, you know its time.

Perceiving Social as ‘Nice to do’

If you work in digital, you will not be surprised to know that there are many people who don’t think that social media is essential to their digital marketing strategy – social is all a bit fluffy and unnecessary, right? Wrong! For 99.9% of businesses, your customers are hanging out on social media – you might not know where, but they are definitely there. Being able to engage with them should be a key marketing objective. Search engines are noticing this engagement more and more: indeed Google has agreed with Twitter to show tweets in its search results. Social media is essential now.

Have you stopped doing something in SEO which has helped your website? Or is there one SEO practice that you see all the time that you would like people to stop doing? Leave a comment and share your experience.

2017 Digital Marketing Trends

2017-linkedin

With Christmas almost upon us, it is time to take a look at 2017. What will this have in store for us? A terrifying prospect considering how 2016 panned out, but let’s stay calm and concentrate on digital marketing for now. Here are seven trends to look out for during the next twelve months:

Display Ads Evolve: Display advertising has had yet another bad year, let down by, if we are honest, some rubbish marketing. Intrusive and poorly targeted ads have seen the rise of ad blockers, so marketers are likely to move towards video marketing (great when done well, awful when done poorly) or native advertising. The bad news? Both are much trickier to execute.

Augmented Reality Will Be Back: Pokémon Go was like a great firework display in 2016 – it started, it soared, everyone went ‘ooooh’ and then it went out. There has been a lack of follow-up in the augmented reality space, but I think that there are companies out there developing games or gamified marketing right now – it will be back in 2017.

Content Marketing Gets Tougher: Content will still be king in 2017, and the fact that virtually every marketer is creating content for their audience means that standing out from the crowd will be increasingly difficult. Consumers see hundreds of adverts per day which means two things: firstly, they are probably bored of them and secondly, they can spot a bad advert from a mile away. Impactful, visual content with a narrative will win in a very busy field in 2017. Early adopters of the relatively new live video streaming will receive an advantage.

Mobile First (yes, again): Rather like ‘content is king’, mobile first is a bit of a cliché when it comes to digital marketing trends. But 2016 was a big year for mobile: as ever Google was leading the way. Google has started to not only drive the speed or mobile websites through its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project, but is starting to really look at mobile SEO and allow it to lead the agenda over desktop. You really need a great mobile website in 2017 but not for Google – for your user.

Internet of Things: Wearable technology was always going to be the first step towards the Internet of Things and it has had mixed success. Devices with a clear purpose and benefit (e.g. Fitbit) have performed well, but the Apple Watch was a bit of a flop. The agenda is moving on with devices like the Amazon Echo becoming more mainstream. It is being advertised as a voice activated entertainment system, but its capability is much greater – will this along with Dash buttons start to change the direction of ecommerce next year?

Hey Google, what’s the future of SEO: Voice search started to grow in 2016 and this is likely to continue into 2017. With people literally asking questions from their search engine, does this mean that the days of true long tail search engine marketing are with us, and what does this mean for PPC advertising? Again, Google are leading the agenda here and they will have a plan to protect their PPC revenue stream – will be interesting to see what it is.

Social Media and the News: Events over the last month or two have brought into focus the role of news in people’s news feeds on social media. The pages that people like and the way that they engage in content should mean that news feeds are a self-fulfilling prophecy, i.e. you should continue to see the content you want to see. But that isn’t necessarily the independently-verified news and who is to say that is what people want to see? Quite how Facebook and other social networks hope to solve this issue remains to be seen, but the political pressure to offer balanced news will grow – which may in time pose a risk to user engagement. Something the social networks cannot afford to jeopardise.

What is your digital marketing prediction for 2016? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

How Content Marketing and SEO Work

The internet has been seen as a great leveller in the world of business. In theory, and certainly in the early days, the playing field was fairly flat – if you had a website and someone who knew how to market it, you could take the fight to the bigger players. And with the rise in popularity of social media in the 2000s, the playing field levelled again – in theory, it might even be easier for a smaller business to start tweeting than a larger one: it doesn’t have to worry about complicated social media policies, tone of voice guidance and permissions, it can just get started.

Content has also been a great leveller. An excellent piece of content can be shared multiple times on social media and appear in a strong search engine page rank position. You don’t need huge budgets to make this happen, just excellent content marketing – and here is how.

How are they linked?

Content marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) are very closely linked – let me take you through why. Back in the early days of the internet, the need for content became very clear very quickly – we know that need to create web pages, but what the hell are we going to put on them?! Then social media arrives and now we really need to create some content – we can’t get away with tweeting about the weather again!

So, lots and lots of content is created. And a lot of it is really crappy. Most of it in fact. So, search engines work really hard to find out ways of quantifying the quality of the content – they start to move on from looking at the frequency of keywords and start trying to actually understand an article. Another metric that search engines start to use is social media shares: what better an endorsement of good quality content than sharing it? Hence, content marketing and SEO are inextricably linked.

What do I write about?

Successful content strategy has a clear link between your content with the needs of your audience. That doesn’t mean writing yet another boring product description for the golf clubs that you sell – it means answering questions that the audience has: how to hit a particularly tricky shot from the rough, how golf clubs are made, tips for golf etiquette, articles on golf’s more unusual rules.

Your content should be based on the keyword research that you have already carried out and then shaped around your audience:

  • What are their interests beyond your product? We know they are into golf, but what else are they into?
  • What are their hopes and aspirations? What else do they want from life?
  • What are their problems? Practical issues which are golf related, but also wider concerns and fears?

This is all great, but what about the payback, what’s in it for the content provider? Well, if someone has found your content but they are not yet a customer, when they come to buy a product similar to yours (they are finding your content so they may be close to buying a related product), your business will be at the top of their mind.

Isn’t content marketing about selling?

I appreciate that the last section may have made some people a little nervous. If this activity isn’t directly selling our product, what is the point in doing it? Well, selling has changed and subtlety is a very effective way of driving revenue – if someone has a question and they find your content and it answers that question, this is a means of not only getting your company name in front of that prospective customer, it has prevented them from seeing a competitor. It works, believe me!

Content marketing is here to stay. When done well, it is a great way of driving traffic to your website through social media referrals and SEO. It can get you in front of potential customers by helping them out or entertaining them, not just by shouting about your product. The sooner you start making content work for you, the sooner you will see the positive effect on your bottom line.

Do you use a content strategy? Is it working for you and do you have any tips that you would like to share? Please leave a comment and share your experience.

How Content Marketing and SEO Work Together

Content Marketing and SEO

There has never been a greater requirement for content in marketing than right now. With the internet being in millions of cases the only ‘shop window’ that a business has, it is imperative to make the website as visible and as engaging as possible.

One of the means to achieving that is content marketing which really started to become popular in the early 2000s. The rise of the internet as a commercial platform and the rise of the pioneer social networks meant that there was the need to create interesting web pages and interesting content to share on these social media networks.

However, the way that people use the web has changed a lot in the last 10-15 years. People are asking more questions from search engines, particularly with the introduction of voice-activated search: we are using search engines to solve our problems.

As such, search engines need to find the good quality content – not an easy job when most of the content out there is pretty rubbish! And from that moment, content marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) were linked. Users searching for solutions to their problems offer a good opportunity for businesses to create content which solves that problem.

So how do you know what to write about?

Well, if your content is all about your products and how utterly amazing they are, you haven’t quite got it right yet. Content marketing is about more than just saying how great your product is. It needs to be broader than that because product demonstrations are great when someone is searching for that, but how do they know that your product is the best solution to the problem that they have?

Your content should be based on the keyword research that you have already carried out for your SEO strategy and then shaped around your audience:

  • What are their interests beyond your product? We know they are into your product, but what else are they into?
  • What are their hopes and aspirations? What else do they want from life?
  • What are their problems? Practical issues which are product related, but also wider concerns and fears?

And the payback? The theory is if someone finds your content to solve a problem of theirs, assuming that it is in some way related to your product or marketplace, then when they are in the market for your product, you will be at the top of their mind. And the theory works. Why else would Coke’s VP of Global Advertising Strategy, Jonathan Mildenhall, say “all advertisers need a lot more content so that they can keep the engagement with consumers fresh and relevant”?

Today’s consumers are more and more sophisticated, and are rejecting traditional forms of marketing and even traditional forms of digital marketing (e.g. super-irritating pop-up ads), so marketing needs to become more sophisticated. And content marketing is a great way of getting your content and business in front of potential customers and ahead of competitors.

Google and Mobile SEO

Google and Mobile SEO

Google and Mobile SEO

On 21st April, Google is going to release an update to its algorithm. No surprise there, these updates happen on a very regular basis (just count the grey hairs on anyone who works in SEO!). But whats unique about this update is that it is focusing on mobile.

The update will focus on mobile user-friendliness. Currently around 30% of all traffic on the total web is from a mobile device and the number is growing rapidly, so mobile should already be on your agenda – your analytics package will be able to tell you the split of traffic by device.

Mobile is a more complex website than your desktop website in many ways, especially from a visual perspective: what features do you include on the site, which do you remove, should my site be responsive, should I even have an app?

So, in the face of this complexity, what can you do to ensure your website is ready for this update?

The best place to start with any SEO based exercise is not with a search engine – it’s with the user. So spend some time getting into the head of the mobile visitor of your website. Spend some time actually on the site and try to complete the simple tasks that you want the user to complete – find contact details, navigate around your product / service pages, complete an enquiry form. Objectively ask yourself, how easy is it to complete these tasks? And take a look at how your site renders on different devices – you can check on your analytics package what devices people are using, so check the website out from that screen (there are lots of developer tools to enable you to do this).

Then visit Google’s developer page to test the mobile friendliness of your website: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ This will highlight any issues that Google is particularly concerned with, making it a good place to start getting into some of the technical side of mobile optimisation.

Then start challenging your website with the following questions:

  • Site speed – This is notoriously an issue in mobile websites, but how long does your mobile site take to load? More than a couple of seconds, and you’re losing visitors.
  • Flash – If you are using Flash, your content is not supported by Apple mobile devices, and is really slow on Android devices: not a great user experience. Try HTML5.
  • Mobile Site Maps – Like your desktop site, you should put a site map in place to allow Google to crawl your mobile site easily. Crawl errors incidentally are another reason for a bad experience, so use the Google developer tools to check these.
  • Be Local – A large number of mobile web searches have local intent, so if you have a local element to your business, make sure that you are registered on Google’s My Business.
  • Meta Data – Mobile screens are smaller than desktop screens, so this should be reflected in your meta description and title. Keep your title to under 60 characters, and your description under 90 characters.

What about an app though? This is a standalone application and is not subject to Google algorithms. But that does not make it a cheaper or better solution. Apps can be eye-wateringly expensive, and the majority do not deliver a positive ROI. You need to be very confident that you have the user need for an app before launching it as a mobile website alternative.

Good luck in getting ready for the update, it will be interesting to see what impact this has on search results – according to Google it will be, rather ominously, ‘significant’….

Maximising Social SEO

Social Media SEO

Social Media SEO

The link between social media and search engine optimisation has been growing for a number of years now.  For search engines, the millions of social media users help to validate the best content by engaging with it, so using this as a factor in search engine results makes a lot of sense.

It’s for this reason that you should spend some time making sure that your social profiles and content are optimised for search engines.  Here are some handy pointers for the major B2C social networks to make your profile work for people and algorithms:

Twitter

  • Background image – Opportunity to express your creative side, it appears behind your new feed.  Good chance to showcase your product or service
  • Profile image – This will appear next to your tweets, so it requires some thought.  It also appears very small on-screen, so a simple image or message is enough
  • Header image – This image appears on your ‘Me’ page and displays your bio behind it, so it should be as dark an image as possible (the text overlay is white)
  • Bio – Your bio can be used for search in Twitter and on Twitter related applications, so don’t be too salesy and use the limited space to say what is unique about your brand.  Use your full URL: bit.ly or other short URLs shouldn’t be used here

Facebook

  • Cover photo – This is a chance to reflect what is going on with your business right now.  It should be eye-catching and can be a collage of images, photos of your team, the change of seasons, etc.
  • Profile – This is normally a logo as it will appear alongside your posts
  • About section completed – An opportunity to use keywords in descriptions where you can.  There are long and short descriptions on Facebook, so make sure you use the words that your customers would use when searching for you and your competition
  • Photos into albums – On public pages (all business pages are public), these are searchable, so name, tag and organise your images correctly

YouTube

  • Profile Info – In your profile information, use the keywords which you want to be associated with
  • Social channels – You can display links to your other social networks on your profile page, so make sure you add them all on
  • Video tags – So many excellent videos don’t have the right tags – this will make your video searchable in YouTube and on its bigger cousin Google
  • Playlists to increase engagement – Even though this won’t necessarily help from an SEO perspective, organising your videos into playlists is likely to increase user engagement on your channel

Pinterest

  • Complete your profile – The keywords that your customers use should be included here.  It forms part of the search function in Pinterest, so important to mention the industry you operate within
  • Name images – You should always change the name of your images instead of using the default name (e.g. IMG_1234) – it helps with search
  • Use Captions – Instead of just posting the image, add a caption that is another searchable piece of text associated with the image
  • Back-links – While their SEO value is debatable, adding a link to your Pinterest pins will ensure that people who see the image have the opportunity to visit your website

Instagram

  • Brand Profile – As with other social networks, make this section snappy, explaining what your brand is all about and include those all important keywords
  • Embed Instagram photos and videos – You can use the smart and very recognisable design of Instagram and put it onto your website: as with all embedding, it’s very easy to do
  • Link other social media accounts – Give people who are engaged with you on Instagram to engage with you elsewhere on social media
  • Use hashtags – They are an easy way to engage with new audiences by taking the conversation to them
Image via thenextweb.com

Negative Search Results

Negative Search Results

Negative Search Results

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a great tool for digital marketers – if done well, it can deliver highly targeted traffic directly to the best page on your website (according to the user’s search term): a marketer’s dream.

But imagine that for one of your key search terms, there is a web page in the results which is negative: an unhappy customer review, a derogatory post, etc.  A nightmare and one which has the potential to put a prospective customer off before you have even had the chance to engage with them.  Here are my steps to taking care of such a problem:

Where are you right now?  The first step is to work out what company you keep on the first page of your search results.  To do this, you should work out the best keywords for your company – this used to be very easy before the rise of ‘(not provided)’, but regardless, you will still have in your mind the keywords which you would like to rank highly for.  Start here to see if you have a problem.

Other domains?  But you’ve already got one domain and that’s enough to keep you busy, right?  Well, it might just be worth your while.  If you can get a different domain to rank for your keywords, then this should push your negative results further down the search results.  So, get a domain whose name is similar to the keywords which you are looking to work on, and start writing a blog (where you can, you should include content which contains any negative keywords) – and make sure that you regularly write on the blog.  There is nothing worse than an abandoned blog.

Your feedback?  You should encourage reviews for your product or service.  This is best practice anyway, but can also work from an SEO perspective.  There are a lot of sites for the customer to pick from, and results from Google’s reviews can even show in your SEO and PPC results.  Another option you should investigate is to give the customer an option to feed-back to you on your own website.

Can Social Help?  Google has a very complex algorithm which no-one outside Google fully understands, but we do know that the major social networks rank well on Google and other search engines.  So get your social networks set-up, posted on regularly and linking back to your site.  Every social network has a different way of optimising for search results, so make sure that you are set-up correctly.

Can’t Google Help?  Well, yes they can, but they should only be used as a last resort.  The good people of Google are very busy (changing the algorithm?!) and they do not take kindly to too many requests for removal of websites.  Requesting a removal from Google is a complex process, and in some occasions, Google will require a legal judgement in your favour before they can act.  Very messy and only to be tried if all else fails (it won’t!).

Have you ever experienced negative search results?  Did you use one of these tactics or did you take a different approach?

5 SEO Myths

SEO Myths

SEO Myths

One of the reasons why I love digital is because the landscape changes so quickly – there are always new tools, new techniques and new best practices emerging which you can use on your digital proposition.  Keeping up to date with all of these changes is not easy, but offer new opportunities on almost a daily basis.

If you fail to keep up to date with the latest trends, then there is a chance that your understanding of a subject area will become out of date – and never has this been more applicable than to Search Engine Optimisation.  It is a fast-moving area which is driven by virtually constant changes from (on the whole) one organisation who has a secret formula which you are trying to crack!  This means that there are a lot of SEO myths which need to be addressed.

Let the de-bunking begin:

SEO Keyword Stuffing: In the old days of SEO, there were a lot of people who thought that the more mentions of a particular keyword on a page, the higher this is likely to rank against a search query.  This doesn’t work now!  If you check out a page which is written in this style, it is terrible to read and that’s the problem.  Search engines want to refer pages which are relevant to the search that you make – not to a page which is artificially stuffed with keywords.  Search engines are getting smarter, your content needs to do the same.

Just Focus on Google: Google is not the only website that you need to worry about.  Other search engines are available, like Bing, but check your country’s search engine shares – for the UK, Google represents 89% of search engine use, but in China it is just 3%.  And you should not just focus on search engines.  Social networks are important to SEO and it’s easy to understand why – if people like a company or post on social media, then this is an endorsement of the company which search engines can include.  Indeed, Bing has started trialling the number of Twitter followers for companies which appear in its search results.

Links = Rankings: If your strategy for link-building is centred on the quantity of links, you are about to get bad news!  There are still a lot of companies which offer to sell links, but signing up for this means that your site is going to get links pointing at it from all sorts of websites, the vast majority of which are not relevant for your site.  Such links are simple for search engines to spot, and if they think you are trying to game their algorithm, they may well drop you from their results.  Instead, focus on quality of your links, not quantity.

It’s All About Content: Writing good quality content is really important to every website – if you can entertain, inform or help out your visitors, then it is likely that they will be engaged when on your site, so Google will like this, right?  Yes, but only if it can see the content!  There are a number of steps which you can take to make your website visible and accessible for search engines, so take these steps as well as creating great content.

SEO is King: SEO is important, but it should not operate in isolation.  It should be part of a wider Search Engine Marketing strategy which will include social media and paid advertising.  SEO is a useful tool and should be used in conjunction with other marketing tools to drive good quality traffic.

Has this list included your favourite SEO myth?

Image via giveagradago.com

What is Digital PR?

What is Digital PR

What is Digital PR

The growth of online has changed the world of Public Relations dramatically.  Online has given PR a number of opportunities – engaged and larger audiences, groupings online of like-minded people.  But it has also created its fair share of head-aches – people criticising the company on the company’s own media and a fast-moving world which requires resource to keep track.

So, is digital PR really so different from traditional PR methods?  Well, yes and no!  The principles of PR still remain, with reputation management, stakeholder strategies and managing the spread of information all being crucial in digital PR.  But the methods by which these are achieved are different in digital.  I think that there are three pillars of Digital PR:

Content:

The days of faxing black and white A4 press releases to media organisations have passed – well, they should have passed!  The scramble for attention on the internet has challenged people to create more and more compelling content.  Information in the format of an infographic, slide share or blog with opinion will get more attention than a typed page of words alone.

It could also be argued that digital content lasts longer than printed content – for example, if you place an article in a newspaper, once the following day’s newspaper is published, the article is ‘dead’, but if it is online, it may stay on a website for a long time, and be shared and commented on which will extend it’s ‘life’.

So, while compelling content has always been a principle of good PR, being able to share the content online means that you should explore your creative side.

Social:

If your content is very compelling, then there is a chance that people will actually want to share your content.  But this relies on a number of factors:

  • You have a social media presence – if this is not the case, start with this as this can be used as a content aggregator
  • You have provided enough high-quality content to build credibility and an audience
  • The content that you have produced helps, entertains or engages people – if it just talks about how great your company is, it will not be shared
  • You know where your target audience spend their time online

Search:

It is no shock that millions of people use Google to start their internet browsing.  So, imagine that when you search for your company name, an internet page criticising your company ranks highly.  A similar sense of panic will occur if this happens on your social media pages, although with social at least the conversation can take place – with a web page, there is little chance to debate their points.  And what about if you receive negative reviews on a review website?

The difficulty of rectifying this can range from fairly easy to incredibly difficult.  The processes tend to be different depending on where the offending content is.  Start by searching on Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to see where your challenges lie – and even if you get a clean bill of health today, keep checking back as it may change in the future.

Image via piercemattie.com

Quick Competitor Analysis

Competitor Analysis

Competitor Analysis

In the highly competitive digital world, being able to succinctly understand what your competitors are doing is a real advantage – it can help to benchmark your performance, and look out for any new tactics that your competition are running.  Here are my 4 things that you can look for to get an overview of someone else’s digital activity (without paying for an analysis tool):

Website: This seems like an obvious one doesn’t it?!  But it is worth checking both the desktop and mobile websites.  Often the experience of a website differs by the device that is being used.  So, start off with desktop, then move to tablet and then take a look on a phone.  It is likely that some functionality will be sacrificed for the user experience, so this should offer you an insight into the parts of the website where the company really wants the user to focus on.  And picture yourself as a user of the website – ask yourself what the user experience is.

Search Engine Optimisation: The quickest way to measure the effectiveness of SEO activity is how a website ranks against a series of keywords – however, who, apart from the company who you are analysing, is to say what those keywords should be?  And the ranking of a website is the output of an SEO strategy, so what is the input?  There are a lot of tools on the web to help you with this – Woorank is a decent free starting point and will show you which SEO elements the website is good at and which ones it can improve on – this could highlight an opportunity for your website

Pay Per Click: This is a tough one to measure without being able to access AdWords, but there is something that you can do.  SEO and PPC should work together through the customer journey, so you should be able to get a view of what that mix is if you understand the customer journey (you will if they are a direct competitor).  For example, in many industries, the searches start very broad and gradually get more specific – so start looking for the SEO and PPC mix through a series of keywords which take you through the user journey.

Social: In many industries, social media is an important part of the digital presence.  It can offer a human face to an impersonal company, as well as giving the customer a reason to choose one product or service over another.  So, you can tell a lot about a company by its social presence.  When you are looking through the social networks (you should check at least all of the ones which the company’s website points you towards), look out for:

  • The mix of content type (image, video, link, etc.)
  • How consumers are using social to communicate (is it a customer service line?)
  • What is the tone of voice – is it formal, informal, etc.

Of course, the best way to truly analyse a competitor website is to pay for an analysis tool, there are plenty out there, but if you have half an hour, you should be able to get a view on what the competition are doing.

Image via getmemedia.com