Monday, 15 June 2015

How SEO adds value to your digital marketing

How SEO adds value to your digital marketing

SEO or Search engine optimization is the process of affecting your website visibility in search engine results. Generally speaking this can take two forms; on page and off page SEO.

On page SEO refers to any aspect of SEO concerning the website page itself. This can include structural, hierarchical or coded elements. There are many such elements that can influence ranking factors that be incorporate into a web page itself from the basics of a page title to hidden meta data within the site code. It is important however not to be too contrived about this process and to take a step back and consider the point of your website. To reach, inform and influence those people visiting and using the website themselves. There is a current school of thought that the more your website engages with the site user and the more pages clicked through within your site as a result can also have a significant effect on page rankings. On-page SEO is a curious art; there is no one tick list to benchmark against any site however by taking a look at your local competition and in particular those that are achieving good rankings for the keywords or phrases that you are looking to target, a picture emerges of what particular ranking factors arehaving an impact on your market sector and what you could target as a result.

Off page SEO refers to any element that may have an impact on your site and brand visibility online that is ‘off the website’ page. This includes links from other websites or social media. A good analogy for this process is an old fashioned set of scales with weights. Every link has weight which helps to drive your website up the rankings yet some links or weights are worth more than others. Social media can provide a stream of steady links to your website pages however a link from a relevant quality website can be worth more to your business. Google themselves advise against contrived link building or using organisations to build low quality links to your website. This can do more harm than good. However a good digital agency can help with advising your business on an appropriate digital marketing strategy online.  Link acquisition is part and parcel of this and search engines like to see natural organic looking links that evolve steadily over time. For example, a local restaurant may naturally link to alocal hotel or taxi firm. This vote of confidence from a local business helps to support your online marketing efforts.

For more information on how your digital marketing strategy could shape your businesses or where your specific marketing opportunities lie, contact Clair at The Graphic Edge on 01722 717860.

An introduction to digital marketing for your business

An introduction to digital marketing for your business

By Clair Marr, The Graphic Edge

The only constant it seems with digital marketing is change* and it can be difficult to maintain and evolve your online presence. Businesses are bombarded daily by SEO companies promising ‘page 1 Google rankings’, querying your current search engine rankings or offering to build an external link profile quickly. Making sense of this fast paced industry and baffling techspeak provides challenges for even the most seasoned marketing professional. Whilst it is impossible to predict what will happen over the next search engine algorithm updates, by applying ethical SEO strategies recommended by the search engines themselves and a good dose of common sense, you can focus on digital strategy with a long term approach and establish industry best practices from the outset. There are no guarantees with SEO and no quick fix, but you can learn to make well-informed decisions founded on trends, historical data and analytics.

Building your brand online gives you an identity, which in turn builds familiarity with your potential clients. A prospect focused strategy concentrating on leveraging quality content and proven marketing principles will prove the most sustainable and effective long-term approach. By understanding your customer’s journey you have a better chance of converting them into a valuable lead and your website can provide opportunity for enhancing their user experience. Demonstrate consistent brand messages throughout your website, visually engage with your market and interact through opening lines of communication with your customer.

Aside from your website, consider various alternative or complimentary routes to market. Engage in your local online community whether participating in online industry discussions or debates, socially engage with your prospective clients and write blog posts or articles that answer frequently asked questions posed by your market. By sharing your sector knowledge and expertise you become a valuable resource to your potential clients and importantly create trust and value for your business.

The key to successful digital marketing lies in identifying those opportunities which connect your customer objectives with your business needs.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Replacing traditional marketing practices with good digital strategy

Good digital marketing practices

#digitalmarketing #digitalstrategy

I have been working in digital for a long time now. I may not have written code for a long period ( although it can feel like forever) but I have worked in IT related disciplines for now almost 20 years which occasionally makes me feel like a grandma and occasionally someone who can now spot what's happening in the industry.

You can read countless articles on how seo used to be so straightforward, the age of purely static web design and so on. I have watched the digital market change and evolve over a period of time and find myself considering that now we have almost come full circle. Back to the business of adopting a good marketing strategy for your business.

The digital world does not have to be complicated and you don't need to be baffled by tech speak. When you are thinking about your business, your only consideration should be 'What was considered good marketing back in the day before computers were mainstream' closely followed with 'So how do I now replicate this online'? The following offers a breakdown of traditional marketing practices and how to replace them to form your own digital strategy.

With 98% of UK adults using search engines*, this article focuses on organic methods of helping search engine performance rather than paid forms of digital marketing. These of course can add real value to any campaign.

1. The questionnaire in the street, the dreaded cold call and other form of market research BECOMES Keyword and peer group analysis

What is keyword analysis?

#keywords #keywordanalysis #keywordaudit
Keywords are the the search terms that people will use to find you. A good digital agency can inform you what phrases people are using to find you, your business or your product online and identify gaps in the market that generate a decent amount of monthly traffic. We can identify specifically how competitive the phrase is and whether we think we could have a fighting shot of competing for the phrase. We can advise on strategy to appear for that phrase. This can help you find your markets. Every time I start a digital job I ask one question to my clients "How do you think your clients will find you?" and we brainstorm ideas on paper. At The Graphic Edge we like to apply a little human logic to the process and we find that it always benefits the client. At the end of the day you know and understand you market a lot more than we do. We work in digital.

What is peer group or competitive analysis?

#peergroupanalysis  #digitalanalysis #competitiveanalysis
Analysis of your competition whether they be a local business competing in the same space or a similar business looking to target the same market as you. This intelligence should inform you what other people are doing online to target their clients and potentially your market. A digital strategy agency could identify for example, strengths and weakness and therefore identify what form of strategy has worked or not and in what timeframe. On the basis of this intelligence we may identify keywords used by your client, spot common SEO errors on their website page and analyse other websites linking to your competitor. This allows us to make well informed decisions about where opportunities lie for targeting your market.

2. Flyers through doors BECOMES good on page SEO

What is on page SEO? #onpageseo #seo #goodwebdesign
This refers to any SEO element incorporated into your website pages themselves. This can include making structural and code based changes to your website, page content and content in the head of the document (although this isn't viewed by a site visitor).
Ensure that you choose a well recommended website design company and that your contact at the agency doesn't throw technical terms at you to the point that you don't understand what you are paying for. Good digital strategy and web design do not need to confuse you. If you don't understand what the agency are saying or how it could benefit you then walk away from them. Good agencies don't do this. Keeping strategies 'white hat' is also important as this refers to working ethically within our profession and in line with sensible search engine practices. Good agencies do not work on the quick fix, we have our eye on the long term.
A crucial part of your website structure is the analysis gleamed from the key phrase and peer group audits. By using the intelligence gained from this, your web team can start to build the foundations of your site pages with a focus so that every site visitor understands the point of that particular page. Breaking website content into recognisable focused parts is key to this.
Your website is no longer a static entity; not static in form OR function. It should be an evolving part of your business. Keeping your website up to date is important. A site visitor will often click away if they see outdated information. A good way to increase your web presence is through a blog or news section forming part of your website. Every new blog or news item should create a new website page and I frequently tell my client that just one article every two weeks can mean that your website increases by 26 pages per year. Major search engine Google, since the big Panda update in May this year are focusing on weeding out thin outdated website content so try to break content into focused manageable chunks and show off your expertise in your industry! Potential customers will love that you are showing your skills as they can learn from your expertise.
Ofcom have written a great piece on adult's media use and with 62%* of adults in the UK now using a smart phone, your website should have responsive elements allowing site visitors to interact with you regardless of device.

3. Direct Mail BECOMES Email Marketing

#emailmarketing #smartinsights #davechaffey #emailmarketingstatistics
 Dave Chaffey from Smart Insights wrote a fantastic article this year giving useful information on email marketing statistical clicks and opens for the UK marketplace. Suffice to say that given that old direct mail responses were 0.05-0.5%, email marketing is a lot more effective. Average open rates for the emails themselves average at over 22% whilst click throughs to the website were over 3%. These figures were up on the year before. Getting visitors to your website is half the battle. Once they are there, your web design company should ensure that all pages are optimised for maximum conversion. Is there a hook that draws people in. Are your landing pages converting?

The great news is that often with old marketing practices, you were literally shooting into the dark with no idea of what aspects worked or could be improved on. That is simply not the case now and with analytics on hand, we can make knowledge based solutions to evolve, tweak and establish your digital presence with a pretty solid idea of how to reach your customer.

4. Advertising BECOMES social media, blogging, link building

#blogging #socialmedia #links #linkbuilding
One of the most common marketing tools to inform our customers about a company service or product was through the use of advertorials, editorials, advertising, media advertising. Having a standard weekly advert in a local newspaper is still the staple for many businesses, but are they missing a trick.
I have already mentioned that this article focused on techniques relating to appearing in organic search results but of course you could talk about the benefits of applying your budget to paid advertising which is much more targeted when used appropriately. Your digital agency could advise you on the most beneficial approach for your business which may be a combination of both.

Social Media
Social media is a great way to interact with your customers or potential site visitors. It is a fantastic way to communicate ideas, your expertise, provide links to white papers or free blog article and to engage your customer. It may be a way for you to have a 'heated discussion' with another business with opposing views or a way to try out online promotions such as competitions or contests to start to form relationships with your customers. Linked in, Google+, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are the main social media to target and with 66%* of the UK adult population using social media, you could be missing out if you are not involved. Facebook currently is the most popular as 96%* of the adults using social media have a Facebook account.

Blogging is another way to start to communicate to your customers or potential customers. Make a list of commonly asked questions on customer visits or on the phone and try to answer some of those queries online in the form of an article. Dig out the list of keywords that your web company determined could be lucrative for you to pursue and see if you can match any of the subjects together. Is there a way of combining a good keyword with one of the articles you hoped to write. Could you add the keyword to your blog title? Use your website to promote your articles or social media. If your blog is part of your website then you have just added a new page which could convert, if the blog is hosted elsewhere you could help to build valuable 'links' by linking words in your text back to your website.

Link Building
Whenever I chat to my clients about #link's and #link building I always make an analogy. I imagine a set of old fashioned scales. On one side there are links and on the other there is your website. Whenever a link is given to your site from somewhere else online, a weight is popped on the links side of the scale, forcing your website higher up. Links add value to websites and help to hoist them up in search engines. Link building is achieved through good online marketing practices; talking to your customers and asking if they would review your product or service, spreading the word on social media, commenting on blogs from people in related industries, writing and sharing blog posts with the world. Depending on your industry your digital agency can advise on strategy and opportunities that are related to your industry or market sector. Be warned there are many people offering to sell links or help you with get links quickly. Reputations are not made quickly but can be broken in days when you opt for a shortcut. Remember when you equate everything online back to a traditional marketing communications strategy ask yourself if you would have posted 20,000 flyers to someone that had written you a letter saying that they would send them out for you.

5. Customer relationship building BECOMES customer relationship building

#onlinecrm #onlinerelationshipbuilding
Some things don't change. We all need to communicate with our customers. Interactions whether they are online or offline really matter to you and your customer as well as your reputation and your business. Respond quickly, find solutions to common issues, reward loyal customers and make sure that following trade, consumer or networking events you follow up quickly. There are more channels open these days for communication and the more effort that you put in, the more you will see an impact on results. Your businesses market may be global or local but people don't change. When you genuinely care, it shines through.

Moving with the times can be daunting but it is a challenge worth facing. I frequently tell my clients that it's not about one thing whether SEO or websites or keywords or social media. Its about the bigger picture and the best route to market for my clients from a digitally strategy perspective. Good solid digital marketing practices provide long term solutions with enhancement, fulfilment and expansion at their core.

Clair Marr
Digital Enthusiast
The Graphic Edge
Digital Strategy, Web Design, SEO and Development Services.
Brooklyn The Street Teffont Evias Wiltshire SP3 5RG
Tel: 01722 717860

*Source is Ofcom- Adult media use and attitudes 2014.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

SEO for local businesses

With local business searches accounting for around 25% of all search engine traffic ( and ever increasing), you would be well placed to start to think about your integrating a solid digital strategy into your marketing plan. Couple this with an increased number of searches being performed via mobile devices, it may be time to take a look at the way your website fulfils visitor needs and expectations. 
Please read out top tips below for local businesses and SEO:

1. Responsive layouts

Analysts are predicting that mobile searches will overtake the number of searches currently on the desktop within the next few years and if your site is one that does yet have responsive elements then it's time to move with the times. This could mean something as simple as your multiple column site layout dropping to a single column on mobile devices so that website visitors can easily access the information that they are looking for. 

People regularly browse for amenities, local restaurants, bars and pubs, events and travel whilst en route to an area via a smart phone and your site needs to be optimised to appear in for those local searches as well as present a clear unified brand that works across many different platforms.

2. Avoid Thin or Duplicate Content

One of the key features of the recent Google algorithm update Panda 4.0 was to weed out sites with thin or duplicate content. This means that if your website does not feature a good amount of varied relevant content (think 600 words+) then your performance in search engine results could be dramatically affected. I reassure my clients that it's not rocket science; simply applying good solid marketing techniques to your online presence makes sense. Search engines are looking to match good quality relevant information to their clients and if you are making best efforts to ensure that your website provides focused and knowledgable online content throughout your website pages then you have already made a substantial inroad to digital success. If the key phrase that you are targeting is highly competitive in your area there are other ways to help the performance of your website.

If, by way of example you were a plumber in Salisbury, search engines look to find a website that features relevant pages targeting the phrase 'plumber in salisbury'. If your site was appearing further down the ranks than other sites it may be worth comparing the market to identify why their sites seem to rank better than yours. Consider fleshing out your content by adding a variety of media, as well as perhaps a series of how to videos or tutorials on common plumbing problems. Ensure that your site visitors can interact with you via social media and start a forum discussion on common plumbing issues or offering your customers advice. Provide some links back to your website and relevant articles that you may have written and you should notice a change in your site's search engine performance.

3. Enhance Visitor UI

Your website is the first point of contact that you may have with a potential new customer. Ensure that the design is kept on brand, with a clear navigation structure and that important information such as contact details and products and prices are kept visible and prominent. At The Graphic Edge we find many clients approach us after years of a friend of a friend 'doing their site'. Everything seems to flash, there is no synergy between core messages, seo or design and this obviously has a negative effect on the site visitor experience. Trial various techniques on popular landing pages to determine which layout may have the best customer signup rates by way of example. The great thing about web is that every aspect is measurable with results in relatively quick timeframes. The joy of the digital marketplace is that it is fast and can be very effective and a good digital strategy should evolve with the times. 

4. On Page SEO Effectiveness

The structure of a website page allows for some manipulation of it's elements to help search engines find the information that they are looking for in an efficient way. Ensure that your page title is kept at around 66 characters with the most relevant key phrases at the very beginning as well your location. Your page description should ideally contain some solid marketing copy as well as exact matches of the key phrase and location that you are trying you target. Use natural sounding header tags containing some of your keywords. I like to vary this with some being purely for marketing and some containing keywords. Making the page look as natural as possible will help avoid penalties for stuffing a page with keywords. Ensure that at least one image contains alt text with your exact match key phrase. Good inter page links will help as will adding google authorship and other social media sharing tools.

5. Link Building and off page awareness

Adding your business and location to google places is a must. Identify local directories and ask to be included in their listings. If you are a b&b that is looking for exposure, then approach local visitor attractions or restaurants and ask to be added as a link on their site in return for a referred discount. If your business regularly holds events; corporate or for the public, ask local events notice boards to feature the event as well as parish websites if your business is in a more rural area. Start a blog and share your expertise to your social media followers, inviting comments and wider distribution. Run competitions or promotions via social media, linking back to your website as an incentive to promote your business to the wider community. 

If you are looking for a web designer, graphic designer or seo specialist in the Salisbury, Wiltshire area or would simply like some more advice on your digital marketing strategy then please contact us via The Graphic Edge website or email us. Fore particular queries regarding web design in Salisbury or SEO in Salisbury please visit our dedicated pages.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

D-Day Tribute

D-Day Tribute #d-day #d-daytribute #wartimememories

As a nation we have grown up respecting the contribution that our families and Forces made to D-Day and the World Wars.  Most families have their own stories either from the home front or the front line and I thought it may be fitting to commemorate some of my family’s tales from the war via this blog in honour of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings this week.

The Thetis Diving Trial

My family were originally from Birkenhead, near Liverpool and so worked on the ship yard, making their contribution as welders to the ships that left from historical yard, Cammell-Laird.  My great-grandfather was one of a crew of men that worked on the famous submarine HMS Thetis. There was to be a trip to celebrate the final diving trials and many of the technical crew who had worked on HMS Thetis were asked to participate on this voyage on 1st June, 1939. My great-grandma described to my grandma that she just had a ‘funny gut feeling’ the day before and set great-grandfather’s alarm clock one hour later so that he missed the launch.  He was cross that he had missed out and rushed to the shipyard. Thetis sunk on this dive due to technical issues and tragically 99 of the 103 men on board the submarine died that day.

Great Aunt Nellie and the wellie!

Great Aunt Nellie was the daughter of my great-grandfather’s friend whose wife had died when Nellie was very young. My great-grandfather pledged to take care of Nellie should anything happen to him and sadly after he lost his life in the war, Nellie came to live with our family.
Our family, like many others, had an Andersen shelter at the bottom of the garden and every evening when the air raid sirens would sound, the family would gather in this shelter waiting for the ‘all clear’. One particular evening, my great-grandma, my grandma Muriel and great auntie Nell were in the shelter.  A bomb dropped in the next street and the Anderson shelter was violently shaken. Great-grandma asked if everyone was ok and Muriel replied that she was fine. There was no answer from Nellie and great-grandma feared the worse and started to scream until the lights came on and it was revealed that Nellie had in fact been knocked out by a giant pair of great-grandfather’s wellington boots!

Three cheers for the red, white and blue

My grandma Muriel, Nellie and her older sister, Gladys always remembered comments about how well turned out they were during the war considering the rations at the time. Local mothers would often ask my great-grandma where she acquired such quality ribbons for the children’s hair.
Grandfather worked as a foreman at Cammel-Laird shipbuilders and repairers. One of his duties was to prepare ships for launch including dressing them with the launch day ribbons. Once the ship’s ribbon had been cut, grand-father took the ribbons and gave them to his wife. It was with some pride that the ladies in family always wore red, white and blue!

Please feel free to comment or share and we would love to hear your stories in return. Visit for more information on my business.


#webdesign #typography #seo #thegraphicedge

Welcome to the blog of The Graphic Edge, a graphic design, web design and SEO studio based just outside Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Over the next few posts, we aim to bring you details of hints and tips on how to make the most of typography on the web, design tutorials as well as comments on how SEO could affect your business.

We keep you up to date with industry trends and aim to become a useful resource for your business.

Please email us with any posts that you would like to see and feel free to share or comment on any post that you like.