Blogging Archives - Klaxon

SEO is Dead, Long Live SEO

I recently spoke at London Bloggers Meetup: SEO Edition with the goal of helping bloggers to better understand their relationship with search and how to improve their ranking. You can find a transcript of the talk below, where I cover three fundamental elements of Search Engine Optimisation in 2014;

1. speed

2. user experience

3. authority and trust

You can also see a slideshare of mine and the two other speakers below too.

I welcome your feedback in the comments below. I’m a big believer that SEO as we know it is evolving into a respectable and strategic marketing tactic, something that is going to become a mainstream skill for any marketer. But what do you think…

Hi,

I’m Yiannis, and I’m here to convince you that SEO doesn’t really matter.

I’m here to give you a bit of background as to why optimising your website for search, isn’t the same game we played 5 years ago.

Google or Bing or Yahoo don’t care about your content or your code (and yes, I can feel you all screaming at me saying, “but that’s what I’ve been told SEO is”). Well, search engines just care about your users. Or more importantly your shared users.

Let me put this in context, in 2013 93 percent of Google’s overall revenue was linked to advertising. Which means, the directors at Google, probably looked something like this.

Over 90 per cent of Google’s multi billion dollar business came from matching users with what they want. At it’s heart, that it’s all that search is, matching people with the information they’re looking for. Whether that be shoes or stationary.

So how does that affect your website. Well, whether you get 200 users per month or you’re Huffington Post, everything comes down to providing the best experience for Google’s users, making sure they’re happy, satisfied, and most importantly, that they come back. Ensuring that you are the correct fit for the person searching, is all that should matter.

I’m going to cover three main areas. The speed at which your website loads, the experience of using your website, and how much trust and authority you’ve gained.

So… first let’s start with speed.

Speed matters. Speed matters a lot. 45 per cent of your users will leave if a page takes more than four seconds to load. Just 1 2 3 4 seconds and 45 out of 100 people have left the room.

And if people are leaving your site from search you can bet that search engines are keeping track of it, as well as over 200 points of data about your site and how it’s used.

In SEO circles, we call that jumping back to the search page behaviour, pogo sticking, and pogo sticking is bad news for your ranking. It means that people aren’t finding what they want, and that directly contradicts the purpose of search.

Second is User Experience

This could be a two hour long talk in it’s own right.

We could talk about usability for hours focusing on; less able users, user experience design, mobile experience, user journeys, attention, or a thousand other design tidbits, but for you guys I bet keeping users who have come in from search is a massive priority.

Be honest with me. How many people know what bounce rate is? Raise your hand if you do. /raise hand/

For all that don’t, it’s a measure of how many users only visit one page on your site, then leave.

Ok then, how many of you know your bounce rate? Abs where to find out?

Generally, if you’re at under 60% for your website, you’re doing well.

Now, how many of you know your bounce rate from search?

Really? That few? Well done you though.

Bounce from search really matters. Not only is pogo sticking bad. But it has so many other side-effects other than just your posts not getting read. If users aren’t staying on your site, then they’re not truly interacting with your content. Which means they’re not sharing your posts. Which means they’re likely reading posts from other sites which have a better user experience than yours .

On the highest level, user experience for your website is all about understanding what makes your users tick.

Understand why they want to read you, what’s in it for them, and what will keep them interested again and again. You should make keeping your users happy top priority, because as your website grows, this initial core-group are vital to give your website authority and trust.

Trust and Authority are the third factor…

Again, let me provide a bit of context.

Pre 2011 SEO involved a lot of link chasing. The most important factor for ranking in your chosen keyword was links, ideally thousands of them.

A lot has changed since then, at least with Google. Now what matters is authority and trust, which, at least in my mind is a far better metric than just farming links.

Just like offline, authority and trust are not things which you can manipulate independently. It’s almost better to call them proving your worth and getting recognised for it.

Authority is an amalgamation of the quality, diversity, when, where you get links from other websites. It used to be the case that you could just buy a few links and bob’s your uncle. A high ranking domain.

But now search is closer to an interaction you and I would have with an interviewer, with the interviewer being Google.  They would want to check your past roles, that you haven’t been doing the same job for 20 years, where you worked, and what results it had before you’re offered a position in search.

Trust, on the other hand, is the follow up interview. A more in depth look at who links to you. Google looks at how many links you are from a major source of trust, think along the lines of the BBC or respected centres of government, or education.

Google also looks at the experience your users are receiving as a measurement of trust. Core metrics such as time on site, pages viewed or bounce-rate all play into Google’s measure of trust.

And that’s when it all comes back to user experience.

Think of it like this. You shouldn’t be optimising your site for search, for most of your websites, this will come with time, if you create conversation around your website, continue to write focused, eloquent, posts and take actions which give your site more authority.

What you should invest as much time doing, is making sure that your users come back again and again, share and link to your posts and have a great experience using your site.

I know I haven’t had time to go in depth about specific tactics you can use to gain rankings in search. But what I really want to hammer home is this. All google wants to do is keep their users happy, they want them to find the right information, and know that they will always find what they want from Google.

So remember;

  1. Make your website fast,

  2. Make every page enjoyable and informative to be on,

  3. Give your users an opportunity to help you, by using, sharing and most importantly, coming back to your site.

 

5 Content Marketing Lessons from Dr. Seuss

Dr Seuss Lessons for Content MarketingThere is a special spot carved out in one’s heart for childhood memories. As children, we are taught lessons of right versus wrong, good versus evil, and other poignant life lessons from storybooks and nursery rhymes. These lessons are taken with us into our teenage years, into adulthood and can even serve as guiding principals in one’s line of work.

As marketers this rings true. So it is with a creative license, that we bring you five Content Marketing Tips for Success courtesy of Dr. Seuss.

1.) “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So … get on your way.” (Oh, the Places You’ll Go!)

Lesson: Educating readers and customers through content marketing is a necessity in today’s marketplace. Traditional marketing has lost its impact, given that consumers are becoming increasingly busy, block out noise, and are no longer interested in being sold something. As a marketer, you must be adding value, and if you have not started yet – now’s the time!

2.) “So the writer who breeds more words than he needs is making a chore for the reader who reads.” (We Can Do Better)

Lesson To avoid hypocrisy, the moral of the story is to keep content simple and brief. Today’s online world is extremely overcrowded, so capturing readers’ attention will be the biggest challenge.

3.) “Step with great care and great tact. And remember that life’s a great balancing act.” (Oh, the Places You’ll Go!)

Lesson: Providing valuable content takes time. It is important to find a balance between quality and quantity. Sacrificing quality for quantity will have consequences in the form of lost readership and ultimate defeats the purpose if your content is not offering value.

4.) “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” (Oh, the Places You’ll Go!)

Lesson: In order to generate quality content, while not spending copious amount of time producing it, it is key to pay attention to competitors, expand one’s reading library, while also listening and continuously engaging with one’s target audience. Identifying organisations that have done the majority of the research and legwork for you, will be a life saver and can also offer valuable lessons that one can take away and replicate on one’s own.

5.) “I meant what I said and I said what I meant.” (Horton Hatches the Egg)

Lesson: When striving to bring value to readers,authenticity is a key ingredient for successful content marketing. Customers value honesty and if one is unable to remain true to their brand, readers will see through this and become disinterested.

These lessons from Dr. Seuss have been applied over the years time and time again, while also providing its readers with hours of enjoyable entertainment. Using these lessons as guiding principles in your daily life whether as a marketer aiming to bring value to one’s customers through content marketing, or as a small child learning to try new food (Green Eggs and Ham), Dr. Seuss can always be relied upon.

Image courtesy of Brandi Korte

 

Building Authority Through Blogging        

Yesterday we ran a blogging workshop for Bosch as part the ‘Bosch Global Experience’.

Bosch Explorers

The campaign is being organised by Bosch with its agencies Neteye and MCI and has been three years in the making. Our small part of the puzzle was to run a workshop on how to use blogging to tell the story of the Global Experience.

But what’s the Global Experience all about?

Essentially Bosch ran a competition to find six volunteer explorers from all corners of the globe. These lucky adventurers are now being whisked around the world to look at where Bosch technology is being used in incredible ways.

The 16 day agenda is packed full of activities. Highlights include a look at driverless cars in San Francisco, the World financial Centre in Shanghai and the Panama canal in Panama, although their adventure starts out at Tower Bridge in good old London.

Our mission (which we chose to accept) was to run a workshop on how to use blogging to tell the story of this adventure. With a group of experienced bloggers and social media experts, it was at times more of a discussion than a workshop, but we certainly covered plenty of ground.

Here are some of the key learnings for how to write an engaging blog and to build authority:

1. Start out by understanding why you want to blog, this will help with direction and motivation.

2. Your writing muscles require exercise to be honed. Write 750 words everyday to tone up those muscles.

3. To become an authority there are some core characteristics of good blogs and blog posts we all agreed are worthwhile considering:

* Clarity in writing and design
* Conversational style and tone
* Have a different point of view
* Have an in-depth knowledge of the topic
* Add value to your readers
* Shorter posts are better than long
* Use images to the support the story
* Posts are shared regularly and consistently

4. An editorial calendar will help you to plan your ideas into a structure that tells a coherent story, whether that’s across the 16 days of this journey or the life of your blog.

5. If you think about solving a problem for your readers by answering questions your posts are more likely to be found in Google.

6. There are some useful tools you can use to help you curate ideas and promote your posts:
Hootsuite
Storify
Pocket
Evernote
If this then than (IFTTT)

7. Collecting email addresses is still a valid strategy for connecting with influencers and sharing your content.

8. To get exposure for your writing, you must share it widely through other social media platforms – facebook, twitter, instagram, Weibo, Tumblr

9. Comments are much harder to achieve now than in previous years, but consider using Disqus, Facebook comments or G+ comments to encourage people to comment – also comment on each others’ posts to get the ball rolling.

10. You should use different types of blog posts to engage with your audiences, they do not all have to be long form.  For example: list posts (listicles), how tos, photoblogs, video blogs and so on.

11. Build a pattern and some regularity to engage, for example take a photo everyday at 12.30 to show your journey. Share on twitter with a hashtag.

To find out more about the Bosch Global Experience visit their website here and follow the Explorers on twitter with the hashtag #experiencebosch.

Happy and safe travels Explorers. 

How to Write Amazing Blog Posts, Even When you Don’t Feel Like It

Writers’ block is an excuse used by lazy writers (and marketers). There, I said it!

Writer's Block in action

We’ve all felt like this…

Having a ‘block’ is a luxury which only creative sectors can get away with, and sure, some days creativity may be harder than others. Though I completely reject the idea that there is some part of your brain which is inherently halting your ability to write. It is not an excuse to put your pen down, push away the keyboard, and submit to a lack of desire to write.

I’m not belittling writers, or bloggers, or anyone who has the courage to publish work which may be critiqued. After all, I have happily, and proudly, fallen into all three camps over the years. I just believe from the bottom of my heart that writers’ block is not a true barrier to writing. Rather a combination of entirely manageable factors. All of which can be rectified and when they are it’s easy to produce content which is amazing, powerful, and insightful.

Here are the four tactics to help you get over your  block and write amazing blog posts

1. Not understanding your audience

Staring at a blank screen can be either terrifying or liberating. Knowing that it’s possible to bring every combination of every sentence, word and letter into existence, can be a bit… overwhelming, especially when you have no idea who you’re writing for.

Steven King once had a great quote about his art;

[Writing is all about] “enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.”

… which is just about the last thing you want to hear when you’re pondering whether every word you’re writing is garbage or a linguistic gourmet.

Spending a few moments to understand, or even just contemplate your audience can provide a true moment of clarity. It doesn’t require saintly levels of empathy, or even thousands of hours spent on research. Sometimes in can be as simple as setting a personality type and seeing if your work would be read by that group. Maybe you’ll even enrich their lives a little.

Let’s take this post — you’ve likely been pointed here by a friend, colleague, or possibly in a fit of desperation, you’ve typed some variant of “how to write amazing blog posts when I can’t be bothered” into your search engine of choice. If it’s the latter, it means that: firstly our search engine strategy is working, and secondly, you’re frustrated, and want to read something which reassuringly points you in the right direction.

After you’ve developed a rough concept of the type of person who would read your work, think of everyone you know and see if you can find someone who matches that type. If you’re writing for 60+ people about pensions, then think of your parents… if you’re writing about the latest lawn mower, think of your proud, fastidious next door neighbour. The only thing which matters is that you know them well enough to say whether they would read your post.

Now it’s simple, you’re writing for them. No longer a nebulous blob. You’re writing for a real life human being. Next step is to make sure you don’t look silly for your new audience.

2. Not understanding your topic

Coming from a background in journalism, this is the part which always racks me with fear. It’s been an excuse I’ve used more than once to stop me from writing, a barrier I’ve put in the way, knowing that at worst I’ll have to make a correction, and at best it could start a great conversation.

Doing a little research, and getting some information down before starting to write can save a tonne of lost time, and sanity. Just a few quick bullet points to list out the core areas and facts can easily develop into the basis of a solidly structured post. You could number these points to give your audience a list, making structuring easier, and also creating breaks for your readers. Not only does this make your content easier to read, but is likely to have more people finish reading your post as well.

Fundamentally all quality posts have the same structure — If you were in education during the 90s you likely had PEEL hammered into you by your English teachers — a simple structure for making a written argument.

Point – Research and notes makes writing easier

Explanation – Use bullet points to develop your content and make structure clearer.

Evidence – This structure is often turned into list, or fleshed out, this is how many posts are written.

Link – Now I’m going to talk about how your managing time is as important as the content itself.

3. Not giving yourself time

It’s so easy to find the time to write if you’re enthralled by a topic. That time may be 3am, or the second after an event. If the topic really grabs you, makes you think, and makes you desperate to discover more, then time or place are not an issue.

But what happens if you’re not enthralled by your material? What if you need to just get it written and out?

Give yourself time and find a space which makes writing the post comfortable. Admittedly time isn’t always a factor you have control over, sometimes a deadline is final. Though when you have the luxury of time, make sure you use it, because time gives you the luxury of writing badly.

Peter De Vries was quoted as saying;

“Sometimes I write drunk and revise sober, and sometimes I write sober and revise drunk. But you have to have both elements in creation — the Apollonian and the Dionysian, or spontaneity and restraint, emotion and discipline.” 

Just get something down initially, write drunk if you have to. Time allows you to just write, time to just get ideas down, and then time afterwards to hone your work into something which you’re proud to read. Some content just takes time, and writing badly does not make you a bad writer, it just means that your ideas need time to develop.

There has been a lot of research performed on developing ideas. Sometimes we just need the time to break a topic down subconsciously, giving ourselves the room to breathe, relax, and do other things.

Alternatively giving a poorly written post to an editor can be one of the most empowering tools a writer has at their disposal. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said “all the information is there, just please make it readable”. There’s a reason that editors are paid well in publishing, it’s a skill, just like you have a skill in writing, and the’ve likely been in the same panicked position as you. Passing your work onto someone, just to give it a read through and clean up the message can turn an informative, yet rambling post, into something which you’re both proud to have your name on.

All I ask is that you stick their name at the bottom of the post to give them credit.

4. Not being proud enough to post

Over the years I’ve seen fear get in the way of more published posts than I care to mention, with this fear often at its worst in people who’ve just left the academic world. It’s far too common to think that every word uttered online will later be cited as a mark against your name — for better of worse.

That goes against what are arguably the best features of the internet:

  1. Anyone can read your post, with almost no feedback, unless they feel the need to comment.
  2. Anything can be edited after the fact.
  3. Anybody who reads your post, has likely read hundreds of other pages that day.

Arguably, the last fact is as frustrating as it is liberating. Knowing that there are billions of websites, with trillions of pages, means that being lost in the sprawl of content is no longer a possibility but rather a burdening probability.

For now, let’s not worry about getting found, little steps after all, let’s just worry about getting out new posts and being more entertaining and informative than sites in your field. And remember above all else, this quote from John Campbell.

“The reason 99% of all stories written are not bought by editors is very simple. Editors never buy manuscripts that are left on the closet shelf at home. “

Utility Marketing is All About Adding Value

I spoke at a British Dietetics Association event in London this week about utility marketing and blogging…

Alongside me was founder of Engaging People, Mr Bernie Mitchell. Between us we attempted to convince an audience of professional dietitians that they should be blogging.

Well actually we took it a bit broader than that, promoting the idea as a professional you should generally be adding value to your target audience. That’s essentially what utility marketing is all about. Blogging is just one tool, but you could also use all and any online media to support this objective.

We were speaking after a lady called Ann Gates who runs Exercise Works. Ann spoke beautifully about the value of social media and how she is growing her business using twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Ann is a force to be reckoned with and a useful case study for dietitians to follow.

The point about utility marketing is that you should be providing exactly that. A utility for your target audience.

Find out:

> who they are

> what they want / need, and

> the questions they have that relate to your field of expertise

Once you know the answer to these questions, start engaging with them on the platform of their choice. If your audience reads blogs to get information, write a regular blog. If they watch videos, post short clips and YouTube. If they engage with pictures more, curate a Pinterest board. You get the point. Produce something of value to your target audience and you are half way there.

The real secret sauce of course is bringing together all of these resources into a platform of expertise. Something you can be known for, whether that’s a paediatric nutritionalist, or an expert in cloud security topics. Once you have a platform of authority that you own and control, you have a significant marketing opportunity to build on.

If you attended the event (or even if you didn’t attend) and have any questions please add them in the comments below. Bernie and I will do our best to answer them for you.

Thanks again for having us BDA London and for sending us away with a bottle of wine and some divine belgian chocolates. Now that’s what I call a diet.

A Cardinal Sin of B2B Marketing

I have to hold up my hands today. I am guilty of committing one of the cardinal sins of b2b marketing. Not just once but twice in the same day. In both instances I was able to overcome the issue, but only because I had been communicating on a one to one basis.

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Are Blogs Valuable in B2B Marketing?

Are blogs valuable in b2b marketing?

I was asked this today. The first time in a while actually. It surprised me as I was under the impression most people now know the value of blogging. We certainly do.**

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Interview: Mark W Schaefer on Blogging

LBM AudibleAt Klaxon we started blogging back in 2006, just before blogging became a fashionable marketing and communications platform. Not long after that we started running a little known community of bloggers called the London Bloggers Meetup (affectionately known as LBM).

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100 Bloggers in a Room

As part of Social Media Week London this year we organised a bloggers meetup called ‘How Blogging has Changed my Life’. We had a panel of four great bloggers talking about what they have achieved. Many had achieved a book deal, but all had made lots of new friends and connections, learned a hell of a lot, gained acess to great places and people – one had even met the queen. We’ve been running blogger social events in London for over 4 years now and it’s been a grand journey for us too.

You can enjoy a handful of photos from the evening below. If you are a blogger and would like to know more, visit the London Bloggers Meetup page.

London Bloggers Meetup with The Huffington Post

Last night saw the latest edition of our London Bloggers Meetup taking place in Covent Garden. We had approx 80 bloggers join us for an interesting talk about how the Huffington Post (aka HuffPo) UK got started. Carla Buzasi, Editor in Chief, talked about how she claimed the Editor’s chair and alongside Jody Thompson and Caroline Frost started building an army of bloggers to provide the content. Thanks to Carla, Caroline and Jody for the talk and for fielding questions for over 45 minutes.

Huffington Post London Bloggers Meetup

Picture courtesy of Bernie Mitchell.

Overall an interesting night with some great bloggers in attendance. Look forward to more conversations with the team from Badoo, Dylan Lowe about his new travel magazine venture, Eshan and many others. Nice to hear of another book deal coming for a London Bloggers Meetup member too.