E-cards With a Difference… A Very MOM-y Christmas 2014

MOM Xmas Tree imageLast year marked my first Christmas as a self-employed freelancer with my own clients… which meant that I approached the whole idea of sending out Christmas cards in very much of an “oh F*@K!” manner: I hastily bought a box of cards, wrote in them in my hilariously horrendous handwriting using a dark green biro (to match my business’ branding) and fired them off to my clients’ postal addresses.

It was a sucky effort.

Even before December 2013 rolled by, I had the idea of doing something different… something special in place of traditional Christmas cards. Now I ain’t no fancy designer, so creating a slick, physical, deliverable item was out of the question. I always liked the idea of doing something that involved an online/digital element though.

This year, I put more thought into it and created Christmas e-cards in the form of custom landing pages on the morganonlinemarketing.co.uk website, which took on two different aspects…

Type 1 – Individual e-cards for clients & other folk

So, as mentioned above, the main aspect of the e-cards took the form of custom landing pages for individual recipients. They’re all orphaned pages (meaning that nothing else is linking to them, internally or externally) and they’ve also been noindexed, meaning that they won’t be picked up by the search engines.

Here’s an example of one. Each one contains a personalised message to the recipient – which beats having a generic message across the board.

MOM Individual Xmas card example screenshot

(Click to enlarge)

So far I’ve created about 20 of them. Beyond clients, they’ve also gone to people who’ve referred me work and who have done me favours or helped me out over the past year. I can also quickly knock one up if someone sends me a card or e-card, so I can potentially avoid that awkward moment that can happen where someone sends you one and you don’t get chance to send one back. Quite handy.

Type 2 – The "welsh ice bauble" challenge…

I also created another e-card page, but this one wasn’t addressed to anyone in particular. It had a secret, ‘Easter egg’ quality to it (and no, I’m not getting my holiday seasons mixed up)…

One of the guys/gals at Welsh ICE (my office/co-working space) came up with the brill idea of giving every member/company a Christmas bauble for the ICE Christmas tree to decorate and customise ourselves. Some people tied it in with their business: e.g. SPORTTAPE wrapped theirs in some of their tape and RecRock covered theirs in branded plectrums.

I wanted to follow suit, so I decided to create a page for it – similar to the above individual/client e-cards – except that this one could be indexed by Google…

For my bauble, I coloured it orangey-gold and drew green lines on it (to try and match the revised logo – the star of the tree) and stuck a label on it with a Google logo and the phrase: "welsh ice bauble"

Click to read more!

SEO, SEOno News , , ,

The Golden Rule for Leveraging SEO from your PR Activities

Over the past few years, SEO and PR have become more and more entwined. Links from good, high quality websites are important for SEO, and PR can really help to get those links, especially in the form of press mentions. I often say to clients that they should treat the likes of the BBC and the Guardian as the ‘holy grail’ of link building – getting links from sites like those can be like SEO gold-dust.

While SEOs have become more PR-savvy, we haven’t necessarily seen the same thing with PRs becoming more SEO-savvy. When I worked for Confused.com way back in 2010, I worked with some great colleagues in the PR team who truly ‘got’ SEO (shout-out to @KellysDavies and @PRVix!), and I was excited to see how other PR folk would progress in a similar way over the years – but to be honest, I’ve personally not seen as much movement as I’d hoped or expected… Econsultancy have written a few articles about the phenomenon over the years, who – even as recently as a year ago – are still seeing the same thing.

So if I were to give one bit of crucial advice to PRs who want to help their clients’ SEO with their PR efforts, it is this: when coming up with a campaign, try to create something that people (and the press) have no choice but to link to.

PR image
Now I know what you’re thinking… “But that’s obvious!”

…Not necessarily though. I’ve seen some PR campaigns that do not seem to keep this in consideration, as I will explain in more detail (while providing an example to the contrary) below…

The notoriousness of the press

The problem with press websites is that some of the major press websites are notorious for avoiding linking out if they can help it. I worked at Confused.com – whose name is a URL itself, for goodness sake – and they still wouldn’t get linked. Here are some recent examples. And while some speculate that brand name ‘citations’ (i.e. non-hyperlinking mentions) may still hold some SEO weight, it can’t be that much – and even so, for businesses that have a commonly-used name (e.g. “Horizon Solutions”), it may be difficult for Google to ascertain whether the citation refers to the Horizon Solutions in the UK, the Horizon Solutions in the US, or the Horizon Solutions in Canada, for example…

Click to read more!

SEO , ,

Getting Around LinkedIn PPC Ads’ Poor UK Geographical Targeting Options

Cardiff panoramic shot
I do a bit of work for Welsh ICE (as mentioned before) and recently looked into the possibility of launching a LinkedIn Ads campaign for them.

Fingers on map imageAssuming that it would have similar-ish geographical targeting options to Google AdWords (Google’s PPC platform), which allows you to target a city/town or a radius around any point (such as a postcode), I was surprised to learn that – as far as the UK is concerned – you can only target 30 towns/cities, ranging from Birmingham to Twickenham, and containing no Welsh or Northern Irish locations such as Cardiff or Belfast. Either side of where Cardiff would (should?) be, we have Cambridge and Chelmsford, the latter of which has half the population of Cardiff, and Hemel Hempstead (another one in the list) only has a quarter of the population of Cardiff. (Wikipedia population links for Cardiff, Chelmsford and Hemel Hempstead.)

LinkedIn Ads UK Location Targeting screenshot
Aside from the fact that it seems rather odd that they only offer a select few UK towns/cities, I honestly think that LinkedIn are shooting themselves in the foot by not offering more. While LinkedIn’s main focus is on B2B, and a lot of UK B2B businesses could probably cater to a UK-wide customer base, there are still businesses who are restricted by geography. For instance, for Welsh ICE, while they’d certainly like to attract more businesses to Wales as a whole, it makes sense to mainly concentrate on the South Wales region, given that they offer office space and co-working facilities. Similarly, I also have a Cardiff-based cleaning client and a storage facility provider client with two locations in South Wales – they’re only going to be interested in receiving leads from South Wales-based prospects as well, as they are also pretty much limited by geography. In other words, there could be a lot more businesses out there that’d happily use LinkedIn Ads if they sorted this out and improved their location targeting options…

However I dug a little deeper, looking at the LinkedIn Ads system’s other targeting settings, and while it’s not foolproof, I found a way that Welsh ICE can still target on a (sort of) geographical basis. Here’s how:

1) Target local/regional university graduates

A lot of people stay and live in their university town after graduating, so one way could be to target the alumni of particular universities. For the Welsh ICE campaign, we could focus on Cardiff Uni, Swansea Uni, Cardiff Met Uni, Uni of South Wales, etc. By doing so, they’re effectively saying: “you’ve graduated in South Wales… now why not start a business here?”

LinkedIn Ads School Targeting screenshot
Click to read more!

PPC, Social Media , ,

Vote for SEOno in the UK Blog Awards 2015!

UKBA15 logo
UPDATE: Voting is now closed!

SEOno (this very blog!) has been entered into the UK Blog Awards 2015 (#UKBA15).

If you’ve ever read any of my posts and thought “hey, this stuff ain’t half bad!” then I’d really appreciate your vote. It only takes about 30 seconds to do.

All you have to do is follow this link: www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/candidates/SEOno-2/ and fill out the Name and Email fields. Nice n’ easy!

The first phase of voting (the public vote) ends on Wednesday 3rd December, so if you’re reading this before that date then please vote now!

So go on… help out “one of the nicest guys… in [the SEO] industry” (source) – you know you want to…! ;-)

SEOno News

A Small Change in a Big World… My First Edit on Google Maps

(This may seem a lame and OTT post, but y’know what? It’s my blog and I can write what I want and I don’t care la-la-la I’m not listening to you…)

Google Map pin badgesWorking in SEO and PPC, a lot of what I do revolves around Google. Be that as it may, I’m usually the first to have a moan about them, as anyone who’s ever spent five minutes reading my tweets can most likely attest to. Usually it’s because I just get annoyed that their Help sections aren’t helpful or their UX isn’t up to scratch, and business owners are the ones who end up suffering as a result.

But let’s face it. Where would we be without Google? How handy is Gmail? And when you’re figuring out where to go, how much do you rely on Google Maps?

Doing a lot of ‘Local SEO’ for clients, i.e. the process of optimising a Google My Business listing (formerly/also known as Google Places, Google+ Local and about 50 other things…), I recently had to sort out a fundamental issue with Google Maps causing one of my clients a bit of grief. Google were adamant that their address – let’s say “101 High Street” – was 100 yards down the road and on the other side of the road, so they thought that our map marker/pin location suggestion (the actual location) was inaccurate. The only way to fix it was to delve into Google Map Maker and make the change myself. Once it was done, they started to rank really well not long after.

I’d never really touched Map Maker before that, and to be honest, I didn’t realise that Google took user data into such strong consideration. I made a few Local SEO-related tweaks to help out a client, but nothing ‘proper’, if you get me.

…Until I noticed some woods near my house were missing a footpath…

Map Maker edit screenshot

(Click to enlarge)

Click to read more!

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