Monthly Archives: March 2014

Nicola Peaty

Top Tips…How To Write Content For A Top Google Listing

By Nicola Peaty

All websites need to reflect the brand, tell the target market what you do and have effective ‘Calls to Action’ in place. But then, it’s all pointless if no one can find your site in the first place. This is where content is king – as is knowing how to write content for Google – which has changed and, we feel, improved over the years. 

When we wrote content for the first VG&A website in 2010, we probably went through at least five drafts before we decided upon the final ‘live’ version. We found it hard to write for our audience, comply with good SEO practice and at the same time, succinctly communicate our services. If only we knew then what we’ve learnt now! Ah, but we do know so much more now and that really helped when writing for our new website last year.

Write for your customers:

Firstly, we now know that content has to be written for your audience and not just a bunch of SEO terms. By writing in a language that your audience actually understands (and not just the Google bots) obviously also help attracts them to your site and gives your customer a good experience. Think about the search terms your users would use to find your website and make sure you incorporate these words within your content.

Quality:

Content should also be as high quality as possible. That means writing articles or blogs which are original and relevant. Where you can, give your own review, some depth and insight into your knowledge of a particular subject matter.  Your customers are looking for something unique and added value by choosing to visit your site and not just read duplicate content they can find on other sites. This will help reflect well on your business and give confidence to users who may be new to your site. Your objective is to engage your users so that they will stay on your site, return to your site and even recommend your site.

 Accuracy:

The last thing you want to do is deceive your users, so make sure the content you write is accurate so that visitors are not disappointed when they reach your site. This also relates to the <title> elements and ALT attributes which should give a very clear and exact description of what you are offering. There is no point including words which have no real relevance to your core site. Users will get annoyed and simply bounce straight back to the Google listing to find a site which delivers what it writes. This term is sometimes called cloaking and can lead to you ultimately being banned from Google, so be warned!

No more tricks:

When we first learnt about how to optimise a site nearly ten years ago, there was a completely different set of rules to make sure your site appeared on the first page of Google listings. Now Google is far more genuine to its users and it’s all about good user experience. No more should sites be using keyword density, copying duplicate content across multiple pages, using competitor trademark names for keywords or linking to spam sites to improve ranking.

Another ‘trick’ is Doorway or Gateway pages which have seen a recent rise in optimising techniques. This is when you create specific pages for certain key terms to attract users. They can hold very little content and are usually there in the guise to lead you on to other areas. This is not necessarily relevant, can be quite annoying and a waste of time. Google is far more sophisticated and will detect this and catch you out. It’s now all about being relevant and honest with your customers. Build a simple, well-structured site that keeps both your users and Google happy.

New ideas:

There will always be new ways to help get your site noticed and listed higher than competitor sites. It’s important to keep up-to-speed with these new ideas and try and stay ahead of the curve to take advantage of quick and easy (legitimate) techniques. For example:

  • Internal linking within your own site content on certain terms will help Google index and rank specific content.
  • Using Google+ will also help rank content, especially if you share content via Google+ and users click on the Google + to show they like your content.
  • Slideshare is a fairly new and popular way in how to display your content which Google can index in literally seconds.
  • Optimised images can often be missed but is another simple way of attracting visitors to your site especially if images are the best way to view your product. However, ensure to use the relevant keywords in the name, title and ALT tags so that users can easily find the images and Google can index the content.

 Ask the Experts:

Google has its own really useful guidelines for design and content as well as technical and quality: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en

Top Tips:

We posted this infographic on our Facebook page last year (Source: Content Verve). It’s a great list of top tips we think will help when writing content for SEO purposes. SEO-Copywriting-–-10-tips-for-writing-content-that-ranks-in-2013

Nicola Peaty – Director, VG&A

Nicola Peaty

Top Tips…SWOT & PESTLE

By Nicola Peaty

SWOT and PESTLE are planning tools which have stood the tests of time due to their simplicity and effective output. When developing a marketing strategy, both tools allow an organisation to gather information on fundamental areas of the business as well as the market in which it operates, which in turn aid critical strategic decisions.

SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The SWOT analysis considers internal factors of a company – what it can and can’t do well, together with external factors – what and/or who in the market could affect the company, such as competitors and the wider business environment. 

By determining these facts, a business is better placed to identify whether or not it is in a good position to take advantage and achieve its objectives (due to its strengths and opportunities), or whether there are obstacles which need to be addressed before objectives can be achieved (due to its weaknesses and threats). To gain a genuine idea of strengths and weaknesses, it is important to research a wide range of key players such as customers, suppliers, business partners, employees and heads of departments. Both positive and negative feedback must be considered to give a real picture of the company and its operations, especially compared with all potential competitors.

The same key players can be consulted when gathering information regarding the threats and opportunities. They should be able to give insight into people, organisations and competitors which may affect and have an impact on the business.

Threats and opportunities can also be determined by gaining some market analysis of the wider business environment. This is where the PESTLE tool comes into its own. The acronym ensures a company considers vital external factors which can have huge influences over the business. PESTLE is an acronym for Political, Economical; Social, Technological, Legislative & Environmental.

Any one of the above could have significant effects on a business if there were any major changes, which in turn will affect how a company operates, delivers, prices, promotes and develops its products and services. New laws, cultural trends, a recession, green issues, new technology, a change in political party could all influence both what and how a company functions and therefore must be considered when planning any strategic decisions.

SWOT: Some considerations…

SWOT

 Strengths: (Internal factors / Positive attributes)

  • What are we good  /best at?
  • What are our USPs (unique selling points) which give us competitive advantage?
  • What specific skills does the current workforce have that can give help meet company objectives?
  • Do we currently have good resources in order to deliver company objectives?
  • What are our relations with key influencial players eg suppliers, partners, alliances?

Weaknesses: (Internal factors / Negative attributes)

  • What are we bad/worst at?
  • Do we have limited skills/expertise?
  • Do we have limited resources/technology?
  • Where do we lack good relations with key players?
  • How / where does the competition beat us?

Opportunities: (External factors / Positive attributes)

  • What changes in the external environment can we exploit?
  • What weaknesses in our competitors can we use to our advantage?
  • What new technology might become available to us?
  • What new markets might be opening to us?
  • What new laws have allowed us to operate in a new way?
  • What new trends have allowed us to exploit our product / service?

Threats: (External factors / Negative attributes)

  • How could our competition exploit and hurt us?
  • What new laws might damage our interests?
  • What social changes might threaten us?
  • Will the economy affect our pricing policy?
  • Could new technology mean we get left behind?

When carrying out a SWOT and PESTLE analysis it is crucial that all facts and gathered information, via formal research or informal feedback, is documented and collated together. It is at this point that a company needs to identify critical factors, make strategic decisions and formulate a plan of action with measured controls in place. Exploit the strengths and opportunities and protect and build on threats and weaknesses. This should provide the solid foundations and give direction and position to a company and its business proposition.