All Posts By

Matt Barber

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EATing your way to success: content generation in 2019

By | Search Engine Optimisation | No Comments

This article about the priorities of content generation in the context of Search Engine Optimization in 2019, fired up my imagination. The days of merrily stuffing generic pieces with keywords and creating quick and simple, but, ultimately, vacuous ‘ten top hints and tips’ fluff are over. Instead, producing comprehensive, in-depth and authoritative articles is the way to ensure your website stays high in search results. It’s all about EAT, an acronym that neatly sums up the ravenous need for good quality content for websites in all sectors. EAT stands for: Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. Attaining these qualities has become one of the most important goals of content writing.

The main thing that the article triggered was the realisation that the key to the challenge of EAT isn’t in faking authoritativeness or trustworthiness. Instead the key is to know how best to translate or to transmit these qualities. With this, I realised how this new focus on structured and well-researched writing plays exactly to my strengths.

Why me?

Coming from an academic background it becomes second nature to produce writing that is researched and structured and to ensure that the content you produce is underpinned by authoritative sources. Through research, you can build on the expertise of others like a journalist getting to the essence of a complex subject. This is the key to producing SEO friendly content in 2019: providing a medium through which voice of other people can be heard, whether they be accountants, lawyers, mortgage advisors, concrete manufacturers or fudge producers.

In short, there is still room for dedicated content writers in the new world of expertise and authority, but these content writers need to have a particular set of skills. They need to become amplifiers, getting to the heart of a business and magnifying the voices of the specialists who are there, whether that is through interviews or questionnaires. It’s about spending time with the company you are writing for and listening to them, understanding what interests them. Finally, it’s about understanding the best medium to express their interests be that a case study, a white paper, an interview, a podcast or (and yes they can still exist) a top ten hints and tips blog post – speaking of which…

My top five tips to generating authoritative content for a business

  1. Speak to the experts in the business – listen to them – find things that interest them and decide on subjects based on this.
  2. Draw up a series of questions about the subject – remember introductions and conclusions. Use keyword research to refine the wording of the questions ensuring that they are phrases with search ‘currency’.
  3. Put these questions to the experts, either informally in conversation or formally by email or an interview and use the responses to structure your content. Remember that the article will be viewed by the expert before publication so it is acceptable to reword their responses to make the writing flow better.
  4. If there are gaps, go back to the expert for clarification or for further quotes.
  5. Finally, make sure you cite the expert in the content linking to their contact webpage or perhaps a social media account such as LinkedIn – here’s mine for example. Make their role clear – emphasise their authority.

You don’t need to be an expert in a subject to write about it with authority, you just need to know who the expert. Content writing is an acquired set of skills, but these skills revolve around the ability to research, structure, interpret and translate complex ideas in a way that amplifies the authoritative voices and to get them heard.

Get in touch for more about how we can help you get your voices heard and to produce content that is authoritative.

Photo illustrating podcasting

What can podcasting do for you?

By | Lead Generation, Social Networking | No Comments

Podcasting can take many forms. Perhaps the strongest is an episodic series of informal discussions on topics, issues and themes directly related to your sector.

Podcasting is an excellent way for a company to both deliver information about their services and to promote themselves to potential clients. They are easy to create and a great opportunity for a  business to give their social media accounts something to ‘bite on’. Ultimately they will help get traffic to their websites and to engage and inform their prospective customers.

So, what are the key things to note when you venture into the world of podcasting?

Use the expertise in your company when podcasting

In 2019, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness will be the key to improving your search ranking and to engaging your prospective customers (see this excellent summary of SEO trends in 2019 for more information). Podcasts can give a voice to the experts in your company that will inspire trust in the listener so draw on your own knowledge base.

Short and pertinent episodes are best 

It is vital to keep your listeners attention, so short and punchy podcast episodes are key. The good thing about this is that each episode can hone in on a specific area of your business, building that ever-important feeling of authoritativeness with your listeners. Focus is your watchword.

Remember your audience

Aim your podcasts at the listener. The first step is to define and structure your episodes. Ensure they are addressing the issues and topics that give value to your customers. Whilst they can be a powerful promotional tool for your business, podcasts can also be a good way for a company to reflect back on their own services and products. This makes them a useful tool for disseminating information and news internally. It is crucial that your podcast balances information with promotion and that it is produced with the listener in mind. Remember that preparation is everything.

Remember to promote your podcast

Once you have a batch of episodes under your belt, you will need a plan for promoting them and getting them out to your potential customers. It’s a good idea to treat them like blog-posts perhaps stagger their release over time and ensure that each episode has a big push on social media. Planned correctly, episodes can be timed to coincide with news and events in your sector. Think big.

Link episodes to bonus material

Don’t just stop at podcasts. Take the opportunity to simultaneously release blog-posts, white-papers or infographics on the same theme as the podcast episode. Maybe accompany your podcast episodes with ‘show notes’ summarising the discussions. A well curated content strategy will instil trust and confidence with your potential customers.

For more information about how we can help you get your podcast off the ground, or how we can get your podcast in front of your potential customers, contact us now.

Ross Poldark

Poldark and Lead Generation

By | Lead Generation | No Comments

Poldark – the BBC series set in the late 1700s in Cornwall featuring a brooding and unfeasibly toned copper mine owner seems like an unlikely source for a digital marketing blog, but the story reveals techniques and approaches that  can help lead generation in companies. Below are some of the things that the surly-but-ripply Ross Poldark can teach us:

1. Poldark takes advice.

He employs a specialist engineer who knows the sector and has the right theory to know how best to target, but he also keeps his ear to the ground, listening to the people at the coal-face (copper-face?) who have the instinct and experience. Talk to the experts.

2. Poldark has the right information.

His collection includes maps of the mine systems, including one that is closed but only partially explored. He has the data that, coupled with the advice, gives him an idea of the best approach to exploiting the material and assets he has. He knows the lie of the land before he digs down into it. Get good data and do your research.

3. Poldark knows that it’s best not to focus all his energy on one mine.

He sees opportunities in other systems on his land, even a mine that has been abandoned. He sees how mines can join up and recognises the benefits in constantly changing gear in his quest for copper. Speculate to accumulate.

4. Poldark uses modern technology (a water pump), he resurrects a closed mine.

Poldark knows that investing in the latest techniques can deliver. Know what the latest trends and technology is. Don’t get left behind.

Finally, as with scything hay in a field in Cornwall, if approaching companies it is often best to do so without a top on.

That last tip might be a lie.

For more advice about how we can help you with your lead generation through digital marketing, get in touch.

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How to get along with your developer

By | Web Design, Websites | No Comments

The relationship between client and developer can be a fractious one. The complexities of digital marketing, the occasional lack of concrete results and the language barrier (English versus Geek) can create a dislocation which, over the course of a long relationship, can lead to disharmony and, ultimately, a breakdown in communication. Below are some tips to help you navigate this relationship:

The first meeting is crucial.

This is a key moment in ensuring that the relationship between yourself and your developer is a viable one. Be clear about what you want from your website. Make sure you have a good sense of what has been agreed in terms of:

Budget.  The amount a project is offered for is part of the conversation. Digital marketing projects are flexible in terms of what is possible, so a good developer will offer a range of options based on how much you can afford to spend.

Deadline. Again this depends on what is being offered, but a developer should be able to breakdown the project in terms of time.

Business. A well supported digital marketing project depends on the developer having an understanding of the client’s business and of the client’s objectives. An outline of the project should have these aspects at its core.

Report any faults when they happen.

It is important to keep your developer informed about any bugs or errors – a website is a constantly updating entity and it relies on a regular flow of communication between you and the developer to make it stronger and more robust. To be effective, any feedback on issues needs to be detailed and ideally include screenshots so your developer can quickly target the issues and resolve them.

Don’t forget the peripherals.

A developer’s work doesn’t just stop with the website – a project can potentially include social media, daily, weekly or monthly updates to the site, ongoing maintenance or support. Make sure you know what’s being offered for the money you are paying and that you know what support is offered after the website has been made live.

We at Chartered Digital pledge the following:

  • We are bilingual: we speak both Geek and English. We will always try to explain what we do in plain and straightforward English. When that is not possible, we promise to use diagrams, hand gestures or interpretive dance until you, the client, is entirely clear about what we are suggesting.
  • We will never disappear after the project is complete. We promise to outline  everything we offer before starting a project. We are open and accessible – often by phone and, when possible, physically. If there are problems, concerns or snags we can be on hand to resolve them.
  • We will never oversell something or use the complexity of digital marketing to our advantage. We know that there are agencies out there who get away with doing very little under the camouflage of technical language – we promise to be transparent about everything we do.

Get in touch for more details about what we can offer you:

https://www.chartereddigital.co.uk/

Image illustrating call to action

Calls to Action – how to make them work for you

By | Lead Generation | No Comments

In marketing terms, a call to action  is a piece of content that is designed to encourage your potential customer to perform an act. For example on a webpage it is the button, or the linked text, that funnels your visitor through to the page where they can contact you or make a purchase.

This sounds simple, and indeed on the surface it is. But there are a number of nuances you need to be aware of when constructing your call to action. Amongst other things, a well-crafted call to action will take into consideration the requirements and psychologies of your clients, the needs of your business and the technical optimisation of your website.  To create a call to action that works to attract the attention of your potential customers and to funnel them to the correct webpage requires skill and experience. It is advisable to get in touch with a digital marketing specialist for advice.

With this in mind, below are some hints to help you get started:

  • Use positive text that describes the action directly

Avoid ‘click’, ‘enter’ or ‘select’ but instead try ‘contact us’, ‘view our services’ or ‘buy here’. Think about creating a feeling of urgency to inspire your visitor to make a positive move. Consider using motivational phrases that focus on the values of what you are offering – remember that the sale can depend on the text you use.

  • Make it stand out.

If you are using a button, make sure it is clear. It should be designed to be consistent with your website but with a bold and contrasting colour that draws the eye. Make sure the button has white space around it so it doesn’t become lost in the detail of the rest of your page.

  • Make the text readable

The text on the button should be clear and legible. Pay attention to font, font size, spacing and whether your text is uppercase or lowercase.

  • Positioning is important

Position the call to action on the page where your website visitor can see it without scrolling down. This is a common mistake – there is a tendency to place the call to action at the bottom of the page after you have outlined all the other information, but it is important to place your call to action on the page

  • Test your calls to action.

Maybe create two or more versions of your page with variations and analyse the different results. Testing is a vital part of conversion rate optimisation, so it makes sense to include the position and look of your call to action as part of this process.

 

Designing calls to action is more involved than it might first appear. With the right mindset and some guidance, however, it need not be difficult. The key things to remember are that it should stand out, be legible, be motivational and appear in the correct position on your webpage. Finally, it is crucial that you test to ensure effectiveness.

And so, having said all that, follow the link below for more details:

 

Autumn path representing Search Engine Optimisation

The Wonderful Wizards at MOZ

By | Search Engine Optimisation | No Comments

Sometimes, approaching the task of digitally marketing your company can feel a little like you’ve been swept up by a tornado and dumped into an alternate universe with talking lions, walking scarecrows and flying monkeys. Some of it is intuitively understandable: for example making your website look professional and making sure your content is error free, but some tasks can appear impenetrably complex, and none more so than search engine optimisation.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of ensuring that your website appears prominently when a potential customer hunts for it on a search engine such as Google. There are two main reasons the process seems complex: firstly, the requirements of SEO regularly change as Google, Bing and other search engines change the ways they rank and display results, so in the past it was sufficient to crawl sites full of particular words to push them up the rankings, but nowadays a more nuanced approach is required. The second reason SEO is considered complex is that it requires a consideration both of what is on the surface and what is happening behind the curtain of your website.

MOZ is an online marketing tool that combines a number of digital tools to help with Search Engine Optimisation. It’s not the only solution – there are many similar packages and it is possible to go-it alone, but MOZ is a great starting point for SEO training, research and implementation. For all this, navigating along the yellow brick road towards an optimised website can take skill, time and money, so it is best to approach a good digital marketing specialist to take the load off. However if you do want to know some of the basic first approaches then below are a few simple steps towards optimisation:

Know your website

The first step is a straightforward one – you need to research how well your website is doing, how you are ranking in search engines, your progress compared to your competitors and what search terms (keywords and phrases) you think prospective customers are searching to find you. With a tool such as MOZ, the technical side of this is quick and painless, but interpreting the results and applying competitor research takes skill and experience.

Find your keywords

Once you have a sense of the state of your website, you will need to identify and test existing and new keywords. These keywords will be used as the basis for the changes to your website in order to optimise it in search engine rankings. Keyword research is a two-pronged task: you need to anticipate what your customers’ desire when they are looking for your services or product, and you need to know what the popular search terms are. Finding a niche – a defining word or term for each landing page is the key to this step. MOZ can help you locate strong search terms and test new ones, but only in the abstract. Interpreting the significance of the keyword research is the tricky bit, as is what you do with your precious keywords once they’ve been confirmed as strong.

Optimise your visible content

When you have keywords, you need to know what to do with them. This is a twofold approach. Firstly, you need to optimise the content of your website that your visitors can see. To do this you need to ensure that: your content is aimed primarily at your audience; that it is keyword-rich; that it has impactful headlines and that your text is structured using a tag hierarchy.

Make changes behind the curtain

When you have tackled the surface content of your website, you need to attend to the information behind the scenes. You need to ensure that all your images are an appropriate size and have titles, alt text and captions that make natural use of your keywords. You also need to consider your URLs – make sure that they make sense, are as short as possible and also draw on your keywords. Finally, you need to check that your content works on all devices such as mobiles and tablets, that every page is included on your site’s XML sitemap and that your internal links are relevant and use anchor text, again based on your keywords. Once again, MOZ is a great tool for flagging up these issues, but it is advisable to consult a content specialist to ensure the implementation of the changes is as smooth as possible.

Test, test and keep on testing

Finally, it is important to remember that Search Engine Optimisation isn’t just about making changes – it’s about testing them and continual refinement. To maintain your website you need to keep a close watch on your rankings, and to regularly update your content. MOZ is a great tool for monitoring the results of the changes you’ve made and targeting the areas that still need improvement.

 

MOZ is a versatile and useful tool but it isn’t a magical solution. Used correctly, it allows you to identify issues with your website, test keywords and monitor the changes you make, but to navigate the yellow brick road without losing your way in the haunted forest (to stretch a metaphor close to breaking point), you will need the help of experienced and dedicated digital marketing experts.

Contact us for more information about how we can optimise your website:

https://www.chartereddigital.co.uk/contact-us/

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Building Digital Adventures

By | Web Design | No Comments

Hyper-narrative and Website Design

For those of us of a certain age who grew up before the advent of the internet (and who now struggle to do up their own shoelaces without sitting down), the concept of hyper-narratives (texts with a non-linear, branching structure where the reader makes choice) and, consequently, website design, is neatly embodied in these books:

Choose your Own Adventure stories presented stories in a non-linear way, allowing the reader a set of options every few pages so they could follow a path to a series of different outcomes. From the perspective of the internet age, these books were prescient in the way they took the idea of a story apart and placed control of the narrative in the hands of the reader. The effect of reading them and following the different paths of the stories was a sometimes vertiginous feeling of freedom, but this was cleverly engineered by the authors. To write these books required a rigorous process of planning, structuring and predicting how the reader might approach the different paths. The outcome always needed to be the same: the reader needed to enjoy the experience and receive a degree of catharsis from the different conclusions.

So, how can this translate to website design? The writers of the Choose your Own Adventure books understood the desires and needs of the reader and understood how the linear structure of the story could be broken down and rebuilt in a way that satisfied multiple readers and encouraged them to repeatedly return to the book. A website designer also needs to understand his ‘reader’ or potential customer. A website, much like the Choose your Own Adventure books, is a non-linear tangle of paths that a browser can follow, and the key is to ensure that they reach the information they need quickly and in a way that doesn’t frustrate them. There are a number of approaches that can be taken to ensure this happens:

  • Follow the AIDA model

AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) is the key to both individual pages and to the structure of the website in general. The Choose your Own Adventure writers understood how to grab the attention of their reader, how to sustain their interest, stoke their desire and influence their actions. A well designed website will do the same thing: each page will draw the visitor in and funnel them through to the pages they need to visit to commit to a sale.

  • Know your customer

A good digital marketing service will use persona research to get a good sense of what your customers are looking for and, as a consequence, will plan and construct your website in a way that it both attractive to them and helps them find the information they need.

  • Be prepared to test and adapt

The advantage a website has over the old Choose your Own Adventure books, is the ability you have to change the structure depending on how your visitors are using it. To do this, it is often useful to test pages and paths through the site to ensure the optimum structure and look is adopted. These tests can occur in the development stage, but it is also important to regularly review your website to ensure it is both search engine and conversion rate optimised.

An understanding of the ways in which hyper-narratives can be used to create online journeys for customers is a useful starting point for the planning, preparation, construction and testing new websites. The Choose your Own Adventure books are both a good analogy for how websites work, but also serve as a useful model for best practice. If you’re interested in a new website or refreshing your existing website, then get in touch and we can start plotting digital adventures for your clients to follow.

HTTP/2: What you need to know.

By | Future Developments, Web Design | No Comments

The differences between the original HTTP (now on version 1.1) and HTTP/2 may not at first sound like a sexy idea for a blogpost helping to promote a digital marketing company, but the Hypertext Transfer Protocol and its faster and more secure successor are the bedrock layer for any data communication on the World Wide Web. Without an understanding of what HTTP/2 means and what a difference it could make to your approach to your website, you could get left behind.

HTTP is the protocol used to define how information is formatted and transmitted on the web. It came into existence in the early 1990s and, through various iterations, has become ubiquitous. HTTP is crucial in the context of website construction as it is a factor in the how well your website performs and, consequently, in how prominently your website appears in search engine results. There is a direct correlation between this foundation layer of your website, and how well optimised it ends up being.

HTTP/2 is effectively an add-on to HTTP/1.1 – a refreshing of the old protocol that means a steady and stable transition between the two. The new protocol offers more streamlining and better efficiency, making the communication between browsers and servers more optimised.

In detail:

  • HTTP/2 allows for simultaneous connections, meaning that multiple resources can be delivered using the same HTTP stream. This will cut down on waiting time.
  • It operates in a binary rather than the textual format that HTTP/1.1 uses, reducing errors and, once again, increasing efficiencies.
  • It allows for header optimisation, removing redundant headers whilst compressing the remaining ones.

In short, HTTP/2 does a number of very complicated things, but the results are always the same: more security, more speed and more efficiency. But how does all this impact on you?

Benefits of HTTP/2    

There are a number of clear benefits in adopting HTTP/2.

  • The effect of HTTP/2 on search engine optimisation (SEO) will be indirect but significant. The new protocol will improve user experience, making it faster for users to gain access to information online by increasing page load speed, a Google ranking factor. Further to this, GoogleBot (search bot software used by Google that collects information that leads to the search engine ranking) has now been updated to support HTTP/2.
  • Moving to HTTP/2 will have benefits across all devices and digital channels. It is also compatible with HTTP/1.1
  • HTTP/2 has extra encryption that is automatically employed, making websites that use it more secure.

How to get it?

Support for HTTP/2 is steadily increasing. It is now compatible with a number of major browsers such as Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Chrome, Chrome for Android and Safari, and this number will likely increase as the benefits are recognised. As long as your website is on HTTPS (which it should be anyway to ensure compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation), the process of switching to HTTP/2 is relatively simple and involves a minor edit to the configuration of your web server.

But why stop there? Having decided to become an early adopter and to go for HTTP/2, why not take the opportunity to give your website a refresh? You may wish to combine the move with a complete migration, a spruce-up of your current content, or simply a review of how well it is optimised.

Speak with a friendly digital marketing expert for advice on how to complete the HTTP/2 setup and for more about how to make your website fly.