seo Archives | Minerva Creative

5 signs you need a new marketing agency

Taking an active role in the way your agency handles your marketing activity is essential to maintaining a good relationship with them. As an extended part of your team, it’s their job to work towards achieving your business goals and spend your budget in the wisest way.

But sometimes, your agency can get a little comfortable, or changing priorities for both your company and theirs can mean a shift in focus. Whatever the reason, it’s not unusual to find that after a few years with an agency it may be time to move on. Here are five tell-tale signs you’ve reached that point.

Reviews and reports have dropped off

Regular reviews and reports are essential for staying on track and ensuring that the agency is working towards your objectives. At the beginning of a relationship, agencies bend over backwards to ensure everything is ‘transparent’, i.e. you’re seeing regular reports and having frequent meetings, but if this has tailed off and you find yourself chasing for monthly reports or dissatisfied with the review meetings, it may be time to look elsewhere.

Reviews should cover the latest results, what work has been done, what has worked and what hasn’t, any alterations in strategy and what is planned for the next quarter. Your agency should also be making recommendations about how and where to spend your budget. Of course, for them to do this you have to acknowledge their expertise and follow their advice. If you are missing any of the above from your reviews, ask your agency to include it at the next meeting before deciding whether to open up for new pitches.

Conducting regular meetings is vital

Lack of adequate information

Following on from the above point, if your agency begins to withhold information or doesn’t offer it up without being asked it’s time to start asking questions. Handing over hundreds or even thousands of pounds each month requires a basic level of trust that your money is being spent well, so if your agency is reluctant to give you, say, a quarterly breakdown of how they’re spending your budget, or access to your analytics dashboards, it suggests there’s something to hide.

Handing over hundreds or even thousands of pounds each month requires a basic level of trust that your money is being spent well.

Your strategy or results aren’t changing

Part of the reason for using an external marketing agency is to support your in-house team with tasks they may not have time for. The agency may take on strategy planning, aspects of digital marketing or execution of print campaigns – whatever their role, you would expect the strategy to change as your organisation and its objectives change. In line with this, a good agency will make recommendations for the budget, moving money from SEO into PPC if needed, for example, or scaling back PPC when relevant to put money into a video or social campaign.

You would also expect to see a long term improvement in results as campaigns become more effective – by which we mean year on year improvements as opposed to the weekly peaks and troughs that are inevitable in a fluctuating market. If one or both of these things are beginning to stagnate, or your results have been trending downwards for a significant period of time, it might be time for a fresh pair of eyes on the marketing. A new agency can bring different ideas and skillsets to the table, giving your strategy and campaigns a much needed boost.

High turnover of staff

If the staff at the agency are changing frequently and you find yourself with a new account manager or team member more than once a year, it could be a clue that something untoward is going on behind the scenes. Agencies have a reasonably high turnover rate in general – most employees stay for around two years – but if the team on your account is changing more often it could be that they are dissatisfied, or that redundancies are being made for financial reasons.

If the agency isn’t treating its own employees very well, you’re right to question how seriously it’s taking your business.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about team changes – after all, it is in your interests for the staff on your account to feel valued and to remain aware of any restructures that might affect the work being done for you. If the agency isn’t treating its own employees very well, you’re right to question how seriously it’s taking your business.

Ask your agency questions

No questions asked

Obviously a relationship is a two-way thing, so your agency should be taking an interest in how your business is performing as a result of their work. That means asking for information such as what kind of conversions your PPC is driving (are you getting good leads or poor quality ones, for example?) or average order values. If this kind of detail isn’t available in the marketing dashboards they have access to, or they’re not probing deeper, it could mean their interest lies in simply doing what’s necessary to keep collecting their monthly fee, rather than whether their activity is actually impacting your business. Perhaps it’s time to find an agency that will ask the right questions.

What to do if you think you need a new marketing agency

How long you stay with your agency is really up to you. If you don’t feel you’re getting the results or the communication you expect, address it with them and give them a chance to remedy it. If, however, things don’t improve (or improve briefly and then revert back), dig out your contract and see what the notice period is, and if there are any terms surrounding it.

Here comes the pitch!

You may want to notify your agency that you are opening the pitch process before terminating a contract. Re-pitching keeps an agency on its toes and reminds them that they can’t rest on their laurels when it comes to your business. Invite them and a few others that you’ve carefully researched to pitch, and then make a decision based on the needs of your team and your business.

Google Penguin 4.0

Another year, another Penguin announcement from Google. For many online businesses, the dreaded penalties of Google’s Penguin updates have caused many a sleepless night, with the hopes that the marketing and SEO teams employed to optimise web performance have been working ‘above board’ often little more than an exercise in blind faith. The good news, however, is that this latest update – Penguin 4.0 – is set to be the last of its kind issued by Google.

But what does Google Penguin 4.0 entail, and what does it mean for your online presence? We at Minerva Creative take a look at the finer points of Penguin 4.0 and the likely impact you can experience.

Google’s key requirements

When it comes to search engine rankings, Google’s search engine takes into consider more than 200 ranking factors. Identifying the effects and weighting of each individual factor is a closely guarded secret (think the Colonel’s famed KFC recipe or the precise ingredients that make up the perfect glass of Coca Cola). What we do know, however, is that Google places the utmost emphasis on developing high-quality, authoritative content. With great content come great links, great engagement, great social impact, and, ultimately, great search engine rankings.

The impact of Google’s two most significant algorithm updates – Panda and Penguin – over the past few years has seen websites that develop lesser quality content, spammy links, etc., penalised and suffer significant falls in the search engines. As such, recovery has been as much a part of modern SEO work as developing new channels of success. Unfortunately, it could often take weeks, months, or even years for Google to recrawl and reindex every page, link, and ranking signal in order to achieve complete recovery.

This is where Penguin 4.0 changes the game.

What is Penguin 4.0?

The recent announcement from Google highlights two key points:

  • Penguin is now running in real time
  • Penguin is operating on a more granular level

Both facets of this announcement represent great news for website owners and SEO professionals. In particular, the fact that Penguin is running in real time is a boon for digital marketing professionals.

Why real time matters

It’s not unusual for even the most diligent of marketing and SEO experts to have fallen foul of some ‘quick wins’ and low-quality SEO tricks over the years. After all, the goalposts have shifted so often and with such speed, it would be almost impossible to have not cut a few corners here or there, right?

Paying the price for a simple mistake should not mean your website has to suffer in the mire for eternity (ok, maybe eternity is a SLIGHT exaggeration). The simple fact is, it’s often taken far too long to recover even after removing or disavowing spammy links that caused the problem. The real time nature of Penguin 4.0 means that waiting is no longer a burden you should bear. If you made a mistake, make the correction, and achieve the redemption you deserve.

There will undoubtedly be those that will spend their lives looking at ways to manipulate this system, but for those of us that believe in best practice and maintaining websites to the best quality possible, the opportunity to recover in the event of a mistake no longer means sleepless nights waiting for the thumbs up from Google.

What of ‘granularity’?

Slightly more vague, however, is the claim that Penguin 4.0 will operate on a more granular level. At first look, this seems to say that no longer will entire sites be penalised for spammy inbound links to a solitary page. Once again, this is music to the ears of SEO experts who may have taken over management of an account that had been mishandled, and are tasked with rectifying the mistakes of the previous company.

It remains to be seen, though, precisely how this granularity will operate; it may be based around individual pages, or whole sections of a website. Alternatively, individual links may be given consideration over the aggregated approach seen in previous Penguin updates. Regardless, it will be interesting to follow how such a level of detail operates and interlinks with the real time nature of Penguin 4.0.

How to approach SEO following Penguin 4.0

Achieving optimum performance in Google’s search engine demands that SEO professionals adhere to the key principle that ‘quality is everything’. When it comes to content creation, reputation management, link building and outreach services, and even PR, it’s essential that investing the time and resources necessary for a quality website are followed.

As such, the approach to SEO following the announcement of Penguin 4.0 doesn’t really change much at all. For those SEO experts that have been adhering to best practice, not investing in cheap links, not investing in poor quality content providers, etc., there is almost no need to change the approach. For others, meanwhile, it is time to change.

The importance of links

With each new announcement from Google, there comes fresh hope that the importance of link building and establishing relationships with those within your business’ industry will diminish. Of course, if this were the case, SEO and website management would be a great deal easier. With Penguin 4.0, there is no sign of this changing (sorry, folks).

Links have always been, and for the foreseeable future will continue to be, of the utmost significance in achieving quality rankings in Google results. And, just as it is for developing content, quality is the operative word.

Sure, you may be able to create a handful of great content pages and achieve 1,000 backlinks. But what about consistently generating content according to a well-planned content marketing strategy? Having 100 pages of high-quality content that only attracts 250 backlinks may seem like harder work for less reward, but the value of those links and the authoritative nature of your site will set you apart. This will be natural. No alarm bells will be ringing. And no penalties from Google will be forthcoming.

This is how SEO should be, and how SEO must be, from now on. If you’re not following best practice and providing what Google wants, how can you expect to NOT be penalised?

Embrace common sense

The introduction of Penguin 4.0 presents great opportunities for SEO professionals, small businesses, and website owners to achieve more online. But it’s essential you listen to your common sense. All too often, settling for the cheapest option for SEO services, copywriting services, and link building means sacrificing quality and putting the integrity of your website at risk.

By embracing common sense and working alongside SEO providers that embrace best practice and conduct work that adheres to the needs of Google’s search engines and fulfils the requirements of users, you can anticipate greater success online.

It will undoubtedly prove a fascinating time in the coming weeks and months as Penguin 4.0 takes hold. To find out more how the impact of the algorithm update can affect you, contact the team at Minerva Creative today.

Save up to £3,000 per month with Minerva Copywriting

Connect. Create. Convert.

Research shows that the average wage of an in-house copywriter is a staggering £35k – an expense of nearly £3,000 per month. While there’s no questioning the value an in-house copywriter provides to a company, it remains a fact that affordable means of supporting marketing activity are always welcomed.

Managed Copywriting

With the new Managed Copywriting service from Minerva Copywriting, you have the opportunity to support your content generation with a team of experienced copywriters and content editors. For just the fraction of the cost of a team of in-house copywriters, Minerva Copywriting will able to supply you with high-quality content each month, whether you’re in need of SEO copywriting, press releases, or print campaigns.

Prices for a Managed Copywriting service start from as little as £495 per month*, enabling you to have instant access to experienced professionals, each ready and able to supply the content that meets your needs.

Not sure why you need a copywriter?

Content is integral to even the most basic marketing campaign. Whether it’s the text on your website, the copy in an email, or the script for a video, these words need to be ably crafted by experienced, knowledgeable copywriters. At Minerva Copywriting, our team has accrued over 25 years’ experience in writing professionally across a host of industries, and can provide the copywriting services you deserve at a cost that is affordable and in a manner that is simple and convenient.

Find out more

Discover more about how Managed Copywriting from Minerva Copywriting can help drive your company’s marketing material to new levels of success. With great savings of up to £3,000 to be made, it makes sense to invest in a professional copywriting agency that has the ability to connect with you and your customers.

*Terms and conditions apply. Please contact Minerva Copywriting for details.

New site launch: Boho Cakes

We’re proud to announce the launch of our most recent project, Boho Cakes. In addition to preparing the copy, this was one of our first ventures into web design. Based on a very basic platform, we take great pride in representing what is an exciting and up-and-coming brand in the Kent region. The quality of workmanship across the full range of products is simply impeccable, so we encourage you to visit the site – and purchase one of the delicious cakes – today.

This has definitely been one of our favourite projects so far, with the freedom to design the page and create the website copy ensuring that we could match one another in perfect harmony. Click on the screenshot below to visit Boho Cakes.

Lessons from the movies

It’s safe to say I’m something of a film buff. Whenever I have a few free hours, I’ll happily settle down and tune in to a movie, looking for that period of escapism cinema and movies provide.

On one such evening recently, I found myself watching the 2010 offering from Guy Moshe, Bunraku. Something of a commercial failure – it currently has a less than flattering rating on review aggregator, Rotten Tomatoes – it gave me a strong reminder about how, as writers and creatives, we can take inspiration from anywhere and learn valuable lessons from other people’s work.

Story is everything

Taking a look at some of the reviews online, the biggest criticism of Bunraku came for the actual story. High praise was reserved for the visceral charm of the film, with its theatrical use of shifting backdrops and comic book-style aesthetics applauded from all corners. And, take my word for it, Bunraku offered a visual appeal that actively sought to be different. Such directorial ambition can only be commended.

But I digress. The fact criticism of the story was so prominent in reviews highlights a fundamental issue that all too common: the tendency to place style over substance. If you don’t have a message to send, what you produce will be nothing but a hollow – albeit pretty – vessel.

Success in style

That’s not to say, of course, that style should be ignored. Presentation plays a huge part in both attracting attention and retaining interest. Without the correct packaging, the best story can go unnoticed, the best songs unheard, and the best products shelved. But while we may be a fickle species, we are one of great intellect.

Keeping to the movie theme, there are countless instances of style and substance combining to communicate an artistic statement. While Bunraku lacked any characters with which viewers could truly relate or empathise, and the storyline was somewhat disjointed and devoid of suspense, others have tackled a similar premise and been able to establish a relationship between audience and protagonists, all through keeping focussed on the story.

Take, for example, Memento. Like Bunraku, this movie was driven by a desire for revenge. The main difference in story substance, however, was that Memento had focus and intrigue. The direction and non-linear presentation of the story had a style with few peers, singling it out among a crowd, yet it was the connection to the characters that stirred emotions. Yes, they had unsavoury character traits, but we empathised with them in their plight, and joined them on a journey.

Connecting through content

Great content should make you, as the audience, feel engaged; Bunraku, regrettably, failed on this point. There’s no reason why your content should. While the medium for your content may change, the underlying principle is that the story – and the message – you’re trying to convey should take priority at all times.

Focus first on the message you want to convey, then turn your attention to the presentation. Following this formula, you will soon be preparing rich, engaging content that connects with your audience.

Duplicate content? Invest in new website copy

Audit your site for duplicate content

Is your website suffering from an abundance of duplicate content? Perhaps you’ve been struggling with keeping website copy fresh and decided to take the easy route, lifting text from elsewhere and pasting it onto your webpages. You wouldn’t be alone.

Even in an era where digital agencies spring up right, left and centre, and where everyone is an expert in SEO and web marketing, the amount of duplicate content on websites is staggering. But it’s not just the (very harsh) penalties dished out by Google that arise from duplicate content discovery. In fact, with many recognised brands seeing a significant proportion of website traffic coming from direct referrals (and thus mitigating – but by no means negating – a fall in search engine positions), you should be concerned about the effect duplicate content has on your relationship with your customers.

Duplicate content and your users

As a writer, research pays an integral part in my day-to-day work. Finding sources of information that are reliable and informative, and which can be supported by secondary sources elsewhere, is essential to any piece of content created. So, imagine the frustration when, after finding one page that answers my question, the next ten results in the search engine say the exact same thing, word for word, error for error. In such an instance, it often pays to scrap what’s been found and start again, if only for peace of mind.

But it is not just as a writer that such frustrations arise. Consumers looking to purchase an item online want to know all they possibly can before they buy, so reviews which have been lifted from elsewhere add nothing to the shopping experience. I, for one, have been put off a purchase after being unable to find any ‘real’ reviews. The inability of resellers to develop unique content that educated and informed cost them a sale. I like to think that many other discerning shoppers decided the same.

Ensuring your site is free from duplicate content is essential, therefore, to developing a relationship with your customers that is built on trust and value. Customers will want to know that you have put the hard work in to offer something more than your competitors, dedicated time to crafting content that answers their questions, and will offer real value for money through going the extra mile.

How to avoid duplicate content

Avoiding the pitfalls of duplicate content is easy: simple put in the hard work. Ensuring that each page you create is truly unique and valuable in its own right guarantees that you will soon have a website that is valued among your clients. Regular content audits to maintain the absence of duplicate content are a must, especially if a large number of users have publishing rights on your website.

Creating page after page of website copy may seem daunting, by cutting corners and utilising duplicate content should be avoided at all costs. If you really don’t fancy preparing content yourself, you could always employ experienced writers that have the ability to write copy that is unique and compelling every time.

As shameless plugs go, we couldn’t be subtler…

Content marketing in 2013

In this fascinating content marketing infographic from Wishpond, we’re provided with an insight into the state of content marketing in 2013. Covering the potential budget to be assigned to content, as well as statistics on the use and efficacy of content investment, a number of headline figures are indicative of how the digital environment is embracing content development.

For example, it’s reveals that an estimated $118.4 billion will be spent on content marketing, accounting for more than 25% of an entire marketing budget. Take a look at the infographic below and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

How to write an article

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There is no real secret to how to write an article, yet constructing a successful formula is something asked by budding writers, new website owners, small businesses, junior journalists and more on a regular basis. Many factors influence how to write an article, from the subject matter to the audience, the platform on which it’s hosted to the research material available.

This guide on how to write an article will provide a basis from which to begin, focusing on targeting an online audience. Beware, however, that challenging the conventions of how to write an article may prove the most effective means of gaining a loyal following or attracting attention. Like all pieces of art, writing should be challenging and prompt a response from its audience. Taking a risk and creating website copy that is unique and interesting could well prove the route to success.

Identify your audience

Knowing how to write an article is as much about knowing your audience as it is about good grammar, accurate spelling and interesting content. You may write a fantastic article about birthday cakes, but if your audience is interested in music festivals, your article will sink like a stone.

Research what your target audience is interested in: what search terms are they using; are they male or female; what language do they use; what are they sharing? Social networks and such tools as Google Analytics have made it easier than ever to capture details on web users. Knowing your audience and its likes/dislikes will make it simple to select a subject matter when looking at writing an article.

Select a topic

The topic for your article will largely be dictated by the nature of the website. If your website deals with DVD sales, you will be able to think of a number of topics involving movie reviews, actor biographies, etc. Even for a niche subject matter, you will be able to ascertain a particular angle for your article by carrying out the next step in our guide of how to write an article.

It’s worth remembering, however, that once you’ve selected a topic, you do all you can to avoid deviating from the subject matter. It’s all too easy to head off on a tangent and lose focus – and the interest of your readers.

Research thoroughly

Knowing the subject you’re writing about is essential. Knowing it better than anyone else a bonus. By carrying out extensive research on the topic of your choice, you will soon become an authority on the subject and will have readers turning to you for more. This not only ensures a loyal following, but your website will benefit from increased links and regular traffic. In fact, if you know your subject matter so well, you’ll soon be writing your own ‘how to write an article on…’ article!

You should also set aside time to research what internet users are searching for around your topic. Keyword analysis is simple to carry out and effective in identifying what search terms are popular, as well as alerting you to any gaps in the market.

Edit effectively

Google set in motion a huge change in content production with the Panda and Penguin updates. The focus now is on high-quality content. This means you can no longer simply publish copy that has been put together in a rush, is full of errors, and is, in the eyes of users, irrelevant.

Take the time to edit your work; leave it for a few hours and return with fresh eyes; or perhaps get a colleague to read through it to sanity check the contents. The best option is to write a detailed brief which you can pass to experienced copywriters. Quality writing is a skill that comes about through hard work and dedication to the craft, so there’s no shame in outsourcing the work to someone with the right background.

Review and publish

Once your article is online and – hopefully – attracting healthy viewing figures, you should take the time to review your work. Take a look at the number of visits, comments, shares, bounce rate, time on page, etc. If your article has performed poorly, revisit the stages of production and look for where you went wrong; if it performed well, repeat the process and look to establish goals for each piece of work. Whatever you do, don’t give up on your content. You may well strike gold next time around.

Knowing how to write an article is a skill in itself. Invest time for preparation and production, and you could soon see your website copy performing better than you ever hoped.

Website copy considerations

Below is an infographic we prepared for a short presentation last year. It’s purpose was to raise a few points of consideration for marketers and clients before investing in content.

What we’re essentially saying is relatively straightforward: who, what, where, when and why? While it’s only a very basic checklist of what to be aware of, it is a good starting point for analysing the purpose of why you may be considering website copy, press releases, blog posts and more.

If you can’t answers the questions confidently, think again the strategy behind your content investment.

Personas for website copy

Fact: creating effective website copy isn’t easy. While certain people believe that stringing together a few words is something we’ve all been doing since childhood, the simple fact is that producing website copy that sells is exceptionally challenging. In fact, creating effective copy demands significant investment in time, consideration and research. There is also a need to invest heavily in preparation. One of the first steps to the creation of compelling website copy comes through establishing customer personas.

Identify your audience

If, like many businesses, your desire is to reach as broad a base of customers as possible, you need to be aware of the detrimental effect this can have on your content. Your audience is made up of flesh and blood humans, with their own likes and dislikes; what connects with one may isolate another. There is no tone of voice that will reach to every sector of your audience, so you will need to focus attention onto each market area separately.

Begin by carrying out some market research into your customer base, your industry, your existing website. Age, sex, occupation, location, interests, etc. will help you see exactly who you are talking to. Collating this information means you can establish a customer persona that is representative of your audience. You will know the type of person with which to communicate, the type of content it needs and likes, and where to reach them. Once you have all this information, you can create website copy to suit your target.

Put yourself in their shoes

With your customer persona created, you should look to put yourself in its shoes. By relating to its interests and turn offs, you can establish a tone of voice that connects, and identify the type of content it wants to see.

For example, if your customer persona is a male aged between 19-24 using an iPhone for web browsing, you can discount the need to prepare ten pages of articles in excess of 500 words; instead, bite-size pieces of information and imagery that prompts a response (be it sharing, downloading, demand for more, etc.) will prove far more effective. Only through knowing who you are talking to can you create effective website copy that they will want to see.

Keep it simple

Too often, brands and businesses try to convey myriad messages when one should suffice. Knowing your audience and identifying your goal are essential for the creation of website copy. Keep the message you’re sending simple and pointing towards your target; there’s no harm in leaving your audience wanting more, so long as you can provide it to them a step later.

The importance of establishing a customer persona cannot be overstated. Making sure you know your audience and its interests and needs will prove essential to your website’s success.

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