What Do Clients Really Need from an SEO Agency?

It is clear to see that SEO is no longer the ‘stand-alone’, tech-based discipline it once was.

Of course, there will always be a technical aspect to search engine optimisation, but the roles of social media, great content, and PR are becoming more and more significant when it comes to contemporary SEO.

Because of this, expertise across a multitude of skill sets and disciplines is absolutely necessary if you want to succeed. As search engine optimisation has evolved along with growing tends in in-sourcing, the needs of many clients have shifted when it comes to where their SEO agency is concerned.

Often, clients will have people working internally to create content, execute PR campaigns, and run and maintain social media. Because of this, it may not be necessary for them to have an agency partner when it comes to executing much of the daily regular SEO strategy.

But, there’s no need for SEO agencies to press the panic button and consider alternative employment just yet, as they still have a vital role to play. However, this role is certainly changing, meaning that in order for search and SEO agencies to add true value, their traits and skills should be adjusted accordingly.

In order to illustrate how, let’s take a look at the three key components of SEO mentioned earlier: content, PR, and social media.

Content Strategy

For many, there are certain things which the client is better placed to own when it comes to day-to-day SEO strategies. Social media management is certainly one of these, and some argue that content creation is another. However, when analysing the structure and skill sets of teams, it’s often found that content strategy, along with both PR and social media, is being disparately managed. In other words, content is often managed by teams who have no overriding structure, strategy or shared objectives in place.

Since teams tend to be working in isolation of each other, there are a lot of great opportunities which are being missed out on. This type of siloed structure is the enemy of effective and productive SEO. As a result, many companies need advice at a more strategic level, in order to better facilitate change and give in-house employees the skills and knowledge that they need to work in a way which is more integrated.

More specifically, when it comes to content, an agency could cover a variety of different roles, including auditing exciting editorial plans and content assets, assessing expertise and resources available in-house, running creative workshops, and putting a range of executional plans, KPIs, processes and objectives in place. Although this may not always be the case, more and more agencies are taking on the role of ‘facilitator’ where the agency and content strategy is concerned.

Online PR

Anybody who works in PR, SEO or both will be aware that the lines between the two have somewhat blurred in recent years. Many search agencies have learned that PR skills, such as great story-telling, nurturing relationships with influencers and organising outreach campaigns are essential to their SEO strategies. On the other hand, the majority of PR agencies are beginning to realise just how important it is that they understand the basics of SEO, at the very least.

Where online PR is concerned, the role the search agency plays will depend on a number of different factors, including whether or not the client already has a PR agency in place, whether outsourced or in-house, and the expertise of that team. Some clients may need a search agency to run PR campaigns in full, from coming up with creative ideas right through to managing journalists, bloggers, and other possible influencers. But, agencies are finding more and more often that their role is to work alongside stakeholders when it comes to PR; ensuring that the PR agency has been tasked to look after influencers and working alongside them to help maximise these relationships from the perspective of SEO.

As with content strategy, this could involve putting in place processes or delivering training opportunities in order to ensure that their strategies and activity are aligned to the correct search strategy. In other instances, an agency could split ownership of media ‘lists’ in order to ensure that each stakeholder is managing those relationships which they are best placed to own. However, what works well for one client may not work at all for another, showing how search agencies increasingly need to be more flexible so that they can adapt to the situation.

Social Media Management

Whilst ‘likes’ on Facebook or ‘retweets’ on Twitter are said to have no direct impact on a website or company’s search engine rankings, social media definitely does play a role which is absolutely vital when it comes to owning brand search results, garnering links and distributing content. Obviously, there are many instances where outsourcing the day to day management of social media pages to an agency will work well, however, for the most part, social media tends to be mainly owned by clients wherever possible.

Many companies are recognising the need to be ‘on brand’ and immediate in their communication with fans, followers and customers. This means that there is a lot of emphasis on empowering clients to use social media in a manner that is more effective, not just in terms of the key role it plays in SEO but also more broadly, for example the role it plays in supporting other business features and functions, such as customer services.

When it comes to the agency’s role in social media, this could involve helping their client to better understand their customers through the use of social networks, blogs and forums, understanding the types of conversations that they are having and how their purchasing decisions are influenced. Furthermore, an agency could work alongside a client to create social media policies, provide support and training to the in-house social media team, and ensure that they have the strategies and structure in place to execute their social media strategy with confidence.

What Hasn’t Changed?

Even though the areas of SEO mentioned above tend to describe a role for the agency which is more consultative, there are still some areas where it’s possible for agencies to be a little more hands-on.

In the vast majority of cases, clients tend to require hands-on support where four of the main key areas are concerned. These include creating the overarching strategy in the first place including all of the analysis and planning which goes into it, ongoing analysis and reporting, technical SEO, and quick identification of new strategies in line with new trends, algorithm updates, and so on.

Any good agency should have a range of processes in place to analyse commercial objectives and establish the role that search can play when it comes to meeting them, using customer insight and data, market data, other marketing channels, the competitive landscape, broader marketing resources, internal resources and analytics, keyword data, and a range of trends. The ability to make sense of all of this and use it to identify and prioritise opportunities, construct a good strategy and make realistic predictions is usually far from easy, and the majority of clients will require hands-on agency support. Furthermore, the experience and insights which can be gained from working with other clients who share similar challenges can often be invaluable to the client, not to mention the fact that an agency provides an extra pair of eyes which are willing to challenge the status quo.

Since search agencies tend to be at the forefront of developments and updates in SEO, along with the fact that they have a greater level of access to tools and technologies, many clients look to them for help developing prioritised strategies and plans when it comes to search engine optimisation. The technical aspects of SEO can often be confusing to those who are not in the know, therefore it can be easy to make simple mistakes which can potentially undermine a client’s content strategy, PR and social media.

Outsourcing is Dead

Fundamentally, search engine optimisation can no longer be ‘outsourced’ in the sense of the word that clients can simply leave their SEO to a search agency and never pay any attention to it again. Success in SEO today comes from the agency and the client working together on SEO strategies and functioning as partners. Increasingly, the role of the agency is becoming one of ‘joining the dots’ where in-house SEO activity is concerned. It demands that agencies be more open when it comes to methods of sharing information, processes, and even templates which can be passed to the client to work on. It also means that agencies have faced a need to become more adept when it comes to understanding digital transformation.

One of the most important traits an agency needs to possess in order to be successful in the SEO world of today is flexibility. Without flexibility and the ability to adapt to different needs and requirements, it is difficult for an agency to deliver bespoke solutions which are tailored to internal resources, objectives, and skill sets. It is impossible for SEO to be commoditised, as it cannot be packaged and bought ‘off the shelf’. As such, it is vital for search agencies to be fully equipped to uncover and deliver what the client needs for good SEO, even if this is different to what they believe they require.

Do you work for or own a search/SEO agency? Have you noticed any recent changes in how you need to work with your clients? What are your thoughts on this?

Euro 2016 Digital Marketing – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

When a large event grabs the world’s attention, a strong marketing tactic can point those eyes directly to you.

Euro 2016 promises to be another rollercoaster of joy, abject misery, and more inspiring performances from the WAG contingent. The tournament is always entertaining and regularly draws huge audiences, both on TV and across all digital media platforms. Not surprisingly, advertisers and major brands know that a strong presence during the tournament offers great value for money.

Successful tournament advertising is a difficult nut to crack. All too often, advertisers get it horribly wrong and score a home goal as a consequence. If brands hit the mark, however, they stand to reap some huge rewards, which usually continue long past the final game of the tournament. So what are this year’s offerings like?

Euro 2016 – The Good…

It is early days, but there are some strong contenders so far. Here is a quick rundown of the front runners for Euro 2016 digital marketing success story.

Adidas


Adidas is an official brand sponsor, so they get a headline place in tournament advertising. Like Puma, Adidas has adopted a football-based ad, but the difference between the two is that Adidas has focused on grass-roots football instead of big movie special effects.

The ad features well-known players Suarez, Ozil and Pogba playing football and showing off their personalities off the pitch by way of some cool dance moves laddish swagger. The ad is filmed from the perspective of a fan, which gives it some much-needed realism.

There is no doubt plenty more to come from Adidas as the tournament unfolds, but so far, so good. We like it.

Verdict: This ad is a strong piece of work and should do well on social media.

Carlsberg

Carlsberg is trying to pitch for broader appeal, and so far they have done quite well. The brand has successfully moved away from ‘lad culture’ and the current crop of Euro 2016 ad campaigns have focussed on the notion of ‘If Carlsberg did substitutions’, which have gone down well so far.

Another big tick in the box for Carlsberg is letting fans vote for the ‘Man of the Match award’ after every game (via social media). This will almost certainly guarantee huge social media engagement for the brand. There are also lots of prizes and special offers for football fans.

Carlsberg is still about the beer – and we love them for it – but unlike previous advertising campaigns, the brand is now a lot more inclusive and less puerile. Lads still drink Carlsberg, but in a more mature way, and women are also welcome to crack open a Carlsberg too!

Verdict: Carlsberg have scored a blinder with the ‘Man of the Match Award’.

Hyundai


Hyundai is working with the hashtag #footballheaven. Their campaign centres around the Hyundai FanDome in London, where up to 45,000 feverish fans can watch the action surrounded by huge 360 degree screens. This is high tech stuff and no doubt a lot of fans will be thrilled to watch game play in real-time.

Fans can apply for free tickets to the Hyundai FanDome through a special Euro 2016 tournament microsite. Those that sign up are then entered into a draw for tickets to the Euro 2016 final. Hyundai also gets to harvest lots of useful fan data.

The #footballheaven hashtag and FanDome are likely to generate a lot of interest on social media, particularly with tickets to the final on offer. However, what brings this ad campaign down is a special appearance by well-known Welsh hard man ex footballer, Vinnie Jones.

Verdict: Vinnie does this campaign no favours but we like #footballheaven.

The Bad…

The following brands have managed a mediocre performance so far, but there is still a lot to play for, so they could pull it back from the brink if they come up with a late equaliser.

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines is an official sponsor of the Euro 2016 tournament. As such, they are in a great position to maximise their exposure. At first glance, the Turkish Airlines advertising campaign is strong. They are giving away tickets to key games, which always attract interest on social media, plus the brand can capture lots of data from competition entries.

However, the microsite for competition entries is poorly executed with no media display. Competition entries via Twitter are embedded in the page, but users can’t view any media without clicking a link. Visitors can also see the TV spots hosted by Turkish Airlines, which is not the best either.

The verdict: could do better, much better.

Lipton Tea

Mean and moody Jose Mourinho, the current manager of Manchester United, must be considering his future very carefully, as he has signed up to promote Lipton iced tea. He first appeared in an advert for Lipton tea in April, but the ad has been revamped for Euro 2016.

The ad format is simple enough. Mourinho looks fed up with fans shouting abuse. He cracks open a bottle of iced tea, kicks a football which turns on the pitch sprinklers, and everyone is happy. That’s it really.

Verdict: very formulaic, but at least Mourinho cracks a smile.

The Ugly…

Now we come to the brands that have done themselves no favours at all. Yes, the wooden spoon award for the clunkiest Euro 2016 advertising goes to:

Puma

Puma is competing against its arch rival, the official sponsor, Adidas. Puma knows that the official sponsor doesn’t always get the most value from a major football tournament, so it has its hopes pinned on this year’s advertising campaign.

Unfortunately, although the brand hashtag (#choosetricks) is, dare we say it, a tad boring, the big-bucks TV ad is somewhat derivative with too much of a heavy nod to the classic Nike mission ad and in the case of the falling bookcases, The Mummy.

Verdict: not even French hotties Giroud and Griezmann can save this one.

Kia

kia euro 2016 web game banner

Kia is official brand sponsor of Euro 2016, alongside Hyundai, its sister brand. Kia has decided to form an alliance with The Telegraph newspaper. A Telegraph journalist is travelling to Paris in a Kia Sportage over the course of one month, recording a video diary along the way. The journo is stopping at Kia dealerships and interviewing footballers along the way.

This would be reasonably OK, but the brand has seen fit to add a desktop game to drum up extra interest. Players can have a go at the game and enter a competition to win a Sportage. The game is not too bad, if a bit dated in concept, but the in-game commentary from David James is cringe-worthy.

Verdict: Road Trip…Score! David James Challenge game…Foul!

Conclusion

Adidas and Carlsberg are the front runners for the best advertising so far, but there is still plenty of time for the other brands to make amends. Many of the big brands have yet to unveil their commercials and activity on social media remains relatively quiet. However, once the tournament kicks off in earnest and interest rises, we will no doubt see some stellar performances from official sponsors and left of field hopefuls

Hopefully the brands will come up with some new ideas instead of rehashing old commercials and strategies. It helps when they are able to personalise their commercials by showing us the action through the eyes of the fans.

Burberry and Hermes Lead the Way in Luxury Brand Marketing

Luxury Brand Marketing experts Burberry and Hermes show how we can learn from their approach to e-commerce

In the world of luxury clothing brands, Burberry and Hermes are two which really stand out in effective luxury brand marketing.

Both of these brands are longstanding, well-known international status icons which have been at the forefront of the fashion industry for many years, with each featuring a range of product lines that are both exceptional and distinct. However, although similar in their status and products, both of these brands differ significantly when it comes to their digital e-commerce offerings.

Burberry, for example, is a brand that gets it spot on when it comes to digital e-commerce. The brand provides a digital experience which is perfectly aligned with the persona and image that it conveys to customers, and creates an experience and feel which is chic, modern and cool. This effective company branding technique uses a range of bold visuals throughout its website, featuring a dynamic homepage which integrates a range of interactive elements and breath-taking photography which manages to instantly capture the attention of any visitor immediately.

When it comes to creating your own e-commerce website, there are plenty of lessons which can be learned from Burberry and Hermes.

Luxury Branding Means Creating Compelling Visual Design

When building an e-commerce site, it is important to put together a design which is visually compelling in order to help differentiate your brand from your competition and catch the attention of customers.

Burberry is an excellent example of this, getting it just right by creating compelling, interesting product pages which are dramatically different from any that you will find offered by their competitors. They include details on the product pages which elevate the shopping experience and add to their brand value.

The product images are all shot perfectly and displayed on a consistent backdrop, which emphasises the product detail and ensures that every element of the product is shown in clear, crisp focus. One of the most unique and interesting features utilised by the Burberry website is the use of larger image tiles, making for a different yet visually appealing browsing experience. Along with that, any supplementary product details are sectioned off, allowing customers to effortlessly find the exact information that they are looking for.

Luxury Brand Marketing means a cosmopolitan crisp design interface

 

Infusing Branded Content

An e-commerce site is much more than simply a destination where products can be purchased. A good e-commerce site will provide a platform for brands to engage with their visitors and deliver content which provides a great experience by telling an interactive story about the brand. Burberry’s website is able to achieve this by seamlessly merging written, photo and video content and commerce.

This creates a brand image which is fluid and consistent throughout the whole site.

These experiences all serve to build an emotional connection between customers and the brand which is similar to that of visiting a physical retail store and browsing products in-person.

For example, Burberry’s Acoustic section features a range of musicians performing in natural settings whilst wearing Burberry clothing, with no evidence whatsoever of a hard sell but rather an exclusive look into the lives of these various individuals. And, the Our History section provides a compelling visual recap into how the iconic Burberry Trench Coat has developed and evolved over the years.

The key to luxury brand marketing is to create the scene for which your brand is at the forefront of the trend.

Modern Luxury Marketing means a Simple, Minimal Structure

Brands such as Burberry and Hermes often feature an extensive product line-up, making it challenging to effectively categorise each product.

This can lead to customers experiencing difficulty when it comes to finding the products that they want. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to ensure that the structure of your e-commerce site is as simple as possible, making it easy for visitors to navigate the products which you have on offer. Burberry have again managed to do an excellent job of this, designing a site which makes exploring products a simple yet intuitive experience.

The dynamic directory which is included on the left-hand side of the page is easy to navigate and allows customers to search products by both category and collection.

 

Brand Design means innovating the user interface

The menu unconventionally places as a list on the left of every page. Using a cascading format of decreasing font-sizes and down arrows, the menu is easy to navigate and indirectly supports their company brand motif.

More on luxury branding marketingHow Pinterest’s New Features are Encouraging Users to Shop

Balancing Creativity with Functionality

We’ve talked a lot about how Burberry can be used as a great example of e-commerce site design, but what about Hermes?

Whilst also a world-class luxury fashion brand, Hermes is severely lacking when it comes to their digital e-commerce experience. For example, certain brands go too far when making their sites stand out from the competition, and they end up leaving their customers a little confused.

Hermes is a prime example of this, since the brand’s website presents an unconventional design that although interesting and compelling, is difficult to understand and has raised questions from customers as to whether it actually functions as an e-commerce site. The homepage looks more like an art gallery than a fashion store, and there is a serious lack of information about both the Hermes brand and any of their products.

Without these elements, Hermes is missing out on a huge opportunity to deliver a seriously engaging brand experience. A miss-step in effective luxury brand marketing, wouldn’t you agree?

Interesting, Robust Product Pages

On many of the product pages shown on the Hermes site, there is a stark contrast to the wealth of information offered by Burberry when it comes to the product descriptions.

Rather than going into detail, Hermes offer only a few words, with sparse, to-the-point descriptions that provide little further information about the product pictured. The lack of information doesn’t just stop there, either – many of the products are presented on sketches rather than on models, and are limited to just one or two product photographs.

Two world-class fashion brands, but two very different e-commerce sites that can give you a great idea of what and what not to do.

How to Create an XML Sitemap on WordPress for Google to find you

If you own a website that you want to rank on search engines, you need to create an XML sitemap to index your website.

What is an XML sitemap?

Google states a sitemap is –
a file where you can list the web pages of your site to tell Google and other search engines about the organisation of your site content. Search engine web crawlers like Googlebot read this file to more intelligently crawl your site.

An XML sitemap explains the structure of your website and it’s pages. It informs google of your home page (the most important page of your website), your contact page and any other important pages that you want quickly accessible for your users.

By submitting the sitemap, you are telling google which pages are more important than others. A easy-to-traverse website from the homepage improves your SEO potential in the eyes of google’s crawler bot.

How to create an XML sitemap on your WordPress website

SoBold recommends two WordPress plugins to place a sitemap on your site. However, you should not use multiple sitemap plugins as it will cause a conflict in which sitemap is correct.

  1. Google XML Sitemaps

The most popular sitemap plugin on WordPress. Once activated, you can access your website’s sitemap by searching:

http://[YourWebsiteName]/sitemap.xml

On your WordPress Admin Dashboard, you can view how the sitemap prioritises pages on your website by viewing Settings -> XML-Sitemap and scrolling down to the bottom of the page to the “priorities tab”.

an xml sitemap needs to know how pages are prioritised.

SoBold recommends that you tweak how the sitemap prioritises pages depending on your website’s purpose:

Increase the priority of blog posts if the majority of your content are posts. However, if you are a business website focused on showcasing a product with static pages, it is a sensible idea to lower the priority of posts and increase the priority of static pages.

2. Yoast SEO

The most popular SEO plugin on WordPress. Along with it’s powerful SEO features, it also includes a sitemap which must be enabled in Settings -> XML Sitemaps

Click the slider to set it from disabled to enabled.

enable your xml sitemap on yoast with the slide

You can access the sitemap by searching:

http://[YourWebsiteName]/sitemap_index.xml

Remember: do not have more than one sitemap enabled at once!

I’ve got my sitemap. Now, how do i submit my sitemap to google?

To submit your sitemap to google, visit Google Webmaster Tools (also known as Google Search Console).

If you have not done so already, Authenticate your ownership of your website. To do this, click add property, enter the URL of your website, and confirm you own that site from the activation email that is sent to you.

Once you’re in the dashboard, go to the side menu and go to crawl -> sitemaps

click crawl, then sitemaps to view all sitemaps

Now you can click Add/test sitemap and enter in the full URL of the sitemap on your site.

add/test sitemap

You can test that the sitemap URL you have entered is correct with the test button. Once you know it is correct, press submit.

It’s that simple!

It will take 1-2 days for Google to confirm your XML sitemap and start indexing your web pages. As soon as they are indexed, you will be able to use the search console to see other important statistics such as impressions (how many times your website has been seen on the search listings) and clicks (of all impressions, how many actually clicked through to your website).

5 Ways To Get Your Tweets Noticed

Getting noticed on twitter should be a high priority to promote your brand.

Twitter’s layout means your tweets can very quickly get lost in a sea of spammy auto-generated content. Auto-retweets, auto-sharing, auto-posting; all methods used by companies to grab your attention for the 2 minutes that you will see them.

Because of this realisation, many genuine users of twitter have become very fickle with who and what they follow.

This means that if your content is solid: your followers will be, too.

Here are 5 ways to get your tweets noticed by the people you actually want engaging with your content.

Hashtags, hashtags, hashtags

Relevant hashtags at the end of tweets will push your content into the right community and boost engagement by up to 20%.

It comes down to whether or not your tweets can be found by users who have not discovered you before. If your hashtags keep relevant and respectful of those who are interested in them, you will be able to deliver the perfect content to the perfect reader.

The tradeoff of using hashtags is how it changes how you deliver your tweets. The key is to integrate them as you would the words in a sentence, as opposed to stuffing all of your hashtags at the bottom of your tweet.

Every tweet needs a photo

SocialMediaExaminer found out that a tweet has 87% more engagement when accompanied with a photo. No other type of tweet came close!

The reason for this is because users can consume information displayed in photos much faster than with text. Grabbing your reader’s attention for longer than the average will return a surge in overall conversion rate and a genuine interest to explore further into your product.

If you want to go a step further, you can add an embedded video. Twitter users don’t even need to leave the site to watch it!

Make your tweets retweet-able

The key to twitter is optimising your reach.

Your tweets will initially hit the feeds of your followers. Then, if the tweet is effective enough, your follower will retweet it to their followers.

The most important conclusion from that idea is that big names who follow you can propel you to twitter stardom.

To get to a position where you’re being followed by big names, you need a strong social media strategy to directly appeal to them and engage with their own content.

But until then, your content should be as retweet-able as possible. This means a strong effort made in branding and promoting yourself as an authority, as well as delivering trending content.

Shake up your content with some quotes

Quotes are special. Their goal is to be as philosophical and thought provoking in as little words as possible.

To quote your company’s role models means to underline your brand with an ideology. Luxury brands do it too, and it works!

Depending on your industry, there will be a relevant historical or influential figure that you can quote. It may not be cutting edge news, but it pays to bring your readers back down to earth with a humble reminder of what your business is built on.

 

And finally…

 

Engage with your followers

This is not directly involved with the tweeting process. But as any self respecting content manager knows, 20% of your time is spent creating the content and the other 80% is spent delivering it to the world.

Included in that 80% is your engagement with your followers who read what you tweet.

Did someone say “Intriguing Tweet”? A simple thank you encourages future engagement from that person, and anyone who gets the fuzzy feeling from reading that beautiful display of PR from your business.

It is also very wise to keep a close eye on your twitter followers. Any big names who select you as worthy of their attention is a stepping stone for your twitter following to grow. There are many twitter dashboards that can assist you with filtering through the small-timers and finding the big influencers following you.

Ultimately, being successful on social media is largely down to trial and error. Find out which kinds of tweets work for you. Are your audience more switched on to questions or do they prefer to be fed information? Are your videos being shared or is there greater engagement with your images? These 5 tips are the building blocks for you to start getting your brand out there, the rest is up to you!

5 Tips to Improve your Restaurant SEO Strategy

In such a competitive industry, a strong Restaurant SEO strategy can hand customers to you on a plate.

As a restaurant owner, one of your main goals will inevitably be to gain more publicity and attract more customers through your doors. However, in order to achieve this goal, it’s essential to do at least a little bit of Restaurant focused SEO for your website.

If you’re not familiar with SEO (search engine optimisation) it can be easy to feel a little intimidated by it, but there’s no reason why you should feel this way.

In fact, search engine optimisation is one of the top marketing strategies for restaurants, other than having an online ordering system. In order to ensure that your restaurant gets the most from its website, all you need to know is the basics. In order to help you out, we’ve put together this list of a few good SEO techniques that no restaurant owner should ignore for their website.

Set Up Google+ and list your business

One of the first things that you should do when opening your restaurant is claim the Google+ listing for it.

With a Google+ page, your restaurant’s website will rank higher in Google’s search engine results. So, how do you claim a Google+ page as belonging to your business? The process is quite simple – all you will need to do is carry out a search for your restaurant on Google, and if it is listed, navigate to the page. Then, select ‘Manage This Page’, and sign in with your Google account.

Once you are signed in, you will be required to verify the fact that you are the actual owner of the restaurant. There are two different ways in which you can verify ownership. The first method requires you to receive a telephone call at the phone number which is on file, or you can have Google send a postcard containing a verification code through the mail to the address on file. Once you have received the code, you will need to enter it online for verification. If there is no listing available for your restaurant, you can easily set up your own Google+ page for it, free of charge.

Keyword Research

In order to rank higher in search engine results, it’s important to optimise your site for certain keywords related to your business.

But, how do you know which keywords are the right ones to choose when it comes to what your customers are searching for?

Fortunately, there are a number of different tools which you can use for this, including the Google AdWords Keywords Tool. When using the tool, you should begin with searching for strings of keywords which relate to your business.

For example, you could search the name of your city along with ‘restaurants’. You will then be able to see the number of times that the particular keyword is searched for each month, and any competition that it has. You can then use this information to choose which keywords you are going to target on your website, or simply use it to choose the keywords that you will run Google Ads on. The goal is to choose keywords that receive a high number of searches, but have a low level of competition.

Publish Your Menu

If you do not have your restaurant’s menu published on the site, you are missing out on a potentially large number of new customers.

Users commonly use web search engines such as Google to find menus for specific restaurants, so it’s important to ensure that yours is on your site where it can be crawled by Google. Including a dedicated ‘Menu’ page on your site will ensure that it is easy to find, and ensure that you use HTML, rather than an image, for your menu. This enables search engines to crawl the page so that your menu will appear in any relevant search engine results.

Including a downloadable PDF version of the menu also allows for additional reach through word of mouth and for easier consumption on mobile.

Get Reviews

Customer reviews are one of the best ways to encourage new customers to come and dine in your restaurant, but did you know that they’re also great for improving SEO as well?

When Google sees that your business is getting a lot of positive recognition, it’s possible that you could get a boost in search engine rankings that are relevant to your business. Creating a ‘Reviews’ page on your website makes it easy for both your visitors and search engine crawlers to discover. Encourage your customers to leave positive reviews of your restaurant, and feature the best ones on your site.

Remember that restaurants are a social activity and a strong SEO strategy compliments an already great restaurant experience. Once you have them finding you online, make sure they are so impressed in person that they have the need to hop back online and tell the world.

Mobile-Friendliness

These days, we do everything on our smartphones – whether it’s searching for new products to buy, doing shopping, banking, or of course finding the best restaurants in town. Considering that so many people rely heavily on mobile devices these days, it’s vital that your website both looks great and functions well on any mobile device, whether it’s a small iPhone or a large-screen tablet.

Not only that, but Google actually ranks mobile-friendly websites higher in the mobile search results. Making sure that you have a mobile-friendly, responsive design for your website is a sure way to get a boost in the search rankings as well as earn a good reputation from your customers. You can even check your site with the free Mobile-Friendly Testing tool provided by Google.

Fortunately, restaurant marketing focuses on visual persuasion over lots of text description, and for mobile users:  an optimised picture truly does speak a thousand words.

cropped-SOBold-LOGO-transparent-background-e1453388694273-192x192

SoBold offers expert Hospitality Website Design and SEO for your restaurant – Find out why we’re the leading Digital Marketing Consultancy in London.

 

As a restaurant owner, you’ll know that it takes a lot more than just tasty food to entice new customers through your door. With more and more people searching for new places to eat online, it’s important to make sure that your website is optimised.

Instagram and Fashion: From Gimmick to Strategic

For a number of reputable and well-known fashion brands, the social photo-sharing network Instagram is no longer simply a ‘gimmick’ used to create a buzz during fashion weeks.

Recently, Instagram has been taken much more seriously by a range of fashion brands, and become a pivotal, serious part of their social marketing strategy.

Last February, we saw London Fashion Week in full swing, meaning only one thing – the fashion brands were working overtime. Along with putting the final touches on runway ensembles, today, social media campaigns are just as important. After all, a well-thought out and well-landed social media marketing campaign can see any fashion brand hit the headlines, create a huge buzz, and see coveted levels of customer engagement.

For Fashion Week and beyond, Instagram seems to be the social networking platform of choice when it comes to the fashion world. In the month leading up to London Fashion Week 2016, there were almost 6,000 Instagram posts with the hashtag #LFW2016, compared with just under two thousand Twitter mentions over the same timeframe. This is a sharp contrast to last year’s social media activity, which saw over six thousand Tweets using the hashtag #LFW2015.

As a social networking platform, Instagram had already proven its popularity amongst fashion brands during New York Fashion Week at the beginning of the year. For example, Tommy Hilfiger placed several specific ‘influencers’ in an ‘Instagram pit’, separate from the one which was designed for professional photographers. In the UK, well-known high street fashion brand Topshop hired renowned fashion photographer Nick Knight to capture their fashion show through a series of images which were released in real-time via Topshop’s Instagram account.

Instagram Rises in Popularity

Since the inception of Instagram six years ago, it has steadily developed and been lovingly adopted by a number of fashion brands as the go-to social sharing platform for marketing and advertising new products. However, when it first started out, it was often seen as simply a ‘gimmick’. Like the majority of social media platforms, many fashion brands saw the newly formed Instagram as just another platform that they would have to invest in and many were unsure whether or not it could become bigger than Twitter.

However, the visual nature of Instagram means that brands are not only able to use it to show off their products, they can use it to sell a lifestyle. Instagram is also one of the more effective marketing platforms for stilling consumers’ fear of missing out. Since we are now living in a fast-paced world where people want to see things instantly, fashion brands has taken full advantage that there are people who are scrolling through Instagram, 24/7. Brands choosing to use Instagram for their fashion shows can give off a backstage feel, whilst also giving fashion designers an amazing opportunity to showcase their latest collections on a global scale. In more ways than one, Instagram is doing the job that fashion magazines used to do by bringing exclusivity to a wider, mass-market audience.

Embracing Instagram

When it comes to successfully implementing Instagram into the marketing strategy, those fashion brands which are relatively young tend to be the ones which have picked it up the most effortlessly and quickly. Instagram has worked incredibly well for newer, younger fashion retailers who want to market their products, especially to a female audience. They often tend to post a whole mixture of different posts, for example dividing posts between product images and videos and memes, quotes and other lifestyle elements such as coffee or pizza. On any other platform, this type of approach could well come across as patronising, but it works well with Instagram, offering optimum customer engagement.

It’s not just the young, up-and-coming retailers who are embracing Instagram, either – high-end, luxury brands such as Burberry are also frequently seen updating their account on the social sharing platform. With over six million Instagram followers, Burberry frequently uses the platform both to promote and build anticipation for fashion shows.

The Future of Fashion

Whilst Instagram is certainly an attractive tool when it comes to the social media marketing department, brands should be aware not to forget the basics when it comes to putting together their social media strategy. Although it is important for brands to look toward the future and embrace new ways to share their collections, it is vital that it is done in such a way which works well for them. When it comes to social media marketing, and indeed marketing on Instagram as a platform specifically, there is no one-size-fits-all solution – what works well for one brand may not go down so well for another. Because of this, it’s crucial for fashion brands to consider the different social media platforms carefully before deciding which is the best one for hosting their next campaign.

Those in the fashion industry believe that going forward, Instagram is going to become a far more crucial part of fashion brands’ strategies. In the future, we should expect to see more campaigns shifting towards social platforms ever further, and more and more brands are expected to run their campaigns solely on platforms such as Instagram, for example one of the latest campaigns by Calvin Klein featuring Justin Bieber.

Whether it is streaming video or enhancing buying function, social media becomes more effective in fashion marketing due to the different functionalities it provides when it becomes a part of a brand’s long-term strategic plan.

Social Media: What’s the Point for Luxury Brands?

Social Media is Changing. Filled with Images, Trends and Customers; Luxury Brands have a lot to gain from a strong Social Media presence.

Research conducted by the Engagement Lab at Emerson College suggests that luxury brands that are performing well in social media engagement are more likely to be falling behind when it comes to word-of-mouth performance.

On the other hand, those luxury brands who have a high level of success with word-of-mouth were subsequently not doing as well in the social media engagement department. The research showed that brands such as Tiffany & Co., Valentino, Kate Spade New York and Christian Louboutin showed high eValue scores, whilst Gucci and Ralph Lauren scored higher when it came to offline conversations.

Both Online and Offline Sharing is Crucial

With this information, the researchers at Emerson College’s Engagement Lab came to the conclusion that in order for a luxury brand to achieve optimum success, both online and offline sharing is crucial. Sharing and promotion both online and offline is essential for growth in the luxury market, however, the boundaries between the two are becoming increasingly porous.

The researchers stated that brands which take full advantage of the fluidity between both social media and word-of-mouth engagement are able to create a range of brand experiences which merge both digital and real conversations, cutting through the boundaries in extremely effective, powerful ways. These conversations are able to encourage desire for the products, promote affinity with the brand and drive more sales than those currently taking place either online or offline.

Instagram’s ‘Label Lust’

Last year, Graziashop was amongst the first Instagram advertisers. Today, it leads the way with Instagram activity, part of its ‘Label Lust’ campaign, which is designed to use storytelling to raise brand engagement and awareness. As part of this campaign, Graziashop used Instagram to post a series of fun and quirky sponsored images of UK females ages 22-45 with an interest in fashion tips, fashion blogging, and designer accessories such as handbags and shoes. The images followed the storyline of a Graziashop character over a six-week timeline, showcasing a variety of different products from the Graziashop range and really relating to the brand’s shopper lifestyle.

The campaign was designed to echo the types of stories that fashionistas tell both each other and themselves about the products that they both dream about having and actually purchase. Tales of falling head over heels with a pair of heels, love at first sight, and even ‘the one that got away’ – when an item you really want is sold out.

Read MoreInstagram and Fashion – How luxury brands can tell a story and create a demand for your product.

Graziashop Instagram Results

Graziashop certainly made the right choice when it came to choosing the right social media platform for this campaign. With its massive reach and ideal, impactful 30-second video format, Instagram showed social traffic peaking at 18% of overall website traffic during the period of the campaign. Above all, however, Graziashop showed exactly how using the right social media platform can lift a brand’s marketing message well beyond the realms of social media.

As pointed out by the Engagement Lab, there is currently a huge opportunity for luxury brands to take advantage of the fluid boundaries between online and offline marketing to start conversations which will continue in the real world and lead to making a purchase. When Instagram launched paid marketing in the UK, Graziashop was one of the first brands to get on board, and has certainly shown how Instagram in particular as a social networking site can help your brand message reach the consciousness of your audience.

Should Luxury Brands Remain Out of Touch?

Should luxury brands be exclusive, scarce, and never ‘sell out’? The opinion that true luxury brands do not care about shareholder value couldn’t be further from the truth in today’s day and age. Luxury is all about desirability, excellent service, product excellence and essentially a brand promise. If the strongest value in a luxury brand is exclusivity and scarcity, it will likely not be a brand for long. The continued and increasing popularity of social media, interactive apps, live streaming and even buyable shows held at the various Fashion Week events show quite clearly that today, everyone wants runway.

Even when they are not buying, your customers will want to talk both to you and about you. Dealing with social media means working out when is best to talk to customers, and when to sell to them.

Affiliate Marketing for Luxury Brands

For years, affiliate marketing has sadly been seen as the ‘poor’ relation of the digital marketing family. Tracking networks and technology channels typically sell this channel as a ‘no-win-no-fee’ type of method for padding out existing marketing plans. However, this has quickly changed in recent times, with affiliate marketing finally coming of age.

Affiliate Marketing: Not Just Voucher Codes

Affiliate marketing is no longer just about voucher codes, cash back or last-click for advertisers – it is part of a holistic approach to digital marketing which promises a real, sustained return on income for high-end and luxury brands. Modern, managed affiliate programs use a range of sophisticated groups of content publishers, for example Conde Nast, a mainstream, offline publishing house. This is performance marketing made possible through deep partnership, and levered through tenancy, editorial, email, blogging, and even incentives such as cashback or voucher codes. These are partnerships with high volume, niche sites which are able to deliver the right kind of prepped-to-buy, long-tailed traffic which is simply unavailable anywhere else.

Risking Losing Control of Your Message

For years, affiliate marketing programs and technology companies used the size and scale of the luxury channel as a key selling point, using it to promise brands access to tens upon thousands of affiliate marketers. And, who can blame them, considering that they worked on revenue-based tracking fees that were generated by activity? However, this was definitely not what the majority of luxury and designer retailers wanted to hear, already feeling nervous about losing their brand message.

Only now are brands finally being given the bigger picture, with dedicated digital agencies selling these solutions as just a part of a wider and much larger media strategy. When it is managed properly, affiliate marketing allows brands to effectively deliver the relevant messages to customer segments that are highly targeted. But, it is the size and scale of the network which makes all of this possible in the first place.

Isn’t Luxury About Exclusivity?

Many luxury brands pride themselves on being exclusive – so why would they want their valuable name being thrown around on an affiliate site just like everybody else? The main thing is, success in the digital age of today often requires an essential change of mind-set. As the buying cycles of customers continue to accelerate and competition begins to stiffen in every aspect of the market place, it is important for luxury brands to consider and embrace a change of direction.

In today’s day and age, there is no longer a place for scarcity as the strongest value in the armoury of a brand; the vast array of choice and quality which is widely available elsewhere is able to fill any sales vacuum. Instead, luxury brands today are defined by qualities such as brand excellence, product quality, level of service and desirability. These factors are key to the success of luxury brands during the digital age and with this in mind, affiliate marketing is one of the most effective ways to send ready-to-buy customers directly to online stores.

Luxury Is More Popular Than Ever

No longer are luxury brands something that only the A-Listers purchase – nowadays everybody wants a piece of the runway. Research shows that over 50% of UK millennials are purchasing luxury goods online, whilst 85% of those who buy luxury products are frequent users of social media. According to Google, every one in five luxury product purchases takes place online.

When it comes to the reputation of luxury brands, it is clear to see that participating in events such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday online sales does nothing to dim it. In fact, luxury goods sites such as NET-A-PORTER saw Black Friday 2015 being their best-selling date that year, with one item per second selling on their website. What’s more, today’s customers do not think any less of a luxury brand for offering vouchers and deals – in fact, luxury customers are four times more likely to be searching for deals on Black Friday than non-luxury customers.

Which Brands Use Affiliates?

There is now an impressive line-up of brands using the affiliate marketing channel as part of their marketing mix. These include Barneys New York, Agent Provocateur, Liberty London, and Burberry to name just a few. These brands know and understand the value of curated conversation and content-fuelled buzz to their brand; they are constantly looking for new and exciting ways in which they can engage with their customers through affiliate marketing. Crucially, brands such as these are realising that targeted partnership, careful planning and innovative execution is what is needed to ensure the biggest ROI.

Luxury consumers today are not looking for exclusivity or scarcity – they are impulsive, savvy and switched on, which is why taking advantage of affiliate marketing is working better than ever for luxury brands.