How to grow your social media presence organically

How to grow your social media organically

Whether you have a business Instagram page or Facebook site, LinkedIn profile or Twitter feed, chances are you’re constantly looking to grow your follower numbers. You’ll no doubt have received numerous e-mails from companies offering to achieve this for you – for a fee. It often includes one of two things – the first is they will ‘buy’ an audience for you. This is a big no-no if you want to keep your feed free of spam accounts and people who are not in the slightest bit interested.

Grow your social media presence organically

Alternatively, they will use an algorithm to follow and un-follow multiple accounts, with the view that people will start to follow you back out of reciprocal interactions. This is dangerous ground to play on though, as it can frustrate your audience before you’ve even connected with them and make them feel like you don’t actually care about them personally. As such, many brands look to grow their social media presence organically.

So how can you do this?

Consistent posting

Firstly, there’s a lot to be said for consistent posting. Try to find a frequency that is manageable and post as often as you can. People will get used to seeing you pop up at regular intervals, and will start to interact with you. When people comment or engage with your posts, make an effort to respond to everyone who is engaging with you. Additionally, find accounts that are relevant to your business or industry, and start engaging with them. When leaving comments, try to leave messages that are thoughtful rather than something generic – this will make them more interested in replying or following in return.

Use hashtags

Next up, start using hashtags in your posts. This will help your audience find you naturally through shared interests or similar posts. You will also find cross-promoting other people’s accounts will help to boost your audience, and you can do this through sharing their posts or regramming their images. Make sure you credit the original source though, with a tag to them. This will make it clear you are not trying to take their content as your own, and may also see them do a similar post with a tag in return.

Include emojis

Include emojis in your description and hashtags, as these are a universal language, regardless of the country, that everyone can use when searching on Instagram. As an example, including the camera emoji in your biography on Instagram can be hugely beneficial for photographers. It also makes it really clear to people browsing quickly what you do, in case they’re not sure from your name alone.

Theme photos and posts

When producing content, find ways to make your photos and posts have a sense of a theme. The more cohesive and on-brand everything feels, the more chance people will start to engage with it and feel as though they understand who you are and what your message is. Integrate competitions and incentives into your content to get people sharing and tagging their friends, drawing them to your feed.

As well as having a clear bio that describes what you do, ensure your social media handle relates to your business so it is clear for people to find you. Anything cryptic will go unseen. You should also make sure you have your website link in your About section, as this will help to turn social contacts into sales leads.

Growing your social media organically – how to get more help

We can take the pain out of managing your social media channels. Find out about our social media management services here.

We can help you turn your website visitors into active leads, including those from your social channels, with a 14-day free trial – find out more here

Action you can take on your SEO right now

Basic SEO

Basic SEOAs a marketing agency, I get to see a lot of clients’ websites.  As part of our research when we take on a new client, we always look at their website, not just to find out what the client does, but also to see how well their site is put together.

I have to tell you that I’m often amazed that an awful lot of websites don’t have even the most basic SEO. What I mean by that is that the website pages don’t have any meta titles or meta descriptions – all of which are very easy to put in when the website is built, and should be easy to put in even afterwards.  To leave them completely empty is just a no-no.

How Google works out what your website is about
Why is this so important? When Google (and other search engines) is crawling the web, it has to decide what your website is actually about. It reads the text on your web pages, but it also takes a great deal of notice of your meta tags, eg Meta Title, Meta Description.  These are your way of telling Google “When people search for the terms in my meta tags, I want you to put my website in the search results (SERPs).”  if there’s nothing in the meta tags, Google won’t know what your site is about and is less likely to bring it up in the SERPs, or will rank it lower.

Meta Descriptions
The meta description is also important, because although it is not used for SEO, it is the text that Google displays in the SERPs when it returns your page in a search and so it should contain marketing text that persaudes people to click on YOUR website and not those of your competitors. You should have a different meta description for each page. Amazingly, an awful lot of websites have exactly the same meta description for each page.  So how are people going to be persuaded to read your page and how will they know which page to read in the search results if they are all the same?  Many websites don’t have a meta description at all, in which case Google will just display the first text it sees on the page – which may not be the text that you want people to read.

Action you can take on your SEO right now
Don’t despair!  There are actions you can take on your seo right now. Check your website now and do something to put it right. You can check if you have meta tags by displaying your website, click “View Source” and search the code for “meta”. Then look at the text next to the “title” tag and the “description” tag. If it doesn’t look right, talk to your web agency about adding in some basic seo, or if you can edit your own website, go into the CMS and add in different titles and descriptions for each page. Do it now, it’s important!  If you don’t know what to do, drop us a line and we can help.

5 ways to get your website ranking higher

5 ways to get your website ranking higher

5 ways to get your website ranking higherSEO isn’t rocket science. It might seem that way when you’re just starting out trying to get your website ranking higher though, because there are millions of articles about how to do this all over the web. What I’ve tried to do here is to pick 5 fairly simple things you can do yourself that will make a difference. Yes, you can do these things yourself, assuming you have access to edit your website in whichever CMS it’s been built with, eg WordPress, for example. So here are my 5 tips:

How to get your website ranking higher

1. Invest in Yoast

Yoast doesn’t actually do the SEO for you, but it will tell you how well optimised each page on your website is. Yoast is a plug-in you can use in WordPress, it’s very easy to use and it reminds you about all the things you need to have in place to get your page ranked highly. Visit the Yoast website to find out more about this and download the plug-in.

2. Include desired search terms in your page

Time and time again a client will say to me something like, eg “We want to rank for the term Oak Furniture.” Great. But then I look at their website and they don’t mention the phrase Oak Furniture anywhere at all! You’re not going to rank for a phrase that isn’t even mentioned so make sure you use the term you want to rank for in your Meta Title Tag, Meta Description Tag, H2 headings on the page and image names. The Yoast plug-in allows you to enter these Meta Tags and your CMS editor should allow you to select different heading formats. Highlight a heading on a page and select the H2 format. This indicates to Google that this is an important sub-heading. Each page can have several H2s and should also have an H1 heading that contains the key search term you want to rank for.

3. Put your keyword at the top of the page

If your page is about oak furniture, but you don’t mention the phrase Oak Furniture until somewhere near the bottom of the page, guess what? Google isn’t going to think this page is about oak furniture. If your page is about oak furniture, talk about it up front, right at the top of the page, preferably in the first sentence and definitely in the page title.

4. Alt Tags

One of the ways Google knows what your page is about is by reading names and alt tags of images. So don’t call your images home-page-1.jpg or header-1.jpg. Call them oak-furniture.jpg, pine-furniture.jpg, etc, whatever the main keyword is for your page. And make sure you type in an Alt Tag description for each image. The Alt Tag should contain the key search term eg “Oak Furniture.” This helps the user and also tells Google what the image is about.

5. Links

Links are the way the Google bot crawls through the web. If your page has no internal or external links coming to it, Google will never find it. Make sure there are links into your page from your own website, and also that any links out are to relevant sites. For example, you could link to the Institute of Oak Furniture Manufacturers from your oak furniture page and this increases its relevance.

Higher website rankings – where to get more help

We have a free website checker tool you can try right now for any page on your website. Just enter in your web page url and get an instant report to find out how well your page is optimised for SEO.

Or if you’d like our help to get your website ranking higher in Google, please email us or call us on 0843 289 3060.

Keywords: How to help search engines understand your website content

Pick the Right Keywords

Pick the Right KeywordsWe’ve been doing quite a few web site analyses over the past couple of weeks and it’s been fascinating to see that not one of the sites we’ve analysed so far, has what I would call good SEO in place.

Most of the sites have no meta tags, but I won’t go on about that here as I’ve covered it in previous articles. But surprisingly, not many sites actually include their key search terms in their on-page copy.

Analysing the most frequently used words on a web site home page often picks up generic terms like “leader”, “we” or “business”, which aren’t specific enough to explain to a search engine what your website is about.

While I don’t want to encourage you to repetitively stuff your page full of keywords, you have to make sure that the search terms you want people to find you for, actually do exist on your page, maybe 2 or 3 times, otherwise Google is not going to find your site when people type those search terms into the search box.

You should also make sure that the other copy on the page supports your main theme. So if you’re a social media consultant, talk about social media channels, twitter, facebook, youtube, and whatever other words relate to the social media. This sort of occurrence of associated words makes Google realise what your site is all about and will increase the chances of your page being returned higher up in the search results.

Can you delegate social media management to a third party?

Can you delegate social media

Can you delegate social mediaI often attend events where the speaker says “of course you can’t delegate social media to someone else, you have to do it yourself.”

There seems to be a belief that a third party can’t possibly know your every thought or opinion on what’s going on in the world, so how can they possibly post something on Twitter or Facebook on your behalf?

Another objection is that a third party won’t know all your contacts, so when a friend or business colleague posts a message to you and asks you a question like “so how was the seminar yesterday?”, a third party won’t know how to respond.

Of course, to a certain extent, this is true, and there will always be added value you can add to your own Twitter or Facebook account. But that doesn’t mean you can’t hire a third party to create fresh content, Tweet and Facebook it, and implement regular posts to engage with your social media contacts.

If you work closely enough with the right social media agency, you can delegate all the daily slog of thinking of things to post, finding followers, responding to messages, uploading photos or videos, retweeting interesting news items or running competitions. As long as you make sure you also have an admin login for your social media accounts, you can post your own thoughts whenever you feel like it and so your followers will get a good mix of off-the-cuff comment, corporate messages, news and views.

Let me tell you how we work with one of our clients, who travels around the world a great deal. He gives us regular updates by email when he can get online, then we turn that content into smaller posts, with photos if he has some, or with photos we supply. Occasionally he’ll also post stuff himself and he’ll sometimes reply to the contacts he knows best. Sometimes, we’ll get a question that we can’t possibly know the answer to, “Which hotel did you stay at in Sydney?” In which case, we’ll drop our client a quick email or ask him next time we talk to him, so we can reply on his behalf.

As long as you work closely with an agency who can give you a dedicated account manager who understands your business and your objectives for social media, and who also – crucially – has a good feel for your personality and how you’d talk to people on social media channels, there’s no reason why you can’t delegate this marketing activity to someone else.

Share your experience of delegating social media with us, good or bad, we’d like to know your views.

Don’t be an anonymous ‘egg’ on Twitter

Don't be an anonymous egg on Twitter

Don't be an anonymous egg on TwitterIf you’re on Twitter, it’s really important to fill in the Bio section. You can use up to 160 characters so make good use of them.

Your bio should include words that will help people find you if they’re searching on Twitter for companies or people that provide the services and products you provide. For example, if you’re an accountant, make sure you include accountancy words and your specialisms in your bio, eg “Accountant, Tax Specialiast,” etc. It’s ok to say you’re a fun-loving mother of 2, but if you’re using Twitter for business, get some key business terms in there as well, otherwise no-one is going to find you. Mine is: “Digital online marketing, web design & build, marketing expertise: SEO, social media, email marketing. Co-owner of Insight Group Marketing & amateur pianist.” There’s quite a lot you can get in there so make the most of it.

Another reason to make sure you fill in your bio is to help them decide whether to follow you or not. If they see a tweet they like or see that you are following them, they’re going to look at your profile to see what you’re about. If you haven’t got a bio, how will people decide if they want to follow you?

Twitter Egg

And finally – you absolutely MUST have a photo of yourself or a logo of your business. If you don’t upload a photo, Twitter will just substitute the anonymous “egg” image, so people will think at worst that you’re trying to hide, or best that you’re just incompetent. That is not going to make them want to follow you. So get a nice head and shoulders shot of yourself and upload that, so people can see who you are. This also helps when you’re at networking events as people can recognise you if they’ve been tweeting with you.

Social media management – where to get help

If all this Twitter stuff is too much for you to cope with, give us a call or drop us a line – we’d be happy to answer any questions or help with your social media management.

 

Have you been conned by SEO?

Have you been conned by SEO?

Have you been conned by SEO?“Hello, my name is Sonya and I’m an SEO consultant. We can get your website to the number 1 position in Google for only £99.”

How many emails and phone calls per week do you get that start off with something like this?  If my own experience is anything to go by, you probably get quite a few.  What’s your first thought? “Mmm, maybe they might be onto something here, I would love to be in the top position on Google”?

You might think it sounds tempting. But let’s just analyse this for a second. What exactly are they promising? To get your website to the Number 1 position in Google.

What do they mean by “Your Website”. Do they mean the home page? Do they mean a particular section page?

And when they say “Number 1 position”, what search term would someone have to search for in Google, for your website to come up in the “Number 1 position”? I would hazard a guess that if you typed your company name into Google now, your site will probably already come up in the Number 1 position. But the people you want to find you on Google are the people who DON’T already know your company name. What search term will they type in?

Let me explain why this promise is meaningless

Let’s say your company name is “Lannards” and you sell office furniture. What search term do you want to be found for? “Office furniture” probably, right? Maybe some other terms like “desks”, “office chairs”, that sort of thing. Certainly, you’ll want to come up in the top 3 search results if someone types in “Lannards” and “Lannards office furniture”, but you probably already do. what you really want is that if someone types in “Office Furniture”, your website will come up in the top 3 results. Probably you’ll want this to be your home page.  If that happens, you’re reaching new potential buyers who may not know about your company and who will click on the link to your site.

What page should come up in the search results?

But if someone types “desks” into Google, you would probably want the “desks” page of your website to come up into Google, so that the potential customer goes straight to the page containing the products they’re interested in. And if they typed in “office chairs”, you’d want them to go to the “office chairs” page. In this way, each page of your website needs to be optimised so that it can be found for its main topic when people search for it.

Don’t be conned by style

So it’s totally meaningless for someone to say they can get you to number 1 in Google, because it depends on a) the search term being searched for and b) which website page will be returned in the search results. They could quite easily take your money and then say “we got you to number 1” because if you search for “Lannards”, you’ll come up top. And don’t be fooled, it can’t be done for £99. Because all your competitors are constantly changing their own websites and doing their own SEO, it has to be a continuous process of updating content, tweaking copy and key search terms, to keep on top of it all.

How can you improve your Google rankings, then?

What you should really be doing, is deciding on a main topic for each page of your website, make sure each page has a good volume of high quality text and other content such as images and videos that talks about this topic, and optimise each page for its own unique topic. In this way, Google will be able to easily work out what each page of your site is about and your rankings will improve. You can do this yourself of course, if you have the time and the inclination, or you can use a trustworthy SEO agency, based in the UK, who have proven results and a good track record with other clients. They should want to talk to you about what’s important to your business and what your potential customers are looking for.

For more information about how to improve your Google rankings, see our SEO top tips and other marketing resources and read about our in-depth, organic SEO services.

 

Why it’s important to choose the right CMS package for SEO

Choose the right CMS for SEO

We recently started working with a new SEO client, whose very nicely designed and laid out website was built with a Content Management System (CMS) we’d not worked with before (it wasn’t one of the CMS systems we provide at Insight). This isn’t normally a big problem but we’ve discovered that this particular CMS package has some serious shortcomings that mean optimisation is very difficult.

Choose the right CMS for SEO

Some of these issues and why they are important for SEO are:

Image File Names

When Google is working out what your page is about, one of the things it looks at are image file names. If your page is about green dresses and your lovely image of your green dress has a file name of 2456435.jpg, this isn’t helpful at all for SEO and doesn’t pass any information to Google. But if your image is called green-dress.jpg, then Google knows this is relevant, especially if green dress is mentioned in the page name, the meta title and the page url. We started renaming the clients’ images and uploaded them to their CMS so that they had meaningful names. Imagine our shock when we discovered that the CMS system was renaming the images all on its own, so our lovely image called green-dress.jpg was being renamed to 324555667.jpg! Disaster! But surely this can be rectified? A quick call to the CMS company to check, but no, it is not possible to have a proper file name, the CMS does actually rename all the images to numbers.

Page Names

This particular website has a News and Articles section and the client has written some very nice articles about topics of interest to their market. This is great for SEO and it’s lovely as an SEO to have some material like this to optimise, so we got going and started on the first article.  We changed the Meta Title to incorporate the relevant key search term for the article, then changed the Meta Description, and then changed the page main heading from a generic “News” to the title of the article. All seemed fine until we went to work on the second article. This seemed to have the same Meta names and page headings as the first article we’d just done. Another call to the CMS company told us that every single page in the News and Articles section has to have exactly the same Meta Title, Meta Description and Page heading. So they are all going to be just called “News” and there will be very little to tell Google what the page is about. The pages are also going to be seen as duplicates so Google isn’t going to know which page to bring up to relate to the search term being typed in.

URL names

The url you give your page is also important for SEO. Using our example, our page could be called www.company.co.uk/green-dress. This tells Google exactly what this page is about and is consistent with the content and meta data for the page, strengthening the page’s overall optimisation score. But say you have 2 pages about green dresses: 1 page is about a long green dress and the other is about a short green dress. So you want to rename your page url. If you rename your page from /green-dress to /long-green-dress, it will take a while (it can be weeks) for Google to update it’s index. So in the meantime, if someone searches for “green dresses”, Google will still be bringing up the old page url called /green-dress. But this page doesn’t exist any more, and if you have the wrong sort of CMS package, the visitor will click on the /green-dress link in Google and then see the dreaded “Page Not Found” error – you’ve lost your chance to capture that visitor.  This needn’t happen if you’re using the sort of CMS that automatically deals with this. Just to get a bit technical here, when you rename page url names, your web person would normally need to create what’s called a “301 redirect” and put some code on the page to tell Google that all searches for the old page should now be forwarded to the new page url (/long-green-dress). Good CMS packages do this automatically as soon as you rename the page url. And WordPress offers easy-to-use plugins that allow a non-technical user to redirect an old url to a new one. However, this client’s CMS package doesn’t do this, so it turns out we have to create a manual 301 redirect table for all the pages we want to rename and send it to the CMS company for them to change. This all has to happen instantaneously to minimise the chance that someone will click on the old page name after we’ve changed it, but before the CMS company has put the 301 redirect code in. It also means that the client can’t just rename a page as they’re not technical users (and why should they be?) so can’t do the 301 redirect table themselves.

Ask the right questions of your CMS provider

These are just three examples of why it’s so important to thoroughly check out the CMS package that will be used to build your website. It might not occur to you to ask this level of detailed question when you’re selecting your website builder, but if you end up choosing the wrong package, you could be severely restricted in how your website appears to Google – and that could mean that Google ranks your site lower because it can’t work out what the site is about.

If you’re buying a CMS or if you’re hiring someone to build a website for you using a CMS package – ask lots of questions. You should make sure that the user can customise each page individually for content, for meta tags, for page names, image file names, alt tags, url names, H1, H2, H3 etc headings. Make sure you find out how easy all of those things are to do.

CMS websites – where to find help

We design and build websites using CMS packages which allow all this flexibility for SEO – so if you’d like some more advice on this, we’d be happy to talk to you about how we can help you build your website, maximise your Google rankings and increase traffic to your website. Email us to talk about it further.

We have moved to shiny new offices!

Insight Group Marketing moves to new offices

Insight Group Marketing moves to new officesWe’ve all been busy over the past few weeks getting ready for our move to bigger, shiny new offices at Bracknell Enterprise Hub at Ocean House in the heart of Bracknell town centre. As of Monday 1st June 2015, we’ll be based there, having moved from Arlington Square in Bracknell. Ocean House is a dominating building in Bracknell town centre, located next to the High Street car park and the Princess Square Shopping Centre within the Ring and has impressive, panoramic views of the new town centre regeneration and the surrounding countryside.

What’s more, we’re right next to the shops in the town centre (opportunites for lunchtime splurges) and a 5 minute walk from the railway station.

Directions by car

If you’re visiting us by car, follow signs to Bracknell town centre where you will pick up additional signs for the High Street multi-storey car park. This is accessed directly from the Ring. On entrance to the car park, head to the 4th floor.  Head for the left hand footbridge to the shopping centre (the North end and furthest away from the entrance) and Ocean House will be directly in front of you at the end of the footbridge.  If you do use the other footbridge and find yourself in the shopping centre, you will enter the shopping centre with Boots on your left, turn left and head towards Bentalls. Turn left along the corridor just before Bentalls, towards the exit. Ocean House is on your right opposite the footbridge. Alternatively you can also park in the Princess Square multi-storey car park then walk through the shopping centre towards Bentalls and Ocean House.

Ocean House EntranceDirections by train

If you’re coming on the train, Bracknell is on the main line between London Waterloo and Reading (South West Trains). Exit the station from the main entrance, cross the road and follow the High Street Road in front of you with the Goose pub on your left. After a short walk across the car entrance to the High Street car park, take the second set of stairs past the bus stop into the car park up to the 4th floor. Take the footbridge link straight across which will bring you directly to the entrance of Ocean House.

See our contact page for our new address and a map. We’ll be contacting all our customers, partners and suppliers shortly with details of our new address.

 

Why you’re not getting retweeted

how to get retweeted

how to get retweetedIf you’re on Twitter for business, one of the things you’ll want to happen is for other people to retweet your tweets. This means that people are interacting with your brand, like what you’re saying, and helps spread the word about your business to new audiences. It also helps with SEO as shared Tweets will show Google that your content is valuable and important to people and so your retweeted Tweets are likely to show up in search results.

So why make it difficult for people to retweet you?

We manage social media campaigns for several clients and one of the things we like to do is retweet other users, it’s a way of forming a relationship because if we retweet them, they’re more likely to interact with us in the future.  But I’m telling you that most Twitter users make it difficult for us to retweet them.

What makes it difficult to retweet a tweet?

We all know that Twitter allows up to 140 characters in a tweet. So a lot of people use up the whole 140 or very close to that. It’s not a lot of space and it’s easy to use it all up, I’ll grant you that. But then if someone else wants to retweet your tweet, they’ll click the retweet button and Twitter (or Hootsuite or whatever you’re using) will create a new tweet starting with the text “RT @nameofperson: “, (don’t include the quote marks, Twitter doesn’t put those in, I’ve just done it to explain the example) followed by the tweet. So already, before the tweet even starts, you’ve added extra characters into your retweet – a whole 18 characters in the above example.

If the original tweet was 140 characters, this means that the new tweet will be 158 characters. So if I want to send that retweet, I’ve got to delete some character out of the original tweet.  Maybe change “and” to “&” or “three” to “3”, or delete a hashtag. And really, I can’t be bothered, it’s too much hassle, and sometimes it’s difficult to see how you can shorten the tweet without having to totally rewrite it.

So if your tweets are too long to retweet, most people won’t be bothered, and won’t retweet you even if they want to. And then you’ve lost an opportunity to spread your word around the Twittersphere.  What a waste.

How to make sure your Tweets can be retweeted easily

Work out how many characters are in your Twitter ID, including the “‘@” sign. Our business Twitter ID is @insightgroup so we’ve got 13 characters in ours.  Add on the “RT” and the space after it, then add on the “:” and the space after that, and that’s another 5 characters, making 18 in total. Subtract that from 140, that’s 122 left. So our tweets should never be more than 122 characters if they’re the sort we want to get retweeted.

Please do this from now on.  It astounds me how many businesses don’t know about this and blithely carry on posting Tweets that are far too long.  If you’re not doing it right, at best it shows that you don’t understand Twitter and at worst you’re annoying the very people you need because you’re making it too difficult for them to retweet your Tweets.

If Twitter is all too much for you, we can take your pain away and handle your campaign for you. If this sounds like it would be a relief to you, take a look at our social media management packages.