Mar. 02, 2015 | by Jenny Ellery Why all SMEs should have a Chief Talent Officer

The short-sightedness of failing to invest in a Chief Talent Officer was the subject of a recent Talent Management Raconteur supplement in The Times. As the journalist, Charles Orton-Smith highlights in his introduction…

The absence is striking. By failing to create a dedicated talent officer and excluding the holder from the board, firms risk underplaying the importance of fostering talent.

Here at iCrossing, we have had a Chief Talent Officer, Rachel Collier for the last three years and we believe this has played a huge part the dramatic improvements we have seen in our staff retention stats – the percentage of staff who have been at the agency for a year or more grew from just 60% in 2011 to 76% last year.

But don’t think you can just change your HR Director’s job title and that’ll be it, job done. Chief Talent Officers (CTO) take the HR function beyond just checking individuals in and out of a company and focus much more on a sustainable approach to holding onto the best people.  The focus on Talent in the job title is directly reflected in the work they do. It is about identifying each individual’s strengths, unleashing their potential and getting the best performance from the talent the company has. 
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Feb. 17, 2015 | by Tiffanni Garner How to Make Pancakes…and other seasonal searches

What is search seasonality?

Today is Pancake Day. It is the day many of us will bring up Google and type in our traditional annual search -“how to make pancakes”. Amazingly, last year, ‘how to make pancakes’ was the most searched for how to term on Google and of course almost every search was on or around Pancake Day.

Almost every website, across all industries will have peak seasons or set periods when search demand for their products or services boost in popularity. When do you think the search demand in the UK is highest for the query “self assessment”? – January when HMRC bump up their advertising and many of us realise we have not yet filed our tax return. What about “florist”? – February when we’re trying to make Valentine’s Day perfect.

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Feb. 06, 2015 | by James Allen The triumphant return of real-time search

On February 5th, Bloomberg Business posted an article stating that Google has managed to secure a deal with social giant Twitter in order to procure its lucrative real time tweet-feed.

This is one of the biggest things to happen in SEO throughout the 2014 / early-2015 period.

So how do we know this is BIG News?

Simply put, because it was huge news last time Google and Twitter combined forces to produce “real-time search“. Real time search was introduced on December 7th 2009 and lasted until July 2nd 2011.

Real-time search included a ‘box’ containing slightly extruded results, similar to “Image results“, “Video results” or “News results“:
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Jan. 16, 2015 | by Sacha Fellingham 6 New Year’s resolutions to set you up for media success in 2015

‘Start as you mean to go on’ as the saying goes and that is exactly the type of approach I believe is crucial to media success in 2015.  Below I’ve outlined my top six resolutions to keep you at the top of your game and to kick start your new year with highly efficient online media campaigns.

1. Paid Search: Mobile                 

Yes, I know it’s been the year of the mobile for so many years now however, with recent changes to Google policy whereby description line 2 was dropped on mobile and replaced with ad extensions, it’s more important than ever to get the sitelink, callout or location extension right.  This needs careful consideration during the ad creation stage as it can lead to higher engagement levels if done well.


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Jan. 15, 2015 | by How chillies are helping to transform women’s rights in Swaziland

Claudia and Joe are a couple of young entrepreneurs who started Black Mamba Chilli, a chilli sauce making company in Swaziland.  But what makes them stand out from the crowd is the fact that in a country where women are still treated as second class citizens, with very limited rights, all of their chilli plant growers are women.  These women grow the chilli plants from seedlings, provided by Black Mamba, but are able to sell their produce on the open market as well as back to Black Mamba for their chilli sauces.


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Jan. 14, 2015 | by Patrick Hoy A look back: Paid social media trends in 2014


First posted on our US blog Great Finds on 13th Jan by Patrick Hoy, Media Analyst, Digital Media.

Last year paid social grew well beyond its previous boundaries. Existing players expanded their reach beyond current offerings, and perhaps more excitingly, some social platforms that hadn’t previously offered paid options opened up to advertising. As paid social media gained in popularity and momentum in 2014, five prominent trends stood out.

1. A focus on direct response

In early 2014, the innovation pipeline for both Facebook and Twitter focused heavily on attracting more direct response advertisers by launching several new products.

Both platforms introduced the ability to remarket to site visitors with Facebook’s Website Custom Audiences and Twitter’s Tailored Audiences. Twitter also introduced Twitter List Audiences, enabling advertisers to natively upload email lists to reach or suppress those audiences in ad campaigns. Plus, Facebook and Twitter both complimented their remarketing offerings with Facebook adding the ability to place a call-to-action button (“Shop Now”, “Learn More”, etc.) on ad units and Twitter offering the Website Card, an ad product designed to drive users to a brand’s website. Eventually, both Facebook and Twitter also introduced look-a-like audiences for site retargeting, allowing advertisers to use predictive algorithms to find on-platform users who are demographically or behaviourally similar to those who have visited the brand’s website.
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Jan. 08, 2015 | by Samuel Mangialavori Link removals: What you need to know in 2015

At the beginning of 2014 we predicted that link removals would be the most valuable SEO activity for the upcoming year. Now, as we look back at the last 12 months we can see that this was indeed on the mark.

In the current landscape, more and more companies face the challenge to clean-up their backlink profile due to the regular updates issued by Google. One of the latest and most significant, Penguin 3.0, was rolled out in October 2014 and is just one of the many countermeasures that Google has been adopting since the arrival of Panda in 2012. Before Penguin 1.0 was introduced, a large part of BAU (Business As Usual) SEO activities relied on link building practices that are now considered by Google to be “unnatural” or “manipulative” in their ultimate goal of delivering the most relevant and compelling results for users.

Negative SEO

Even sites that have never been involved in any of these sorts of activities need to remember to keep an eye on their backlink profile as unfortunately in 2015 the threat of negative SEO is very real. Negative SEO is the practice of generating low quality links with the intent to harm the rankings of another site. It is usually carried out by competitors and it could in some instances be very harmful for the site in question if not identified in time.

Penguin 3.0

Penguin’s main focus is to decrease the search engine rankings of sites that have attempted to manipulate their visibility by building unnatural links over time. Links still represent one of the main ranking factors within Google’s algorithm, therefore generating low quality links can be seen as a way of defrauding and altering Google’s search engine ranking system.

Despite the initial high expectations, Penguin 3.0 is estimated to affect only 1% of all search queries (against 3% of queries impacted by Penguin 1.0) and it is mainly focused on English results. It has also been revealed by Google that the Penguin algorithm will be subject to continuous updates from now on, with no real end-point to the refreshment process.

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Dec. 02, 2014 | by Tiffanni Garner Natural search/SEO work experience programme at iCrossing

Like many graduates, I left university with little idea of what career path I wanted to take. I studied English Literature purely out of enjoyment, as I had little desire to be a teacher or an academic. As my final year came to a close, I ended up falling into business with my dad – setting up a small, artisan bakery in South East London. We worked together for two years before the opportunity to sell the business came up.

I was then faced with the same problem of picking a career path. After more than a few desperate job searches, I started leaning towards digital marketing. As an industry, its combination of creativity and data-insight, as well as its rapid growth really appealed to me. I had a read through Moz’s “Beginner’s Guide to SEO” and the world of natural search opened up. What interested me the most was its relevance. I use search engines every day – from googling a restaurant, to buying a Christmas gift – I could see how SEO affects my day-to-day life. I then knew I wanted an internship opportunity to strengthen my CV. Someone suggested iCrossing, so I got in touch.

I landed a month’s work experience within the SEO team, learning the fundamentals of natural search with on the job training from iCrossing’s analysts. At first, I was worried I’d either just be making coffee for the office, or working 16 hour days and falling asleep on the tube. Instead, I was in an environment where I felt I was both learning and being a benefit to the team.  I was kept busy with real tasks, from client outreach work, to attending team meetings and training sessions. I increasingly became aware that an agency environment, especially a progressive and evolving agency, was where I wanted to be.
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Nov. 24, 2014 | by Swaziland photos from the Development Squared leadership programme

Earlier this year at one of our company meetings Rachel Collier, our Chief Talent Officer, announced the opportunity for someone from iCrossing to work with an organisation called Development Squared.

Development Squared work to link skilled workers from the UK with Swazi businesses facing challenges that more well established UK workers could help with.

Participants work within the business for a whole week to help them develop specific skills they need such as finance, marketing, people and project management.

Swaziland is found just between South Africa and Mozambique. I have to confess that before iCrossing offered me to opportunity to go out and work with a business out here, I really didn’t know much about the country.


A view of the way in to Swaziland

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Nov. 21, 2014 | by Danny Chadburn Tis the season for shoppable content

With all these twinkling TV ads around, you might be confused into thinking it was Christmas!

The battle for the best 30 second commercial is now more talked about than the race for the #1 spot in the singles chart, and sometimes their soundtrack actually becomes part of it.

As you can see from the huge volume of penguin related items currently available to buy from John Lewis (a whopping 155), this content isn’t ‘just’ for Christmas – it’s shoppable, and it’s just one of many attempts by businesses to use content as a way to tap into the festive buying frenzy.

There are many different ways to successfully connect the content you produce directly to the shopping basket.

And anything you can do to shorten the user journey and take away the number of clicks it takes from someone to get from content to the store is generally a good thing.

Few retailer websites now exist without some form of content – whether it’s interviews with celebrities, sending bloggers on exciting days out, or giving social fans a sneak peek behind the scenes of their businesses. Being seen as contextually relevant to the lives of their customers is almost as important as developing the right products.

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