‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
The increasingly blurry lines between PR and SEO are a hotly discussed topic. As Google moves to discredit the ‘old ways’ of link building – namely, guest posting and directory links – in favour of editorial, natural link-building efforts, it is becoming increasingly pertinent that SEOs possess the skills from both a technical and journalistic point of view.
At iCrossing, we pride our SEO team on being comprised of both. Below are three quick and simple ways, inspired by our outreach specialists, which can greatly improve the relationship between SEOs and influencers. While to some these may be really obvious points, it’s surprising how often they’re overlooked in the industry.
1. Be clear, right from the start: Most influencers, particularly those with a strong following, simply don’t have time (or, in some cases, interest) to read the hundreds of emails they receive- so get the point, and be upfront with what you’re expecting them to do and what you’ll be doing in return. This way both sides are clear straight from the off, and the chances of anything going wrong mid-campaign are minimised.
We live in a digital world, where technology is prevalent in our everyday lives, social networking is an obsession, screens have become our surroundings and wearable tech is the future. We are more connected than ever so why do we arguably feel more isolated? The problem? Our online distractions drive us to desire the physical. Labour work was once the fruitful art of our ancestors and now the skill of making has become a rarity within the noise of the networked age. This was the recurring theme of the latest TEDx conference held at the Brighton Dome, which iCrossing sponsored.
The 4th annual event was titled ‘Many Hands’; exploring ideas around community, connectivity and convergence in the modern age. The one-day conference showcased a collection of live speakers from around the world with different backgrounds, perspectives and disciplines. Each had their own story to tell – from digital pioneers, to traditional woodworkers all relating to the profound shift of reconnecting with ourselves.
What do iCrossing and Usain Bolt have in common? They are both official Guinness World Records title holders. Yes, that’s right a team of eight of our staff now hold the record for ‘Longest span of a bridge made with interlocking plastic bricks in three minutes’.
Becoming a Guinness World Records title holder is a childhood dream for many – especially those of us who grew up watching Roy Castle and his Record Breakers programme back in the 80s. But for eight iCrossing staff, this dream has now come true.
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